Only Congress could manage to come up with a truly effective approach to a serious problem - and make it temporary.
Prescription drug discount cards, the first tangible benefit from last year's Medicare law, will be available next month. They will provide Medicare patients up to 25 percent off retail drug prices. They also offer low-income seniors $600-a-year credit to buy the drugs they need.
Health policy experts Grace-Marie Turner and Joseph Antos find this targeted, consumer-centered approach to health care so promising, they recommend using it as the taking off point for far-ranging health reform. Instead, it's slated for extinction in 2006, when Medicare's impossibly expensive prescription drug entitlement kicks in.
make the cards a permanent feature in a larger plan to fix
Medicare, before millions of baby boomers retire and financially
crush the program and the country? "The funded drug card provides
an excellent model for delivery of the drug benefit," Turner and
Antos write in "Fixing the New Medicare Law #3: How To Build on the
Drug Discount Card" (April 26, 2004), available at http://www.heritage.org/Research/HealthCare/bg1752.cfm
For more information or to receive an e-mail version of "Bitter Pills," contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call Heritage Media Services at (202) 675-1761.
"Bitter Pills" is an occasional, but regular, feature from The Heritage Foundation on how the 2003 Medicare drug law is full of sickening "surprises" that have serious consequences for seniors and taxpayers. Of course, The Heritage Foundation isn't surprised at all. We diagnosed the problems long ago in ourMedicare Maladies series. Both Medicare Maladies and Bitter Pills are available on heritage.org (if you can stomach them).