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Urging Congress To Extend Prescription Drug Coverage To All Military Retirees

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White House at Work


Tuesday, May 16, 2000


"At a time of unprecedented prosperity, there is no reason for military retirees to go without prescription drugs that they need to live longer and healthier lives. We need to show them that they count, and they can count on us."

President Bill Clinton
Tuesday, May 16, 2000

Today, at the White House, President Clinton urged Congress to pass legislation that would extend prescription drug coverage to military retirees over age 65. Tomorrow, the House is scheduled to vote on the Department of Defense Authorization bill that would extend the prescription drug coverage now available to military retirees under the age of 65 to military retirees over the age of 65. The President emphasized that passage of this bill will provide long-overdue assistance to America's military retirees and assist in the military's recruitment and retention efforts. He called on Congress to show the same bipartisan support for providing affordable, voluntary, and accessible prescription drug coverage to all Medicare beneficiaries.

Extending Prescription Drug Coverage to All Military Retirees. Many of the nation's 1.4 million Medicare-eligible military retirees lack access to affordable prescription drugs. Like other seniors, military retirees are disproportionately uninsured and face prohibitively high prices for these life-saving medications. And while military treatment facilities offer retirees access to prescription drugs, nearly three out of four live out of reach of these facilities. The House Armed Services Committee's Authorization bill would provide affordable prescription drugs to military retirees by giving them access to:

  • Mail-order prescription drugs which are affordably priced based on distribution and pricing agreements between the Department of Defense and pharmaceutical companies; and
  • Prescription drugs at pharmacies using both the TRICARE network and out-of-network pharmacies.

Rewarding Military Service and Improving Recruitment and Retention. The President pointed out that the House provision is consistent with other steps that the federal government has taken to benefit our servicemen and women – such as improving pay, housing, and access to health care – by:

  • Helping the nation live up to its commitment to provide needed health care for our military retirees; and
  • Assisting our efforts to attract and retain military personnel through improvements in benefits.

Working to Extend Prescription Drugs to All Medicare Beneficiaries. President Clinton renewed his call to Congress to enact a voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit that is accessible and affordable to all beneficiaries. In his budget, President Clinton proposes a comprehensive plan to strengthen and modernize Medicare, including a prescription drug benefit that is:

  • Voluntary;
  • Accessible to all beneficiaries;
  • Designed to give beneficiaries meaningful protection and bargaining power;
  • Affordable to all beneficiaries and the program; and
  • Consistent with broader reform.

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