Bush Says GOP Should Campaign on Drug Benefit
President Bush on Friday said that Republicans should promote the Medicare prescription drug benefit during their campaigns prior to the elections in November, the AP/Washington Post reports.
In an interview, Bush said, "I think this is a fantastic program, but more importantly, so do the seniors," adding, "My own view is our candidates and the people who voted for this ought to be out there traveling to senior centers all over their districts and their state saying, 'Look what we did.'"
However, Democrats have said they would seek to revise the Medicare prescription drug benefit in the event that they take control of Congress after the elections. According to Democrats, Medicare should have the ability to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies for discounts on medications, a practice currently banned under federal law, and should offer one or more prescription drug plans administered by the federal government, rather than private health insurers.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said, "As pharmaceutical companies reap record profits, it's clear the president's flawed prescription drug plan is working better for drug companies than it is for America's seniors," adding, "It is no wonder that the Republican prescription drug bill actually bars Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices for seniors."
Bush said, "Obviously there's a group of folks that feel like the government can do a better job than the consumers themselves" about health care decisions. "We strongly believe that empowering consumers is the appropriate way to promote quality in health care," he said, adding, "As a matter of fact, we will resist any changes to weaken" the Medicare prescription drug benefit.
Bush on Friday participated in a small roundtable on the Medicare prescription drug benefit with a couple from Springfield, Va.; pharmacy representatives; a caregiver who helped her aunt enroll in the program; and the administrator of a not-for-profit organization that helps low-income beneficiaries enroll in the program (Freking, AP/Washington Post, 10/20).