In its July 23 article titled "House Passes 'Catastrophic' Illness Plan," The Post incorrectly reported the average tax paid by Medicare beneficiaries required by the Medicare Catastrophic Protection Act of 1987, as passed by the House. The legislation provides for a greatly expanded basic Medicare program, as well as for full coverage for extended hospital stays and physician services due to a serious illness and for a new drug benefit.

In describing the bill's major financing mechanism, a surtax, which approximately 40 percent of the elderly will be mandated to pay, the article stated that "the average supplemental premium for those subject to it -- about 40 percent of Medicare enrollees -- would be $155 a year in 1988 and $271 in 1992." In actuality, the average supplemental premium or surtax for those who pay it will be $381 in 1988 and will grow to approximately $666 by 1992 -- more than twice the amount reported.

This seemingly small error is disturbing to us because it is representative of the misinformation being provided to Medicare beneficiaries about the costs and the anticipated utilization of benefits provided in this legislation. Nearly 40 percent of the Medicare eligibles who must pay the surtax will pay the maximum amount of $580 in 1988 and are projected to pay $1,017 per year in 1992. These figures are a substantial sum for any individual, but are only a portion of the Medicare bill of the elderly. The surtax is paid in addition to the Medicare Part B premium, which under H.R. 2470 would have an annual price tag of $268 in 1988 and an estimated 1992 price tag of $378. So a couple with an adjusted gross income of $28,000 would pay an annual Medicare premium and surtax of $2,800 in 1992.

While we are supportive of full acute-care coverage of catastrophic illness under the Medicare program, we find the costs of H.R. 2470 prohibitive for many Medicare beneficiaries. It is important that the 30 million individuals over 65 who participate in Medicare fully understand the costs of this legislation. Only when the elderly have complete knowledge of the financial impact of this bill can they determine whether it should be perfected before it is taken up by the Senate.


U.S. Representative (R-Ill.)


U.S. Representative (D-Ohio)

Members, Committee on Energy and Commerce