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Senate Democrats to President Bush: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Location: Washignton, DC


After the President's visit to the Riderwood Village retirement community in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S. Senate Democrats today challenged the Bush Administration to do more than just acknowledge that some problems exist with the Medicare drug law, adding that actions speak louder than words.

Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) said that seniors are disappointed and frustrated by the Medicare drug law, or Medicare Part D. They noted that the benefit shortchanges beneficiaries because it prohibits Medicare from negotiating directly for lower drug prices, while rewarding HMOs with billions in taxpayer subsidies.

"Seniors are justifiably upset because the Bush Administration's Part D is a disaster," Senator Durbin said. "Medicare beneficiaries are stuck with a confusing, costly plan that is a giveaway to the special interests; drug companies are reaping the profits while seniors are paying the price. Seniors deserve a simple, affordable and guaranteed Medicare drug benefit, and Democrats are offering a prescription to fix the Part D fiasco. It is time for the President to start listening to America's seniors, not to Washington drug company lobbyists."

Democratic Leader Reid said, "I'm pleased that the President is finally admitting there's a problem, but to ensure that this plan really is a benefit, he needs to support our efforts to make it work so that seniors and people with disabilities enroll and have the coverage they were promised."

"With every day that passes, seniors are growing more confused and frustrated," Senator Nelson said. "The government must acknowledge the Medicare program's current problems by extending the deadline, closing gaps in coverage and allowing Medicare to negotiate the lowest possible prices."

The Bush Administration continues to oppose Democratic initiatives to repeal the provision in the law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices; to extend the May 15 enrollment deadline so seniors and people with disabilities have the time they need to navigate the confusing enrollment process; and to allow Medicare beneficiaries to switch plans any time during the first chaotic year and in subsequent years if their drug prices increase by 10 percent.

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