The Effects of Congressional Proposals on Prescription Drug Costs for Medicare Beneficiaries. Added Help for Lower-Income Seniors

06/19/2002

  • Seniors with incomes below 175% of poverty would see even more dramatic savings under the House Republican bill. They would generally pay only $2-5 for each prescription. And those with incomes below 150% of poverty would pay no monthly premium, while seniors with incomes between 150% and 175% of poverty would pay reduced monthly premiums.
  • This proposal thus helps more of the neediest seniors. Most previous Congressional proposals – from Republicans and Democrats alike – limited assistance with cost-sharing to those with incomes below 135% of poverty and limited premium assistance to those with incomes below 150% of poverty.
  • As a result, a widower with income of 140% of poverty (about $13,500 in 2005) would pay no premiums and limited cost-sharing under the House Republican plan, while under previous Congressional proposals he would have faced the same co-payments as wealthier seniors and would get only a partial premium reduction.
  • Overall, 44% of Medicare beneficiaries would face no deductible and substantially reduced cost-sharing and would qualify for at least some additional help with their premiums – and 38% of enrollees would not be liable for any premiums at all.
  • All this has been done in the context of a benefit that is far more fiscally responsible than other recent proposals – targeting the most assistance to those beneficiaries who need it most while seeking to ensure that all Medicare benefits remain secure in the future for all beneficiaries regardless of their income.

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