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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 4, 2003
10:37 AM
CONTACT:  Families USA
Jennifer Laudano
Kati Anderson
(202) 628-3030

President Bush's Latest Medicare Proposal is the Same Old Tune and Way off Key for America's Seniors;
The Plan Still Coerces Seniors Into Private Plans and Away From Traditional Medicare
 
WASHINGTON - March 4 - In a speech today before the AMA, President Bush outlined his proposed framework for new Medicare and prescription drug coverage legislation. The following is the statement of Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, concerning the President's proposal:

"President Bush's latest Medicare and prescription drug proposal is the same old tune and is way off key for America's seniors.

"The proposal would still coerce seniors away from the traditional Medicare program and into a privatized system.

"Under the initial proposal, seniors in traditional Medicare would not have been provided with any drug coverage. Under the new plan, seniors in traditional Medicare would receive coverage only after they spend thousands, and perhaps many of thousands of dollars, out of their own pockets on drugs - a cost that the vast majority of seniors cannot afford.

"As a practical matter, therefore, the new plan, just like the first one, will leave seniors without drug coverage unless they drop traditional Medicare for a private plan. In the process, they may lose the doctors that have served them well.

"Seven out of eight seniors are in the traditional Medicare program today. Coercing them into a privatized system to get the medicines they need is shortsighted. Private plans have refused to serve seniors in most rural areas; have abandoned 2.4 million seniors in 'unprofitable' communities; and, in the private plans that do exist, seniors are experiencing fast-rising premiums and shrinking benefits.

"Make no mistake, this proposal is a clear effort to privatize the Medicare program. Seniors in this new privatized Medicare will no longer have a guarantee of specific benefits and defined coverage. Once again, the President's proposal fails to offer seniors a meaningful drug benefit in the Medicare program."

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