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Talent Holds Hearing on Medicare Reform

Mo Sen. Jim Talent (KWMU File Photo)
Mo Sen. Jim Talent (KWMU File Photo)

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – U.S. Senator Jim Talent says Congress needs to pass a prescription drug benefit plan for seniors on Medicare.

The Missouri Republican held a U.S. Senate Aging Committee field hearing Wednesday in St. Louis.

He heard from health care and government officials-and from 77-year-old Pacific resident Audrey Vallely. She spends about $100 each month on medication for osteoarthritis and a sinus disease.

"Sometimes it is a choice between buying prescription drugs or paying rent, buying food or just living with air conditioning in the summer," Vallely said.

Talent says seniors could get a 10-25% discount on medicine if the Medicare law passes. He also says the 38-year-old Medicare program has not kept pace with advances in health care, and needs the major changes.

"This is something that Congress has actually budgeted," Talent said about prescription drug coverage. "It's set aside $40 billion a year, several years ago, so as long as we don't go over that limit, we have the money to be able to do it."

Some seniors oppose the plan now going through Congress-saying it could hurt low-income Medicare users.