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Leslie Bonacum
847-267-7153
mediahelp@cch.com
Neil Allen
847-267-2179
neil.allen@wolterskluwer.com

CCH Provides Resources For Journalists Covering Medicare Reform Progress

President Hints at Medicare Reform: Will 2003 be the Year?

(RIVERWOODS, ILL., January 30, 2003) – In both his State of the Union Address on January 28 and again in a speech Wednesday in Grand Rapids, Mich., President George W. Bush said that reforms to the Medicare system should provide people with greater choice in how they obtain and pay for their medical care similar to the choices provided federal employees under the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program (FEHBP). However, details on how to achieve this apparently have yet to be worked out, according to CCH INCORPORATED (CCH), a leading provider of healthcare law information and software.

Using FEHB as a Model to Reform Medicare

President Bush said that Medicare beneficiaries should have the same choice in deciding how their medical care is paid as do members of Congress and other federal government employees. Federal employees are allowed to choose between several different health plans, which provide them with coverage for medical services very much in the same way that the majority of employees choose coverage from their employer, according to CCH.

The president called for reforms to the Medicare system that will provide coverage for more preventive services than are currently provided to Medicare beneficiaries. Bush did say that any reforms should not harm current beneficiaries, and current beneficiaries should be able to receive benefits from the Medicare program in the same manner that they are now provided.

Prescription Drug Coverage

Bush also has said he plans to submit a budget to Congress that includes $400 billion over a 10-year period to provide a prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries.

While the specifics of the proposal were not provided in his speech, the amount the president is proposing to spend is $90 billion more than the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act of 2002, which was adopted by the House of Representatives last year, but subsequently stalled in the Senate.

Chances for Adoption

"Medicare reform has been a hot topic for years, and there even has been some action—for example, the House of Representative’s passage last year of a prescription drug bill. But even that stalled when it reached the Senate," said Jay Nawrocki, a healthcare analyst for CCH. "The big question is whether the president can pull together a proposal that has a chance of seeing its way through the entire legislative system, emerging in actual laws that overhaul the Medicare system. There’s quite a way to go between where we are today and getting a bill through Congress and onto the president’s desk."

Analysis of the Medicare and prescription drug plans as they progress, as well as details on the Medicare program, its history, coverage and examples on how it works will be available to the media at www.cch.com/medicarereform. CCH healthcare analysts also are available to provide individual analysis to reporters.

About CCH INCORPORATED

For more than 50 years, CCH INCORPORATED has regularly tracked, reported, explained and analyzed health and entitlement law for healthcare providers, insurers, attorneys and consumers. CCH is the premier provider of Medicare and Medicaid information. CCH is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wolters Kluwer North America. The CCH Health group site can be accessed at health.cch.com.

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