King a Yes on Medicare
Friday, November 21, 2003
Representative Steve King
5th Congressional District of Iowa
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 21, 2003
|Contact: Melissa McKay
Washington, D.C.— Congressman Steve King announced today that he will support the Medicare Prescription Drug, Modernization and Improvement Act. Congressman King’s commitment on the upcoming vote came after the Medicare Conference Committee agreed to his language that would give Iowa an opportunity to rise out of last place in reimbursement rates.
“I promised not to vote for a bill that would forever condemn Iowa to last in the nation in Medicare reimbursement rates. House leadership followed through on their commitment to me, and I will vote for the Medicare reform bill,” said King.
King drafted a provision that would allow a one-time “rate case” for all Iowa hospitals. A hospital can appeal directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services based on a significant inequity in the wage rate of Medicare payments. The King section of the Medicare bill budgets $900 million to fix reimbursement inequities. The rural package included in the bill would bring nearly $300 million of relief to Iowa hospitals and physicians over 10 years.
“This measure, added to the rural provisions already in the bill, will give Iowa their last, best chance to climb from the bottom of national Medicare reimbursements,” said King. “Although I have concerns about the size and scope of the overall prescription drug plan, I believe that the benefits of Health Savings Accounts are more than enough to overcome diminished expectations-- HSAs and tax deductibility of health care spending is an optimal way to contain rising medical costs.”
Basic Elements of the Medicare Plan Include:
Immediate Savings for Seniors Through Prescription Drug Discount Card:
· Available within six months of becoming law for 2004-2005.
· Swipe card used at point-of-purchase for upfront discounts.
· Provides significant, immediate savings up to 25% off what seniors currently are paying according to HHS.
Universally Available Prescription Drug Benefit:
· Guaranteed Benefit begins in 2006.
· Voluntary, so seniors can choose to participate if they want.
· Option available for seniors to simply add drug coverage to traditional fee-for-service Medicare without any loss of current benefits.
· $35 monthly premium, $250 annual deductible.
· Medicare pays 75% of drug costs up to $2,250.
· Catastrophic Coverage guarantees Medicare pays 95% of drug costs over $3,600 a year.
· Provides significant savings up to 50% off of what seniors without coverage are currently paying today according to HHS.
Low-Income Assistance to Help Neediest Senior Citizens:
· Comprehensive coverage for low-income single seniors with annual income under $12,900 and low-income senior couples under $16,600.
· In 2004-2005, $600 annual subsidy combined with Rx Discount Card savings to help cover out-of-pocket costs.
· Beginning in 2006, Comprehensive Pharmaceutical Coverage will be offered, with no gap, for $2 generic and $5 name-brand prescription co-payment.
Preventive Care & Disease Management:
· New cholesterol and blood lipid screenings added to basic benefits.
· New disease management programs to keep seniors healthy.
Health Savings Accounts:
· Allow individuals to set aside tax-free savings for lifetime health care needs.
· Savings are portable, from job-to-job and into retirement.
· Contributions can be made by individuals, employers and family members
· Allow annual tax deductible contributions of up to $2,600 for singles and $5,150 for families.
· Individuals age 55 and older can make catch-up contributions of up to $1,000.
· Savings can be used for qualified medical expenses, including retiree health insurance premiums, Medicare expenses, prescription drugs, long-term care services and insurance.
Said King, “While the drug benefit plan may have shortfalls, we have two years to make improvements. The Iowa specific provisions and Health Savings Accounts are desperately needed right now-- but I intend to keep working aggressively for true Medicare reform.”