Pelosi Pledges Overhaul of Medicare Law if Democrats Get Majority in Congress
U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) on Thursday in a health care forum chaired by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) in Boston said that if the Democratic party regains a majority in Congress, she hopes to repeal the Medicare law and promote universal health care coverage, Dow Jones reports. Pelosi and other Democratic legislators spoke at the event, which was sponsored by Families USA and the Service Employees International Union (Wells, Dow Jones, 7/29). Pelosi and Kennedy said they hope to pass legislation to give the HHS secretary the authority to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers (CongressDaily, 7/29). Pelosi also intends to "aggressively push" the health care agenda of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.), whose proposal would allow people 55 years and older to "buy into" Medicare coverage, provide businesses with tax incentives to expand health care coverage for workers and implement guaranteed health care coverage for veterans, Dow Jones reports (Dow Jones, 7/29).
Pelosi said that if Democrats gain a majority in the House, she would bring "the awesome power of the speaker of the House to bear" to lower the cost of prescription drugs and reduce the number of people without insurance, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 7/29). Pelosi added that the prescription drug benefit under the Medicare law is a "cruel hoax" and that legislators "must repeal and replace it with a real prescription drug benefit" (Dow Jones, 7/29). Kennedy said the legislation was "like throwing a three-foot rope for a man in a 15-foot hole" (CongressDaily, 7/29). He added, "Every day we fail to provide a prescription drug program it is a violation of the commitment of the federal government to seniors of this nation" (Dow Jones, 7/29).