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Published: Friday, 5/14/2004

Fingerhut seeks reversal of U.S. drug plan to pare costs


Eric Fingerhut, the Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. George Voinovich, said yesterday he would work to reverse the Medicare prescription drug plan.

Mr. Fingerhut, a state senator from Shaker Heights, criticized the plan during a midday visit to the Eleanor Kahle Senior Center in West Toledo, saying Congress could do better.

"It's one of those clear dividing lines" between Mr. Voinovich and himself, the challenger said. "He's for it. I'm against it.

"What seniors in Ohio asked for was two things. They first of all asked for help from the federal government to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, to drive down the cost. And then they asked for some help through their Medicare card with those drugs that they still can't afford," Mr. Fingerhut said. "What they got was completely the opposite. What they got was a half-trillion dollar plan that drives up the cost of prescription drugs, that prohibits the federal government from negotiating down the price of prescription drugs, and that prohibits seniors from going to get the best price themselves from places like Canada."

Seniors are to receive drug discounts this summer.

"It took Congress 40 years to give seniors prescription drugs through Medicare, which is way too long. Now Eric Fingerhut tells Ohio's 1.7 million Medicare seniors that he wants to take it away," Matt Carle, Voinovich campaign manager, said yesterday. "Frankly, Senator Voinovich doesn't believe that Ohioans should have to go to Canada for their prescription drugs. That is why he stood up for Ohio's seniors and delivered this new benefit, which is especially helpful to low-income seniors and those who are very ill.

"Unfortunately, Eric Fingerhut is taking a page from the worn-out Democrat Party playbook, which says when Democrats get desperate they try to confuse seniors with half-truths and distortions. It's sad and cruel," Mr. Carle said.

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