MEDICARE Rx: House Republicans Offer Plan
Republicans on the House Commerce Committee announced a prescription drug coverage proposal Thursday that would make coverage available to all Medicare beneficiaries on a voluntary basis, with subsidies for those with incomes under 200% of the poverty level. CongressDaily/A.M. reports that Republicans on the House Commerce panel presented their plan at a meeting with House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R- Ill.) and House Ways and Means Republicans. The plan calls for private, stand-alone drug policies, such as those being pushed by the drug industry. But like the White House plan, the Republican proposal would be voluntary and available to all Medicare beneficiaries. The measure would also require the federal government to underwrite the full cost of the policies, including premiums and deductibles, for beneficiaries with incomes under 135% of the poverty level, with a sliding scale subsidy for those with incomes "up to twice the poverty level." One of the provisions of the legislation would protect insurance companies from "adverse selection" -- only those who need the drug benefit would enroll -- "by creating a 'high risk pool' to help underwrite the highest costs." The Republican plan would be administered by a new Medicare Drug Board that was proposed by the Medicare Commission last year led by Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) (Rovner, 3/24).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.