MEDICARE: Kennedy Unveils Drug Coverage Bill
Seeking to fill the financial gap faced by seniors with expensive prescription drug needs, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said Friday he will file legislation that would fund Medicare drug coverage with a 70-cent tax on cigarette packs. The move comes against a backdrop of controversy over Medicare HMO drug benefits in Massachusetts, as the state's largest plans have announced plans to drop unlimited prescription drug coverage after a state law guaranteeing uncapped coverage was overturned. At a press conference at the Massachusetts state House, Kennedy said, "Ninety-nine percent of the private sector companies provide (drug coverage) but the federal government does not. I'm a strong believer that we should. ... And I'll pay for it by an additional 70 cents on the tobacco tax. That will provide the funding for all of this need nationwide for a year" (Cassidy, Boston Globe, 12/19).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.