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Legislation Department
April 28, 2000

President Leads Charge for Medicare Prescription Drugs

President Clinton, joined by the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate, released a report by Families USA which shows that the prices of prescription drugs most commonly used by seniors increased at almost double the rate of inflation. On average, the price of these drugs increased by 3.9 percent from January 1999 to January 2000 versus 2.2 percent for general inflation. The report also states that seniors with chronic illnesses are often forced to spend over 10 percent of their income on prescription drugs.

The President and the Democratic leaders also criticized the GOP's proposed Medicare prescription drug plan because it would not provide any relief for middle income seniors. Half of the Medicare beneficiaries who lack coverage fall into this category. Vice President Gore also called for a comprehensive Medicare prescription drug benefit at a campaign event.

GOP Leader Acknowledges Wide Gap in Patients' Bill of Rights Negotiations

Senate Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles (R-OK) acknowledged this week that there continues to be substantial differences in the negotiations over patients' rights legislation. This was in contrast to the impression that Nickles attempted to give to the press two weeks ago when he announced that a conceptual agreement had been reached on the important matter of an external appeals process. While GOP leaders are anxious to demonstrate that real progress is being made, in fact there is little to show after nearly two months of negotiations.

Battle Over Granting China Permanent Trade Privileges Rages On: Gephardt Says "No" To PNTR

With Congress in recess, efforts to get the message out that labor says, "No Blank Check for China" sifted to members' home districts. Labor activists have held meetings and rallies in many districts to let their members of Congress know that granting permanent trade privileges to China will drive up the U.S. trade deficit with China costing hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs and keep Chinese workers employed in near slave-like conditions.

Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (MO) announced in this home district that he opposes Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) because "granting PNTR this year renders the U.S. powerless to protect our values and interests."