Democrats unveil prescription drug plan
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10/23/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Democrats in Congress have been critical of the prescription drug plan passed in 2003 and in effect since 2006. Today, two House Democrats discussed proposed legislation that would allow those on Medicare the option of choosing a drug plan that would be operated by the government agency, and not by private insurers.

Rep. Marion Berry hails from Arkansas, and says that the new law he is sponsoring, the "Medicare Prescription Drug Savings And Choice Act,” would reverse the provision allowing only private drug companies to offer medicine to Medicare patients.

And Berry, who has the distinction of being the only pharmacist in the current Congress, and only the third ever, said the Tom DeLay Billy Tauzin sponsored Medicare Plan has decimated local pharmacies.

Critics of Medicare Plan D say that it has always been confusing. Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky says that as the next registration period starts up in less than a month, her consitutients in Illinois will have 194 private plans to chose from, 53 more than a year ago.

The Democrats plan was timed to coincide with the new release of a new report, “The Best Medicine: A Medicare Drug Coverage Option,” published by Consumers Union and the Medicare Rights Center.

With so many drug plans now available, what would make seniors and the disabled choose this particular plan?

Bill Vaughan, a senior health policy analyst at Consumers Union, said his group has been monitoring the prices of five different drugs in 5 different states, and if the savings were pronounced, people would rush to sign up for the government plan.

To read about Consumers Union’s report on a government run drug plan, go to consumersunion.org.

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