STATEMENT OF MARK B. MCCLELLAN, M.D., PH.D. ADMINISTRATOR, CENTERS FOR MEDICARE & MEDICAID SERVICES ON
MEDICARE’S 39TH ANNIVERSARY
On July 30th, 1965, Medicare was signed into law, giving America’s seniors protection from rising health care costs and access to the best medical care in the world. But in recent years, those benefits fell behind modern medicine, especially when it comes to prescription drugs, preventive care, and more affordable health plan options.
But Medicare’s 39th anniversary is different. Today, for the first time, we can honor Medicare’s anniversary by bringing overdue improvements, including prescription drug savings, to America’s seniors and people with a disability.
Over four million beneficiaries who need help with drug coverage are already taking advantage of the Medicare improvements by signing up for a Medicare-approved drug discount card. In addition to drug prices that are 20 percent or more lower than retail prices, beneficiaries with limited incomes who are struggling with their prescription drug costs may also be eligible for a $600 credit to help pay for their medicines this year and again in 2005, plus substantial additional manufacturer discounts. And soon, all beneficiaries will have access to prescription drug coverage.
CMS is working to make it as easy as possible for Medicare beneficiaries, their family members and caregivers to take advantage of all the new benefits in Medicare and to answer all of their questions about this important health care program. Now, simply by dialing 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227), callers can get information about Medicare claims, appeals, or Medicare-approved drug discount cards, as well as order Medicare publications and hear more about the additional benefits ahead.
In addition, we’ve made it easier to use www.medicare.gov to get information about drug discount cards and other ways to save on your prescription drug costs, the quality of care available in the nation’s nursing homes and from home health agencies and Medicare health plans.
Over its first 39 years, Medicare has had an enormous impact on the well-being of America’s seniors and people with a disability. With better benefits than ever, we can do even more to improve their health in the years ahead. It’s a good way to celebrate a very special anniversary.