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CU urges Congress to approve meaningful Medicare prescription drug plan

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Consumers Union urges Congress to approve meaningful Medicare prescription drug plan

Washington, D.C. — Adrienne Hahn, senior legislative counsel for Consumers Union, made the following statement today in support of the Medicare prescription drug bill introduced by Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota and other members of Congress:
“Prescription drugs are an increasingly important part of the healthcare needs of people who receive Medicare. To get the prescription drugs they need, many Medicare recipients have to pay large out-of-pocket costs. For instance, the typical senior without prescription drug coverage spends 34 percent of after-tax income on healthcare. When you consider that 54 percent of Medicare beneficiaries make less than $15,000 a year, it is obvious how difficult and widespread this financial burden is.
“This bill subsidizes premiums and cost sharing for Medicare recipients with incomes below 135 percent of the poverty level. By doing so, it alleviates the enormous financial burden that prescription drugs put on the majority of seniors with modest incomes. It also offers a catastrophic benefit with a ‘stop-loss’ provision that puts a limit on those costs.
“We know about the recent cases of Medicare beneficiaries in rural and hard-to-serve areas who have lost their health coverage. The bill ensures that rural beneficiaries would receive the same prescription drug benefit as other beneficiaries guaranteed under this bill. The Secretary of Health and Human Services would provide bonus payments to rural pharmacies and the private entities serving those areas to ensure rapid delivery of prescription drugs.
“Congress has an important opportunity to protect Medicare recipients from exorbitant prescription drug costs. We urge Congress to pass this bill as soon as possible.”
For more information contact: Adrienne Hahn, (202) 462-6262