Harmful Medicare Drug Bill Passes Congress

Following the House’s passage on Saturday by a vote of 220-215, the Senate cleared the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act to be sent to the White House today by a vote of 54-44. According to the Older Women’s League (OWL), the Medicare Prescription Drug bill (H.R. 1) will cause millions to lose their employer-sponsored health insurance and many will face increases in premiums as they are forced into private demonstration projects and private insurance companies reap billions of dollars in tax cuts in subsidies.

A filibuster in the Senate this weekend, led by Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), failed by a cloture vote of 70-29 yesterday. Immediately following the cloture vote, Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) made a point of order against the bill claiming it violated various provisions in the Fiscal 2004 Budget Resolution (H. Con. Res. 95), the Congressional Quarterly reports. Sen. Daschle’s point of order failed by a vote of 61-39.

As women account for more than 70% of the elderly poor and comprise the majority of those who are on both Medicare and Medicaid, women will suffer the greatest impact of these proposed changes. The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) has joined with OWL and other individual women’s organizations, including the Feminist Majority and the National Women’s Law Center, and consumer and labor organizations in opposition to this legislation. According to the National Women’s Law Center, “this proposal is harmful to the poorest and sickest women who’s out of pocket expenses would increase above what Medicaid currently allows and co-payments would dramatically increase further in future years.”

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Older Women's League 11/18/03; CQ Today Midday Update 11/24/03; National Women's Law Center 11/19/03; Associated Press 11/25/03; CBS.MarketWatch.com 11/25/03

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