March 16, 2005

Crapo: Modernized Medicare Helps MoreThan Just Health Costs

Tax shelters, prescriptions, choice are all promising reforms

Washington, DC - A paradigm shift in the way the nation treats health care is in the offing with the Medicare reform legislation passed by the U.S. Senate this morning on a vote of 54-44, according to Idaho Senator Mike Crapo. Crapo said he backed the bill because it represents the first time in more than 40 years that creative, bipartisan thinking has led to tax-sheltered health savings plans, personal accountability, and care choices to a system that has spiraled out of control. â??Instead of focusing on costs, we are now focusing on making Medicare work better. People can save, tax-free, for their own care with health savings accounts. Those accounts earn interest and participants can use their accounts to make tax-free payments for insurance plans or prescriptions. We can remove some of the bureaucracy and replace it with personal accountability and freedom to choose an individualâ??s own health plans.â??Crapo noted participants would now have the choice to change their benefit program under a market-oriented system. â??These are small steps, but meaningful steps, toward a more competitive system that offers both a prescription drug plan and strengthens Medicareâ??s future by moving to a market-oriented system,â?? he said. Even more important for rural states like Idaho, this bill recognizes more support be sent to states with smaller populations, â??Rural states like Idaho will benefit by modernizing the delivery of health care through creative new programs like telehealth consultation efforts using the Internet. The one-size-fits-all design will be replaced with a plan that recognizes people participate and contribute differently,â?? Crapo added. â??This bipartisan effort takes courage, but just as the Congress reformed welfare and cut taxes while strengthening our national defense, we can put more health care decisions directly in the hands of Americans, save them tax payments, bring market-driven competition into the mix, and make the program more solvent for all in the long run.â?? # # #