June 25,1999

Roth Announces Intention to Move Bipartisan Medicare Reform Bill with Prescription Drug Benefit

WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today announced that he intends to put together a bipartisan Medicare reform bill with a prescription drug benefit.

"I believe very strongly that the Finance Committee has the opportunity now to address the challenges facing Medicare. This year alone, we have held half a dozen hearings where we have heard from 70 witnesses, including compelling testimony from Senator John Breaux and Congressman Bill Thomas on the work of the Bipartisan Commission on Medicare reform. The missing piece, that I hope will be unveiled soon, is the President's Medicare reform plan.

"It is critically important that we not squander this opportunity to work together in favor of pursuing self-serving, partisan, and short-term advantages. Our efforts should be focused on a bipartisan pursuit of real solutions to Medicare's real problems. We must remember that this is a shared responsibility, and that the American public has every right to demand the best from us.

"Toward this end, as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I will be listening to the views of those who have ideas about Medicare reform and prescription drug coverage that should be taken into consideration. Over the next two months, I will develop a Medicare reform proposal based on testimony from our hearings and members' input. I intend to put this proposal before the Committee in the fall for consideration. The Finance Committee will work together in a bipartisan manner, as we always do, to reach a consensus on this important issue.

"One of the key issues that we must address in any reform proposal is ensuring that the poor and sick elderly have access to prescription drugs. I fully intend to include a prescription drug benefit in our bipartisan package to address this problem in a serious way, without disrupting the U.S. pharmaceutical industry's laudable efforts in research and development."