Dingell Urges Congress to ‘Act Quickly’ to Create Medicare Rx Drug Benefit
Congress should "act immediately to create a Medicare prescription drug benefit that is built on the existing, successful model in Medicare," Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) writes in a Detroit News opinion piece. Dingell writes that Medicare beneficiaries "are struggling to afford the cost of their medicine" and urges Congress to "ac[t] quickly" to address the problem, which he warns will "only ... get worse" as baby boomers age. He outlines four provisions that a "truly meaningful" Medicare prescription drug benefit should include:
- Use the "bargaining power" of the 40 million Medicare beneficiaries to ensure "fair prices" for seniors and the disabled;
- Exclude "gimmicks and loopholes" that health insurers could use to "make profits at the expense of Medicare beneficiaries";
- Ensure that Medicare beneficiaries will not have to "worry about whether their insurance plan will still be there next year, or whether their drug will still be covered or whether the cost-sharing will be affordable"; and
- Offer Medicare beneficiaries a "choice in their health care," including access to their doctors, their local pharmacies and their prescribed treatments.
He adds, "These guarantees can and should be met. Critics will say we can't afford a Medicare drug benefit that does all these things. This is simply not true; it is just a matter of priorities." Dingell concludes, "We must keep the promise of Medicare and ensure that seniors and the disabled have access to affordable prescription drugs" (Dingell, Detroit News, 5/30).
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