Shortly before Congress passed the Bush administration-sponsored Medicare drug bill, the American Public Health Association said the bill “creates real problems in access to and the cost of prescription drug for seniors,” and urged its members to oppose it.

As the struggle continues to amend or repeal the bill, APHA’s criticisms retain their force. These include the following:

• The bill lacks an adequate prescription drug benefit for millions of seniors who urgently need and deserve a comprehensive and affordable prescription drug benefit provided through the traditional Medicare program;

• The plan fundamentally weakens the Medicare program itself;

• The proposal contains large gaps in coverage;

• The bill disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities in an adverse way;

• The bill forces millions of seniors into private-sector health plans.

Finally, the APHA statement says, “Tell Congress to adopt a plan that offers seniors REAL help and maintains the integrity of the Medicare program.” The statement was issued during the association’s 131st annual meeting in San Francisco.