Good morning. This week, the House and Senate are working on one of the most
important issues facing Congress: improving Medicare to offer prescription
drug coverage to American seniors. And on Wednesday, I will travel to Chicago
and talk about our responsibility to give seniors more choices and better
benefits, including help with the rising costs of prescription drugs.
We have a tremendous opportunity to reform Medicare and help our seniors.
The budget I proposed, and which the Congress passed, provides $400 billion
in additional funds over the next 10 years to strengthen and improve Medicare
-- so we have the resources to make reform work. We're also seeing a growing
consensus -- in both houses of Congress and both parties -- that our seniors
need a strengthened Medicare system that includes prescription drug coverage.
The time is right to make progress.
President's Goals for Medicare
Modernizing and Improving Medicare
Our nation has made a binding commitment to bring affordable health care to
our seniors. We must honor that commitment by making sure Medicare stays current
with the needs of today's seniors. When Medicare was launched 38 years ago,
medicine focused on surgery and hospital stays -- and that is mainly what Medicare
covers. Today, doctors routinely treat their patients with prescription drugs,
preventive care, and ground-breaking medical devices -- but Medicare coverage
has not kept pace with these changes. Our goal is to give seniors the best,
most innovative care. This will require a strong, up-to-date Medicare system
that relies on innovation and competition, not bureaucratic rules and regulations.
My views on Medicare are clear. First, those who like the Medicare system
as it is should be able to stay just where they are, and also receive prescription
Second, those who want more coverage for preventive care and other benefits
should be able to choose from multiple health plans under an enhanced Medicare
program. This option would be similar to the health care coverage available
to every federal employee. If that coverage is good enough for members of
Congress and federal employees, it is good for our seniors.
Third, seniors who want the benefits of managed care plans -- including
prescription drug coverage -- should be able to choose from a range of plans
that best fit their personal needs.
And, fourth, we must provide extra help for low-income seniors, so that
all seniors will have the ability to choose the Medicare option that serves
them best -- and every senior will have the option of a prescription drug
In a Medicare system that reflects these principles, every senior in America
would enjoy better benefits than they do today. And they would continue to
benefit from the most important strength of American medicine: the ability
to choose your own doctor. We want seniors and doctors -- not government
bureaucrats -- to be in charge of the important health care decisions.
Members of Congress are working hard on this issue, and I encourage their
efforts. I also urge Americans to make their voices heard. If we work together,
Congress will pass a strong Medicare bill -- and our seniors will finally
get the prescription drug benefits and choices they need and deserve.