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Losing Coverage, Paying More

Recorded on October 7, 2003

The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

The House and Senate have agreed to create a universal entitlement for prescription drugs in the Medicare program. But more than three out of four seniors already have some form of drug coverage; and roughly one third of all seniors get their coverage from private employer-based health insurance. Creation of a universal drug entitlement will dramatically alter the future financing and delivery of prescription drugs for America's seniors who currently have coverage. Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that roughly one out of three senior citizens with employer-provided coverage would lose it under the Medicare legislation being hammered out in conference.

Professor Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University, a nationally prominent health policy analyst, has recently conducted an independent study of the data. His conclusions have profound consequences for millions of America's seniors. How many seniors will lose private drug coverage? What states will be hardest hit by the losses? What incentives do employers have for dropping or scaling back coverage? Will there be incentives for employers to create comparable wrap-around coverage? How will these changes affect the out-of-pocket drug costs of senior citizens? These and many other crucial questions on this sensitive topic will be addressed by Professor Thorpe and Mr. Haislmaier