Carper Prime CoSponsor of Prescription Drug Benefit for Seniors

WASHINGTON, DC – To ease the burden of spiraling prescription drug costs for our nation’s seniors citizen, Senator Tom Carper today announced that he will be a prime co-sponsor of the “Medicare Reform Act of 2001” which offers a voluntary prescription drug benefit for all Medicare beneficiaries. The Act closely resembles the plan outlined by then-Governor Carper during his campaign for the United States Senate. Carper also announced the kick-off of the “Pill Bill 2 Tour,” which will include five town meetings with senior citizens throughout Delaware between July 2nd and 9th. “The rising cost of prescription drugs is perhaps the most serious problem facing our state’s senior citizens. During my time as Governor, we passed a prescription drug benefit – the Pill Bill – as a step to address this problem,” Carper said. “But our state government cannot solve this problem alone. I pledged during my campaign to make prescription drug assistance one of my top priorities. With the introduction of this plan, we take a first step towards a second, more expansive Pill Bill. I have heard our state’s seniors speak out on the need for a prescription drug benefit. I hope during the week ahead to hear from them about the plan we now present.” The Medicare Reform Act provides a voluntary prescription drug benefit that is available and affordable for all Medicare beneficiaries. Those deciding to be part of the program would pay a $250 a year deductible. After the first $250 in prescription drug costs, Medicare covers 50 percent of all other drug costs up to $3,500 in out-of-pocket spending. Between $3,500 and $4,000 in out-of-pocket spending, Medicare covers 75 percent of drug costs. Finally, Medicare would cover 100 percent of drug costs above $4,000 in out-of-pocket spending. Premiums and cost-sharing would be fully subsidized for beneficiaries with incomes below 135 percent of poverty, with the premium subsidy decreasing on a sliding-scale basis from 100 percent to 50 percent for beneficiaries with incomes between 135 percent and 150 percent of poverty. At the high end of the income scale, the premium subsidy would decrease again on a sliding-scale basis from 50 percent to 25 percent for beneficiaries with incomes between $75,000 and $100,000 (couples with incomes between $150,000 and $200,000). Medicare would contribute 25 percent of the cost of premiums for beneficiaries with incomes above these levels. “This plan makes prescription drug coverage an integral part of the Medicare benefits package, as it should be, but does so in a way that fosters competition and choice and draws upon the best practices of the private sector,” Carper said. “This plan provides assistance to all seniors, but provides the greatest assistance to those who need it the most – whether their need derives from low income or from high costs.” To keep prescription drug costs down, the Medicare Reform Act provides for competition between multiple private sector entities (such as pharmacy benefit groups) to administer, manage, and deliver the new prescription drug benefit. In the belief that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” the Act also adds several new preventative services to the Medicare benefits package including hypertension screening, cholesterol screening, tobacco cessation counseling, counseling on treatment options for post-menopausal women, expanded osteoporosis screening, expanded medical-nutrition therapy services, and screening for visual acuity and hearing impairment. The Pill Bill 2 Tour Town Meeting Schedule NEW CASTLE COUNTY: Date: Monday July 2, 2001 Time: 9:30 AM to 11:30AM Location: Wilmington Senior Center, 1901 Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19802 Date: Friday, July 6, 2001 Time: 9:30 AM to 11:30AM Location: M.O.T. Senior Citizen Center, 300 S. Scott, Middletown, DE 19709 For More Information please call Tyrone Jones (302) 573-6452 SUSSEX COUNTY: Date: Tuesday, July 3, 2001 Time: 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM Location: Huling Cove CHEER Center, 1140 Savannah Road, Lewes, DE 19958 Date: Monday, July 9, 2001 Time: 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM Location: Nanticoke Senior Center, 310 Virginia Avenue, Seaford, DE 19973 For More Information call Mark Lally (302) 856-7690 KENT COUNTY: Date: Thursday, July 5, 2001 Time: 10 AM- 12 Noon Location: Modern Maturity Center 1121 Forest Ave. Dover, DE For details call Lori James (302) 674-3308