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Medicare History

Location: Washington, DC

MEDICARE HISTORY -- (House of Representatives - November 16, 2005)

(Mr. HULSHOF asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. HULSHOF. Mr. Speaker, today, senior citizens across America can sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit that will save them money on medicines that they need. Many are concerned that the program with its many choices is too confusing, not to mention the mixed signals being sent by this House. Health care can be complicated, but saving money on prescription drugs that senior citizens need should not be. We have a responsibility to help seniors save money, not scare them away from these critical new benefits.

Back in 1966, many people thought that the original Medicare hospital insurance plan was too confusing. Then, as now, volunteers were trying to help seniors enroll, even going door to door. Back in 1966, not all seniors answered the door; and as a result, millions failed to enroll in the first round of benefits before the initial sign-up window had closed. ``I think the problems ahead will be vast,'' said Democrat Senator Abraham Ribicoff in the spring of 1966. ``The encouraging fact,'' he added, ``is a willingness to cooperate, despite the earlier strong opposition to Medicare, to make it work. I am sure it will,'' he said.

I share Senator Ribicoff's optimism. Older Americans have flooded the Medicare hotline and Web site, and they are attending workshops in America's senior centers in large numbers.

It is natural for many seniors to have questions. I urge this House to help our constituents deal with this new benefit.

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