Changes sought in new drug plan

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The largest seniors group in the United States, the AARP, is urging Congress to change the new prescription drug plan to lower prices and help the poor.

The program started Jan. 1 and combined all senior citizens into one Medicare system, allowing them to choose one of dozens of private drug coverage plans.


Four weeks into it, complaints are coming in from seniors and pharmacies of incomplete coverage, overpricing and long waits on hold when calling with questions or complaints.

AARP policy director, John Rother, said Friday he wants to amend the law to allow government health officials to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers instead of the free market approach used now.

He also said the government shouldn't count assets such as a house in determining whether someone qualifies for low-income subsidies and asked Congress to change that too, The Washington Post reports.

The AARP threw its support behind the bill creating the program, just before a vote on it. It said it would seek to change it later.

Now it and some Democratic members of Congress are going down that road.


A new bill has the support of the AARP and 19 House Democrats have sent a letter to President Bush urging him to address the problem with the current drug program during his State of the Union speech Tuesday.

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