Bush & Dems spar over Medicare Part D & drugs

With Bush’s “thumpin”’ now nearly a week behind us, and the obligatory handshakes and conciliatory platitudes checked off, flash points between the newly empowered Democratic Congress and Bush Administration are again emerging.

Today’s New York Times reveals that HHS secretary Michael Levitt sees “no prospect of compromise” on the Democrat’s plan to revise Medicare Part D to allow the government to negotiate lower drug prices. The savings garnered from the government’s negotiation of drugs would go to cover seniors in the so-called “doughnut hole,” the period when seniors are responsible for 100 percent of their drug costs — even as they continue to pay their drug plan premiums.

The administration vehemently believes that the current private, competitive market structure of prescription drug plans is the best answer. Read the NYT story here (login required):
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/13/washington/13medicare.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

I’m not sure the “best answer for whom?” The recent Families USA study on prescription drug plans revealed that fewer and fewer of these private plans are offering doughnut hole coverage that would actually cover the majority of drugs seniors use most. Read the Families USA study here:
http://www.familiesusa.org/assets/pdfs/medicare-donut-hole-nov-2006.pdf

The administration’s ideological inflexibility is baffling in the face of government successes, such as the Veteran’s Administration, which Business Week hailed as the best run, most efficient and highest quality health system in America (and which we featured in this blog as a tribute to Veteran’s Day. ) To look at the story again, here’s the link:
http://www.businessweek.com/print/magazine/content/06_29/b3993061.htm?chan=gl

Finally, the national press is starting to notice that California is leading the way on this prescription debate. Here’s a Boston Globe story that starts with the Medicare Part D debate, but then focused on what California did last year:
http://www.boston.com/business/healthcare/articles/2006/11/11/calif_price_curbs_alarm_drug_makers/

Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: