Drug Benefit Study Seeks To ‘Scare’ Beneficiaries
"The liberal activist group" Families USA last week released a study on the Medicare prescription drug benefit that "simply does not reflect reality," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), founder of the Center for Health Transformation, and David Merritt, project director of the center, write in a Washington Times opinion piece (Gingrich/Merritt, Washington Times, 11/8).
The study found that health insurers will not offer Medicare prescription drug plans that include "meaningful" coverage during the so-called "doughnut hole" coverage gap of the prescription drug benefit in 13 states in 2007, compared with four states in 2006 (California Healthline, 11/2).
According to Gingrich and Merritt, by "ignoring the overwhelming approval millions of beneficiaries give the Medicare prescription drug benefit" with the release of the study, the "radical left has shown again its sole strategy is to score political points -- particularly before the election -- by scaring seniors." They write that the results of the study are "misleading" and "based on several fundamental flaws" and that the "doughnut hole in general will not be an issue for 71% of Medicare beneficiaries."
In addition, Gingrich and Merritt write that "of the remaining 29 percent potentially subject to the gap, every beneficiary in every state can choose an affordable drug plan that offers gap coverage for both generic and brand-name drugs."
They add, "By trotting out flawed studies on the doughnut hole days before the election and focusing campaign rhetoric on drug reimportation and federal negotiation with drug manufacturers, the left shows once again it would rather scare seniors and vilify pharmaceutical companies than discuss real structural improvements in Medicare -- ones that would undoubtedly cover the doughnut hole" (Washington Times, 11/8).