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Capital Hill Watch Alert

Medicare Prescription Drug Bill

As early as this week, the House of Representatives and the Senate are expected to consider the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill.  To view a summary of the Conference Agreement visit: Summary of the Medicare Conference Agreement.  

For the nation's 40 million Medicare patients, the Medicare package would expand benefits by some $400 billion over 10 years.  The measure starting in 2006 would create a prescription drug benefit.  At a monthly premium of $35, participants would be offered an opportunity to purchase coverage.  Seventy-five percent of drug costs up to $2,200 would be covered after a $275 deductible.  For out-of-pocket expenses there would be no coverage between $2,200 and $3,600.  Coverage would resume after that, with a limited co-payment being required by beneficiaries.  

A new role for private health plans in Medicare, to encourage them to offer seniors the option of receiving coverage under managed care plans such as preferred provider organizations would be established by the measure.  The use of certain physicians is encouraged by that system. However, if the cost would be higher the patients would be allowed to seek another doctor.  

The measure does not abolish the current ban on importation of prescription drugs from Canada; for individuals who purchase health insurance with a higher deductible a new health-related tax break is included; the creation of a $12 billion fund to assist managed- care plans takes hold among the Medicare population; in a handful of metropolitan regions starting in 2008¾provides for a temporary program of competition for traditional Medicare against the new private plans; and the President would be required to propose legislation in the future if Medicare spending exceeds a fixed percentage of government revenues of which Congress would have to consider the proposal, but a vote is not required on it.  

Medicare is already troubled financially and the measure is a large and unwarranted expansion of this federal entitlement program.  Contrary to the rhetoric, the measure will result in retirees with employer-based drug coverage to lose it and expands bureaucratic control over the financing and delivery of health care services.  The tragic consequence of this will be an increase in premiums while unnecessarily increasing the demand for drugs.  

What Can You Do?  

Urge your senators and representative  NOT TO SUPPORT the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill.  

Contact Information:  

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's and representative's  office.)  

To go to your senators' websites, find their E-mail or to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm    

To go to your representative's website, find his E-mail or to find out who your representatives are... http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html  

To electronically mail your U.S. House of Representative, go to http://www.house.gov/htbin/wrep_findrep.  

Addressing Correspondence:   

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 
 

Dear Senator (last name):    

Addressing Correspondence:   

The Honorable (full name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515  
 

Dear Representative (last name):

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