June 09,1999

Roth Statement at Medicare+Choice Hearing

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Finance Committee today held a hearing to examine the implementation of the Medicare + Choice program. The following is the statement of Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE):

"Over the past several weeks, we have focused on preparing Medicare for future generations of Medicare beneficiaries. And I am very grateful for the interest and participation of the members of this committee and for the contributions that nearly 50 witnesses have made thus far in helping us lay the ground work for the important legislation that we are about to begin drafting.

"Today and tomorrow we are taking a break from our series of hearings on the Medicare of the future, to take a close look at the program serving Medicare beneficiaries now.

"Nearly two years ago, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which made significant changes to the original Medicare fee-for-service program and which created the new Medicare+Choice program. And since the passage of the BBA, HCFA has issued numerous regulations implementing this law. During this two-day series, we will hear from a number of witnesses about how the Medicare program and how Medicare beneficiaries have been impacted by this law and the resulting regulations.

"Today, we will focus on the Medicare+Choice program. A program which I believe is serving as a laboratory for Medicare reform, and which many believe is the foundation for what will be a reformed Medicare program. For this reason, it is critical for us to assess how well the Medicare+Choice program is serving Medicare beneficiaries -- and to determine what steps -- if any -- are necessary to make Medicare+Choice work better for the 6 million -- and growing -- beneficiaries now enrolled.

"Specifically, I have asked the witnesses invited today to discuss the impact on beneficiaries of the recent and ongoing withdrawals from the Medicare+Choice program and how the Health Care Financing Administration's proposed health-