Citing the need to ensure the long-term stability of entitlement programs, Senator Ensign introduced a bill today (December 5, 2007) that would put Medicare on stronger and more stable financial ground. Ensign’s legislation would means test the wealthiest seniors enrolled in the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, known as Part D.
“This is something that is already being done in other areas of Medicare, and this is a solution that will save the taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Ensign, a member of the Finance Committee. “We should be helping those who need the help, but there’s no reason why Bill Gates’ father should have his prescriptions paid for by a school teacher or a firefighter.”
Under Ensign’s bill, a single senior with an income of more than $82,000 or a couple with an income of more than $164,000 would pay a greater share for their prescription drugs through Part D. Medicare Part B, which is for doctor’s services and outpatient care, already imposes a means test.
“For the sake of future generations, we need to get a handle on entitlement spending, and this bill is a good first step. Everyone needs to pull together and do their part to prevent the fiscal train wreck that looms ahead if Congress makes no reforms to strengthen Medicare and other entitlements. This common-sense step will help start us on the right path,” said U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), who is introducing identical legislation in the House of Representatives.
“It’s time to start taking action to rein in government spending and put our entitlements on a path toward long-term stability because the longer we wait the larger the problem becomes for our grandchildren,” said Ensign. “It’s time to demonstrate to the American people that Congress can deliver results. My bill is a responsible solution that would save billions.”
A single senior with an income between $82,000 and $102,000 would see his or her Medicare Part D premium increase by about $10 per month. Proposals similar to Ensign’s have projected savings of nearly $3 billion in just the first five years.