Poll Finds Support for Public, More Generous Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Plan
About 76% of U.S. residents consider the lack of prescription drug coverage for seniors a "major problem," according to a poll released yesterday by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports (Gibson, Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 6/20). The poll also found that 56% believe that a prescription drug plan for seniors should be provided through Medicare instead of private plans, and 54% think that the benefit should be as generous as what employers give their workers, regardless of whether that would increase program costs (Rovner, CongressDaily, 6/19). The telephone poll -- which surveyed 1,424 adults over 18, including 441 people over 65 -- was conducted between April 25 and June 1 (AP/St. Petersburg Times, 6/20). Responses were divided by age. Of respondents 18 to 49 years old, 60% said they would prefer to receive their retiree benefits through a private health plan instead of through Medicare, 44% of respondents 50 to 64 years old preferred private plans and 19% of respondents over 65 preferred a private plan. Among seniors, 65% opposed a Republican plan to make private plans' differential benefits more generous than Medicare's to entice them to join private plans; Republicans abandoned the plan and agreed to provide the same benefits in new private plans and traditional Medicare (CongressDaily, 6/19). About 72% of respondents said they favored price controls on Medicare drugs (Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, 6/20). However, support for price reductions decreased when respondents were presented with the pharmaceutical industry's stance that lower prices might impede new drug development efforts (CongressDaily, 6/19). The poll also found that Democrats' positive reputation for their handling of Medicare is slipping. Only 26% said that Democrats did a better job than Republicans on the matter, down from 37% in 1999. The poll has a margin of error of three percentage points for the entire sample and larger percentage points for subgroups (AP/St. Petersburg Times, 6/20).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.