August 10,2004

Chairman Grassley comments on new IRS enforcement effort on executive pay and benefits in tax-exempt organizations


TO: Reporters and Editors
RE: Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard School of Public Health survey on new Medicare law
DA: Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Sen. Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, issued thefollowing comment on the survey described today by the national Kaiser FamilyFoundation/Harvard School of Public Health regarding the new Medicare law.

“The Medicare Modernization Act made the most sweeping improvements to Medicaresince the program’s inception in 1965. Given the magnitude of the improvements, it’s to beexpected that it will take beneficiaries some time to learn about the new law. Without a doubt,there's been some confusion about it. This survey shows that we need to keep working to clear upthat confusion. Among other key facts, we need to make sure that beneficiaries know that:

· The voluntary drug benefit will reduce the typical beneficiary’s drug spending by 53 percent.

· About one-third of Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for low-income assistance, meaningthey’ll have a drug benefit with no gap in coverage, and limited or no premiums, deductibles, orcost-sharing. For these beneficiaries, the drug benefit will cover as much as 85 to 98 percent oftheir drug costs.

· The law provides $89 billion in retiree prescription drug subsidies, which should help moreemployers to continue to offer retiree health and prescription drug benefits.

"I've held 39 town meetings in Iowa this year on the new Medicare law. Whenparticipants in these meetings have gained a better understanding of the new benefits, their viewshave tended to become more positive. It's also been clear that any education campaign must usemultiple approaches, from handouts on paper to information on-line and one-on-one counselingin person and on the telephone. Counselors from the State Health Insurance InformationProgram (SHIIP) participated in my meetings and proved to be an invaluable resource in directlyhelping beneficiaries. We also need to educate providers and family members who might behelping beneficiaries make health care decisions. Today's survey findings show that we have a lotto accomplish. Beneficiaries deserve nothing less from us than to help them take advantage ofthis important new benefit."