Bush Praises Drug Benefit, Acknowledges Problems
President Bush on Saturday said that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit has helped most beneficiaries, but he acknowledged that some beneficiaries have experienced problems, the AP/Boston Globe reports.
In his weekly radio address, Bush said, "When you make a big change in a program involving millions of people, there are bound to be some challenges, and this has been the case with the new drug coverage." In response to the problems, Bush said that the federal government has moved to ensure Medicare prescription drug plans have the most updated information on beneficiaries.
Bush also said that competition between Medicare prescription drug plans has reduced costs for beneficiaries and taxpayers. According to Bush, most Medicare beneficiaries will pay about half of the amount that they paid for medications before the prescription drug benefit took effect (Freking, AP/Boston Globe, 2/12).
In related news, House Democratic leaders last week said that members of the Democratic Caucus should hold town hall meetings and other public events this month to continue criticism of the Medicare prescription drug benefit the and Bush administration's management of the program, Roll Call reports.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Democratic Caucus Chair James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair John Larson (D-Conn.) wrote, "We ask you to use the upcoming February District Work Period and the following weeks to hold town meetings, visits to senior centers and other public events to drive this message home."
Pelosi will offer Democratic Caucus members packages that contain talking points, fact sheets and a PowerPoint presentation for use at town hall meetings on the Medicare prescription drug benefit. According to Roll Call, the effort follows the "same basic strategy Democrats used a year ago, when President Bush laid out his ambitious Social Security plan," and indicates that "Democrats believe public frustration with the prescription drug plan could be a powerful cudgel against Republicans" in midterm elections this fall (Kornacki, Roll Call, 2/13).
On Friday, Pelosi criticized the Medicare drug benefit at a town hall meeting in San Francisco (Fancher, San Francisco Examiner, 2/13).
Additional information on Medicare Part D is available online.