Bush Will Offer Medicare Prescription Drug Plan to Congress
As part of his two step proposal to overhaul Medicare, President Bush plans to send his plan for a prescription drug benefit to Congress next week, where it is expected to meet opposition from congressional Democrats, the Boston Globe reports (Kornblut, Boston Globe, 1/26). Dubbed "Immediate Helping Hand," the plan would offer assistance to seniors while lawmakers develop a more comprehensive proposal. Under the plan, the federal government would give states $48 billion over four years to offer prescription drug coverage to seniors. Drugs for seniors earning up to 135% of the federal poverty level would be completely subsidized, while seniors earning more would be responsible for part of the costs. The Globe reports that Sen. Edward Kennedy (D), the ranking member of the Senate HELP committee, is planning to block the measure in favor of "broader and more permanent drug coverage" for Medicare beneficiaries (Boston Globe, 1/26). GOP senators are not expected to support the proposal either. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said there is "little congressional interest" in the program and expects it to be "dead before its arrival" (California Healthline, 1/12). White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer said, "The president made a series of promises during the campaign, and he's going to honor them" (Kornblut, Boston Globe, 1/26).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.