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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Medicare Reform

Aired November 25, 2003 - 10:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We take you to Bill Frist now, the Senate majority leader, speaking on the new Medicare reform that passed just moments ago.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: insisted in the United States Senate that this be bipartisan, and so it is with great satisfaction that we stand together in a bipartisan way, with a bipartisan vote, reflecting that spirit of cooperation and partnership from the outset.

SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Well, the president is ready to sign this bill and I'm very happy to have him sign it. But regardless of the legislation, I think the fact that this Congress has been able to deliver on the promises of both political parties over the last three elections is a very significant thing.

Because, you know, people tend to have some cynicism about political leaders. Sometimes we promise more than we should.

This has been promised for a long period of time and I'm glad that we were able to deliver on that promise, because we're going to have 40 million seniors and disabled people that shouldn't have to wait any longer for prescriptions as part of their Medicare coverage.

Medicare, as you know, is very much a part of the social fabric of America. That fabric we've all recognized has had a hole in it for a period of time, that hole being prescription drugs. We're improving and strengthening Medicare by plugging that hole in our safety net.

Seniors need access to affordable prescription drugs; we're giving it to them. Seniors need better Medicare programs with more choices and better benefits, and we're giving that to them. Seniors need to be able to keep the Medicare they have if they like it with no changes and still get prescription drugs; we're giving that to them with the right to choose.

Finally, seniors in rural states like mine of Iowa or rural states like represented up here need better treatment for Medicare reimbursement formulas, and we're giving that to them in a very dramatic way by increasing reimbursements so that rural areas will have the same quality of care that people in urban areas get.

So this is a great day for our seniors and glad to be successful at this.

SEN. MAX BAUCUS (D), MONATANA: It's a privilege to be a part of... COLLINS: We have been listening in a little bit on the very latest on the Medicare reform bill that has just passed in the Senate. And as we did mention minutes ago, lawmakers gave that final approval to the new prescription drug benefit for some 40 million Americans. It becomes a key victory for President Bush, but members of both parties are voicing concerns over the cost.

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