VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE, CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS URGE REPUBLICANS TO
RECONSIDER USE OF ENTIRE SURPLUS
FOR TAX CUTS RATHER THAN INVESTING IN MEDICARE
Highlights New Statistics about the Importance of
Prescription Drugs for Medicare Beneficiaries in Rural America
Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore today joined Senator Daschle,
Representative Gephardt, and other Congressional Democrats to urge the
Congressional Republican Leadership to reconsider their proposal to use
the entire surplus for a risky tax cut without dedicating one dollar to
extending the life of the Medicare Trust Fund.
The Vice President underscored the unique historical opportunity
that the nation has to secure Medicare for a quarter of a century and to
provide Medicare beneficiaries with a much-needed, long-overdue
prescription drug benefit. The Vice President also unveiled new facts
that highlight the critical impact the Administration's Medicare
proposal has for Medicare beneficiaries in rural areas. Earlier in the
morning, the President and the First Lady released a new analysis
underscoring the importance of Medicare for women.
"As a nation, we face a fundamental choice of how best to move
forward into the 21st Century," said Vice President Gore. "We can pass
dangerous tax cuts that imperil our prosperity or we can strengthen
Medicare, pay off our debt, and pass responsible tax cuts that advance
prosperity and protect families."
Today, the Vice President:
Unveiled New Facts That Underscore the Need for the Administration's
Proposed Prescription Drug Benefit for Medicare Beneficiaries in Rural
America. Nearly one in four Medicare beneficiaries lives in rural
America. These Medicare beneficiaries tend to be older and sicker and
have a disproportionate need for prescription drug coverage.
One in three Medicare beneficiaries without prescription drug
coverage lives in rural America. While nearly one in four Medicare
beneficiaries live in rural America, one-third of those beneficiaries
without prescription drug coverage live in rural America.
Nearly half (48 percent) of all Medicare beneficiaries in rural
areas lack prescription drug coverage, whereas only thirty-four percent
of all Medicare beneficiaries lack prescription drug coverage.
Rural Medicare beneficiaries across all incomes are less likely to
have prescription drug coverage.
Forty-five percent of Medicare beneficiaries in rural America
with incomes above $50,000 lack prescription drug coverage
compared to 25 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries.
Forty-three percent of Medicare beneficiaries in rural America
with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000 lack prescription
drug coverage compared to 28 percent of beneficiaries.
Fifty-two percent of Medicare beneficiaries in rural America
with incomes between $10,000 and $30,000 lack prescriptiondrug
coverage compared to 36 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries.
Forty-five percent of beneficiaries in rural America with
incomes below $10,000 lack prescription drug coverage whereas
34 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries in this same income
category lack coverage.
The Clinton/Gore Plan Strengthens Medicare for a Quarter Century and
Provides a Long Overdue Critical Prescription Drug Benefit. The
Administration's proposal would:
Extend Medicare solvency until 2027. The Administration's proposal
dedicates $374 billion to Medicare, most of which helps extend the life
of the Medicare Trust Fund and makes Medicare more efficient and
Reduce the public debt. By locking away most of the surplus
dedicated to Medicare, the Administration's proposal buys down the debt
which helps boost national savings, leading to lower interest rates and
a higher standard of living. Under the Administration's framework, the
public debt will be eliminated by 2015.
Provide a much-needed prescription drug benefit. Seventy-five
percent of Medicare beneficiaries have unstable or inadequate
prescription drug coverage. The Administration is proposing a new
prescription drug option that is available for all Medicare
Eliminate the deductible and all copayments on all preventive
benefits covered by Medicare, including benefits to prevent and detect
osteoporosis, all cancer screenings, and diabetes.
The Republican Plan Makes No Commitment to Medicare. The Republican
proposals invest nearly all of the surplus in tax cuts and invest
nothing in Medicare. The Republicans also support Medicare reforms
that would undermine the program. These proposals:
Raise traditional Medicare premiums through a new premium support
proposal which mostly produces savings by raising premiums for
Do not dedicate one dime of the surplus to strengthen Medicare.
Independent analysts agree that the retirement of the baby boomers will
require additional revenues to adequately finance the Medicare program
for the next generation. Without this investment, Medicare would have
to grow at a rate at 60 percent below the per capita growth rate
projected for the private sector.
Reduce provider payments excessively and include no relief for
providers in need today. The Republican proposals extend most of the
Balanced Budget Act (BBA) policies that save by reducing provider
payments. They also do not include any financing to ease providers who
have been excessively cut by the BBA that need some immediate relief.
Do not provide for a meaningful prescription drug benefit.
Raise age eligibility to 67 which would increase the number of
Impose new copayments for home care and nursing homes that cause
higher out-of-pocket costs for some of the most vulnerable Medicare
beneficiaries. This is particularly important for rural beneficiaries
who are sicker and poorer and more likely to need home health services.