Medicare Drug Benefit Would Cost $1T Over 10 Years, Analysts Say
Congress would have to allocate up to $1 trillion over the next 10 years in order to give Medicare beneficiaries a prescription drug benefit with small copayments and no monthly fees, analysts told the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee yesterday, the AP/Nando Times reports. If Medicare beneficiaries were to pay "modest" monthly fees for the benefit, the cost would drop to $750 billion, the analysts said. Congress has approved spending up to $300 billion on a benefit that would have seniors pay between $50 and $80 per month in premiums or up to half the cost of their prescriptions. Jeanne Lambrew, a George Washington University professor and former Medicare adviser to President Clinton, said that even $400 billion -- the amount Democrats are asking for -- would cover only one-fourth of what the government expects the Medicare population to spend on medications (McQueen, AP/Nando Times, 5/17). For more information on the subcommittee hearing, including RealAudio and written testimony, go to http://energycommerce.house.gov/107/hearings/05162001Hearing221/hearing.htm.