VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE CRITICIZES PROPOSALS TO USE ENTIRE SURPLUS
FOR TAX CUTS RATHER THAN INVESTING IN MEDICARE
Highlights Facts about the Importance of Medicare for Hispanics
Houston, TX -- Today, addressing the National Council of La Raza,
Vice President Gore urged the Congressional Republican Leadership to
reconsider their proposal to use the entire surplus for a risky tax cut
without dedicating one dime to strengthening Medicare.
The Vice President underscored the historic opportunity that the
nation has to secure Medicare for a quarter of a century and provide
Medicare beneficiaries which a much-needed long-overdue prescription
drug benefit. The Vice President also highlighted new facts that
underscore the critical impact the Administration's Medicare proposal
has for Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries.
"I believe we must strengthen Medicare for the Latino elderly, and
provide a much-needed prescription drug coverage," said Vice President
Gore, "But the Republican tax scheme would make it impossible."
Today, the Vice President:
Highlighted Facts That Underscore the Importance of the Administration's
Medicare Proposal for Hispanics. Today, Medicare provides health
insurance to more than two million elderly and disabled Hispanics but by
2025, the Hispanic share of the elderly population will more than
triple, and one in six older Americans, over eleven million, will be
Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries are more likely to live in poverty
and have higher health needs than white Medicare beneficiaries. Nearly
one-third of Hispanic beneficiaries have incomes below the poverty level
($7,740 for a single person in 1996), which is three times the poverty
rate of non-Hispanic white beneficiaries (10 percent). Nearly half (46
percent) of all Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries perceive their health
status to be fair or poor, compared to a quarter (26 percent) of
non-Hispanic whites. Twenty-eight percent of Hispanic Medicare
beneficiaries have cognitive impairments, compared to twenty-two percent
of white beneficiaries. With more health needs and lower incomes,
Hispanics will be disproportionately impacted by Republican Medicare
proposals, which increase costs to beneficiaries.
Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries are more likely to have no
supplemental coverage to Medicare - meaning they have no coverage of
prescription drugs. Twenty-five percent of Hispanic beneficiaries rely
only on Medicare. Only ten percent of non-Hispanic white beneficiaries
have Medicare as their only form of coverage.
Hispanics have higher rates of certain diseases, such as cancer and
diabetes, and would benefit from the Administration's proposal to
improve preventive benefits. Hispanic women have an incidence rate of
cervical cancer nearly twice the rate of non-Hispanic women and the rate
of breast cancer has increased three times faster for Hispanic women.
However, only 35.9 percent of older Hispanic women on Medicare receive
regular mammograms, lower than any other racial group. The prevalence
of diabetes in Hispanics is nearly double that of whites.
The Clinton/Gore Plan Strengthens Medicare for a Quarter Century and
Provides a Long Overdue Prescription Drug Benefit. The Administration's
proposal would benefit all Medicare beneficiaries, particularly
The proposal would:
Eliminate the deductible and all copayments on preventive benefits
covered by Medicare, including all cancer screenings, and diabetes
management. These proposals are particularly important for Hispanic
beneficiaries who are more likely to suffer from these conditions and
less likely to be able to afford out-of-pocket costs.
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
beneficiaries. This proposal is particularly important to Hispanic
beneficiaries who are less likely to have supplemental coverage.
Hispanic beneficiaries would also benefit from the Administration's
proposal to eliminate cost-sharing for the drug benefit for
beneficiaries below 150 percent of poverty.
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.
The Republican Plan Makes No Commitment to Medicare. The Republican
proposals invest nearly the entire surplus in tax cuts and invest
nothing in Medicare. The Republicans also support Medicare reforms that
would undermine the program and that would have a particularly harmful
impact on Hispanics. These proposals:
Raise traditional Medicare premiums through a new premium support
proposal which mostly produces savings by raising premiums for
traditional Medicare. Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries, with overall
lower incomes, will be disproportionately impacted by Republican
Medicare proposals that increase traditional premiums and out-of-pocket
Raise age eligibility to 67 which would increase the number of
uninsured Americans. This proposal would disproportionately impact
Hispanic beneficiaries who have higher rates of uninsured and lower
incomes and more likely to have difficulty affording health care
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 would disproportionately harm Hispanic Medicare
beneficiaries who have lower incomes and have greater long-term care
needs. (18 percent of Hispanic beneficiaries have one or more ADL
compared to only 10 percent of white beneficiaries).
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.
Vice President Gore Also Highlighted Other Critical Health Issues for
Hispanic Americans. Today the Vice President:
Underscored commitment to assuring health care coverage for
Twenty-seven percent of Hispanic children are uninsured versus
17.6 percent of black children, and 12.3 percent of white
The Administration fought to pass the largest investment in
children's health in a generation.
The Administration has also launched a national children's
health outreach effort, including recent guidance the Vice
President unveiled to clarify that receipt of health care or
other services cannot be used to impact immigrant status, a
major barrier to signing up for health coverage for many