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How Health Reform Legislation Will Affect Medicare Beneficiaries

Despite criticism that health reform legislation will result in cuts to Medicare, the bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as President Obama’s proposal, contain provisions that would strengthen the program by reducing costs for prescription drugs, expanding coverage for preventive care, providing more help for low-income beneficiaries, and supporting accessible, coordinated, and comprehensive care that effectively responds to patients' needs. The legislation also would help to extend the program’s fiscal solvency—for nine years, under the Senate bill. This issue brief examines the provisions in the pending legislation and how each one would work to improve benefits, extend the fiscal solvency of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, reduce pressure on the federal budget, and contribute to moving the health care system toward better access to care, improved quality, and greater efficiency.

Publication Details



S. Guterman, K. Davis, and K. Stremikis, How Health Reform Legislation Will Affect Medicare Beneficiaries, The Commonwealth Fund, March 2010.