Herseth: Change needed in drug plan Stephanie Herseth by David Lias Stephanie Herseth found a captive audience in Vermillion April 22 when she visited the Senior Center.
"I took the opportunity to visit with a lot of folks and talk with them about the Medicare prescription drug benefits that were enacted at the end of last year," she said.
Senior citizens stand to pay thousands of dollars out of their own pockets unless changes are made in that benefit plan, she said.
"The cost of medications is rising much more rapidly than the rise in inflation," Herseth said. "So we have bi-partisan legislation that I support that would permit the re-importation of prescription drugs from Canada."
Herseth said she understands concerns that independent and chain pharmacies would have about the safety of drugs that re-imported from Canada.
"I've had a chance to talk to folks about that," she said, "and it's almost more trying to impose of level of accountability on prescription drug manufacturers who need to be better partners with American taxpayers."
Herseth, who narrowly lost her first U.S. House run in 2002, is facing Republican Larry Diedrich in the June 1 special election to fill former congressman Bill Janklow's seat through 2004. The seat has remained vacant since Janklow's resignation in January.
Herseth and Diedrich will likely meet again in the Nov. 8 general election.
Although the high cost of prescription drugs had been a common issue of political campaigns
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two years ago, Herseth said discussions of the issue in this campaign have a different twist.
"At that time (the 2002 campaign) we didn't have the legislation," she said. "I've taken the time to really educate myself on the specifics of what this legislation does and does not do.
"For example, does it help a number of very low income seniors? Yes, it does," Herseth said. "But it also has a number of very stringent asset requirements and thresholds."
The bill does provide savings, she said, noting a person now paying $200 a month for drugs would save $25 a month. A person paying $300 a month would save $100 monthly.
In addition, seniors can enroll for their choice of Medicare-endorsed drug discount cards starting May 3, and begin using the cards June 1.