BUSH/GORE: Prescription Drug Plans Unfair to Non-senior Americans
Writing in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Daniel Shaviro criticizes Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) for their "outrageous" and "disgusting ... headlong rush to top each other in promising seniors a generous new prescription drug benefit through Medicare." Shaviro, a New York University law professor, laments that the candidates' proposals "would greatly expand our Medicare commitments at a time when projections show that the program is already headed for insolvency." He also wonders why the group that will benefit from these prescription drug plans --seniors -- will not have to shoulder the burden of the new costs. Thus, Gore and Bush's proposals "trea[t] the needs of one segment of our population -- a key voting bloc, of course -- as more urgent than those of everyone else." Regarding Gore's plan for a prescription drug benefit for all seniors, Shaviro writes that this stance is inconsistent with the vice president's criticism of Bush's tax plan because it favors wealthy Americans. "Why ... should poorer Americans have to pay (tomorrow if not today) for affluent seniors' prescription drugs?" Shaviro asks. He "concede[s]" that many seniors who would benefit from the candidates' plan "genuinely are in need" and that Medicare is "irrationally designed" in not including prescription drug coverage, "[b]ut this does not mean that indiscriminately throwing money at what is in general the most affluent ... segment of our population makes sense." Shaviro instead favors "true insurance" for seniors that covers "unusually high expenditures." He concludes, "The current drug proposals simply are not fair to all other Americans ... even if it is great presidential politics" (Shaviro, Los Angeles Times, 11/1).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.