Washington D.C. calls for comprehensive drug benefits

President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senate Democrats called Thursday for comprehensive prescription drug benefits to be added to Medicare.

U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev, Clinton and members of the Senate Finance Committee attended a White House press conference Thursday to underscore the need for drug benefits.

They outlined components that should be included in a Medicare prescription drug benefit passed by Congress.

"The president should be commended for taking the initiative on this issue. These priorities would genuinely help millions of retired and disabled Americans who depend on Medicare for their healthcare needs," Bryan said. "The addition of a prescription drug benefit to the Medicare program is an idea that is long overdue. As the evidence clearly points out, American medicine has significantly changed since the inception of Medicare in the 1960s. The use of prescription drugs has increased many times over, yet Medicare has yet to fully address this growing crisis. This is an attempt to address the role of prescription drugs in the real world," Bryan said.

Bryan, a member of the influential Senate Finance Committee and supporter of a prescription drug benefit for Medicare, believes the "Prescription Drug Principles" are a must for any Medicare legislation passed this session.

Any prescription drug benefit should be: voluntary, accessible to all beneficiaries, designed to provide meaningful protection and bargaining power for seniors, affordable for all beneficiaries and for the program, administered using competitive purchasing techniques and consistent with broader Medicare reform.

In addition, all seniors would be eligible for the Medicare Part D drug benefit, and like Medicare part B, it will be an individual voluntary decision whether or not to choose to enroll for the benefit.

"In the end, any Medicare prescription drug benefit should protect these basic principles. The defense of these basic priorities is an absolute must if we are to ensure the best possible solution for Medicare recipients," Bryan said.


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