THE WHITE HOUSE AT WORK
Tuesday, June 29, 1999
PRESIDENT CLINTON AND VICE PRESIDENT GORE:
STRENGTHENING MEDICARE FOR THE 21st CENTURY
- "In a nation bursting with prosperity, no senior should have to choose between buying food and buying medicine... My Medicare plan is credible, sensible, fiscally responsible. It will secure the health of Medicare while improving the health of our seniors. And we can achieve it."
- President Bill Clinton
- June 29, 1999
Today, at the White House, President Clinton unveiled his plan to modernize and strengthen the Medicare program to prepare it for the challenges it faces in the 21st Century. This historic initiative would make Medicare more competitive and efficient; modernize and reform Medicare's benefits, including the provision of a long-overdue prescription drug benefit and cost-sharing protections for preventive benefits; and make an unprecedented long-term financing commitment to the program that would extend the life of the Medicare trust fund until 2027. The President called on Congress to work with him to reach a bipartisan consensus on needed reforms this year.
Making Medicare More Competitive and Efficient. Since taking office, President Clinton has worked to pass Medicare reforms that have saved hundreds of billions of dollars and helped to extend the life of the Medicare trust fund from 1999 through 2015. Building on this success, his new plan:
- gives Medicare new private-sector purchasing and quality improvement tools to improve care and constrain costs;
- injects true price competition among Medicare managed care plans, making it easier for beneficiaries to make informed choices about their plan options and saving money over time for both beneficiaries and the program;
- reduces average annual Medicare spending growth, ensuring that program growth does not significantly increase after most of the Medicare provisions of the Balanced Budget Act expire in 2003; and
- takes administrative and legislative action to smooth out provisions in the Balanced Budget Act which may be affecting Medicare beneficiaries' access to quality care.
Modernizing Medicare's Benefits. The current Medicare benefits package does not include all the services needed to treat health problems facing the elderly and people with disabilities. To address this, the President's plan:
- establishes a new prescription drug benefit that is affordable and available to all Medicare beneficiaries;
- eliminates copayments and deductibles for all preventive services covered by Medicare, including colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurements, pelvic exams, prostate cancer screening, and mammographies;
- rationalizes cost-sharing requirements to help pay for the prescription drug and preventive benefits by adding a 20% copayment for clinical laboratory services and indexing the Part B deductible for inflation;
- reforms Medigap policies by working to add a new lower-cost option with low copayments and provide Medicare beneficiaries easier access to and a better understanding of Medigap policies; and
- includes the President's Medicare Buy-In proposal which provides an affordable coverage option for vulnerable Americans between the ages of 55 and 65.
Strengthening Medicare's Financing for the 21st Century. The elderly population will double from almost 40 million today to 80 million over the next three decades, creating a need to strengthen Medicare financing. To accomplish this, the President's plan dedicates 15% of the budget surplus to extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund until at least 2027.
The White House Briefing Room
The White House at Work Archives