Editorials, Opinion Pieces Examine Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Debate
Several editorials and opinion pieces published recently address the congressional debate over a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Summaries of the editorials and opinion pieces appear below.
Arizona Republic: The "high cost of prescription drugs is a burden to many seniors," but the "risky and reckless" Medicare prescription drug benefit legislation passed by the House and Senate is "too complicated" and is "not the answer," a Republic editorial states (Arizona Republic, 6/27).
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette: Problems with the Medicare program are "hard enough to figure out without all this political posturing," according to a Democrat-Gazette editorial. Lawmakers should treat the legislation as an important issue, "not just as another political beanbag they can toss around for partisan fun and profit," the editorial concludes (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 6/27).
Charleston Daily Mail: Congress should pass a Medicare prescription drug benefit bill that "taxpayers can afford and that subsidizes only those who are truly in need" because younger U.S. residents will "bear most of the cost of such a benefit," a Daily Mail editorial states (Charleston Daily Mail, 6/26).
Columbia State: The passage of Medicare prescription drug benefit bills is "laudable" but also "a dangerous maneuver to try" as the federal budget "slides further out of control" and "baby boomers edge closer to Social Security and Medicare," according to a State editorial. The United States has "not made the hard decisions needed to keep these expenses from increasing," and voters should demand that lawmakers explain "how the bill will be paid," the editorial concludes (Columbia State, 6/26).
Raleigh News & Observer: Congress should approve a Medicare prescription drug benefit bill that would provide beneficiaries with more affordable, accessible coverage and "one they can understand," rather than the bills of "ridiculous complexity" passed by the House and Senate, a News & Observer editorial states. "The first step toward that is a plan that the members of the House and Senate themselves can understand," the editorial concludes (Raleigh News & Observer, 6/27).
San Jose Mercury News: President Bush should demand that conference committee members agree on a Medicare prescription drug benefit bill that would provide "affordable, voluntary, understandable drug coverage" for beneficiaries, a Mercury News editorial states. The "mishmash of premiums, deductibles, coverage gaps, guarantees and market incentives" in the bills passed by the House and Senate have "even insurance professionals confused," the editorial concludes (San Jose Mercury News, 6/27).
- Matt Miller, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Congressional Democrats need to "kill the Medicare prescription drug bills now steamrolling through Congress for two paradoxical reasons" -- the bills "are too generous a political gift to President Bush" and are "too generous in their subsidies" to wealthier seniors, columnist Miller writes in a Star-Telegram opinion piece (Miller, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 6/27).
- Chris Edwards, PBS "Nightly Business Report": Few lawmakers "seem concerned" about the "huge taxpayer burden" that will be created by adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, Edwards, director of fiscal policy at the Cato Institute, says in a "Nightly Business Report" commentary. Approving a drug bill "to claim a political victory" is "short-sighted and unfair to young Americans, who will have to bear the huge tax costs," Edwards adds (Edwards, "Nightly Business Report," PBS, 6/26). The full transcript of the commentary is available online.
- Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), San Antonio Express-News: While Medicare "has provided important protections" for seniors in the past 37 years, the program is "facing a structural crisis" and "is an outdated federal program in need of a major overhaul," Bailey Hutchison writes in an Express-News opinion piece. According to Bailey Hutchison, Medicare can be "revitalize[d]" and kept solvent by "provid[ing] seniors with choices in their health care coverage" and adding a prescription drug benefit to the program (Bailey Hutchison, San Antonio Express-News, 6/26).
- Walter Shapiro, USA Today: The Medicare prescription drug benefit -- the "farthest-reaching expansion of a government benefit program in three decades" -- is an "irrational" approach to "budgetary discipline," as the federal government faces a $400 billion budget deficit this year, columnist Shapiro writes in a USA Today opinion piece (Shapiro, USA Today, 6/27).
- John Goodman, Wall Street Journal: Nothing is "more insidious" than the "idea that we need billions of dollars of taxpayer money" to provide seniors with "decent" prescription drug coverage, Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, writes in a Journal opinion piece. According to Goodman, the goal of giving seniors a prescription drug benefit "can be reached without creating huge burdens for future taxpayers" by "allowing seniors access to the same kinds of health plans the rest of the nation has access to" and "employing four ideas: integration, competition, choice and patient power" (Goodman, Wall Street Journal, 6/27).