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Seniors Protest new Drug Card Program

By AP/KWMU

St. Louis – A federal program supporters say will give senior citizens discounts on prescription drugs started Tuesday.

Drugstores, HMOs and other groups are offering special discount cards they say will knock as much as 20 percent off some prescription costs.

But Myrna Fichtenbaum with the Older Women's League says Congress and President Bush had different motives for passing the plan.

"The fact that the bill that they passed prohibits Medicare from negotiating less expensive prices the way the VA does, is a clear tip-off that this bill was passed for the drug industry," Fichtenbaum said.

Fichtenbaum said Congress should repeal the plan and replace it with one that lets the government get bulk discounts on prescription drugs.

Still, Anita Parran with AARP said the cards will help the most needy seniors.

"AARP supported this prescription drug plan because they felt that many lower-income people would benefit from it," Parran said. "And we had been working on this issue for nearly 40 years."

Parran said AARP wants to expand the program to let Medicare negotiate bulk discounts with drug companies, as the Department of Veterans Affairs does.

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