AARP and Others Urge Medicare Conferees to Adopt House Provision Covering Dual Eligibles

Dear Conferee:

As you meet to reconcile the differences in the House and Senate Medicare prescription drug bills, H.R. 1 and S. 1, the undersigned organizations urge you to ensure that ALL Medicare beneficiaries, including our nation’s lowest income seniors and people with disabilities, are eligible for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Specifically, we urge that you adopt the House provision which would cover all “dual eligibles”, those who are covered under both Medicare and Medicaid. The House provision would enable these beneficiaries to receive their prescription drug benefit primarily through Medicare with wrap-around benefits provided through Medicaid. The Senate bill excludes the more than 6 million dual eligibles from their bill, which would result in our poorest and often the sickest beneficiaries being denied good drug coverage that would be available to all others under Medicare.

Dually eligible beneficiaries currently rely on Medicaid coverage to fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. Prohibiting dual eligibles from receiving Medicare prescription drug coverage as proposed in the Senate bill would require them to rely only on their state’s Medicaid drug coverage. Forcing the total responsibility on the states may cause states to cutback on the quality and quantity of their Medicaid benefits, leaving the dual eligibles even more vulnerable in terms of adequate health care and prescription drug coverage.

Excluding coverage for the dual eligibles also sets up an administrative nightmare as Medicaid beneficiaries would be forced to switch back and forth between Medicare and Medicaid prescription drug coverage depending on the beneficiary’s health status. Furthermore, it undermines the universality of the program and a promise President Bush made that all seniors should have coverage under a prescription drug plan. We ask you to reject the Senate’s provision and instead adopt the House provision, which allows dual eligibles to receive the Medicare drug benefit as they do all other Medicare benefits.

As a conferee we urge you to support the position of all 50 governors and not allow our poorest seniors and people with disabilities to be relegated to second class prescription drug coverage, but instead adopt in the final conference report the House provision that would ensure access for dual eligibles to good drug coverage and preserve the integrity of the Medicare program for everyone.

Sincerely,

AARP
Advancing Independence
Alliance for Children and Families
Alliance for Retired Americans
Alzheimer’s Association
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association on Health and Disability
American Association on Mental Retardation
American Congress of Community Supports and Employment Services
American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine
American Council of the Blind
American Dental Education Association
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Health Care Association
American Medical Rehabilitation Providers Association
American Medical Student Association
American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)
American Nurses Association
American Public Health Association
AMERIGROUP
Association of Academic Physiatrists
Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Center for Aging Policy
Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Center on Disability and Health
Center on Disability Issues and the Health Professions
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Children’s Defense Fund
Communication Workers of America
Council for Health and Human Service Ministries
Disability Service Providers of America
Easter Seals
Epilepsy Foundation
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Families USA
Helen Keller National Center
Institute for Reproductive Health Access
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Lutheran Services in America
Medicare Rights Center
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors
National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health
National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
National Association of County Behavioral Health Directors
National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems
National Association of Social Workers
National Coalition on Deaf-Blindness
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association
National Mental Health Association
National Organization on Disability
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Women’s Law Center
NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby
NISH
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office
Service Employees International Union
Spina Bifida Association of America
The Arc of the United States
The City of New York
Title II Community AIDS National Network
Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, UNITE
Union of American Hebrew Congregations
United Cerebral Palsy
United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW)
United Jewish Communities
USAction
Volunteers of America
World Institute on Disability