NU Online News Service, Dec. 8, 2003, 11:50 a.m. EST – President Bush singled out the health savings account section of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 for praise today at a signing ceremony for the bill that created it, H.R. 1.[@@]

The bill is best known for a section that sets up a prescription drug program for Medicare beneficiaries, but it also establishes tax breaks for health savings accounts for U.S. taxpayers who have high-deductible health insurance policies.

The U.S. tax system already gives Americans incentives to save for retirement and education expenses, Bush said in a speech delivered on the steps of the D.A.R. Constitution Hall in Washington.

“Now the law will make it easier for Americans to save for their future health care,” Bush said. “All Americans should consider it.”

Now, Bush said, “people have an incentive to live healthier lifestyles, because they want to see their health savings accounts grow.”

Bush also praised a little-heralded section of MPDIMA that will offer coverage for physical exams and other preventive care for members of the basic Medicare program starting in 2005.

“Modern health care is not complete without prevention,” Bush said.

The House has posted a copy of the final version of H.R. 1 at http://www.house.gov./medicarerx/hr1-conflegtext.pdf