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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 16, 2000



        Underscores Need For A Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
              To Ensure That Advances in Treatment Benefit 
                    Seniors and People With Disabilities

Today, from Camp David, President Clinton will announce that the National Institutes of Health will dedicate $50 million over the next 5 years to accelerate research on new ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease, with a particular focus on the development of an Alzheimer's vaccine. This commitment builds on new research findings reported just this week that provide new optimism for the development of immunological and pharmacological interventions that not only slow the onset of Alzheimer's disease, but possibly prevent it. The President will point out that our commitment to developing new treatments and preventive interventions must be matched by our commitment to provide an affordable and meaningful Medicare prescription drug benefit. This will ensure that new therapies are not only available, but covered by the Medicare program.

MILLIONS OF AMERICANS SUFFER FROM ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE, AND THE NUMBER CONTINUES TO GROW. Currently, four million Americans - the vast majority of whom are seniors - suffer from Alzheimer's Disease, a progressive, degenerative brain disease. This disease disrupts the way the brain works, affecting the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. The cause of the disease is still unknown, and there is no cure.

PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES $50 MILLION INVESTMENT IN RESEARCH TO PREVENT AND TREAT ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE. Today,President Clinton announced that the National Institute on Aging at the NIH will dedicate $50 million to research on new ways to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease - with a special emphasis on the development of a vaccine to prevent the disease in healthy adults. These funds, which will be made available through a request for applications this fall, will be used to support research identifying new drugs and interventions to assist in the development of preventive and treatment strategies. It is expected that this new research commitment will accelerate and enhance the pharmaceutical industry's investment in research on the development of pharmacological products designed to treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease.

PRESIDENT CLINTON UNDERSCORES THE NEED FOR AN AFFORDABLE, MEANINGFUL MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT OPTION. Today, President Clinton will stress that our commitment to pursuing the exciting new research possibilities in this area should be equaled by our efforts to provide an affordable, meaningful, prescription drug benefit option for all Medicare beneficiaries. He will reiterate that he is pleased that there is growing momentum on Capitol Hill to provide a real Medicare prescription drug benefit, not a flawed private insurance model. He urged the Congress to work together in a bipartisan fashion to meet the challenges Medicare faces, and to ensure that it continues to provide the critically important insurance coverage for the 39 million seniors and people with disabilities the program serves.

PRESIDENT CLINTON'S MEANINGFUL, AFFORDABLE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION BENEFIT OPTION. The President has proposed a voluntary Medicare prescription drug benefit that would begin in 2002. In return for a $25 premium, provide prescription drug coverage that would have a zero deductible and cover half of all prescription drug costs up to $5,000 when fully phased in. It will also limit all out-of-pocket medication costs to $4,000. This optional benefit would also provide negotiated discounts that would ensure that Medicare beneficiaries no longer pay the highest prices in the marketplace. The President's proposal is part of a broader set of reforms that would take the Medicare Trust Fund off budget, extending its life to at least 2030, make the program more efficient and competitive, and dedicate $40 billion over 10 years to improve health care provider payment rates.