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On Day 5 of 27 Stop "Checklist for Change" Tour, Cantwell and Community Leaders Call for Change in the National Agenda to Make Health Care and.....

Location: Seattle, WA

On Day 5 of 27 Stop "Checklist for Change" Tour, Cantwell and Community Leaders Call for Change in the National Agenda to Make Health Care and Prescription Drugs Affordable

Cantwell's Biodiesel Bus Tour Makes Stops in Edmonds, Bellevue, and Tacoma - 1,260 miles in 5 Days

On Sunday, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell continued her statewide "Checklist for Change" tour with stops in Edmonds, Bellevue, and Tacoma, where she talked about the need to lower the costs of health care and prescription drugs for Washington families. Cantwell is traveling across the state this week on the biodiesel-powered "Cantwell's Checklist for Change" bus, making 27 stops, at least one in every Congressional district. By the end of day five, Cantwell will have traveled 1,260 miles of over 2,100 miles on the tour.

"Never has the need for change been clearer than when you look at the rising costs of health care and prescription drugs" said Cantwell. "Insurance copays and drug costs keep going up, while access is going down. In fact, since the Medicare drug benefit was rolled out, drug prices for our seniors have increased. Rather than making it harder for people to get access to affordable medications, we should be working to make it easier. But this Republican Congress has again and again made the wrong choices, and that's why I'm fighting to change the agenda in Congress and change the direction of our country."

All day Saturday, Cantwell and community leaders rallied Washingtonians about the importance making health care and prescription drugs affordable. With Republicans in charge of Congress and the White House, costs have skyrocketed and many people are finding it harder than ever to get the health care they need at prices they can afford.

"Maria is a fighter for our state, and she is committed to making health care affordable for everyone," said U.S. Senator Patty Murray. "Maria is the best partner I could ask for - she's been a voice for Washington state and she has never hesitated to stand up to the Bush Administration when they've shortchanged health care funding for our seniors, our children or our veterans. We need to send Maria Cantwell back to the Senate, not just for our state, but for the country, so we can change the agenda in the D.C. and put Washington state's priorities first."

Washingtonians living in rural areas have a particularly difficult time getting access to health care, and Cantwell is working to bring more doctors and nurses to these underserved areas. She worked to expand the National Health Service Corps, because everyone should be able to get the care they need close to home.

Cantwell believes we need a prescription drug plan that works for seniors, not special interests. Unfortunately, the president and Congressional Republicans have chosen to put other priorities above the interests of Washington seniors. A study released this week announced that the average insurance plan providing meaningful coverage under the "doughnut hole" will be raising their monthly premiums by 87 percent. Cantwell believes we need to change the direction of the country to better reflect our Northwest values. To help keep costs down, believes that Medicare should be allowed to negotiate lower drug prices, as the Veterans Administration does, which would save taxpayers $332 billion. According to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, allowing Medicare to negotiate for better prices would save more than enough money to fill the doughnut hole, a coverage gap that will affect an estimated 7 million Americans by the end of the year.

"Maria's work to close the doughnut hole will help seniors all across our country," said Rose Cantwell. "There are more than 800,000 seniors in Washington state alone on Medicare. I'm one of them. When the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan came out, I took a three-hour class to understand the program, but I left with more questions than answers. We need a prescription plan that is straightforward and honest. I know Maria, and I can tell you she'll keep working until all seniors can get the prescription drugs they need at prices they can afford. As a mother, I couldn't be prouder of the work Maria's done for the people of Washington state."

Cantwell's Checklist for Change calls for a new agenda in Washington, DC to change the course in Iraq; cut health care and prescription drugs costs; protect Social Security from privatization; deliver energy independence with technology and alternative fuels; make college education affordable for everyone; secure our borders and ports; stand up for veterans, military and their families; protect our environment for our children; deliver tax fairness for our state; and put us first, and special interests last.


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