Statement by AARP CEO Bill Novelli on Senate Markup for Medicare Prescription Drug Legislation

We are pleased that the Senate Finance Committee has completed markup of a bipartisan Medicare bill with prescription drug coverage and other elements to strengthen Medicare for the future. We applaud the Committee’s decision to provide drug coverage to all Medicare beneficiaries and provide additional support to more low-income beneficiaries.

In the House, the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees are likely to complete their Medicare bills next week. This is also a positive development. It is important to have legislation passed and signed into law by President Bush this year.

During the past several sessions of Congress, AARP members and their families have been urgently asking their elected leaders to do something about the high and rising cost of prescription drugs. Through letters and phone calls, rallies and forums, advertising, Congressional office visits and voter education, our members have helped lawmakers realize that a Medicare drug benefit can do the most to meet their needs.

As the Senate bill reaches the floor, we expect that additional improvements can be achieved. AARP believes it is necessary to continue to narrow gaps in coverage and to make the benefit affordable enough so that most beneficiaries will enroll in the program. We also are working with the leadership of the House of Representatives to refine its legislation to best serve our members and all older Americans.