March 23,2004

Medicare Trustees' Annual Report


To: Reporters and Editors
Re: Today’s Medicare trustees’ report
Da: Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, made the following comment on today’s Medicare trustees’ report.

“The trustees’ report recognizes that health care costs are rising. That’s no surprise toanyone. Since Medicare beneficiaries deserve a better program, we took a major step forward withour legislation last year. We improved payments to rural health providers and added a prescriptiondrug benefit to keep the program strong for this generation and generations to come. We put a heavyemphasis on preventive health care. That’s much better for Medicare beneficiaries and also costsmuch less than treating illnesses that went undetected.

“We also added new fiscal safeguards to provide a better picture of Medicare’s financialhealth and trigger action by the President and Congress to keep the program strong in the long-term.As the economy grows, more workers are contributing to the Medicare program and ensuring itsavailability. We need to continue building on the successes of the greatest improvements toMedicare in its history by making sure the government implements the law as Congress intended.Congress’ job isn’t over now that we’ve passed the legislation. We have to be ready to fix anythingthat doesn’t work best for older Americans.”