Sessions pitches plans

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 28, 2004

U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions made stops Thursday in Marengo, Hale and Perry counties, discussing everything from the war on terrorism to the war against inadequate healthcare.

As part of frequent stops around the state, Sessions chose two hospitals – both in Greensboro and Demopolis — as his setting to explain the new Medicare prescription drug law and a new drug discount card.

“We passed the $400 billion Medicare prescription drug bill with about $40 billion of that going to benefit rural hospitals,” Sessions said.

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He said over the next 10 years, the state of Alabama would receive $1 billion more a year than ever before. He also said the 100 different hospitals in Alabama would receive another $3 million a year due to this law.

“The states of Alabama and Mississippi are the most unfairly treated states when it comes to the wage index,” Sessions said.

He said .72 of the wage index was based on the wages of the population in the area. He also said when the people don’t work the wage gets even worse and when the help was needed, it never came.

Under a previous wage index, rural hospitals in Alabama would receive far less in Medicare reimbursements because that index was so low. For instance, the reimbursement for a surgical procedure in Atlanta would have been far greater than the same procedure in Demopolis simply because people in this city make less than people in Atlanta make.

“They have been cheating us in terms of funds,” Sessions said.

He said he couldn’t understand why the doctors of the area are paid less than in New York or other big cities for the same kinds of jobs they perform. He also said the people of Alabama pay the same Medicare tax and he couldn’t understand that either.

“As medicine changes, we need to change with it,” Sessions said.

He said a person making $12,600 or less will receive free prescription drugs. He also said that everybody will have a drug discount card that will save that person anywhere from 10-20 percent a year off their drug bills.

“Around June, everyone will get a chance to pick a card that’s right for them,” Sessions said.

He said one of the biggest problems they were currently facing was trying to get everyone signed up either on the Internet or by telephone.

After Sessions was finished speaking about the medical issues, he spoke on some other current issues in the news.

* He talked about American troops stationed in Iraq and other parts of the globe. He said he was overseas not long ago and saw, first hand, the work the troops are doing with the Iraqi people. “I have never been in heat like that before, and you think Alabama is hot.”

* He also talked the growth of the United States in terms of jobs across the country. He said during the third quarter, the United States had an 8.2 percent increase in new jobs, which is the highest it has been in the past 20 years.

“We’ve gained 288,000 new jobs last month and 308,000 new jobs so far this month.”