WASHINGTON, D.C. - "Today is a historic day," said U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell following passage of the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act of 2003. The bipartisan measure to strengthen senior citizens' health care with prescription drug coverage now goes to President George W. Bush for his signature.
"America's seniors have waited 38 years for this day," said McConnell. "Thanks to the hard work and dedication of our President and Congressional leaders, we have strengthened and preserved Medicare for seniors - our greatest generation - and at long last provided a prescription drug benefit."
The Bipartisan Medicare Plan provides $400 billion for a Medicare prescription drug benefit over a decade.
On the Senate floor, Senator McConnell recently highlighted how Kentucky seniors will benefit under the Bipartisan Medicare bill.
McConnell said, "This unprecedented investment in our seniors' health translates into an incredible amount of relief for our seniors.
"In Kentucky, there are about 650,000 seniors who will share in that relief. So what does this relief mean to them? The first comfort is that all 650,000 Kentucky seniors-whether rich, poor, or in between-will never again face the fear of being wiped out-completely wiped out-by catastrophic drug costs.
"Under this plan, Medicare will cover a minimum of 95 percent of all catastrophic prescription drug costs.
"Next, all Kentucky seniors currently paying full retail drug prices will be able to cut their prescription drug costs by an estimated 50 percent or more once they enroll in this new plan.
"For those 235,000 Kentucky seniors with low incomes they will never again have to choose between food on the table or medicine in the cabinet. They will get 95 percent to 99 percent of their prescription drug costs fully covered. None of those 235,000 Kentuckians will pay more than $2 for generic drugs or $5 for brand-name drugs, and most will pay even less than that. "Another 56,000 Kentuckians, with moderate incomes, will get assistance with their premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance.
"While the full drug plan will not start until 2006, all Kentuckians can benefit from an immediate helping hand thanks to the Medicare prescription drug discount card available as soon as April of next year. Through group purchasing power and negotiated prices, this card can save seniors between 10 and 25 percent of their drug costs, starting, as I indicated, just next April-right around the corner.
"Finally, also starting next April, about 123,000 low-income Kentucky seniors will be credited up to $600 on that same prescription drug card to help tide them over until the full plan takes effect.
"So this is real relief, and it is just around the corner.
"Doctors, hospitals and seniors have all spoken that this Medicare prescription drug plan is the right plan at the right time.
"Our seniors, the greatest generation, have been there for us. Now, I applaud my colleagues for being there for them."