NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH REFORM ACT OF 2006 -- (Senate - December 08, 2006)
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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I rise to express my concerns about section 206 of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. Under current law, Medicare beneficiaries are only permitted to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan from November 15 to March 31. This provision would allow Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries to enroll in certain Medicare Advantage plans at any time during 2007 or 2008, but only into those Medicare Advantage plans that do not cover prescription drugs. This is a significant change in policy, and I am concerned that this could provide incentives for seniors to join plans that do not offer prescription drug coverage. I am also troubled that this provision could distort the thriving Medicare Advantage marketplace that is serving seniors well today.
I also am concerned about the process by which this provision was added to the underlying legislation. While the vast majority of the Medicare provisions of the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 were discussed and agreed to by the appropriate committees in the House and Senate, it is my understanding that this provision was added to the final package without the consent of the Finance Committee members who negotiated on the Senate's behalf.
I want to make certain that our seniors are able to choose the Medicare option that best meets their health care needs and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure this provision does not harm our Nation's Medicare beneficiaries.