Health Savings And Medicare Prescription Drug Bills Pass

Washington (June 30, 2003) -- The House has passed the Health Savings and Affordability Act of 2003, by a vote of 237 to 191. A companion bill, the Medicare Prescription Drug and Modernization Act, passed by one vote--216 to 215. The Senate version, the Prescription Drug and Medicare Improvement Bill, passed by a 76 to 21 vote.

The bill includes a prescription drug benefit to seniors enrolled in both the traditional fee-for-service plans and the new integrated health plans, generated through the bill. After paying a $250 deductible, seniors will have access to a drug benefit that covers 80 percent of the drug costs up to $2,000, at a premium of about a dollar a day. After $3,500 in out-of-pocket costs, seniors will receive 100 percent coverage under the bill's catastrophic plan.

"Upon its birth in 1965, the Medicare program helped America's seniors live healthier and longer lives," said Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas. "However, Medicare has not incorporated modern day advances in health care and medicines, therefore it no longer gives seniors the same benefits it did nearly 40 years ago."

H.R. 2596 is designed to help families "gain better access to quality health care and save for medical costs through tax-deductible contributions," said Thomas. The bill creates two tax-preferred, portable savings accounts for health expenses to give accountholders the ability to choose what's best for them. It is expected that over 42 million of these accounts will be created by the end of the decade.

-- WebCPA staff

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