Congress Must Either Approve Medicare Drug Benefit or Feel Seniors’ ‘Wrath,’ Sen. Miller Writes
If Congress fails to approve a Medicare prescription drug benefit by the November elections, "incumbents of both parties will feel the full force of [senior Americans'] wrath," Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) writes in a New York Times opinion piece. Miller, the co-sponsor of the leading Democratic Medicare drug benefit proposal along with Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), writes that his bill, along with two other Democratic proposals to lower the cost of drugs by allowing reimportation of American-made drugs from Canada and by limiting the tax deduction drug makers may take for marketing expenses, would "fulfill" the promise that both parties made in 2000 to seniors that "help was on the way with prescription drugs." Under the Miller-Graham proposal, all Medicare beneficiaries over 65 would pay 50% of the cost of prescriptions up to $4,000 a year, with no deductible and no more than a $25 monthly premium. Those earning less than $11,900 a year -- about a third of beneficiaries -- would pay no copayments or premiums. Miller laments that "there has yet to be a single debate" on any Medicare drug benefit legislation, as Congress has been focused on other issues. Stating that since the 2000 campaign "both parties have delivered nothing but reams of rhetoric," Miller concludes, "We've heard of the Greatest Generation. How about the Forgotten Generation? Or the Lied-To Generation? This nation's elderly are discouraged and displeased, but they are not unorganized. And they are definitely not disenfranchised. If we don't act on prescription drugs soon, they are going to come after us with what we politicians fear most: their ballots" (Miller, New York Times, 6/1).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.