Supports Rx bill, but it needs work

While the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) is pleased with progress being made in Congress on adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, we believe the bills currently being considered in the House and Senate need improvement before they can be enacted into law.

Both are inadequate, in that they contain major gaps in coverage and may lead to a loss of coverage for those who already have health coverage from a former employer. Other issues of concern include:

• Premium Support—The House bill calls for establishing a new competitive structure that could destabilize Medicare and raise premiums in coming years for those who want to stay in the traditional Medicare program. AARP believes beneficiaries must not be penalized for wanting to remain in traditional Medicare over enrolling in a private plan.

• Means Testing—The House bill would vary the level of the catastrophic cap based on income. AARP believes Medicare beneficiaries should have access to the same level of protection.

• Access and Stability of the Drug Benefit (federal fallback plan) —The House bill does not provide a guarantee that a stable drug benefit will be available in all parts of the country. AARP believes beneficiaries should have access to at least one drug plan.

• Dual Eligible Beneficiaries—The Senate bill does not guarantee the Medicare drug benefit to seniors who are also eligible for the low-income Medicaid program. AARP believes all beneficiaries should receive their drug benefit through Medicare so that the program remains one of social insurance and not welfare.

AARP is committed to doing everything it can to see that Congress passes the best bill possible this year. AARP is urging members of Congress to continue working to improve these bills to ensure that the final piece of legislation would be one that AARP’s 35 million members and all Americans can support.

Lupe Solis,

AARP Associate State

Director for Advocacy

Phoenix, Ariz.

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