May 14, 2004

May 14, 2004 | WebMemo on Health Care

Bitter Pills #8: Drug Discount Cards: Why Must the Good Die Young(in 2006)?

Only Congress could manage to come up with a truly effective approach to a serious problem - and make it temporary.

Prescription drug discount cards, the first tangible benefit from last year's Medicare law, will be available next month. They will provide Medicare patients up to 25 percent off retail drug prices. They also offer low-income seniors $600-a-year credit to buy the drugs they need.

Health policy experts Grace-Marie Turner and Joseph Antos find this targeted, consumer-centered approach to health care so promising, they recommend using it as the taking off point for far-ranging health reform. Instead, it's slated for extinction in 2006, when Medicare's impossibly expensive prescription drug entitlement kicks in. 

Why not make the cards a permanent feature in a larger plan to fix Medicare, before millions of baby boomers retire and financially crush the program and the country? "The funded drug card provides an excellent model for delivery of the drug benefit," Turner and Antos write in "Fixing the New Medicare Law #3: How To Build on the Drug Discount Card" (April 26, 2004), available at

For more information or to receive an e-mail version of "Bitter Pills," contact or call Heritage Media Services at (202) 675-1761.

"Bitter Pills" is an occasional, but regular, feature from The Heritage Foundation on how the 2003 Medicare drug law is full of sickening "surprises" that have serious consequences for seniors and taxpayers. Of course, The Heritage Foundation isn't surprised at all. We diagnosed the problems long ago in ourMedicare Maladies series. Both Medicare Maladies and Bitter Pills are available on (if you can stomach them).

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