U. S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today highlighted the success of the Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors and called for fiscal reform so programs – like Social Security and Medicare – can continue.
“Since 2006, nearly 800,000 Tennesseans have signed up for better prescription drug coverage no matter what their health status, prescription drug usage or income,” said Alexander, speaking to approximately 150 citizens of Fountain City and Halls at the Halls Senior Center outside Knoxville. “This plan works. Private competition is driving down the cost of premiums, nearly 8 out of 10 seniors are happy with the plan and it’s costing the government far less than estimated.”
Alexander told the crowd that anyone who qualifies for Medicare is eligible to join. In order to be enrolled, individuals must choose from among the plans offered in their area. The plans differ in terms of the drugs they cover and the pharmacies participating.
He continued to praise the Medicare prescription drug benefit but cautioned that tighter budgets were needed to ensure future Medicare and Social Security recipients get the benefits they paid for.
“In addition to providing low-cost prescriptions, we need to cut wasteful Washington spending so that Medicare and Social Security remain solvent,” Alexander continued. “It’s not enough just to cut a few outdated programs here and there. We have to fundamentally change the way we do business in Washington when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars.”
Alexander laid out three proposals that he has cosponsored as legislation in the U.S. Senate:
1. Presidential Line Item Veto – to give the President the ability to cut individual pork barrel projects from congressional spending bills.
2. 2-Year Budgeting – so Congress would pass a two-year budget during the first year and use the second year to take a good look at what federal programs are working and what ones are not – and either fix or stop paying for broken programs.
3. Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action - a bipartisan effort to review all aspects of the government’s long-term financial condition and find solutions to protect critical programs while keeping costs down which would be fast-tracked through Congress and guaranteed an up or down vote.
Alexander is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Appropriations Committees.