Issue Position: Medicare
"Politicians need to understand what it's like for people on Medicare, who are lying in bed staring at a ceiling wondering if they are going to be able to pay the bills. We need to understand their concerns and aspirations if we are going to reshape Medicare in the 21st Century."
Joe Biden's Plan: Reshaping Medicare for the 21st Century
Strengthening the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program
Joe Biden fought for years to expand the Medicare program to cover prescription drugs with a plan that would provide valuable coverage, be easy to use, and be affordable to most seniors. The present plan is complicated and has not done enough to keep drug costs down. Joe Biden is working to improve the plan by:
Having the federal government directly negotiate for better drug prices from the pharmaceutical companies, as it does for other federal health programs. This should lower costs to consumers.
Closing the gap in benefits - often called the "doughnut hole" -- that occurs once a retiree hits $2,250 in coverage.
Stabilizing Medicare Reimbursement Formulas
Joe Biden wants to stabilize the way Medicare determines reimbursement rates for physicians and other providers. As such, he wants the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to study and report to Congress on replacing the use of the sustainable growth rate as a factor in determining the update for such payments with a factor that more fully accounts for changes in the unit costs of providing physicians' services.
Ensuring Equitable Cost Sharing of Mental Health Services
Joe Biden supports treating mental health services the same as other health services and increasing the amount the government pays from 50 percent to 80 for outpatient psychiatric services under the Medicare program.
Joe Biden's Record: Protection and Prevention
Promoting Breast Cancer Screening
Joe Biden helped lead the effort to require Medicare to cover annual mammograms for women over the age of 65, and to exempt these procedures from the annual Medicare Part B deductible.
Ensuring Providers Are Available to Medicare Patients
Joe Biden has consistently fought to ensure an adequate supply of physicians and other Medicare providers for our nation's seniors by opposing arbitrary caps on reimbursement and working to reform the provider payment system. He also has worked to preserve Medicare indirect medical education payments to teaching hospitals, as many of these facilities provide crucial care to Medicare beneficiaries.
Allowing Medicare Patients to Participate in Clinical Trials
Joe Biden worked hard to ensure Medicare recipients are able to participate in groundbreaking medical studies on new treatments and medications.
Opposing Arbitrary Limits on Services
To ensure Medicare beneficiaries received proper treatment, Joe Biden fought to prevent arbitrary monetary limits on Medicare coverage of physical, occupational, and speech therapy services.
Protecting Against Genetic Non-Discrimination
Joe Biden has fought to prohibit an issuer of a Medicare supplemental policy, on the basis of genetic information, from denying or conditioning coverage, or discriminating in the pricing of the policy, including the adjustment rates, for an eligible individual.
Preserving Medicare for Retirees
When the future of Medicare came under attack and was threatened with its gradual demise, Joe Biden stood steadfast in defense of Medicare.