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February 25, 2009

For Immediate Release

In his budget address to Congress, President Obama reminded us that we can't afford NOT to deal with health care reform in these trying economic times. Judith Stein, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy applauds the President's leadership. "The lack of health insurance and the lack of a rational system for those who are insured are making our people and our businesses sick," says Ms. Stein. "Thank you, President Obama for pushing us to insure all Americans, and to do so this year."

"The President said where there is fraud or waste in Medicare it must be ended," Ms. Stein continued. "This must include eliminating the billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies to private Medicare plans and the overpayments for drugs that could be reduced by allowing Medicare to buy in bulk for all 44 million beneficiaries."


"The President said we need health care reform now – this year. The most realistic, cost-effective, and responsive way to accomplish health coverage this year is to look to an enhanced Medicare program."

The traditional Medicare program has been an effective public-private partnership since 1965. Most people don't understand that it is administered by private companies, not the government. The private Medicare infrastructure already exists, ready to be broadened for use by an expanded coverage program.

In addition, Medicare should be enhanced to provide an out-of-pocket payment cap for beneficiaries, a payment system that rewards primary care doctors at least as well as specialists, a drug benefit modeled after Part B, a care coordination benefit, and, phased in as necessary, basic dental, vision, and auditory care.

"The traditional Medicare program has been a cost-effective success for 44 years," says Ms. Stein. "Expanding Medicare's public-private partnership is a realistic way to accomplish the President's call to action: pass health care reform this year. It's a call to action we can't afford to ignore."

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