July 14, 2003

July 14, 2003 | WebMemo on Health Care

Congress Above The Law (Or At Least Medicare Reform)

Members of Congress apparently don't want to taste their own Medicare medicine.

Lawmakers recently passed separate Medicare bills mandating specific prescription drug plans for all seniors. But afterwards, the House approved a bill (H.R. 2631) that will guarantee federal retirees-including retired members of Congress-the prescription drug benefits they already receive from their private health plans.

That means if the bills become law, every federal retiree will be exempt from limited plans the rest of us will have to choose from.

So much for a government "of the people, by the people, for the people." 

It's no wonder lawmakers want to protect their choices. If either the House or Senate version of the Medicare bills becomes law, about one out of three private-sector retirees would lose the drug coverage their former employer provides, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This means they would be dumped into the new government-run drug benefit plan with significantly poorer benefits and higher out-of-pocket costs, as Heritage Foundation health-care experts Robert Moffit and Derek Hunter point out.

They also note the exemption bill shows just how bad the Medicare reform bills really are. "Members of Congress must return to the drawing board and draft real Medicare reform. If these costly, but inferior, drug benefit plans aren't good enough for the politicians, they're not good enough for the rest of us either," Moffit says.

For more information or to receive an e-mail version of "Medicare Maladies," e-mail chris.kennedy@heritage.org or call Heritage Media Services at (202) 675-1761.

"Medicare Maladies" is a regular feature, launched 7/14/03, from The Heritage Foundation. Sad to say, there's another malady coming your way tomorrow.

Center for Health Policy Studies:

You Can Be Above the Law, If You Write It
commentary by Robert E. Moffit and Derek Hunter

The Crucial Elements of An Acceptable Medicare Bill
by Stuart M. Butler, Ph.D.

Time to Draw the Line on Medicare "Reform"
by Nina Owcharenko

all research from the Center for Health Policy Studies

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