June 27, 2003  


Granger: Help with Prescription Drug Costs on the Way for Seniors


Washington, DC – Congresswoman Kay Granger (R-Fort Worth) early this morning voted with a majority of her colleagues in the House of Representatives to modernize Medicare with a prescription drug benefit. H.R. 1, which passed the House by a vote of 216 to 215, would provide seniors with a voluntary, affordable program under Medicare to help them cover the costs of their medications.

"For years we have talked about giving seniors a prescription drug benefit to help them cope with skyrocketing health care costs," said Granger. "This year, under this Congress and with the leadership of this President, we are poised to make the biggest improvement to Medicare in a generation."

The bill would ensure a prescription drug benefit under Medicare for all seniors who chose to participate. The program would have a premium of only around $35, a low deductible of $250, and comprehensive catastrophic coverage for beneficiaries with high costs. The government would pay 80% of costs above the deductible and below $2,000.

In addition, the bill reemphasizes the need to assist low-income seniors by devoting extra help to those who need it most. Low-income enrollees, for example, would have no deductible and pay no premium. Under the coverage, these seniors would pay $2 or less for generics and $5 for brand name drugs.

H.R. 1 strengthens the Medicare program by increasing preventive services such as initial physicals and cholesterol screenings. The bill strengthens Medicare further by adding chronic disease management benefits to keep seniors healthy and out of the hospital. It also changes provider reimbursements to better reflect the cost of delivering efficient, quality care.

"Since its inception in the 1960s, Medicare has provided millions of older Americans with a vital source of medical care," said Granger. "But the program has not kept up with forty years of innovation and breakthroughs in preventative care and prescription medicines. Today, we move one step closer toward updating Medicare to reflect the needs of seniors today."

H.R. 1 must now be reconciled with a Senate-passed Medicare bill. Congresswoman Granger has said she will continue to fight for a Medicare prescription drug benefit until it is signed into law.