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Medicare prescription drug proposal asks consumers to pay too high a price

Monday, November 17, 2003

Medicare prescription drug proposal asks consumers
to pay too high a price

A boon to special interests; fails to curb drug prices

(Washington, D.C.) – Gail Shearer, director of health policy analysis for Consumers Union, said today the conference committee agreement for the Medicare prescription drug proposal asks beneficiaries to pay too high a price for a modest benefit.
“Congress set the stage early in its deliberations for an inadequate prescription drug benefit when it allocated only enough money to meet less than a quarter of the need, when it created a structure that precludes deep discounts on drug prices, and when it relied on profit-seeking insurance companies and private health plans to make this work, which guarantees a perpetual flood of lobbyists coming back to Congress requesting larger and larger subsidies,” Shearer said.
“Congress is asking consumers to pay too high a price for relief that is modest at best,” Shearer added. “Hopefully, members will take the time to examine the major gaps in this plan and step up with a true drug benefit that puts consumers first. Short of that, Americans will be left with a weakened Medicare program.”
Later today, Shearer will release Consumers Union’s analysis of the conference committee proposal, including 10 key issues for consumers to consider when examining the proposal and a cost calculator that allows individuals to enter their current drug costs in order to project their own out-of-pocket expenses when the plan is fully implemented in 2007.
The analysis, called “Medicare Prescription Drugs: Conference Committee Agreement Asks Beneficiaries to Pay Too High a Price for Modest Benefit,” will be posted as soon as it is available at Consumers Union Web site, www.consumersunion.org.
For more information contact: Gail Shearer, 202-462-6262