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President Clinton, Democratic Lawmakers Unveil Plans to Extend Prescription Drug Benefits for Older Americans

Aired May 10, 2000 - 2:40 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Saying elderly Americans should not have to choose between pills and food, President Clinton and Democratic lawmakers are unveiling plans today to extend prescription drug benefits for older Americans.

We get more now from CNN's Gene Randall. He is at the White House -- Gene.

GENE RANDALL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, citing the nation's flourishing economy, the president gave his backing to a prescription drug plan produced by House and senate Democrats. Key words used to describe the proposed benefit: optional, affordable and accessible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For our seniors, prescription drugs are not a luxury, they can mean the difference between life and death, between years of anguish and years of fulfillment. At this time of historic prosperity and strength, there is absolutely no reason that we should force seniors to make a choice between their health, their food or their daily existence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RANDALL: Premiums for those who choose to take part in the plan, including Medicare recipients, would begin at $26 a month. For that, the government would pay half the cost of their prescription medications with a first-year cap of $2000, moving up to $5000 in 2009.

Mr. Clinton also promised budget cash for seniors to deal with catastrophic coverage. Estimated cost of the Democratic plan, $200 billion over 10 years.

The president is appealing for Republican support, but Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott says, it is too serious an issue for what he suggests is election-year politics.

Gene Randall, CNN, the White House.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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