Bush To Visit Minnesota To Discuss Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors, Release Study
President Bush plans to visit Minneapolis today to discuss prescription drug coverage for seniors, a "reflection of the potent political appeal of an issue that could help decide who controls Congress next year," the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Bush will meet with physicians and researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic and with patients who have benefited from prescription drug treatment. In addition, Bush will release a new study on "prescription drug innovation and the impact that different coverage can have on it," White House health policy adviser Mark McClellan said (Hotakainen, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 7/11). The study, conducted by HHS, suggests that a Medicare prescription drug benefit should be provided by the private sector because "too much government regulation" could reduce pharmaceutical companies' ability to fund research and develop new treatments. The study, based on government and outside research, cites a number of new treatments for ailments common among seniors -- such as heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease -- and describes their effectiveness. The study also lists industrialized nations in which new medications are not generally covered because those governments have implemented cost-control measures such as prescription drug formularies. According to the study, "Cost containment may reduce or delay access to specific drugs."
The study "essentially lays out a justification for resisting the approach to drug benefits that many Democrats favor," the Washington Post reports. Many Democrats support legislation that would provide a drug benefit as part of Medicare coverage, while Bush and many Republicans support legislation that would allow private insurance companies to compete to provide prescription drug coverage for seniors. The Senate plans to address Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation next week. Last month, the House passed a GOP-sponsored bill (HR 4954) that would allow Medicare beneficiaries to purchase prescription drug coverage directly from private insurance companies (Goldstein, Washington Post, 7/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.