Medicare reform proposals don’t satisfy AARP

Sunday, July 20, 2003

July 21, 2003

WASHINGTON - House and Senate proposals for a Medicare drug benefit don’t meet the needs of the AARP’s 35 million members, the group stated in an 8-page letter to Congress last week.

“I’d say (Medicare reform) is on life support,” said Dave Williams, Invacare’s director of government relations. “The differences between the House and the Senate on the central issue of a drug benefit is so great that it is almost impossible to fashion a compromise that will be acceptable to either chamber.”

Among other things, the AARP wants any Medicare reform to:

- not create incentives for employers to drop retiree coverage;

- ensure prescription drug coverage in all areas of the country;

- guarantee the same level of benefit to all beneficiaries regardless of income.

If the final agreement “does more harm than good, based on the concerns enumerated in this letter, we will not hesitate to oppose it,” wrote AARP Executive Director William Novelli.

Because of differences in their Medicare Reform bills, the reconciliation between the House the Senate almost certainly won’t make the unofficial July 30 deadline set by President Bush. There is talk, however, that members of the House and Senate could decide HME issues like competitive bidding, mandatory accreditation and a possible CPI freeze before the August recess, reports AAHomecare.

Ultimately, even if the House and Senate can’t agree on a new prescription drug benefit, they could still take up other elements of Medicare reform, including those that affect home medical equipment providers, Williams said.