Breaux Predicts Medicare Restructuring by Summer
Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) told a joint conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on the Aging in New Orleans that lawmakers plan to "turn their attention" to Medicare reform after addressing tax cut legislation, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Breaux said that his bipartisan Medicare reform package, co-sponsored by Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), "combin[es] the best of what the government can do with the best of what the private sector can do." Arguing that Congress will have to "remake Medicare or risk bankrupting it," Breaux said, "Change is difficult. Change is scary. Change is uncertain. But I would suggest that the status quo is unacceptable." He added, "Some politicians say we can't have Medicare without the government managing it from top to bottom. And some others feel the government shouldn't be involved at all in administering Medicare. I think both sides should be included."
However, when asked about pharmaceutical companies' "undue influence" on Medicare reform, Breaux "didn't answer directly," saying only that firms would "certainly continue to lobby Congress." Breaux predicted that Congress would approve "some type of Medicare restructuring" by June, adding that his plan has support from President Bush and Republican leaders. "We're in a situation where I'm optimistic about getting change in Congress, perhaps this year," Breaux said (Russell, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/12).