Members of an advocacy group held a rally Thursday in Waterloo, outside the local service office of Senator Chuck Grassley, protesting his support of a federal prescription-drug plan. A nonpartisan congressional study reported that more than four-point-four million retirees would be likely to lose employer-provided prescription coverage they have now if a bill proposed by the Republican leadership in Washington goes through. AFL-CIO executive Vice President Jan Laue said it’s no help to American healthcare consumers to privatize Medicare. People who stay in a traditional plan will pay more, she says, because it will be carrying all the sickest clients that insurance companies don’t want and turn down, and concentrating them in the Medicare plan. Laue said the president’s prescription-drug plan will benefit only big pharmaceutical firms and insurance companies. She says many would have to switch, if it’s possible to switch, and in Iowa there aren’t a lot of HMOs to switch to. Members of the Iowa Citizen Action Network charged that the drug proposal being promoted in Congress would leave millions of seniors to pay high drug costs on their own and prevent the government from reining in prescription drug prices. About 100 protestors gathered in downtown Waterloo, many of them in town to attend the annual American Federation of Labor conference going on just across the street.
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