by Steven Ertelt
January 15, 2007
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Pro-life groups are distressed about the passage of a prescription drug bill in the House of Representatives last week that they say would result in rationing of drugs in Medicare. The House approved HR 4 on a 255-170 vote with Democrats backing the bill and most Republicans opposing it.
The measure is intended to make prescription drugs more affordable, and seniors groups such as AARP strongly supported it.
Yet, pro-life groups worry the bill will limit the right of older people to spend their own money to save their own lives by effectively imposing government price controls on prescription drugs in Medicare.
They’re concerned about denying older Americans access to groundbreaking, innovative drugs against their will.
National Right to Life, which was at the forefront of past efforts to allow retirees to use their own money to get access to lifesaving drugs, had asked lawmakers to oppose the bill.
"Under the guise of ‘negotiation,’ the government already sets drug prices for those in the veterans’ health program, and its participants are denied access to 81% of the new drugs approved by the FDA since 2000," Burke Balch, the NRLC medical ethics director said in a statement sent to LifeNews.com.
Balch said the House vote "threatens to force the same death-dealing rationing on older people by limiting not what the government spends but what senior citizens themselves choose to spend of their own money to save their own lives."
Wisconsin Right to Life joined in opposing the bill saying that its provision "amount to the involuntary denial of life-saving medical treatment through rationing" via price controls.
The bill now heads over the Senate, which has held a hearing on the subject matter of it. Committee and floor votes in the Senate are expected soon. However, should Congress send the measure to President Bush’s desk, the president has indicated he will veto it.
The White House issued a policy statement on Bush’s behalf noting the bill "limits access to lifesaving drugs," adding, "If H.R. 4 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill."
The House vote was 29 votes short of a two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto and the Senate may not have enough for an override either.
Related web sites:
NRLC Info on HR 4 – https://www.nrlc.org/HealthCare/Index.html