THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Wednesday, June 14, 2000
CHALLENGING REPUBLICANS TO PROVIDE ALL SENIORS WITH
A REAL MEDICARE BENEFIT OPTION
"A private insurance model simply cannot guarantee affordable coverage for all. To make the promise of affordable coverage real for all older Americans, there must be a true Medicare drug option...Anything less would be an empty promise."
President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, June 14, 2000
Today, President Clinton, along with Senate Democratic Leader Daschle, House Democratic Leader Gephardt, and representatives of older Americans, people with disabilities, and pharmacists, challenged the Republicans to ensure that all seniors have access to a real Medicare prescription drug benefit. The President stated that he is open to private insurance options, as the Republicans are proposing, but only if all seniors have the ability to choose an affordable, defined, fee-for-service drug benefit under Medicare. The President will point out that a private insurance model that does not provide such a Medicare option for all beneficiaries is nothing more than an empty promise.
Voicing Concern About The Republican Plan. Today, representatives of millions of older Americans and people with disabilities joined President Clinton and the Democratic leadership in voicing their concern over the Republican plan to provide a prescription drug benefit to Medicare beneficiaries. According to the sketchy details available, the Republican plan would provide the benefit through a flawed Medigap-like model that could not assure its availability or affordability to Medicare beneficiaries. The Republican plan appears to:
- Fail to assure the availability or stability of drug coverage options by building on the flawed private Medigap insurance market rather than adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare;
- Provide a private insurance benefit - not a Medicare benefit. Beneficiaries would pay expensive premiums to private Medigap plans rather than to Medicare for an affordable option;
- Fail to assure the affordability of coverage options;
- Fail to guarantee a meaningful, defined benefit; and
- Limit choice of drugs and pharmacies.
Calling on Congress to Offer a Real Medicare Drug Benefit. The President stated that he welcomes efforts to provide affordable coverage to all older Americans, but emphasized that a private insurance drug benefit cannot work to achieve this outcome. He indicated that he is open to private insurance options, but only if all seniors have the ability to choose an affordable, defined, fee-for-service drug benefit under Medicare.
Rejecting the Republican Legislative Process. Advocates for seniors and people with disabilities joined the President in rejecting the partisan legislative process chosen by the House, which fails to provide older Americans and people with disabilities the time necessary to adequately evaluate the implications of the legislation. The President called on Congress to work together in a fair, bipartisan fashion to pass a prescription drug benefit that is meaningful and affordable to all beneficiaries.
President's Plan Extends Prescription Drugs to All Medicare Beneficiaries. The President's plan to offer a Medicare prescription drug benefit is:
- Accessible to all beneficiaries;
- Designed to give beneficiaries meaningful protection and bargaining power;
- Affordable to all beneficiaries and the program; and
- Part of a larger plan to strengthen and modernize Medicare.
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