Politics

100 HOURS OF LEGISLATION

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CONGRESS.ORG WEEKLY UPDATE       January 7, 2007

100 HOURS OF LEGISLATION

First 100 Hours
 The new Democratic House leadership intends to spend the first  “100 hours” of the legislative session to vote on legislation the Democrats believe are important to the voters.  Weigh in with your views on these issues and we will tabulate the results daily.

LOWER MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PRICES
Should Congress repeal laws that prevent the government from negotiating discount drug purchases from drug companies?
Yes, the government should negotiate for prices the same way big companies do for purchases.

FUND STEM CELL RESEARCH
President Bush vetoed a bill to increase federal funding for certain types of stem cell research, but Democrats will try again this year. Do you support a bill for public funding of embryonic stem cell research?
Yes, we need public funds for stem cell research to ensure this research is done quickly.

PAY AS YOU GO RULES
To help reduce the deficit, House Democratic leaders propose budget rules that requiring Congress to pass spending cuts or tax hikes to offset any new spending or tax cuts. Do you support this?
Yes, Congress needs rules to prevent it from spending more than it takes in.

 

2 thoughts on “100 HOURS OF LEGISLATION

  1. January 12, 2007

    Dear Ms. ******,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding stem cell research. I
    appreciate hearing from you.

    I am a strong supporter and proud cosponsor of legislation to
    expand federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
    Embryonic stem cell research has vast potential for curing diseases
    and saving lives. It is estimated that 400,000 embryos left over
    from in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment exist in clinics across the
    United States, and many will otherwise be destroyed. It is my
    hope that scientists will be able to use these cells to further pursue
    this promising field of research and develop treatments for a
    number of diseases and conditions that affect so many people in
    Wisconsin and across the country. We must recognize the
    enormous potential of this research for discovering new cures and
    therapies for diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and
    spinal cord injuries.

    Millions of patients and families across America await treatment
    and cures for our most deadly and tragic diseases. More than
    ninety thousand Americans are on waiting lists for organ
    transplant. Seventeen of these people will die every day waiting
    for a vital organ. Scientists believe that over half of Americans
    over age 85 may suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, and at least half
    a million Americans currently have Parkinson’s disease. As we all
    know, these kinds of serious diagnoses affect not only the patient,
    but that patient’s family, friends, and community.

    As you know, on August 9, 2001, the President announced that he
    would only allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research
    on the stem cell clusters that were then in existence worldwide. At
    the time of this announcement, there were 78 such lines of cells.
    According to the Congressional Research Service, only 22 of these
    lines remain, and the diversity and life-span, and therefore the
    usefulness, of these cell clusters are in question.

    As you may also know, the Senate voted on three bills related to
    stem cell research on July 18, 2006. H.R. 810, passed in the House
    on May 24, 2005 by a vote of 238-194, allows federal funding for
    embryonic stem cell research only on embryos derived from IVF
    and donated with the express written consent of the individuals
    seeking IVF treatment. These embryos would otherwise be
    destroyed. With my support, the Senate passed this bill by a vote
    of 63-37. Unfortunately, despite overwhelming public support and
    the support of both Houses of Congress, the President failed to sign
    this legislation into law, instead vetoing the bill on July 19, 2006.
    Please know that I will support efforts to pass similar legislation to
    expand funding for embryonic stem cell research during the 110th
    Congress (2007-2008).

    I also voted in favor of the other two bills that the Senate voted on.
    S. 2754, the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies
    Enhancement Act, which encourages adult stem cell research, also
    passed by a vote of 100-0. S. 3504, the Fetus Farming Prohibition
    Act, which bans unethical reproductive research, passed by a vote
    of 100-0 and was signed into law by the President on July 19,
    2006.

    Again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to do so in the
    future regarding this or any other issue of concern to you.

    Sincerely,

    Russell D. Feingold
    United States Senator

    If you wish to contact me again, please visit
    http://feingold.senate.gov/contact.html.

  2. January 26, 2007

    Dear Ms. *****,

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the Medicare prescription
    drug law. I appreciate hearing from you.

    The Medicare population clearly needs help with the rising costs of
    prescription drugs. I supported the Senate-passed version of the
    Medicare Modernization Act (MMA). However, the final version
    of that bill, Public Law 108-173, does little to lower the cost of
    prescription drugs. It keeps Medicare from negotiating price
    discounts and effectively prohibits the importation of prescription
    drugs, all while undermining the entire Medicare program and
    unnecessarily subsidizing private health care providers. For these
    reasons and others, I could not, in good conscience, vote for the
    final version of this bill.

    Since the President signed the bill into law on December 8, 2003
    (Public Law 108-173), too many Medicare beneficiaries in
    Wisconsin and across the country have seen, firsthand, the
    inadequacy of this law and the serious problems that have arisen
    during its implementation. I have heard from a number of
    Wisconsinites who found the prescription drug plan (PDP)
    enrollment process exceedingly confusing. Many people had
    difficulty finding a plan that would cover their prescriptions, while
    others could not get through to Medicare representatives to ask
    questions about the enrollment process.

    When the prescription drug benefit went into effect on January 1,
    2006, many Medicare beneficiaries who had already signed up for
    PDPs or who were automatically enrolled in their PDPs found that
    their plans did not cover certain medications, or that their
    medications would cost more than they could afford. My staff and
    I heard accounts of people in Wisconsin who were unable to fill
    vital prescriptions for insulin and transplant medications. Many
    states, including Wisconsin, have instituted emergency stop-gap
    measures to cover prescriptions for those who are unable to get
    their needed prescriptions through Medicare and their PDPs. On
    January 13, 2005, I joined other members of the Wisconsin
    congressional delegation – Senator Herb Kohl and Representatives
    Tammy Baldwin, Ron Kind, Gwen Moore, and David Obey – in
    sending a letter to Mark McClellan of the agency in charge of
    MMA implementation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
    Services (CMS), asking that he implement an emergency plan to
    see to the needs of those who have been unable to get their
    prescriptions. Unfortunately, the plan CMS implemented was
    inadequate.

    Since the President signed the MMA into law on December 8,
    2003, I have worked to fix some of the other major flaws in the
    law. During the 109th Congress (2005-2006), I worked to extend
    the penalty-free enrollment period and to eliminate billions of
    dollars in unnecessary subsidies to encourage the growth of private
    Medicare plans. I also supported efforts to allow Medicare to
    negotiate lower prescription drug prices and use the savings from
    the lower negotiated drug prices to fill the coverage gap known as
    the “donut hole.” I have also long supported efforts to create a
    competitive marketplace for prescription drugs, and I have
    consistently worked in a bipartisan fashion to allow the safe
    importation of prescription drugs from abroad.

    You may know that S. 3, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price
    Negotiation Act, was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry
    Reid (D-NV) on January 4, 2007. This bill would support the
    Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services
    negotiating for lower prescription drug prices for Medicare
    beneficiaries through the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan,
    which I strongly support. The Senate Finance Committee is
    holding hearings on this issue, and I hope to soon see this bill reach
    the Senate floor.

    Instead of moving Medicare toward privatization, Congress needs
    to enact a meaningful prescription drug benefit under Medicare
    that does not undermine the structure of Medicare itself. I will
    continue to work to make health care, including prescription drugs,
    more affordable.

    Again, thank you for contacting me. I look forward to hearing
    from you in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Russell D. Feingold
    United States Senator

    If you wish to contact me again, please visit
    http://feingold.senate.gov/contact.html.

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