March 23, 2004

March 23, 2004 | News Releases on Health Care

Coalition Calls For Delay

WASHINGTON, MARCH 23, 2004 - A coalition of conservative think tanks and grass-roots advocacy organizations today called on Congress to halt implementation of the Medicare prescription drug legislation enacted just last year.

At a press conference here, representatives of research institutions such as The Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute joined leaders of the American Conservative Union, Citizens Against Government Waste, the National Taxpayers Union and other advocacy groups in urging Congress to delay implementation of any provisions of the new law not already slated to take place this year.

The coalition's call for a freeze came on the heels of the latest annual report of the Trustees for Medicare and Social Security. The report revealed that the drug entitlement alone will add more than $16 trillion to the long-term unfunded liability of the Medicare program.

"With the costs of Medicare rising and huge federal deficits already here, Congress should do the right thing and target increasingly precious tax dollars to the minority of seniors who need the help ⦡mp;euro;" those at the bottom of the income scale who don't have access to private drug coverage,â|¡mp;euro; said Robert Moffit, director of Heritage's Center for Health Policy Studies. "We don't need a universal entitlement where Donald Trump and Bill Gates will be eligible to get the tax dollars of young families who are working and struggling to pay their mortgage, raise their children and pay their own medical bills."

The coalition called for freezing those parts of the program that begin in 2006 so as not to bankrupt Medicare. Congress vowed to spend no more than $400 billion on Medicare drug legislation over the first 10 years. That's the Congressional Budget Office cost estimate Congress relied on when it passed the bill. However, just three weeks after the bill passed, the administration released an estimate pegging its cost at $534 billion over the first 10 years. In either case, the drug entitlement will add trillions of dollars to the unfunded liability of the Medicare program. Many in Congress have said the bill would never have passed had its full price tag been known.

The freeze sought by coalition members would not block issuance of the prescription-drug discount cards already slated to be made available to seniors this year.

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