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Patrick Murphy, Lois Murphy Address Medicare Part D Flaws

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Democratic Congressional Candidates Patrick Murphy and Lois Murphy met with seniors today to discuss the incredibly complex and severely flawed Medicare Part D program. In December of 2003, President George Bush and the Republican Congress passed a prescription drug program that helps pharmaceutical companies more than seniors in need of a real benefit. Patrick Murphy and Lois Murphy vow to fight to fix the Medicare Part D program by allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies, and closing the "donut hole."

The already confusing Medicare Part D program provides no coverage for annual costs between $2,250 and $5,100 - the "donut hole" - so millions of seniors will be denied coverage while still paying monthly premiums.

"President Bush and Jim Gerlach devised a prescription drug program so impossible to decipher and so incomplete in its coverage that it will effectively leave millions of seniors with the means to get the prescriptions they need," said Lois Murphy. "As a member of Congress, I will work to fix this formula by closing the donut hole to ensure seniors get the complete and consistent coverage they deserve."

Currently, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating with drug companies to lower prescription drug costs. As a result, seniors are left paying higher prices for necessary prescriptions, while the pharmaceutical executives are walking around with record profits. The Veterans Administration is able to negotiate prices and pays 46 percent less for the most popular brand name drugs than the average prices posed by the Meidcare plans for the same drugs.

"Our seniors have earned the right to a prescription drug benefit that is simple, affordable and reliable," said Patrick Murphy, former Captain in the US Army, Iraq War Veteran, and Democratic Candidate for Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District. "President Bush and the Republican Congress have botched this benefit so badly, that seniors are forced to sacrifice everyday needs to afford necessary prescriptions. I will fight to fix Medicare Part D, by allowing Medicare to negotiate with Pharmaceutical companies and by closing the donut hole."

Under Medicare Part D, most beneficiaries pay approximately 25 percent of the cost of their drugs in co-payments before they hit the donut hole. Once beneficiaries incur $2,250 in drug costs, their coverage stops and they have to pay 100 percent of the cost of their drugs, plus their monthly premiums, until they accrue $5,100 in drug costs. At that point "catastrophic"coverage begins, until they accrue $5,100 in drug costs. At that point "catastrophic" coverage begins, requiring beneficiaries to pay 5 percent of their drug costs. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 7 million seniors will fall into the donut hole in the first year of the program.

Yet, if President Bush and the Republican Congress allowed Medicare to negotiate directly with the drug companies, it is estimated that Pennsylvania seniors would save $32.1 billion over the firs ten years.

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