The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, October 13, 2000

Stabenow's plan: Bring an end to bloated prescription drug prices

By The Building Tradesman

By U.S. Rep. Debbie Stabenow
Candidate for U.S. Senate

Every month, Julia Kanopsky is forced to make a difficult decision. How will she pay for the hundreds of dollars of prescription drugs she needs to stay well? Sometimes she cuts back on food at the grocery store, other times she takes her medication every other day or simply doesn't fill one of her prescriptions. The sad news is, Julia Kanopsky is only one of thousands of seniors across Michigan who have worked hard their whole lives, but are now struggling with the high cost of prescription drugs.

After traveling across the state and talking to many seniors, I have found that Julia Kanopsky's story is remarkably common among older Michiganians. The average senior takes 18 prescription drugs a year, and three out of four seniors do not have reliable prescription drug coverage.

In Congress, I have been leading the fight to lower prescription drug costs for all seniors. Over the last couple months, my opponent has spent millions of dollars on television ads in an attempt to scare and confuse senior citizens on the prescription drug issue. Not only are Sen. Abraham's ads misleading, they are blatantly false. I want to set the record straight. There is NO $600 fee, and my plan wouldn't cost ANY senior $7,000 per year as Senator Abraham's ads claim.

The plan I support is voluntary, so seniors who have good prescription drug coverage could keep it. Seniors who want to participate would pay a small monthly premium - about $25 - and benefit from Medicare negotiating lower prices for medications. Seniors would pay just 50 percent of the new lower prices available under Medicare. Seniors would benefit from lower prices from their very first prescription, no matter what their income.

Sen. Abraham's plan forces even low-income seniors to pay $1,200 before they receive a single dime of assistance. Middle class seniors would be forced to pay $2,500 out of their own pocket before Senator Abraham's plan would help them. In addition, Senator Abraham relies on private insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry - rather than Medicare - to lower costs and administer the program. Even the insurance companies have said relying on them to provide prescription drug coverage for seniors would be an "empty promise to Medicare beneficiaries."

For more than a year, I have been working to lower prescription drug costs for seniors - reading letters from Michigan seniors on the House floor, conducting studies showing the bloated prices charged to seniors and leading efforts to solve this problem in Congress. Meanwhile, Sen. Abraham has voted five times against lowering the cost of prescription drugs for seniors and taken over $140,000 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

Michigan voters have a clear choice. Sen. Abraham has spent six years in Washington voting on the side of the big pharmaceutical companies against prescription drug coverage for seniors. As your next U.S. Senator, I will be voting on the side of Michigan seniors and Michigan families every single time.

Julia Kanopsky shouldn't have to choose between food and medicine. With one more vote in the U.S. Senate pushing for lower prescription drug prices, she won't have to.