Carper First democrat to Join Breaux-Frist Medicare Reform Effort, Seeks Compromise Combining Graham Drug Plan with Breaux-Frist Competitive Reforms

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) became the first Democratic co-sponsor of Senators John Breaux (D-LA) and Bill Frist’s (R-TN) plan for a competitive restructuring of Medicare, popularly known as “Breaux-Frist II”. Calling the proposal “a compelling new vision for Medicare in the 21st Century,” Carper pledged to use the impetus for expanding Medicare drug coverage to promote reform of Medicare’s long-term finances. “Together, the Graham prescription drug bill and the Breaux-Frist reform bill tackle two of the most serious issues facing this Congress – prescription drug coverage for our seniors and long-term solvency for our children,” Carper said. “I have a 79-year-old mother in a nursing home and understand the heavy burden prescription drug costs place on family. I also have two young sons and worry about the crushing burden they will bear if Medicare becomes insolvent as my generation begins to retire.” Carper is also a prime co-sponsor of Senator Bob Graham’s “Medicare Reform Act of 2001,” and hopes to work with the sponsors of both bills to create a compromise that integrates the Graham prescription drug benefit into traditional Medicare, while allowing private plans to compete to deliver a modernized package of benefits to Medicare’s 39 million beneficiaries. “Of the many possible designs for a prescription drug benefit, I believe Senator Graham’s provides the best value for the money we’ve set aside in the budget,” Carper said. “However, I strongly support the efforts of Senators Breaux and Frist to introduce greater competition and choice into Medicare. When private companies are allowed to compete on the basis of price and quality, costs will be reduced and the quality of service will rise.”