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WebMemo #136 on Health Care

August 16, 2002

A Medicare Prescription Drug Primer

By

Noon panel discussion: Time For A Sensible Medicare Drug Benefit - August 22, 2002

Featuring:

Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute, a former assistant director of the Congressional Budget Office who analyzed various Medicare proposals in Congress, and Grace Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, have developed a major proposal that could break the prescription drug logjam in the Senate. They will discuss their "Prescription Drug Security Plan."


Views from across the country:

Chicago Tribune editorial: Private insurers better solution for prescription drugs
August 7, 2002:

"There's little doubt that the current Medicare system is ill-suited to administering a new program that could cost $350 billion or more. The red tape, confusion and inflexibility built into the system would be hugely magnified."

"Handing over the drug program to Medicare would raise the possibility that the government would eventually be forced to impose price controls on drugs in response to fast rising costs, thereby stifling drug companies' incentive for innovation."


The American Prowler: Drugs and Me -- And You

Demonizing pharmaceutical companies does not change the fact that private prescription drug coverage works for most Americans.


National Center for Policy Analysis: Seniors Don't Need Medicare Drug Benefit

Seniors are more suited to cover costs of prescription drugs than other demographics.





Orlando Sentinel columnist Tait Trussel: "Seniors can get help with prescriptions"
August 7, 2002:

"Many elders under Medicare can afford the drugs they need. One wealthy Lake County resident's greedy reaction to the Senate's drug proposal was, 'I can afford my medicines myself, but I'll take the money if Congress wants to give it to me and pay for a Mediterranean cruise."

Public efforts to team up with pharmaceutical companies can benefit seniors. A partnership with Pfizer "may save Florida $33 million during the next two years in Medicaid costs, besides trimming drug bills for financially pressed seniors."

A change from costly emergency room visits to treatment with medication and preventive measures can decrease spikes in healthcare costs. Florida's new deals with Bristol-Myers Squibb and Glaxo Smith-Kline will target minority and poor populations to encourage treatment programs and reduce errors resulting from patients misunderstanding instructions.


Atlanta Journal and Constitution editorial: Politics are obscuring policy debate and threaten to bankrupt Medicare, August 2, 2002:

"While a plan that covers America's neediest elderly is necessary, a plan that willy-nilly pays for every senior citizen's prescription drugs squanders taxpayers' money and is an unnecessary burden on an already-overwhelmed Medicare program."


Wall Street Journal commentary by John C. Goodman: Paying multiple premiums wasteful; look toward one plan for health insurance, July 23, 2002:

"Medicare violates almost all principles of sound insurance. It pays too many small bills the elderly could easily afford themselves while leaving them exposed to thousands of out-of-pocket expenses, including, drug costs."

"What is generally not understood is how wasteful it is to have seniors paying two premiums, one for Medicare and one for Medigap insurance. Seniors with both types of coverage spend about 30% more on health care, on average, than seniors covered by Medicare alone."


Cleveland Plain Dealer commentary by Matthew Miller: "Two options: higher taxes or means testing: How Medicare divides progressives' goals", August 7, 2002:

Entitlements now account for two-thirds of the budget.

Infighting among Democrats, between those dedicated to universal coverage and those willing to limit expenditures to the poor, reveals the costly alternatives. Meanwhile, the GOP buries its head in the sand without exploring the options.


Washington Times commentary by Devon Herrick: Seniors' sense of entitlement overshadows economic realities, July 5, 2002:

According to the Economist, "seniors could expect to receive $2.50 in benefits for every dollar they paid into Medicare."

A poll by NPR, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, shows that thirty percent of seniors believe they should pay nothing for prescription drug insurance.

As economists know, "a large portion of the rise in health care costs is because people tend to spend a lot more, and care little, when health care is paid for using other people's money."

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