Reforming and Modernizing Heath Care
"With the Medicare Act of 2003, our government is finally bringing
prescription drug coverage to the seniors of America. With this law,
were giving older Americans better choices and more control
over their health care, so they can receive the modern medical care
. Our nation has made a promise, a solemn promise
to Americas seniors. We have pledged to help our citizens find
affordable medical care in the later years of life. Lyndon Johnson
established that commitment by signing the Medicare Act of 1965. And
today, by reforming and modernizing this vital program, we are honoring
the commitments of Medicare to all our seniors."
George W. Bush, December 8, 2003
Reforming Medicare and Providing a Prescription Drug
Other Improvements in Medicare Coverage
Establishing Health Savings Accounts
For the first time in Medicares history, a prescription drug
benefit will be offered to more than 40 million seniors and disabled
Americans, and seniors will hold the power to choose the health care
coverage that is best for them.
- Millions of seniors already are getting real savings on their prescription
drug expenses by using a Medicare-approved drug discount card. It includes
a $600 annual subsidy for low-income Medicare beneficiaries as part
of the transitional relief.
Beginning in 2006, seniors will be able to join Medicare-approved
prescription drug plans or get prescription coverage through regular
Medicare. Beneficiaries who now lack coverage will cut their yearly
drug costs roughly in half.
The new Medicare law provides greater drug savings to seniors with
low incomes, reducing costs to as little as $2 or $5 per prescription.
Medicare will now pick up 95 percent of the cost for beneficiaries
with high out-of-pocket drug costs once they have spent $3,600 on
To encourage employers to continue providing important drug benefits,
the new Medicare law will subsidize employer-sponsored retiree benefits,
beginning in 2006.
- Beneficiaries who do not have employer-sponsored coverage can remain
enrolled in the traditional Medicare program with or without the new
Medicare-approved prescription drug plan or they can sign up for a private
Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage. These
private plans will compete for seniors business by providing
better coverage at affordable prices through marketplace competition,
not government price-setting.
Access to Needed Coverage and Care
- The Medicare legislation also created Health Savings Accounts (HSAs),
tax-free savings accounts that can be used to pay for medical expenses
and that will give millions of Americans access to affordable health
coverage with more choices, more freedom, and more control over their
- HSAs will allow more Americans to save for health care needs and
will allow more small businesses to help workers secure affordable
Funding New Medical Research
- President Bush signed the first-ever refundable health insurance
tax credit for workers displaced by trade. The credit covers 65 percent
of an eligible workers health premium for qualifying health
- President Bush proposed an innovative $70.1 billion tax credit to
make health insurance coverage affordable for millions of uninsured
low-income and middle-income Americans.
- Funding for health centers has been dramatically increased, as part
of the Presidents commitment to open or expand 1,200 health
center sites to serve an additional 6.1 million people by 2006. Today
there are more than 600 new or expanded health centers serving 3 million
additional Americans. The populations these health centers serve include
the uninsured, low-income individuals, migrant farm workers, and the
- Eligibility for coverage has been extended to an estimated 2.6 million
low-income Americans through Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance
Addressing Rising Health Care Costs and Improving Health Care Quality
- The President doubled the budget for the National Institutes of
- President Bush proposed medical liability reform to reduce frivolous
lawsuits that drive up costs, raise the cost of medical liability
insurance, and reduce access to care.
- The Bush Administration announced a new rule improving access to
generic drugs and lowering prescription drug costs for millions of
Americans. The final rule is expected to lead to at least $35 billion
over 10 years in drug savings.
- The President has called for greater adoption of electronic medical
records, and set a goal that a majority of Americans have electronic
medical records within a decade. Personal electronic medical records
will help save lives, improve health care quality, and may reduce
health care costs. The President proposed doubling, to $100 million,
grants to test health information technologies.
- In order to ensure that health professionals give patients the right
drugs at the appropriate dosages, a regulation requiring bar codes
on the labels of thousands of drugs and biological products has been