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The Medicare Modernization And Prescription Drug Act Of 2003

November 28, 2003

Washington, DC ---- Congressman Rush released the following statement in opposition to the conference agreement on H.R. 1, the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2003:

This conference report represents an example of legislating at its worst: it is not a document that the U.S. House of Representatives should be proud of.

First, the conference deliberations went forward in near secrecy: as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I was systematically and consistently excluded from the conference deliberations by the Republicans.

If Democrats had been part of the deliberations on this proposal, we would not have before us a conference report that reinvents the Medicare program as we and our senior constituents know it. My constituents in the First Congressional District did not send me to the U.S. Congress to dismantle the Medicare program.

This proposal begins the devolution of Medicare from an entitlement program to a voucher program that will leave many senior citizens and disabled Medicare beneficiaries worse off than they are today.

If this conference agreement becomes law, in my state of Illinois:

03,950 Medicare beneficiaries will lose their retiree health benefits.
69,500 Medicaid beneficiaries will pay more for the prescription drugs that they need.
10,000 fewer senior citizens in Illinois will qualify for the low income protections because of an assets test.
2,700 Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois will pay more for their Part B premiums because of formula changes throughout this conference agreement.

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I have been and will continue to be, committed to enacting meaningful, affordable and universally available prescription drug benefits the senior citizens in the First Congressional District and throughout this great nation.

This conference agreement does not do that. It is flawed. Even its proponents have admitted that if enacted it will take years to correct the inequities, disparities and coverage gaps that will result.

We could have crafted a meaningful prescription drug benefit bill for Medicare beneficiaries but it was not done. In its haste to get a bill, the leadership of this Congress has done, both this House, and this nation, a tremendous disservice.

I will work to defeat this conference agreement so that we can craft a meaningful prescription drug benefit package that will provide our senior citizens with real benefits and a bill our seniors- can embrace.