White House Considers ‘Limited’ Medicare Prescription Drug Plan To Help End Stalemate in Congress
The Bush administration may propose a "more limited plan" than earlier efforts to help low-income seniors cover prescription drug costs in an effort to "break the stalemate" in Congress over a Medicare prescription drug benefit, the Washington Post reports. Under the plan, the federal government would encourage Medicare beneficiaries to purchase private pharmacy discount cards "worth several hundred dollars" and private insurance policies to protect against "catastrophic" prescription drug costs. The government would cover the cost of the pharmacy discount cards and the insurance policies for low-income seniors; other seniors would have to pay out-of-pocket but would receive a tax deduction. According to supporters, the plan could provide an "affordable compromise" in the search for a comprehensive Medicare prescription drug benefit, which the administration and lawmakers "have struggled to create for two years," the Post reports. In addition, the plan "could be phased in" over time, beginning with the pharmacy discount cards and later the subsidies and insurance policies, one unnamed administration official said. However, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said, "The crisis of skyrocketing health costs affects millions of average Americans and can't be solved by token measures that help some but not all seniors." Sources said that the administration also will consider other plans, "mainly variants on previous legislation," to help seniors cover the cost of prescription drugs, the Post reports (Goldstein, Washington Post, 12/8).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.