Renewed Debate Over Cost of Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Examined
The St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday examined how continued debate over the cost of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit provides "a prime example of how some politically charged debates simply never end." According to the Times, efforts by some Republican lawmakers to offset costs related to Hurricane Katrina recovery through a delay in the Medicare prescription drug benefit -- scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2006 -- are "making opponents to the costly drug benefit more vocal than ever in their effort to stop it."
For example, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) plans to introduce legislation that would delay the Medicare prescription drug benefit by two years, and Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has called for similar legislation in the House. The House Republican Study Committee had proposed to delay the Medicare prescription drug benefit by one year as part of a series of recommendations to offset costs related to hurricane recovery (Kumar, St. Petersburg Times, 10/19).
In a related opinion piece, Newsweek columnist Jane Bryant Quinn discusses confusion about the Medicare prescription drug benefit. "Even if you're a sharp and healthy 65, or a younger person helping a parent, your eyes cross" during the selection of a Medicare prescription drug plan, Bryant Quinn writes, adding that beneficiaries should "keep it simple" and select "the cheapest plan that offers the drugs" they use, "dispensed at a pharmacy that's easy to reach" (Bryant Quinn, Newsweek, 10/24).
Additional information about the Medicare drug benefit also is available online.