March 26,2004

Grassley Praises Approval of Medicare Drug Discount Card Sponsors

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, praised the federal government’s approval this week of 28 sponsors to provide older Americans and people with disabilities savings on their prescription drugs, beginning June 1. With the new cards, Medicare beneficiaries will receive discounts on prescription drugs, and low-income beneficiaries may receive an additional $600 to pay for their prescription medicines in both 2004 and 2005.

“Congress created this drug discount card program to give older Americans immediate helpwith the cost of their prescription medications,” Grassley said. “This program will help millions ofpeople benefit from lower prescription drug costs now. Medicare beneficiaries won’t have to waitany longer for the comprehensive Medicare prescription drug benefit to get under way. Thediscounts provided and the targeted assistance for lower income beneficiaries will make life-savingmedicines more affordable.”

Grassley, the lead Senate author of the new law modernizing Medicare and offering aprescription drug benefit, said that for a small enrollment fee, the Medicare-approved drug discountcards will allow Medicare beneficiaries to save between 10 percent to 15 percent on their total drugcosts, and up to 25 percent on certain prescription drugs.

Grassley said additional assistance will be available to low-income beneficiaries. A singleperson whose income is no more than about $12,600, or a married couple whose income is no morethan about $16,900, will qualify for a $600 credit. In addition to the $600 credit, Medicare will paythe enrollment fee for the Medicare-approved card they choose to best meet their needs.

At an Aging Committee hearing on Medicare drug discount cards held earlier this month, thepresident and chief executive officer of the National Council on the Aging said, “Enactment of the new Medicare law is the single-most important opportunity to help low-income Medicare beneficiaries to have emerged in the past 35 years.”

The AARP, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the National Associationof Community Health Centers, and the National Rural Health Association, among numerous otherorganizations, are coming together to educate low-income Medicare beneficiaries, help them makeinformed choices about prescription savings programs, and facilitate their enrollment in new Medicare benefits.

For more information, and a list of government-approved discount drug card sponsors, please see