Pelosi Statement on Medicare Prescription Drugs Discharge Petition
Washington, D.C.-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congressman Martin Frost of Texas, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Congressman Marion Berry of Arkansas, Congressman Tom Allen of Maine, and more than 50 seniors to demand action on legislation to give the federal government the authority to negotiate lower drug prices for America's seniors. Below are Pelosi's remarks:
"The Republican prescription drug program is a false promise of assistance to our nation's seniors.
"It fails to bring down drug costs, prohibiting the government from negotiating with drug companies to lower prices. It leaves seniors and people with disabilities with high out-of-pocket costs and a huge gap in coverage. It forces most seniors to rely on private HMOs and other private insurance companies, not Medicare itself, to get their prescriptions.
"The drug cards the program authorizes have failed to provide significant, consistent discounts.
"And we learned today that the government has finally acknowledged what we have been warning for more than a year-this law will undermine retiree health benefits. By the government's own estimates, one-third of seniors who have prescription drug coverage through their employer will lose that coverage because of this law.
"For the sake of our seniors and the disabled, we must repeal this bill and replace it with a guaranteed, defined, affordable benefit under Medicare.
"Several months ago, Democrats, led by Marion Berry, Jan Schakowsky, and Tom Allen, introduced a bill that would truly lower drug costs for seniors and people with disabilities by allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices and pass the savings along. It would also ensure that beneficiaries can get their medicine through Medicare, no matter where they live.
"Sadly, the Republicans have not taken any action.
"So, today, Democrats-under the leadership of Congressman Martin Frost of Texas, our Ranking Member on the Rules Committee-will begin signing a discharge petition to force the Republican leadership to bring this bill to the floor. We must take action to lower drug prices and give our seniors the prescription drug benefit they need and deserve."