Berry: drug plan won't benefit seniors

(November 6, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- An Arkansas congressman says he fears drug manufacturers will benefit most from a prescription-drug benefit plan being discussed by Congress -- and that senior citizens will be short-changed. Marion Berry is a member of a conference commitee on a bill to create a drug benefit plan for the elderly. He wants costs held to a level comparable to what people in other nations pay, but doesn't expect the bill to include that provision. Instead, the bill will focus on the use of the private sector to administer the new benefits in the hope that competition will keep costs down. Bills passed by the House and Senate would subsidize private insurers so they can offer general health coverage and drug benefits to the elderly. Recipients could stay in Medicare or sign up for a private plan. Berry says he likes the Medicare system because it is geared toward delivering a service, not a profit. Berry is the only licensed pharmacist in Congress.