All seniors will be guaranteed access to affordable prescription drug
coverage under Medicare. In December 2003, President
Bush signed into law
legislation that will make Medicare prescription drug coverage available to 40
million seniors and people with disabilities. The new benefit will
become available on January 1, 2006. Beginning in June 2004, beneficiaries will
have access to Medicare-approved prescription drug discount cards,
which will save them 10 -- 25% off the retail price of most prescription drugs.
Low-income beneficiaries also will receive $600 to help them purchase
All seniors will have more choices and better benefits under a strengthened
and improved Medicare program. In addition to
helping seniors afford their
prescriptions, the legislation the President signed enhances basic Medicare
coverage by providing better preventive care. Beginning in 2006, seniors
also will get the same kinds of choices that Members of Congress and Federal
employees have to select the coverage that is best for them, including the
choice of keeping their Medicare coverage just the way it is.
All Americans will benefit from lower prescription drug prices. The
President has implemented a new rule to lower drug costs
for millions of Americans.
By strengthening competition between generic and brand-name drugs, patients will
enjoy increased access to generic drugs, which are safe, effective,
and often more affordable than the brand-name alternatives. This rule is expected
to save American consumers more than $35 billion in drug costs over
the next 10 years.
Millions of low-income Americans have been made eligible for health care
coverage. From January 2001 through December 2003,
HHS approved waivers and
state plan amendments that will make an additional 2.6 million low-income children
and adults eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP when fully implemented.
Overall, the number of children eligible for Medicaid increased from 22.7 million
to 25.7 million from FY 2001 to FY 2004. The number of non-disabled
adults has increased 21% from 12.6 million to 15.3 million. The number of children
enrolled in SCHIP increased from 4.6 million in 2001 to 5.8 million
in 2003. In total, nearly 7 million additional low-income children and adults are
being served in Medicaid and SCHIP.
Vulnerable populations who live in medically underserved areas have gained greater
access to medical services. To fulfill a commitment to open or
expand 1,200 community health center sites to serve an additional 6.1 million
people by 2006, the President has dramatically increased funding for
health centers to serve individuals who live in underserved and rural areas,
including many adults and children who are uninsured, low-income
individuals, migrant farm workers, homeless individuals, and children.
Federal funding of state high-risk pools, which provide safety net health
insurance to individuals with serious medical
conditions, will make coverage
more affordable. Many Americans with pre-existing medical conditions have
difficulty finding insurance coverage. Others have policies
can't afford the premiums. High-risk pools in 30 states make coverage available and
more affordable to these individuals. In December 2002, President
Bush signed into law legislation that will make $100 million available to states to
establish and support high-risk pools. Some $40 million in Federal
funds will be awarded to states this year to help subsidize these pools.
Doubling the budget of the National Institutes of Health will lead to better
health care for all Americans. President Bush
fulfilled another commitment
by completing the historic doubling of the NIH budget by 2003, dramatically
increasing medical research to $28.6 billion in his FY 2005 budget to speed
cures and treatments for the diseases that plague our Nation and the world.
Increased funding for biodefense preparedness is strengthening our homeland
security and improving public health surveillance.
provided nearly $4.5 billion to states, local governments, and hospitals for
preparedness against a bioterrorist attack. Enhancements to public health
surveillance improve our capacity in the area of detecting and responding to all
human illnesses and outbreaks of disease.