Bush releases $158 billion Medicare proposal

November 1, 2000
Pharmaceutical Representative

Texas Governor George W. Bush proposed state assistance programs to immediately provide prescription drugs to low-income seniors, in addition to long-term reforms to modernize Medicare. To pay for the plans, Governor Bush has set aside $48 billion in funding for state assistance programs and $110 billion in funding for Medicare modernization.

Texas Governor George W. Bush proposed state assistance programs to immediately provide prescription drugs to low-income seniors, in addition to long-term reforms to modernize Medicare. To pay for the plans, Governor Bush has set aside $48 billion in funding for state assistance programs and $110 billion in funding for Medicare modernization.

"Since 1965, more than 80 million American seniors have found a measure of security – a measure of confidence and dignity – in Medicare," said Governor Bush. "Medicare is an enduring commitment of our country, but it must be modernized for our times. We will work to modernize Medicare. But we will not wait to help seniors get prescription drugs."

To provide immediate assistance to seniors, Governor Bush has proposed to:


•Â Cover the full cost of a prescription drug program for seniors with incomes at or below 135% of poverty ($11,300 for individuals, and $15,200 for a couple).


•Â Cover most of the cost of prescription drugs for seniors with incomes up to 175% of poverty (about $14,600 for an individual, and $19,700 for a couple).


•Â Cover any prescription drug costs in excess of $6,000 annually for all seniors.


•Â Create a White House Task Force on bipartisan Medicare modernization.


•Â Provide expedited consideration of modernization legislation.

In addition to these short-term fixes, Bush's proposal would seek to modernize Medicare for the future. The Bush proposal would:


•Â Set aside $110 billion for Medicare modernization.


•Â Give Medicare recipients a choice of plans offering expanded benefits, including prescription drug coverage.


•Â Cover the full cost of Medicare premiums for seniors with incomes at or below 135% of poverty.


•Â Cover most of the cost of prescription drug coverage for seniors with incomes between 135% and 175% of poverty.


•Â Pay 25% of premium costs for prescription drug coverage for all seniors.


•Â Cover catastrophic Medicare costs in excess of $6,000 annually for all seniors.


•Â Guarantee access to a prescription drug benefit, even for beneficiaries living in areas where there is no competition among plans.


•Â Establish a Unified Trust Fund as the measure of Medicare solvency.

'Flawed' benefit

Vice President Al Gore's advisors were critical of the Bush plan and said Bush's proposed tax cut would interfere with his ability to pay for his drug proposal. "The Bush plan leaves millions of seniors without any coverage," said Ron Klain, Gore-Lieberman senior advisor. "It is a plan of, by and for the big drug companies. And Governor Bush cannot even pay for this inadequate plan because he squanders so much of the surplus on his tax cut for the wealthy." PR