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Study Notes

Medicare Improvement Act 2003

AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

The Medicare Improvement Act was passed by George W Bush in 2003 after a close vote in Congress. The act itself introduced one of the largest overhauls of the Medicare programme.

The Act was introduced into Congress in June 2003 by Dennis Hastert the Speaker of the House. It passed the House two days later and then the Senate the following month. The bill was reported out of the conference committee in November before being signed on December 8th

The passage of the bill was close and at several points the passage was not certain. In the final reading of the bill in the House the bill passed with one vote 216-215. When the bill passed the conference committee the bill was almost defeated, but Speaker Hastert kept the vote open until he could secure the required number of votes to pass.

The key features of the Act were as follows:

  1. Entitlement benefits for prescriptions drugs. This was introduced to make it easier for recipients to afford prescription drugs as the price of these had increased significantly since the Medicare programme was first introduced
  2. Introduced trials for partly privatising the programme in six cities
  3. Increased funding by $25 billion to rural hospitals
  4. Mandated higher fees for more affluent pensioners
  5. Planned the introduction of electronic prescriptions from 2009.

Many administrative changes were introduced as part of the Act often changing minor details and procedural matters.

The Act itself was subject the significant lobbying especially from the pharmaceuticals industry and this is reflected in the complicated nature of the bill.

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