Modernize Medicare for Women

Today, at the White House, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will join the Older Women's League (OWL) in releasing a report entitled "Medicare: Why Women Care," which includes a new analysis documenting why strengthening and modernizing Medicare is particularly important to women of all ages. The President and the First Lady will also underscore the importance of taking advantage of the historic opportunity to dedicate a significant portion of the surplus to secure the life of the Medicare trust fund for a quarter century. In releasing this report, OWL states its strong support for the President's vision of dedicating the surplus to strengthen Medicare, adding a prescription drug benefit, and improving preventive services.

The Vice President will later join the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill and release a new analysis on the greater challenges that beneficiaries in rural America face in accessing prescription drug coverage. He will point out that, although representing less than one-fourth of the Medicare population, beneficiaries living in rural areas account for greater than one in three of all beneficiaries lacking prescription drug coverage. Today, the Clinton-Gore Administration:

UNVEILS A NEW REPORT BY THE OLDER WOMEN'S LEAGUE. Nearly 60 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are women and this proportion rises with age -- more than 4 in 5 people over age 100 are women. Moreover, older women tend to have more chronic illness and lower incomes, making Medicare even more important as a health and financial safety net. Since it was created in 1965, Medicare has contributed to lengthening older women's lives by 20 percent and reducing their poverty rate dramatically. Yet the 21st century brings with it challenges that will affect all beneficiaries.

Key findings of the report include:

Other key findings include:


WOMEN FACE GREATER COST BURDENS -- AND BARRIERS TO HEALTH CARE -- BECAUSE OF MEDICARE BENEFIT LIMITATIONS. As important as Medicare coverage is to women, its benefits are outdated.

EMPHASIZES GREATER PROBLEMS FACING RURAL BENEFICIARIES IN ACCESSING PRESCRIPTION DRUG COVERAGE. The Vice President also will release new facts on the challenges facing rural beneficiaries. Although one in four of all Medicare beneficiaries live in rural areas, more than one in three (34 percent) of those lacking drug coverage live in rural America. In fact, nearly half of all rural beneficiaries lack drug coverage compared to 34 percent of all beneficiaries. This reflects the reduced access to Medicare, managed care and retiree health coverage for these beneficiaries. The Vice President also will release information documenting that lack of access to prescription drug coverage occurs throughout the income spectrum -- 45 percent of rural beneficiaries with income above $50,000 lack prescription drug coverage compared to 25 percent of all beneficiaries.

HIGHLIGHTS THE IMPORTANCE OF INVESTING IN THE FUTURE OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAM. Today, the President, Vice President and First Lady will underscore the fact that there will not be a debate about how to strengthen Medicare or how to provide a prescription drug benefit if all of the surplus is invested in a large tax cut. They stated their strong belief that the Congress and the American public face an important decision: to invest in a stronger Medicare program for our mothers and grandmothers or give away the entire surplus on a risky and irresponsible tax scheme.

Modernize Medicare for Women

Most Beneficiaries Are Women

Total Prescription Drug Spending for Women

Women Without Drug Coverage

Rural Medicare Beneficiaries Lack Drug Coverage

One In Three Beneficiaries Lives In Rural America

Less Likely to Have Coverage

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