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How Health Reform Legislation Will Affect Medicare Beneficiaries

How would the bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as President Obama's proposal, affect Medicare beneficiaries? A new Commonwealth Fund issue brief examines provisions of the pending legislation 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.

"Some critics have characterized these changes as cuts to the Medicare program, arguing that they represent a reduction in benefits," the authors write. "In fact, all beneficiaries would continue to be guaranteed all of Medicare's basic benefits, and those benefits would be improved with the expansion of coverage for preventive care and reduction in costs for prescription drugs."

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