CAMPAIGN 2000: Already Focusing on Health Issues
Prescription drug coverage for seniors is likely to figure prominently in the year 2000 elections, as Rep. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) has already indicated that the issue will be a "cornerstone" in her bid to upset incumbent Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-MI), the Detroit Free Press reports. In calling for reforms that provide prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries, Stabenow yesterday released her own survey of five brand name drugs popular among seniors in the Detroit area. According to the survey, Michigan seniors pay nearly twice as much for their prescriptions as does the government or HMOs (Householder, 8/17). Seniors in the 14 communities surveyed pay an average of $109 for cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor and $115 for ulcer medication Prilosec; the government pays $34 for Zocor and $59 for Prilosec. "The pricing is unfair. It's not fair to seniors that they're paying these prices," Stabenow said. For his part, Abraham spokesperson Joe Davis blasted her position, countering that only the "neediest seniors among us need a prescription drug" benefit (Bondi, Detroit News, 8/17). "If she's going to make this into a campaign issue, it goes along the same lines as President Clinton and congressional Democrats trying to scare seniors by using Medicare as a campaign issue instead of trying to reform it," Davis said. Meredith Art, a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said according to an independent economist, the study is flawed in that the "samples used were very small, biased toward the most expensive medications and didn't acknowledge retial markup" (AP/Detroit Free Press, 8/17).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.