News Release

The Medicare Mess

VALDA FORD
Ford is director of community and multicultural affairs at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She said today: “We have a responsibility for our most vulnerable citizens. Why are our senior citizens being put through this arcane program? Imagine people who are frail, disabled, who have English as a second language or who are on a short supply of medication and can’t go a day or two without the pills they need.”
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TAYLOR LINCOLN
Lincoln is research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch, which released a report in June 2004 titled: “The Medicare Drug War: Drug Companies and HMOs Led an Army of Nearly 1,000 Lobbyists to Promote Misguided Legislation and Increase Profits.”
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JOANNE LANDY
Executive director for the New York Metro chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, Landy said today: “The Medicare Part D program has been a disaster, it should have been integrated into Medicare. … It’s been a step back for some people; for example people who were on both Medicare and Medicaid often have found themselves with new co-pays they didn’t have to pay before. … An improved Medicare should be for everyone, not just people who are 65 and over or disabled.”
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ALAN SAGER
Sager is co-director of the Health Reform Program at Boston University’s School of Public Health. He said today: “The new Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit is the worst of all worlds. Patients get meager benefits and great confusion and complexity. … We all pay for waste on marketing and administration. And our grandchildren get to repay the additional $70-80 billion annually that the federal government will have to borrow to finance its share of this law.

“People in other wealthy nations … all pay much lower prices for drugs while doing a much better job of protecting their citizens. Why did this happen? Because President Bush and the Republican Congress insisted on passing something that could be called a Medicare drug benefit, but one that did not endanger drug makers’ profits.

“That’s why they prohibited Congress from negotiating directly with drug makers to win lower prices. That’s why they willfully fragmented Medicare’s own buying power by splitting the nation’s 40 million Medicare patients among hundreds of small drug plans, each too weak to extract low prices from drug makers. The president calls that ‘competition.’ It should be called ‘capitulation’ to the drug makers.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167