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."
"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
Demonizing pharmaceutical companies
does not change the fact that private prescription drug coverage
works for most Americans.
Seniors are more suited to cover costs of prescription drugs
than other demographics.
"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
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.
"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 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."
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
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