CONNECTICUT STATE SEN. CHRIS MURPHY: Good morning, this is State Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

For those of you who are paying more than ever for prescription drugs, or find the new Medicare program confusing and expensive, I have bad news for you.

For President Bush, it wasn't enough of a gift to the drug industry to block Medicare from negotiating for the lowest and best prices and it wasn't enough to give that industry billions in subsidies through the prescription drug bill.

The Bush administration announced this week that Medicare premiums will be going up again, and could even carry a new, expensive monthly fee. This new tax on seniors will affect millions of Americans, and thousands of people in Connecticut.

Even though many seniors and disabled Americans have seen their premiums double since 2000, the Bush administration and the Republican Congress' latest scheme is forcing many to pay even higher premiums.

Over the past decade, seniors in this country have been hit with more and more bad news. They face confusing rules, added fees and now, higher premiums. What's worse, Republicans in Congress have done nothing to ease the burden on American seniors.

It's time for new leadership in Congress, to take on President Bush's bad plan and take the Medicare drug program in a new direction.

My opponent, Nancy Johnson, deserves part of the blame. She wrote the confusing Medicare law in 2003. She is also one of many Republicans who opposes allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices — a Democratic idea, and more importantly, a good idea. Simply put, she refuses to make Medicare better, and works tirelessly to stop reform.

But she didn't write this bad legislation alone. Congressional Republicans let lobbyists for big drug companies have a big hand in writing the Medicare bill. The result: a prescription drug program that benefits the drug companies and HMOs instead of seniors.

Today, some seniors here in Connecticut are hitting what is called the "doughnut hole" — when the Medicare program they pay for stops covering the medicines they need.

It's time to change the leadership in Washington so we can fill that doughnut hole and go in a new direction on Medicare.

Over the course of my career in the Connecticut House and State Senate, I've led the fight to ensure lower drug prices for seniors, especially those with lower incomes.

I fought to allow the safe re-importation of prescription drugs in Connecticut and I was the lead sponsor of a bill that imposed a maximum price on essential prescription drugs — something that the U.S. Congress still won't do.

I now serve as chair of the Public Health Committee and worked as part of a prescription drug task force that passed an unprecedented expansion to ConnPACE, Connecticut's own drug program for low-income seniors.

I know what it takes to make prescription drugs more affordable and I'll bring that expertise with me to Congress.

Since 1994, when the GOP took control of Congress, they've raked in $78 million from big drug companies. And my opponent's $730,000 ranks 2nd among members of the House of Representatives who have served since 1990.

My opponent has been in Washington for nearly 24 years, and this Republican Congress has held a majority for 12. It's time for a new direction because 537,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Connecticut and 43 million Medicare beneficiaries in America deserve a Congress who fights for them, not the big drug companies and HMOs.

We need to reform Medicare for seniors here in Connecticut and those across the country. And we can do it by empowering seniors, and creating a program that everyone can understand and prescription drugs that they can afford.

Being healthy should be a right-not a privilege available only to those that can afford it. That is why I am running for Congress. We need a new direction in Washington and as a member of Congress, I'll work tirelessly to finally make this simple principle a reality.

This is State Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Thank you very much for listening.