Press Release             

Contact: Akiko Takano
Deputy Director of Communications
March 25, 2010

Statement by Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker on Passage of Reconciliation Bill

New York, NY—Today’s Senate and House votes put in place the last—and for people with Medicare, the most important—building block of this historic health reform legislation. The bill passed today will phase out the coverage gap in the Medicare drug benefit by 2020; people with Medicare who have high drug costs will no longer have a benefit that cuts out when they need it most, forcing them to shoulder the full price for their medicines. The help comes quickly, starting with a $250 rebate for consumers who enter the coverage gap this year and a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs in 2011.

There are other parts of the bill passed today that will benefit older adults and people with disabilities. The legislation provides $11 billion in funding to expand the network of community health centers, allowing more people with Medicare better access to affordable, high-quality health care. The coverage that consumers will receive through plans offered on the health insurance exchanges will be more affordable to Americans with limited incomes. This is a crucial improvement for people with disabilities who are now stuck in the two-year waiting period for Medicare and for older adults who now are without coverage while they wait to age in to Medicare.

Together, the bill passed today and the health reform legislation signed into law by President Obama earlier this week will strengthen Medicare financially and improve the health care people with Medicare receive. Health reform provides incentives for primary care doctors and specialists to coordinate care, for hospitals to ensure proper follow-up care after discharge, and for private Medicare health plans to help manage the care of members with chronic conditions. The Medicare Rights Center looks forward to working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to help implement these quality improvements in a way that works for consumers.


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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.


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