Op-Eds Examine Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Debate
Several editorials and opinion pieces published recently address the congressional debate over Medicare reform, including the addition of a prescription drug benefit. Summaries of the opinion pieces appear below.
- Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe: The "complex formula" that the Senate bill would use to calculate seniors' contributions to their prescription drug costs is "just nuts," Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect, writes in a Globe opinion piece. Medicare beneficiaries "should get the same prescription drug benefits as members of Congress," and Congress "should repeal the latest Bush tax cut and use the proceeds to provide comprehensive drug coverage under Medicare with no gimmicks," he concludes (Kuttner, Boston Globe, 6/18).
Dallas Morning News: The Medicare reform legislation "is the first step toward stopping Medicare from going bankrupt in 2030," and "Americans should celebrate" the action on the issue, according to a Morning News editorial (Dallas Morning News, 6/18).
- George Weeks, Detroit News: Although recent polls show that Medicare is not among voters' top concerns, Congress is facing "strong public pressure" to adopt prescription drug legislation, and the "odds are good" for the bill's passage, News political columnist Weeks writes in an opinion piece (Weeks, Detroit News, 6/17).
- Thomas Sowell, Investor's Business Daily: There is no reason why "seniors should be singled out to be subsidized by the taxpayers" to receive prescription drug benefits, "except that their votes are being sought by both parties," Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a syndicated columnist, writes in an Investor's Business Daily opinion piece. He adds that providing medical care to the poor is "a relatively small problem that can be dealt with at relatively modest costs" (Sowell, Investor's Business Daily, 6/18).
- Jerry Heaster, Kansas City Star: The "humongously costly" proposed Medicare prescription drug benefit "has no redeeming socioeconomic value" and "will cause the system to collapse under its own weight," thus depriving future generations "of Medicare's protective mantle," Heaster, a syndicated columnist, writes in a Star opinion piece. He adds that the "policy mistake is to approach the problem as though every older American has the same need" (Heaster, Kansas City Star, 6/18).
- Theodore Marmor/Jerry Mashaw, Los Angeles Times: The Medicare prescription drug bill likely to emerge from Congress "fails to achieve anyone's sensible goals," but it has "increasing potency" as a "weapon of political warfare that is threatening both Democrats and Republicans if it is not solved," Marmor and Mashaw, professors of health law and policy at Yale University Law School, write in a Times opinion piece (Marmor/Mashaw, Los Angeles Times, 6/17).
Newark Star-Ledger: Passage of the "long-promised" Medicare prescription drug benefit "is now as certain as anything can be in Washington because there finally appears to be strong bipartisan support" against requiring seniors to join private managed care plans to qualify for the benefit, a Star-Ledger editorial states (Newark Star-Ledger, 6/18).
- Froma Harrop, Omaha World-Herald: Lawmakers "can do nothing about the fact that more people are getting old" and "living longer," but they "can address the ways in which [Medicare] wastes resources," Harrop, a syndicated columnist, writes in a World-Herald opinion piece, adding that the "push for Medicare reform right after slashing taxes is a masterpiece of bad timing" (Harrop, Omaha World-Herald, 6/17).
Omaha World-Herald: As the Medicare prescription drug benefit "battle heats up" in Congress, an effort by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and others, including Rep. Tom Osborne (R-Neb.), to increase reimbursement rates for rural physicians is "[j]ust as vital" to Medicare reform, according to a World-Herald editorial (Omaha World-Herald, 6/17).
Virginian-Pilot: Although it is "doubtful" whether the Medicare reform bill will "provide seniors adequate assistance," and some experts predict it "might do millions of seniors more harm that good," the legislation "is a positive step in dealing with an immense problem for the elderly," according to a Virginian-Pilot editorial (Virginian-Pilot, 6/18).
- John Harwood, Wall Street Journal: Signing a Medicare prescription drug benefit into law will not guarantee President Bush's reelection, but it "nevertheless would give him a powerful tool to carry into the 2004 campaign," Harwood writes in the Journal's "Capital Journal" column (Wall Street Journal, 6/18).
- Donald Devine, Washington Times: The proposed Medicare prescription drug benefit "is a poor plan for seniors, it is the biggest increase in government spending and control in recent times, it pushes up the date for [Medicare's] bankruptcy by years and it was written in secret and passed in haste," Devine, former director of the Office of Personnel Management, writes in a Times opinion piece. According to Devine, "This is a bad bill that citizens should demand either be changed significantly or be vetoed by the president" (Devine, Washington Times, 6/18).
- Washington Times: If Republicans pass the Medicare prescription drug bill and win more seats in Congress for having done so, they will "have a more solid base that can be used to reinvent the failing health care system along more market-oriented lines," and "that promise is worth the price of the current legislation," according to a Times editorial (Washington Times, 6/17).