News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Determined opposition to a Medicare benefit prevented the Senate from passing a comprehensive prescription drug bill for older Americans today.

The Senate has spent two weeks debating the issue and how best to provide a drug benefit. Senator Murray and many colleagues contend that Medicare, not private HMOs, should administer the drug benefit.

This difference of opinion prevented the Senate from reaching the 60-vote threshold needed.

The Senate did, however, pass the Greater Access to Affordable Pharmaceuticals (GAAP) Act, which improves market access the market for generic drugs.

"I am disappointed that the Senate could not pass a real Medicare prescription drug benefit. The debate over the last several weeks was fundamentally about two different visions of how to provide a drug benefit. Some of us believe that seniors should have access to prescription drugs within the traditional Medicare system. Others contend that the insurance companies and HMOs should be in control and administer the program.

The House of Representatives chose to put insurance companies in charge of prescription drugs for seniors. That is the wrong approach for seniors who believe that their drug benefit should come through the traditional Medicare program.

I am pleased that the Senate passed the GAAP Act, which will reduce barriers to the consumer marketplace for less costly generic drugs. This is a small but important step to offer consumers some assistance with the cost of prescription drugs.

This fight for a Medicare prescription drug benefit is not over. I will continue to work with colleagues to provide this critically important benefit for older Americans."