Opinion Pieces Address Congressional Debate Over a Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit
Several editorials and opinion pieces published recently examine the congressional debate over a Medicare prescription drug benefit. Summaries of the editorials and opinion pieces appear below.
Billings Gazette: Although Congress has focused on the debate over a Medicare prescription drug benefit, lawmakers also must ensure that the Medicare reform bill reported by the conference committee would increase reimbursements to critical access hospitals to 102% of cost and would continue to provide a home health reimbursement that "recognizes the higher costs of serving rural patients," a Gazette editorial states. The bill should move "toward paying the actual costs of providing the health care Medicare has already promised to rural seniors," the editorial concludes (Billings Gazette, 7/1).
Christian Science Monitor: "That Medicare needs changing is beyond dispute," but lawmakers "must take their time and carefully think through the new program they are creating," because after "a law is in place, fixing unforeseen problems will take a lot of time and effort" a Monitor editorial states (Christian Science Monitor, 7/2).
Dallas Morning News: Lawmakers "may feel like pausing for a moment" after the passage of Medicare prescription drug benefit bills in the House and Senate, but they "are far from having a bill on President Bush's desk," a Morning News editorial states. "If this issue drags out, it could die a slow death" in conference committee, because opponents of the bill "easily could drag this bill over into the 2004 campaign, where the race for political advantage would trump common sense," the editorial concludes (Dallas Morning News, 7/2).
- Macon Telegraph: "What's certain" about the House and Senate Medicare prescription drug benefit bills is that "few will understand their impact," a Telegraph editorial states (Macon Telegraph, 7/1).
- Jacob Hacker, New York Times: Neither the House nor Senate Medicare reform bills provide "what the majority of Americans want: a drug benefit within Medicare itself," Hacker, an assistant professor of political science at Yale University and a fellow at the New America Foundation, writes in a Times opinion piece. He writes that the bills "on the table now are mainly a prescription for resentment and dashed expectations. ... The real solution is no secret: make the drug benefit a part of Medicare and, yes, spend more money on it" (Hacker, New York Times, 7/2).
- Rick Martinez, Raleigh News & Observer: The passage of Medicare prescription drug benefit bills in the House and Senate "is the latest manifestation of the greatest threat to our nation's health care system: Americans' growing and gluttonous demand for the best medical care other people's money can buy," columnist Martinez writes in a News & Observer opinion piece. He adds, "The only way to put the brakes on out-of-control costs is to make each of us more responsible for paying more of the freight for non-catastrophic health care" (Martinez, Raleigh News & Observer, 7/2).
- Robert Samuelson, Washington Post: As a result of the Medicare prescription drug benefit bills passed in the House and Senate, children of baby boomers would "pay higher taxes, face higher budget deficits or receive fewer other government services," columnist Samuelson writes in a Post opinion piece. "The right way to do a drug benefit would have been to use it as a lever to force a broader review of retirement policies: drug coverage in exchange for long-overdue revisions of Social Security and Medicare (gradual increases in eligibility ages, trimmed benefits for wealthier retirees)," he concludes (Samuelson, Washington Post, 7/2).
- Stephen Moore, Washington Times: Congress should not add a prescription drug benefit to Medicare, because the "free enterprise system will bring these lifesaving new wonder drugs to market more rapidly and more affordably than will government," Moore, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, writes in a Times opinion piece (Moore, Washington Times, 7/2).