GORE/BUSH: Medicare Rx Benefit Will Reach Fruition
Regardless of the outcome of November's election, the next U.S. president is likely to approve expansion of prescription drug coverage for Medicare patients, despite "deep differences" between parties over the shape of the plan, the Los Angeles Times reports. "Prescription drug coverage is a gigantic election issue, and it's gaining more and more momentum," Tom Scully, president of the Federation of American Health Systems, said. "It's gotten a head of steam, so it's politically irreversible," he said, adding, "It will happen in the next couple of years." While Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) and Vice President Al Gore agree that Medicare should offer prescription drug coverage, their proposals to achieve it "vary widely." Bush's plan, although lacking specifics, would overhaul Medicare by shifting coverage responsibilities from the government to HMOs and private insurers -- a move supported by many Republicans and conservative Democrats. While managed care companies and insurers tout the proposal, critics remain wary because Bush has not suggested allocating additional funds to pay for increased benefits. Resembling President Clinton's plan, Gore's package retains the traditional Medicare structure, tacking on a prescription drug benefit. According to pharmaceutical companies, however, the plan is a "one-size-fits-all, big government program run by federal bureaucrats." Other critics contend that it does nothing to align Medicare with the rest of the health insurance system (Rubin, 6/6).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.