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April 26, 2000: A New Study Validating the Need for a Medicare Drug Benefit

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Wednesday, April 26, 2000

PRESIDENT CLINTON:
HIGHLIGHTING A NEW STUDY THAT VALIDATES THE NEED FOR A MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT

"More than three in five American seniors today lack affordable and dependable prescription drug coverage. Today's report shows that the burden on these seniors is getting worse. Seniors living on fixed incomes simply can't cope with these kinds of price increases forever. That's why we should take action to help them and do it now."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, April 26, 2000

Today at the White House, President Clinton, along with Senator Tom Daschle and House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt, joined Families USA in releasing a new report on prescription drugs. The report shows that on average, the price for the 50 drugs most commonly used by seniors increased at nearly twice the rate of inflation during 1999. The President pointed out that this finding, combined with the recent HHS report showing that the price differential for older and disabled Americans with and without coverage has nearly doubled, underscores the need for a Medicare prescription drug benefit. While expressing encouragement that the House Republican leadership has agreed on the goal of providing an affordable, optional prescription drug benefit to all Medicare beneficiaries, the President noted that the Republican plan does not achieve this goal, and challenged House Republicans to amend their proposal to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries have access to this benefit.

New Study Shows Significant Rise In Prescription Drug Prices. America's senior citizens generally live on fixed incomes that are adjusted to keep up with the rate of inflation. However, a new report by Families USA entitled Still Rising, shows that prescription drug costs have risen at double the rate of inflation over the past six years and are expected to continue to rise. Key findings of the report include:

  • Last year, the prices of the 50 prescription drugs most commonly used by the elderly increased at almost double the rate of inflation;

  • These price increases are part of a trend: Over the past six years, the 50 prescription drugs most commonly used by seniors have increased in price by twice the rate of inflation in fact, over 20 percent of these drugs increased in price by three times the rate of inflation over that time period; and

  • Seniors with common chronic illnesses are often forced to spend well over 10 percent of their income on prescription drugs.
These findings clearly demonstrate that failure to provide a voluntary, affordable, and accessible Medicare prescription drug benefit will impose a continuing and growing burden on older Americans and people with disabilities

Challenging Republicans to Match their Stated Goals. While commending the House Republican leadership for recognizing the need for an affordable, optional prescription drug benefit available to all Medicare beneficiaries, the President noted that their current plan does not achieve this goal. The House Republican proposal:

  • Reneges on funding commitments for a meaningful prescription drug benefit;

  • Does not assure availability to all beneficiaries;

  • Would likely be unaffordable to millions of seniors and people with disabilities; and

  • Lacks details, including how much the premiums are, what the benefit would be, and how much it will cost
The President challenged Republicans to move swiftly to amend their proposal to ensure that all Medicare beneficiaries have access to an affordable prescription drug benefit option


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