Federal News Service
HEADLINE: SENATE DEMOCRATS PRESS CONFERENCE RE: MEDICARE
PARTICIPANTS: SENATE MINORITY LEADER TOM DASCHLE (D-SD): SENATOR TED KENNEDY (D-MA); SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI); SENATOR BOB GRAHAM (D-FL); AND SENATOR JOHN ROCKEFELLER (D-WV)
SEN. STABENOW: Well, thank you, Senator Kennedy. I'm standing with a group of leaders, each of which have been fighting the fight to protect and strengthen Medicare for many years, and I'm very grateful to each of them.
We started this debate a couple of years ago now on this current plan with two goals in mind: To update Medicare to cover prescription drugs, and to lower prices for everyone through increased competition. Neither one of those goals are being met with what we are hearing is coming out of the conference committee discussions.
Instead of updating Medicare to cover prescription drugs, and allowing seniors to continue to pick their own doctor no matter where they live, to know that their premium will be the same no matter where they live, the co-pays, to know that they will have Medicare for themselves-instead of that, the Republicans and the president, up to this point, have been proposing radical changes in the system that will strip Medicare of those guarantees and move us back to a point where Medicare will be gone as we know it.
Well, for myself, I know my colleagues, but I will only speak for myself, that's not something we're going to allow to happen, if we have anything to say about it. I don't believe the votes will be there to do that in the Senate. I'm certainly going to be part of the effort to stop any radical proposal to privatize Medicare that causes our seniors, who desperately need us to step up and work together on a bipartisan basis, to find themselves in a worse situation than they are today.
We're at a crossroads. We want to work together, we want to get this done. But we're not going to give up on our seniors and what they need in order to see that happen.