Republicans contend the administration plan is too expensive. They want coverage for seniors with limited incomes. The independent Congressional Budget Office has estimated the price tag at $168 billion over 10 years.
The GOP has proposed offering a prescription drug benefit only to the neediest beneficiaries. But Mr. Clinton has said limiting prescription benefits to only the poorest Medicare recipients would lock out a large number of elderly people with modest incomes who also need that coverage.
White House officials describe the trip as the start of a new lobby effort for the president's final domestic agenda. Aides say the president wants to put some home-state pressure on Members of Congress to approve his pet issues.
Medicare, the government's insurance program for the elderly and disabled, is projected to go broke by 2015 unless Congress changes the program and its funding system. The general aging of America is a large part of the reason for the cash flow problem.
According to Census data, the population of people 85 and over grew 274 percent between 1960 and 1994. The elderly population as a whole grew by 100 percent over the same time period.
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