ENCOURAGING ALL ELIGIBLE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES TO REVIEW AVAILABLE OPTIONS TO DETERMINE WHETHER ENROLLMENT IN A MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN BEST MEETS THEIR NEEDS FOR PRESCRIPTION DRUG COVERAGE -- (House of Representatives - May 10, 2006)
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Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Connecticut for yielding and the gentleman from Georgia for his leadership on this issue.
I want to tell the story about Bennie and Katheryn, real people in Vidalia, Georgia. This is a couple who was paying $2,200 a month for their prescription drug bill. One of my staffers happened to be related to them and heard about it, and he went over there and sat down with them on all their drug needs and went over the website. He did not make a recommendation, but he showed them the information and they made their own choice. Now their total drug cost has gone from $2,200 a month to $104 a month, a 95 percent savings.
When they saw stuff like that, they did not believe it was possible, because they too had heard some of the rhetoric, some of the angry, some of the bitter rhetoric that comes out of Washington, D.C., and they thought, well, there is no way. But, in fact they are enjoying it now, and they need that extra income just like so many other millions of seniors do around the country.
Mr. Speaker, I heard former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson say that when ÐGladys starts talking to Mabel, this thing will really take hold. And, indeed, that is the truth. My office has had 48 workshops helping people decide which program works for them. Maybe it doesn't work for them, because I am always quick to say, it might not be the best thing for everybody. That is part of what a public offering is. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But it works for most people. It is about a 50 percent to 60 percent savings for most people. Bennie got a 95 percent savings. Not everybody is going to get that.
But the interesting thing is that Gladys is talking to Mabel, because my friend GIL GUTKNECHT always quotes Ronald Reagan in saying that markets are more powerful than armies. In this case we have an army of people saying this is a horrible program that should be thrown away, thrown out; it is bad, it is wicked, it is the Republicans up to no good.
But look at the market. In my district, with my 48 workshops, our market penetration is about 70 percent right now. The interesting thing is one of my colleagues who is not in favor of this bill has about the same penetration, and he hasn't held one workshop.
That is one the ironies of it. I thought I am going to go out as a salesperson and really wave the flag and tell everybody how great it is. I am irrelevant. The market is more powerful than the army, the army for it or the army against it. The market is selling this thing, not the Republican Party, not the Democrat Party, wherever they may stand on it at the moment.
The reality is the seniors like it, and the reality is our seniors need it, because so many of them were having to choose between food on their table and prescription drugs.
My mom, who takes Tamoxifen from now on for the rest of her life, and my dad who has diabetes and their friends, they have some choices. Not everybody is going to sign up for it, but everybody is aware that the program is out there.
I will close with a quote from my good friend from Minnesota, who had voted against this bill. He said he has moved from being an atheist to an agnostic, but pretty soon he is going to be a holy roller and a believer like everybody else, because markets are stronger than armies.
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