Senator Edward M. Kennedy released the following statement as projections indicate that more Americans than ever will fall into the doughnut hole today:
"More and more seniors are waking each day and learning they've fallen into the dreaded doughnut hole' - the gap in prescription drug coverage that leaves them with large drug costs to pay by themselves until coverage resumes. As a result, millions of seniors can't afford the drugs they urgently need, even though they're paying for Medicare coverage.
It's important to have a full accounting of how many seniors are affected, so that Congress and the public can make sensible choices about Medicare. I intend to introduce legislation to require Medicare to track and publicly report how many enrollees fall into the donut hole, and how much they are spending themselves for their needed prescriptions.
We wouldn't be facing this problem if the Administration and the Republican Congress had cared more about seniors than about drug industry profits when Medicare prescription drug coverage was enacted. They refused to let Medicare negotiate drug prices, which the Veterans Administration is allowed to do for veterans. Instead of allocating adequate federal funds to the drug benefit, they made sure that HMOs received large overpayments, which enable them to force Medicare beneficiaries into their plans by offering extra benefits, while still allowing the plans to make large profits.
It's long past time to correct this glaring defect in Medicare drug coverage. Once we have up-to-date information on the damage being done by the donut hole, we can correct the problem and give seniors the Medicare coverage they deserve."