Health care costs are rising, and families who have committed their time and money to caring for an elderly relative or friend need assistance. Our seniors should not be forced into nursing homes simply because they do not have the financial resources to provide for their own long-term health care in their own homes. As a cosponsor of The Long-Term Care and Retirement Security Act, I understand this problem. This legislation would create a $3,000 tax credit for long-term health care expenses, and allows individuals who purchase long-term health care insurance to deduct the cost of the premiums from their income taxes. Long-term care insurance can help prepare ourselves and our loved ones for a secure and healthy retirement; we should be encouraging its use. I have personally spoken to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert regarding my support for this piece of common-sense legislation, and I will continue to work hard to see that it becomes law.

I have always supported legislation that would ensure senior citizens and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, make medical decisions. Why the idea of having control over your own health care is foreign to some on Capitol Hill has always amazed me. Unequivocally, all senior citizens deserve prescription drug coverage under Medicare. Furthermore, the use of prescription drug cards that offer additional discounts to seniors who enroll will reduce the price of drugs.

This summer, the House of Representatives will debate a prescription drug benefit for seniors enrolled in Medicare. I share Speaker Dennis Hastertís vision that such a benefit be accessible to all seniors, that the cost of prescription drugs be reduced, that Medicare must be modernized, and that it must be kept as a promise to our seniors as an entitlement. As such, Republicans have set aside $350 billion over the next ten years to deliver the prescription drug benefit our seniors deserve.