Pickering promotes drug plan for seniors
By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
July 3, 2002
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering is expected today to tout a prescription drug benefit plan that has cleared the U.S. House and would let some of the state's senior citizens pay $2 to $5 for every prescription.
Pickering, the Republican 3rd District congressman, planned to speak about the bill at a news conference today in his Meridian office. Pickering was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
In a statement released last week after the bill passed, Pickering said that "Congress is putting seniors first and focusing on doing what is right to help them have better access to affordable prescription drugs."
U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, though, disagrees with Pickering. Shows, the Democratic 4th District congressman, faces Pickering this fall in a race to fill the newly re-drawn 3rd Congressional District.
Shows could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
But Shows' campaign spokesman Troy Colvert said the bill would force senior citizens to join a managed health care organization and require many seniors to buy medications through the mail.
The Republican-backed bill, called the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act, cleared the U.S. House on Friday by a 221-208 vote.
Pickering said that the bill would require 55 percent of Mississippi's 414,000 senior citizens to pay $2 to $5 per prescription with no deductible or monthly premium.
The rest would pay $33 a month and would have to meet a $250 annual deductible.
Those seniors who pay a monthly fee and have annual drug expenses between $250 and $1,000 would pay 20 percent of the cost. Those with expenses between $1,001 and $2,000 would pay 50 percent of the cost.
Medicare would pay all of the costs for seniors with out-of-pocket expenses of $3,700,