Means Testing Proposal For Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Fair

Armen Hareyan's picture
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A "means testing" proposalby the Bush administration, under which higher-income Medicarebeneficiaries would have to pay higher premiums and deductibles underthe prescription drug benefit, "won't put much of a dent in the massivefuture deficits facing Medicare," according to a Philadelphia Inquirereditorial. However, the editorial states, "as more and more babyboomers become eligible for the prescription drug benefit, this steprepresents the kind of cost containment that needs to be undertaken,"provided that the higher premiums and deductibles are "modest enoughthat they won't lead wealthy seniors to abandon Medicare."

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Thefederal government also must "do a better job of making sure allMedicare beneficiaries are being treated fairly by private insurers,"the editorial states. According to the editorial, a recent New York Timesanalysis found "tens of thousands" of Medicare beneficiaries "have beenvictims of deceptive sales tactics and were improperly denied claims byprivate insurers" that operate prescription drug plans. The editorialstates, "The fines imposed by the government so far on 11 companies aretoo puny to stop these violations," adding, "Beneficiaries need to knowthe program is looking out for their interests."

The "conceptof means testing is fair" because the Medicare prescription drugbenefit "is enormously costly to taxpayers, and it doesn't shock thesenses to ask the most affluent beneficiaries to pay a little more,"the editorial concludes (Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/15).
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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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