Iowa Public Television


Medicare Passes With Rural Benefits

posted on November 28, 2003

Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.

The U.S. economy grew in the third quarter at an even faster pace than originally reported. The government says the gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic activity, grew at a revised 8.2 percent annual rate from July to September. That's the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. The feds also report that consumer confidence and orders for big-ticket durable goods are at their highest level in a year's time.

That kind of progress was NOT as evident on Capitol Hill this week. After nearly three months of negotiations and deal-making, Congress abandoned efforts to pass an energy bill this year. Lawmakers quit the legislation after failing to resolve a dispute over the gasoline additive MTBE. Republican leaders say they'll try again in 2004.

Congress had better luck on another front  the massive overhaul of Medicare. Despite bitter opposition from some Democrats, the bill realizes two of its main goals  a new prescription drug benefit and measures to control costs.


Medicare Passes With Rural Benefits

Lawmakers worked late hours in a tireless effort to push a compromise Medicare bill through Congress before the November holiday recess. Most of the attention focused on the provision for a drug plan for seniors... and the $400 B cost over the next ten years.

Senator John McCain (R) Arizona "By 2020, social security and Medicare with the prescription drug benefit will consume an estimated 21% of income taxes for every working American."

Senator Edward Kennedy (D) Massachusetts: "The beginning of the dismantling of the Medicare system."

Opponents and those voting "aye" agree on one thing -- the bill isn't perfect. But for rural lawmakers like Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, who worked on the bipartisan Medicare conference committee, it is a victory that goes beyond the much-talked about drug benefit. He called it is a victory for rural healthcare.

Senator Charles Grassley (R) Iowa: "Number one, to make sure doctors in rural America are reimbursed for their professional services on the same basis as urban America. The entire package for Iowa, of hospitals, doctors and other health care professionals would be $438 million dollars."


Tags: Congress drugs finance government health care Medicare news rural