Talent discusses medicine, tax cuts at Cape Girardeau

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Fresh from voting yes on an amendment that promises more affordable prescription drugs, U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, R-Mo., was in Cape Girardeau on Friday to greet supporters at his Federal Building office.

The hour-long open house preceded a local fund-raising event for U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a fellow Republican.

The Senate has been considering legislation to improve Medicare and passed an amendment that would allow reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada. American drug companies sell their products for less in foreign markets, so reimportation is expected to lower costs to consumers.

"I see no reason not to allow reimportation, provided we have confidence in the safety of those drugs," Talent said. "But the answer is a prescription drug benefit in Medicare so you can buy the drugs here at that price."

Emerson has been supporting a similar measure in the House but said she's concerned House leaders won't allow her reimportation language onto that chamber's Medicare bill.

Talent also addressed President Bush's tax cuts, saying working families that didn't earn enough to pay taxes should receive refunds this year the way higher-income families will.

"I think it is a good idea to increase the value of work to people," he said, adding that those complaining about such families being omitted from the first tax cut bill are the same lawmakers who insisted on decreasing the size of that bill.

The senator greeted supporters with handshakes and hugs, listening to their concerns. Bill Churchill, an emergency room nurse at Southeast Missouri Hospital, said he makes it a point to attend such Talent events throughout the area. He asked the senator to sign a picture of the two of them at one in Dexter, and Talent obliged.

"I think Jim has good ideas and is putting them into action," Churchill said. "Someone as young and visionary as him I want to support."

hhall@semissourian

335-6611, extension 121

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