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 Home > News & Policies > May 2006

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 9, 2006

Fact Sheet: Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage

     Fact sheet President Bush Discusses Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
     Fact sheet In Focus: Medicare

Today, President Bush Discussed How Signing Up For The New Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Program Can Help Beneficiaries Save Money And Get The Drugs They Need. When President Bush came into office, Medicare was outdated and not meeting the needs of America's seniors. The Congress passed, and the President signed into law, legislation to modernize Medicare by providing preventive care, offering seniors more choices, and giving seniors better access to the prescription drugs they need.

Prescription Drug Coverage Helps Beneficiaries In Four Important Ways:

  1. Medicare Drug Coverage Helps All Beneficiaries Pay For Prescription Drugs, No Matter How They Paid Before. The typical senior who previously lacked drug coverage will end up spending about half of what he or she used to spend on prescription drugs each year - an average annual savings of $1,100.

  2. Medicare Drug Coverage Offers More And Better Choices Than Ever Before. Beneficiaries can choose from a number of private plans to find the one that best serves them - and plan providers are competing for seniors' business. That means seniors can save more and get the coverage they want.

    • The Competition To Serve Seniors Has Been Stronger Than Expected, Lowering Costs For Seniors And The Government. The average premium seniors pay for their prescription drug benefit is just $25 per month instead of $37 per month, and this year the Federal government will spend 20 percent less overall on the Medicare drug benefit than was projected last July.

  3. Beneficiaries Who Have The Highest Drug Costs Receive Extra Help. Medicare will pick up as much as 95 percent of all prescription costs once beneficiaries spend $3,600 of their own money each year. This catastrophic protection provides peace of mind for beneficiaries.

  4. Medicare Is Providing Extra Help To Low-Income Beneficiaries. About a third of seniors are eligible for prescription drug coverage that includes little or no premiums, low deductibles, and no gaps in coverage. On average, Medicare will pay for more than 95 percent of the costs of prescription drugs for low-income seniors. The days of low-income seniors having to make painful sacrifices to pay for their prescription drugs are coming to an end.

Millions Of Beneficiaries Have Enrolled And Are Saving Money

Millions Have Signed Up And Millions Have Drug Coverage. Of the more than 42 million people eligible for Medicare, more than 31 million people with Medicare now have prescription drug coverage and hundreds of thousands more are enrolling each week. Nearly 6 million more have an alternative source of coverage.

Beneficiaries Who Are Not Yet Enrolled Must Enroll By May 15th For The Lowest Premiums. More than 85 percent of all eligible beneficiaries now are either enrolled in Medicare drug plans or have other sources of coverage. About 5 million eligible beneficiaries have not yet enrolled.

  • Low Income Beneficiaries Who Qualify For The Limited-Income Subsidy (LIS) After May 15 Will Have Extra Time To Enroll. About 3 million beneficiaries who have not yet enrolled are eligible for the LIS. A one-time opportunity using a special enrollment period will enable these beneficiaries to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan immediately after they become eligible for the limited-income subsidy, even if this is after May 15. This one-time enrollment for beneficiaries who qualify for the LIS is very different from extending the open enrollment period - it simply gives beneficiaries who are newly qualified for LIS a one-time opportunity to enroll when they qualify.


  • The Extra Help Available Through The LIS Allows For Comprehensive And Valuable Drug Coverage - In Most Cases For Just A Few Dollars For Every Prescription. Medicare will also continue to facilitate enrollment in a drug plan for people who qualify for the LIS if they do not choose a plan on their own.

There Are Three Steps To Getting Drug Coverage Now: 1. Eligible beneficiaries should make a list of their prescriptions or just gather their pill bottles. 2. Eligible beneficiaries should make sure they have their red, white, and blue Medicare card handy to get personalized help. 3. Eligible beneficiaries should call, go online, or visit one of the many sources of help available.

  • Seniors Or Family Members With Questions Can Call 1-800-MEDICARE Or Visit On the Medicare website, it takes most seniors about one hour to sign up once they have their information about their healthcare needs. The Medicare website has easy-to-use tools to help seniors find the plan that best fits their needs. Beneficiaries need only their red, white, and blue Medicare cards and their current prescriptions. Children of eligible beneficiaries should make sure they at least take time to give their parents the benefit of finding out what is available.


  • There Are Many Local And Community Resources To Help Seniors And Their Family Members Find The Best Plan To Meet The Specific Needs Of Each Beneficiary. Medicare has built an unprecedented effort along with thousands of national and local partner organizations including SHIPs, Area Agencies on Aging, the National Council on Aging, the NAACP, the AARP, disability organizations, church groups, pharmacists and physicians. More than 1,000 enrollment seminars are held each week.

The President Is Modernizing Medicare To Focus More On Preventative Care

Part Of Modern, Effective Health Care Is Recognizing That If Diseases Are Caught Early, The Problem Is Much Easier To Cure.

  • Every Senior Entering Medicare (Most At Age 65) Is Now Eligible For A "Welcome To Medicare" Physical Exam.


  • Medicare Is Covering Beneficiaries For Annual Screenings That Can Catch Illnesses Like Diabetes And Heart Disease.

It Is Time For The Senate To Act On Medical Liability Reform

Junk Lawsuits Are A National Problem Requiring A National Response. The glut of frivolous lawsuits is driving good doctors out of practice and driving up costs by forcing many doctors to practice defensive medicine - ordering unnecessary tests and writing unnecessary prescriptions. The total cost of defensive medicine to our society is an estimated $60 billion to $100 billion per year, including $28 billion billed directly to taxpayers through increased costs of Medicare, Medicaid, VA, and other Federal health programs.

  • Last Night, Democrats In The United States Senate Led An Effort To Block These Much-Needed Reforms. The President is disappointed that the Senate has yet again failed to pass real medical liability reform legislation. The President has called on Congress to pass responsible medical liability reforms, and the House of Representatives has acted. It is time for the Senate to put the needs of the American people ahead of the interests of trial lawyers and pass meaningful medical liability reform legislation.

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