New legislation introduced this week in Congress may finally end years of Congressional efforts to privatize Medicare that for too long have put industry profits ahead of seniors' needs.  The Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, (HR 684),sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin and Representatives Marion Berry and Jan Schakowsky, creates a prescription drug program managed by Medicare while also  requiring the government to negotiate for lower drug prices.  Our President, Barbara Kennelly, has testified numerous times before Congress urging these changes to the flawed Part D program.  Today she says:
"Part D has provided a greater benefit to the drug companies than the millions of seniors who need help with the costs of their prescription drugs. Since the passage of the MMA in 2003, drug company profits have risen while at the same time seniors have been forced to pay escalating costs for many of the most popular medicines. It's time for Congress to reverse this mistake and give seniors what they really want; a government operated Part D plan that harnesses the buying power of millions of seniors to obtain the best pricing for medicines they truly need but often cannot afford to buy." ...Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO
 Sponsors of the bill say Medicare could save as much as $20 billion a year for the next 10 years if just half of the current beneficiaries switched to the government-run plan.   Numerous studies have also shown government-negotiated drug prices, such as seen in the Veteran's Affairs program, are significantly lower than those currently paid by Medicare.    These are sensible, common-sense reforms to Medicare which can create real savings for the program.  We also support President Obama's call for the elimination of billions of dollars of outrageous subsidies to insurers providing private Medicare Advantage plans.  While these corporate giveaways have certainly been good for industry, they have weakened Medicare by draining $169 billion over the next ten years from the program and stealing more than a year of solvency.  This legislation is a good first start to swing the pendulum back to where beneficiaries needs are the priority not privatization politics.  A copy of the National Committee's endorsement letter of this legislation is on our website.