BIO Responds to Medicare Bill Introduced by Florida's Bilirakis

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 23, 1999) -- Carl B. Feldbaum,president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), today issued the following statement on the Medicare prescription drug plan introduced in Congress by U.S. Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-Fla.).

"Congressman Bilirakis' proposal is a noteworthy addition to thedebate over how to improve Medicare beneficiaries' access to prescription drugs," Feldbaum said.

"Although we have not seen details of the plan, it seems to address one of BIO's key principles for Medicare reform. The Bilirakis bill attempts to make sure the poorest and sickest seniors have access to advanced drugs when they need them the most.

"However, this legislation does not appear to meet another equally essential BIO principle, which is targeting subsidies for low-income beneficiaries using market-oriented, private sector approaches to achieve this objective."

"The bill recognizes the value of stop-loss coverage, which wouldcap seniors' out of pocket expenses for drugs, but we do not support Bilirakis' proposal for federal government administration of such a benefit. We would prefer a private market delivery system for a stop-loss program.

"In addition, BIO is concerned the Bilirakis bill is not part of a comprehensive plan to modernize the Medicare system. A drug benefit should be integrated into an overall reform of Medicare to make sure seniors get the best health care available."

BIO represents more than 830 biotechnology companies,academic institutions and state biotech centers in 47 states and 26 nations. Its members are involved in the research and development of health care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.