Newspaper Address Issues About Medicare
Summaries of two editorials and an opinion piece on issues related to Medicare appear below.
Marie Cocco, Indianapolis Star: A "big point of creating the Medicare drug benefit as it was crafted by the Republican Congress in 2003 was to build in enough waste to pay off the insurance companies and drug manufacturers for their years of loyal campaign contributions," and Democrats are "right to get beyond the government's own account of how well the Medicare drug plans are working and probe just how much more that elderly beneficiaries and taxpayers are forking over because lawmakers refused to let Medicare patients buy their prescriptions directly from Medicare," syndicated columnist Cocco writes in a Star opinion piece. According to a recent investigation by Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, administrative costs for private Medicare prescription drug plans are six times higher than those for the fee-for-service program, and private health insurers that administer the plans have "failed to obtain the deep discounts on drugs that are achieved" by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Medicaid, she writes. Cocco adds, "The task will fall to the next president and the next Congress to revamp the Medicare drug program so that its mission is not to prop up pet industries but to get medicine to the elderly cheaply" (Cocco, Indianapolis Star, 10/18).
San Francisco Chronicle: Medicare "will spend more than it levies in 2013 and go completely bust six years later, barring a burst of political courage on Capitol Hill and at the White House," according to a Chronicle editorial. The editorial states, "Washington is not likely to implement any meaningful reform until the 2008 election is decided. But voters can demand that White House hopefuls explain what they plan to do to keep a system so vital to America's seniors afloat. No candidate without a plan should win this election" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/17).
St. Petersburg Times: A series of recent federal audits have found a "raft of abuses by private insurers administering the Medicare prescription drug benefit" -- such as improper marketing practices and denials of claims -- that provide additional reasons for U.S. residents "to be outraged by the conduct" of health insurers, a Times editorial states. According to the editorial, although some of the health insurers have "responded to the audits by promising improvements ... these deficiencies are the kinds of problems that arise when a company's interests and those of its customers diverge." The editorial concludes, "Denying medication to ... patients is not some small glitch that needs to be addressed. There are potentially life-and-death consequences to the decisions these companies are making. No wonder the American public is disgusted with the health insurance industry" (St. Petersburg Times, 10/16).