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Letting You Choose

Location: Washington, DC

Letting You Choose
By Congressman John R. Carter

Washington, DC, Jan 18 - Do you want to have unlimited choices on prescription drugs that will fit your personal healthcare needs, or do you want to be forced to choose from a select menu of drugs chosen for you by the federal government? Do you want the freedom to choose your pharmacist-someone you trust to answer your questions and to provide you with the healthcare service you depend on, or are you willing to receive your drugs in the mail with the hope that it will reduce the cost? If you prefer the ability to choose, then the Medicare Part D program is right for you.

Access to quality affordable healthcare is something American seniors deserve and should be able to depend on. In 2003, Congress crafted the Medicare Part D program that went into effect last year, and is currently working for the more than 2 million Texas seniors who receive help with their prescription drug costs. This plan is saving our seniors from the devastating effects of high prescription drug costs.

Currently, under the Republican plan, more than 38 million seniors are paying thirty percent less for their prescription drugs. On average, seniors saved $1,200 on their prescription drugs last year. Recent estimates indicate that Medicare Part D will cost $373 billion less than expected over the next ten years. The numbers prove this free market plan is working, and according to the more than 80 percent of seniors who are satisfied with their drug coverage, we are making it easier for seniors to choose what prescriptions they need and which pharmacist they use.

Unfortunately, there are those in Congress who believe the government should have control over your healthcare. Last week in Washington, the Democrat-led Congress rushed through a bill that enabled the government to set price controls in order to negotiate prescription drug prices for seniors enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug program. If you look back at the history of government price controls, you will see they can lead to drug rationing. The Democrats' scheme will create government price controls that can lead to higher prescription drug prices for American seniors. By setting prices, the government will drive some drug makers out of the Medicare system, thus limiting the number of drug prescription choices seniors are offered. The Democrat plan is modeled from a program that relies on mail order prescription drugs which would prohibit seniors from using their local pharmacists.

Not only does this bill limit choices for seniors, but it also increases drug costs. According to the American Legion, a veterans' service organization with nearly three million members, every time the federal government has enacted pharmaceutical price control legislation, the Department of Veterans Affairs experienced significant increases in its pharmaceutical costs as an unintended consequence.

Experts have said that government involvement in price negotiation will not lead to lower cost for taxpayers, and it could lead to significant restrictions in access to drugs for seniors. This type of government control isn't beneficial to anyone. As your Congressman, I will continue to fight to keep prescription drug prices low and the healthcare decisions of America's seniors out of the hands of Washington bureaucrats.

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