Same Medicare, Better Benefits Are Just Ahead
Byline: J. Dennis Hastert
When Medicare was created for senior citizens and America's disabled in 1965, about half of a senior's health care spending was on doctors and the other half on hospitals.
Just as our society has changed dramatically since Roger Miller's "King of the Road" was on top of the radio charts, so has America's health care delivery system.
Today, nearly 40 percent of a senior's healthcare spending is on pharmaceutical medications.
Late last year, Congress and President Bush took a step forward to improve an outdated Medicare system by adding a much-needed prescription drug benefit to the Medicare law.
This legislation that strengthened Medicare with better benefits will help 1.6 million elderly Illinoisans and 41 million people in their golden years from coast to coast.
Without prescription drug coverage under Medicare for the last four decades, it simply made no sense that the federal government would pay $6,700 to hospitalize a diabetic for renal kidney failure, but not provide that same senior Glucophage upfront for less than $30 a month to keep their condition under control.
As the saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Helping folks pay for their doctor-prescribed medications - especially low-income elderly - will benefit seniors, their families as well as American taxpayers. As we move forward in the next few months, more choices and better benefits will become available to America's greatest generation.
That's why my Congressional office is proud to host a series of senior citizen forums on the new Medicare-Prescription Drug Law this week.
I want folks to get the straight facts and have their questions answered so they can make the right choices for their personal health and own well being. Over the next three months, you'll hear me giving great attention to the Medicare-approved Prescription Drug Discount Card.
Starting May 3, 28 authorized providers will begin signing up seniors and disabled Americans.
Then, on June 1, those Medicare-approved discount cards will hit the streets and their savings of 10 to 25 percent will kick in.
For low-income seniors, there's additional assistance attached to these Medicare-approved discount cards.
For singles with incomes under $12,900 a year and couples under $16,600 a year, there will be an annual, up-front credit of $600 to help low-income seniors purchase their life-enhancing medications. …