Legislation a solid first step, but needs improvement
Jun 27 2003
WASHINGTON, DC - Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) said the $400 billion Medicare prescription drug bill, which the Senate passed 76-21 early this morning, is an "important, if limited, first step" toward addressing a critical issue for elderly Americans. Carper voted for the legislation but acknowledged the bill is "not everything I would have hoped for." Specifically, he criticized coverage gaps that would force older Americans to shoulder more out-of-pocket costs as their prescription drug bills increase, as well as the possibility that some Medicare beneficiaries could lose their private drug coverage as a result of the bill. "This bill is an important, if limited, first step toward addressing what clearly is a pressing priority, not just for our elderly population, but for our nation as a whole," said Carper. "While it's not perfect, I am unwilling to walk away from the table this year with nothing for Delaware's seniors. They have waited too long and the need is too great." "This bill is not everything I would have hoped for. But just as I pledged when I ran for the Senate to work in a bipartisan fashion to get results, I pledge today to continue to work to better the bill before it is signed into law." During debate on the bill this week, Carper voted for an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) that would have eliminated the coverage gap and cosponsored an amendment offered by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) that would have helped prevent employers from dropping their coverage for their retirees. Both amendments failed. Carper said he would work with his Republican and Democratic colleagues to find ways to fix those problems in the legislation before it is signed into law. "I continue to believe that we should provide our seniors with a quality prescription drug benefit and will work to ensure that filling the gap in coverage that exists in the present bill is given greater priority in future budgets than it was in this year's budget. I also believe it is a mistake to shun rather than welcome employer efforts to wrap around the new Medicare benefit, and I will work to rectify that mistake as we move forward." A full copy of the senator's floor statement can be found at carper.senate.gov.