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Background: Rx for Medicare

November 25, 2003 at 12:00 AM EDT

JIM LEHRER: The big changes in Medicare. Senate Leaders Frist and Daschle saw them very differently before today’s vote. First, Senator Frist.

SEN. BILL FRIST: It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. With the bipartisan majority, the United States Senate will enact prescription drug coverage for the first time under Medicare; 40 million seniors and individuals with disabilities will finally have the prescription drug coverage they need and the Medicare choices they deserve.

They will finally be able to take full advantage of the tremendous medical advances that have been made in the almost 40 years since Medicare was enacted. I don’t think it can be overstated that today marks a truly historic advance for America.

SEN. TOM DASCHLE: This is not the final vote. This is the beginning of the end. It is not the end. We will see many, many more votes. I predict that we will be back within the next 12 months. Seniors will demand that we respond to the many deficiencies of this bill and they will not rest until we address them.

So this may be the end of this debate, but it is only the end of the beginning of the long, long debate that I predict will occur, beginning tomorrow, as senior citizens begin to fully appreciate the magnitude of the problems this legislation creates for them. This bill is deeply flawed.