FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 12, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
Statement by Mike Leavitt Secretary of Health and Human Services Regarding House Vote on HR 4
I am disappointed that a majority of House members discounted the overwhelming success of the Medicare Part D program over the last year and voted to pass HR 4.
The success of the Medicare prescription drug benefit over the last year provides the strongest evidence that consumer choice and competition are driving down costs and saving money for beneficiaries and taxpayers. The average monthly premium has dropped by 42 percent, from an estimated $38 to $22 -- and there is a plan available in every state for less than $20 a month. The net Medicare cost of the drug program has fallen by close to $200 billion since its passage in 2003.
Despite statements from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and the independent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ actuaries that this legislation would not result in savings, this legislation was hastily adopted without hearings in the House. This rush to legislate will undermine beneficiary confidence in part D -- even though polls consistently show that over three-quarters of beneficiaries are satisfied with their plan. Even worse, enactment of this legislation could dramatically reduce beneficiary access and convenience while increasing drug costs to those with veterans’ coverage, the state Medicaid programs, the privately insured and the uninsured as evidenced by a report from the Congressional Research Service.
There’s just no evidence that government makes better choices for consumers on their health than consumers do for themselves. We hope that the Senate will reflect on the evidence and resist the temptation to undermine a program that is working well for millions of people with Medicare.
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Last revised: January 20, 2009