WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who has worked for two years to bring the prescription drug issue to the forefront of national debate, issued the following statement today in response to the Senate's passage of legislation to add a prescription drug benefit under Medicare:
"As the people of Michigan know, I made the issue of adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare one of the centerpieces of my 2000 campaign. I told Michiganians that if they sent me to the Senate, I would fight to add a meaningful prescription drug benefit to Medicare. I also said I would do everything within my power to lower prescription drug prices for everyone. Two and a half years later, we have finally made some progress towards these goals.
"I supported the Senate bill because I think it is a first step in providing a prescription drug benefit for seniors, although it does not provide the comprehensive Medicare benefit that I believe our seniors need and deserve.
"The Senate bill will help lower the price of prescription drugs for all Americans. It will plug legal loopholes that drug makers have used to keep lower-priced generic drugs off the market, and it will allow families to purchase low-priced prescription drugs from Canada. This will save Americans real money, and I'm proud to have helped lead these efforts to lower prices for all Americans.
"This legislation still needs to be greatly improved. Our seniors deserve better coverage and a real Medicare benefit that does not rely on private insurance companies. I will continue to work to amend this legislation in conference committee to protect retirees from losing private prescription drug coverage.
"The first step has been taken to provide our seniors and the disabled with help paying for their prescription drugs. I will continue to work for the very best prescription drug coverage possible, and I will continue to fight for lower prices for all Americans."