August 09,2005

Grassley Highlights Lower Costs for Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: Medicare prescription drug premiums
Da: Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2005

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced today that prescription drugplans offering coverage under Medicare’s new benefit will have lower costs than independent experts projected. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, who helped to enact the prescription drug benefit and other Medicare improvements, made the following comment on today’s announcement.

“When Congress crafted the Medicare prescription drug benefit, I worked hard with mycolleagues to make sure that it would be as affordable as possible for beneficiaries and taxpayers.The CMS announcement shows that we’re hitting the mark on both counts. The average monthly beneficiary premium for the new prescription drug coverage will be $32.20 -- almost $5 less than expected by the Medicare trustees. The actual premium for many plans could be lower. In the program’s first year, the total cost to the government will be about $15 less each month for each beneficiary enrolled. That translates to billions of dollars in lower costs for taxpayers.

“Even though the average premium is lower than expected, I know that for somebeneficiaries, a premium at that level will still be a hardship. That’s why the Medicare law providesfor additional financial assistance to beneficiaries with low incomes. This additional financialassistance will help them pay for premiums and other cost-sharing. An estimated one-third ofbeneficiaries will be eligible for this additional assistance, which will cover between 85 percent to98 percent of their drug costs.

“A lot of work is under way to educate beneficiaries, their caregivers and others about thenew benefit. Beneficiaries have an important decision ahead of them. We need to make sure they have good information to make that decision and to take advantage of the prescription drug plan thatbest meets their needs. I’ll continue to take every opportunity to spread the word.”