Roth to Introduce Medicare Bills with Immediate Prescription Drug Coverage for Nation's Neediest Seniors
Legislation Would Be Temporary Solution for Nation's Most Vulnerable Until President and Congress Reach Agreement on Comprehensive Medicare Rx Drug Plan
WASHINGTON -- Senate Finance Committee Chairman William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE) today announced his intention to introduce two Medicare prescription drug coverage bills that would, if enacted, bring immediate coverage to the country's neediest seniors. Both bills would create an immediate, temporary, state-based prescription drug benefit targeted to lower-income Medicare beneficiaries, and are modeled on the successful State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Roth, who has worked for the past two years in the Finance Committee to reach a bipartisan consensus solution to the challenges facing Medicare, will introduce the bills as a temporary solution until comprehensive reform and broad prescription drug coverage can be enacted.
"Under either of these bills, beneficiaries would receive immediate assistance. They will not have to wait, they will not have to wonder, and most importantly they will not have to worry about what happens in Washington," Roth stated. "Upon enactment, either of these bills ensures immediate prescription drug coverage for more than 80% of our nation's Medicare beneficiaries."
The principle difference between the two bills is the cost. Roth's first bill -- The Medicare Temporary Drug Assistance Act - Version I - meets the budgetary requirements of this year's Senate budget resolution, which authorized only $20 billion in federal funds for prescription drug costs in the absence of agreement on larger Medicare reforms. This bill would cover beneficiaries with incomes up to 150% of the poverty level, and require a simple majority -- 51 votes -- for approval. Under this bill, 82% of Medicare beneficiaries would have prescription drug coverage (through this program and existing drug coverage).
Roth's second bill -- The Medicare Temporary Drug Assistance Act - Version II -- covers more lower income seniors (up to 175% of poverty), and would cost $31 billion. Because the cost of this bill goes beyond the parameters of the Budget Resolution, 60 votes are required for approval. Under this bill, 85% of Medicare beneficiaries would have prescription drug coverage (through this program and existing drug coverage).
Roth will introduce both bills when there is a break in the floor debate on extending permanent normal trade relations to China. A description of the two bills is attached.
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