Gloves Off As Bush And Kerry Trade Charges On High Drug Costs
Kicking off a major element of his presidential campaign last Wednesday, Democratic candidate U.S. Senator John Kerry banged away at his opponent, incumbent President George W. Bush, for delivering a windfall in profits to large pharmaceutical company owners in the Medicare reform law by opposing importation of cheaper drugs from Canada.
The New York Times quoted a speech by Kerry in a Las Vegas suburb, that said in effect that when the Medicare bill was being written: "George Bush stood right there and said, ‘Nope, we’re not going to help people to have lower cost drugs in America, we’re going to help the big drug companies get a great big windfall’."
But the Bush campaign responded with a strong denunciation of Kerry, charging that drug importation and bulk buying of drugs by the United States government, also barred in the new law, would be too costly. Besides, they said, Kerry didn’t even vote on the final passage of the bill because he was campaigning in the Democratic primaries.
As predicted, the issue of health care and high drug costs for seniors is emerging as one of the top issues in the campaign, with Democrats hammering away at seniors’ dissatisfaction with the prescription drug plan that takes effect in 2006, and the president defending the new law.
The day before Kerry issued his blast at the Medicare law, which was sponsored by Bush and the Republicans, the Times story said results of an independent poll showed that nearly half of those on Medicare don’t like the new law and that large majorities of the seniors approve of drug reimportation and bulk buying, both of which practices bring down the price of drugs.
When he made the charges against Bush last Wednesday, Kerry was applauded as he read off prices for drugs which his campaign research found in a 21-state survey. The prices for all the drugs were far higher in the U.S. than they were in Canada, he said.
No doubt, the Bush–Kerry charge and countercharge on Medicare reform and the price of drugs in the U.S. will continue until the end of the campaign on Election Day in November.
GOV DEDICATES PURPLE HEART MEMORIAL: Governor George Pataki, a host of state officials and the Military Order of the Purple Heart last week dedicated the New York State Purple Heart Memorial in Albany.
Four soldiers from the New York National Guard who were wounded while serving in Iraq were presented with Purple Heart medals at the ceremony.
"The memorial is a fitting tribute to the thousands of New Yorkers who have selflessly served our state and nation and risked their lives so that we may live in freedom," Pataki said.
"The memorial will serve as a powerful reminder for visitors today and for future generations of the tremendous personal courage and sacrifices so many New Yorkers have made to defend our freedom and protect us from threats of terror."
The Purple Heart, the oldest military award in the world, was created by General George Washington in 1782 during the Revolutionary War. It is awarded to those who are wounded while serving in the Armed Forces during a war involving the United States. Nearly two million Americans nationwide have been awarded the Purple Heart medal.
AVELLA AIDS SENIOR CENTERS: Nine senior centers and agencies in Northeast Queens are benefitting from $100,000 granted to them by Councilmember Tony Avella (D–Bayside). The money came out of Avella’s discretionary funds contained in the Fiscal Year 2005 budget.
"I have always made senior services and programs a priority," Avella said in announcing the grants. "This money will be used by the groups in my district to continue important senior programs and services as well as to expand their activities."
Avella said the funds went to Angelo Petromelis Senior Center, College Point; the Clearview Assistance Program; the St. Andrew Avellino Friendship Club; Greater Whitestone Taxpayers Community Center; Samuel Field YM & YWHA Bay Terrace Site (Senior Bus Transportation Program); Selfhelp Scheuer House of Bayside; Selfhelp Clearview Senior Center; Queens College Choral Society, and North Flushing Senior Center at College Point.