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Newt Gingrich personally urged members of Congress to vote for a controversial Medicare expansion bill in 2003, confirm two GOP congressmen who were in the room.
Gingrich, who is running for president, has said he never lobbied members of Congress after he resigned as House speaker in 1998. But U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake and former congressman Butch Otter - now his state's governor - told The Des Moines Register this week that Gingrich met with on-the-fence Republicans to persuade them to vote for the prescription drug bill.
Flake and Otter, who have both endorsed Mitt Romney for president, said about 30 Republican House members were holding out against the bill in the fall of 2003 because they were concerned that the proposal would expand the federal deficit when Gingrich held a private meeting of Republican House members.
“He told us, ‘If you can’t pass this bill, you don’t deserve to govern as Republicans,’ ” said Flake, who represents an Arizona district. “…If that’s not lobbying, I don’t know what is.”
Otter said: “I can’t define lobbying, but as a Supreme Court justice once said about pornography, I know it when I see it. I felt we were being lobbied.”
Yes, it was the Republicans driving the clown car the last time that Congress screwed with Medicare. In case you don't recall, Medicare Part D was passed in 2003, and went into effect in 2006 leaving thousands of seniors without medication, and introduced us to the "doughnut hole." Trips to the pharmacy became a "nightmare" for seniors with new co-pays for previously free medications, mountains of time-consuming, mind-numbing paperwork to fill out even with staff especially trained to help navigate the mess.
Seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D plans pay 58 percent more for the most commonly prescribed drugs than Americans who buy their medications through health plans administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a 2007 report.
Under the 2003 Medicare prescription-drug law, the government is barred from harnessing the buying power of 22.5 million Americans - the number of people now receiving some kind of drug benefits under Medicare - to get a better deal on prescription medications.
For example, the cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor, the cost of a year's supply of 20 milligram tablets would be $1,485.96 under the cheapest Medicare Part D plan, compared to $127.44 under the VA.
$1,485.96...that's a lot of doughnut holes.