Schumer and Menendez: Seniors Could Lose Drug Rebates Under Repeal

Posted January 23, 2011 at 3:19pm

Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Bob Menendez (N.J.) warned Sunday that repealing the health care overhaul law could force seniors to refund the government $250 for prescription drug rebate checks that they received last year under the statute.

In a letter to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) dated Sunday, Schumer and Menendez urged Republicans to reconsider their repeal push, citing the consequences it could have on seniors who rely on Medicare’s prescription drug insurance coverage.

“Richard Foster, the Chief Actuary for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has said that ‘in theory,’ seniors would have to return the checks if repeal becomes law,” the two northeastern Democrats wrote to Cantor. “As you know, the burden of returning these funds will be significant on these millions of American seniors. In most circumstances, the individuals have already spent the funds, making the government’s attempt to claw back these payments both impractical and unfair.”

Schumer and Menendez both serve on the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare. Schumer, the Democratic Conference vice chairman, has chief responsibility for political messaging for his caucus.

Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said the House Majority Leader had yet to receive the letter as of Sunday afternoon. He dismissed the Democratic Senators’ stated concerns as more political than substantive.

“Since Sen. Schumer is behind this letter, it’s not shocking it’d be sent to the press before the person it is actually addressed to,” Dayspring said.