The plan would charge Medicare patients $24 a month for a new prescription drug benefit. Under the plan, Medicare would start funding half the cost of prescription drugs, up to $2,000 worth of medicine a year, when the new benefit begins in 2002. Over the following six years, patients' monthly premiums would increase to $44, while the yearly limit on the drug costs to be shared by the government would rise to $5,000.
Clinton's plan also provides additional support to lower income beneficiaries by eliminating premiums for those with incomes below 135% of poverty. Those with incomes between 135 and 150% of poverty would receive premium assistance as well.
Meanwhile, both the House and the Senate are developing Medicare reform proposals. A "premium support" proposal championed by Senator John Breaux (D-LA) and Representative Bill Thomas (R-CA) remains in limbo. Drafters must still solve a range of issues, such as the scope of a subsidy for prescription drugs. On the Senate side, Finance Committee Chairman William Roth (R-DE) announced that he will develop a Medicare reform proposal that will include a limited prescription drug benefit.
The following is a summary of Clinton's plan to establish a new voluntary Medicare "Part D" prescription drug benefit available to all beneficiaries. The plan would: