Medicare and Prescription Drug Coverage for Seniors Citizens: Empty Promises Aren’t the Prescription America’s Seniors Need

For eight years seniors have waited for leadership from the Clinton-Gore Administration to solve America’s Medicare and prescription drug crisis. The White House has not led—worse, this administration walked away from and the House Democrats walked out on bipartisan efforts to strengthen Medicare and provide prescription drug coverage options for seniors.

Now, Vice President Gore is playing politics and pushing a dangerous Medicare plan that promises more than it provides. The Gore plan actually will:

-Force most seniors to pay more for less coverage.

-Take money out of seniors’ Social Security checks to pay for this plan.

-Impose price controls that will limit access to medicines and handicap innovation.

-Leave a broken, wasteful and bureaucratic system in place, rather than strengthen Medicare.

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the average senior spends $673 per year on prescription drugs. Under Gore’s plan, seniors will pay at least $288 per year in additional premiums, plus 50% of the cost of their medicines ($337 for our average senior). So, an average senior will pay out-of-pocket $625 ($288 + $337) for $673 worth of prescription drugs each year. That benefit works out to be only $48 per year, or 13¢ a day, while costing Americans more than $250 billion dollars.

V.P. Gore has rejected a comprehensive, nonpartisan approach to saving Medicare in favor of a partisan political campaign. On the other hand, Gov. Bush’s proposal fully recognizes the failure of Medicare to meet the health care and prescription drug coverage needs for America’s seniors, and works to address those failures—responsibly, not just rhetorically.

The Bush plan takes a step in the right direction and will bring more choice and competition in health care and prescription drug coverage to America’s seniors. Unlike the Gore plan, it is not founded on the premise of a one-size-fits-all, government controlled appendage to the ailing Medicare system.

Instead of offering real reform, the Clinton-Gore administration has played politics with Medicare, first creating a bipartisan commission to study Medicare, and then rejecting that commission’s solution. CSE supports the foundation of the commission’s solution, which is modeled on the same plan that federal employees, including Vice President Gore and Members of Congress have, and which included prescription drug coverage.

Vice President Gore may think he has a good issue, but he sure doesn’t have a good plan.

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