BIO Says Bush Proposal On Medicare Drug Plan Moves Debate In Positive Direction

WASHINGTON, DC (January 30, 2001) –Carl B. Feldbaum, president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement on President George W. Bush’s Immediate Helping Hand proposal, which gives states funds to assist low-income Medicare beneficiaries in obtaining prescription drugs.

“The president’s proposal is laudable,” Feldbaum said, “andaddresses two principles BIO has advocated since the beginning of the debate over increasing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to prescription drugs: make sure low-income seniors have access to medicines and provide all seniors with catastrophic coverage so they get the medicines they need when their drug costs are the highest.

“Another key BIO principle, however, is the critical need for comprehensive Medicare reform,” Feldbaum observed. “While it is clearly not President Bush’s intention to stop with the Helping Hand state-based program, BIO has concerns that this initial proposal may impede comprehensive Medicare reform and create an inconsistent patchwork of drug coverage initiatives that vary from state to state.

“BIO agrees with the president that comprehensive Medicare reform must be accomplished in a bipartisan fashion and we look forward to working with the White House and Congress to achieve that goal.”

BIO represents more than 940 biotech companies, academic institutions and state biotech centers in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.