DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (Senate - October 26, 2005)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. DAYTON. Mr. President, recently the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent to 42 million Medicare beneficiaries this handbook, ``Medicare & You,'' to describe a myriad of plans providing prescription drug coverage. There are an enormous number of plans in Minnesota--over 40 plans. I have tried to go through the book myself. I have had my staff try to explain it to me. I think I am a reasonably intelligent American, but this is extremely complicated and it will be very challenging to many Medicare beneficiaries. That is going to be compounded by the fact that there is a very serious error in the tables that will apply to 17 million Americans whose incomes are low enough that they qualify for partial subsidy for their premiums.
The question in the column heading is ``If I qualify for extra help, will my full premium be covered?''
Under every single plan, the answer is listed as ``yes.'' That is incorrect. Only about 40 percent of the plan offerings--those with premiums below the regional average--will be covered. The other 60 percent will be only covered up to that amount, and anything above that the beneficiary has to pay, but that is incorrectly described here. Yet CMS refuses to correct the error by a subsequent mailing.
My amendment requires them to do so and would transfer such funds as necessary from their administrative accounts so it is offset. It is essential to all beneficiaries and the integrity of the plan.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. DAYTON. This amendment increases the Federal funding for IDEA, special education, to what was promised 28 years ago, 40 percent of the cost of State and local governments.
I can only speak for my State, but that money would be desperately needed and very well used. It would amount to about $250 million in additional Federal funding for K-12 education for my State to keep the promise that has been broken. It has cost about $12 billion above what has been committed so far.
I recognize the distinguished chairman and ranking member have made this a priority and have increased funding, and we have made some progress in the last few years. But we are still less than 20 percent--less than half--of the commitment for special education made almost three decades ago.