What: All Issues : Health Care : Access to Affordable Prescription Drugs : H.R. 1. Prescription Drug Benefit/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Adopt Senate Language Which Insures Drug Coverage For All Seniors During Conference Committee Negotiations.
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H.R. 1. Prescription Drug Benefit/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Adopt Senate Language Which Insures Drug Coverage For All Seniors During Conference Committee Negotiations.
house Roll Call 502     Sep 10, 2003
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Conservative

Both the House and the Senate passed legislation earlier in the congressional session which would provide prescription drug coverage through private companies. Because the legislation which emerged from each legislative body differed in certain respects, a conference committee was convened to iron out the differences between the two bills. One area of difference involved the existence of a "fallback" option if two or more private insurers were not providing drug coverage to a particular area. In the Senate bill, Medicare would provide a federally-funded option of drug coverage to seniors in under-served regions. The House bill contained no fallback option. On this vote, Representative Michaud (D-ME) motioned to instruct House conferees to adopt the fallback option included in the Senate bill during conference committee negotiations. Progressives voted in favor of the motion to instruct based on their support for the fallback option. In their view, the fallback option was necessary to insure that seniors in under-served areas-which are usually poor areas that private companies avoid based on the lack of profit-making opportunities-still receive prescription drug coverage. Conservatives voted against Michaud's motion based on their support for the current form of the House-passed Medicare prescription drug bill. In their view, the House-passed legislation currently in conference committee already contains language to insure that all seniors are provided access to prescription drug coverage. Free-market competition among private insurance companies, which they argued was provided in the underlying bill, would in their view insure that all seniors had access to affordable prescription drug coverage. On a party line vote of 189-220, the motion to instruct was defeated and House conferees were therefore not compelled to adopt the Senate language which provided a prescription drug fallback option for seniors living in under-served areas of the country.

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