News Release

* The Future of Medicare * Exxon Valdez Anniversary

ALAN SAGER
DEBORAH SOCOLAR
Sager and Socolar are directors of the Health Reform Program at Boston University’s School of Public Health. They released a report in October 2003 entitled “New Medicare Rx Benefit Means Big Profits for Drug Makers.” Sager said today: “In 2003, actuaries predicted that the Medicare Trust Fund would be depleted in 2026 — 23 years ahead. Yesterday, the actuaries predicted depletion in 2019 — seven years sooner. The evidence from past years is clear that managed care privatization has cost Medicare money. So no one should be surprised that the Medicare actuaries have cited the new Medicare bill’s provisions as a cause of accelerated Medicare insolvency. A reckless belief that privatization and managed care will save money is no substitute for genuine cost controls. Since Medicare privatization and managed care won’t save money, more people need to ask why this Congress and administration keep boosting it. Other wealthy nations cover all of their citizens, live longer and — on average — spend only one-half as much per person as we do. They are far from perfect, but we can learn from them. For example, sadly, about 50 percent of the U.S. health dollar is wasted on unnecessary clinical services, administration, excess prices for drugs and other items, and outright theft.”
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Drs. IDA HELLANDER, QUENTIN YOUNG
Hellander is executive director of Physicians for a National Health Program; Young is national coordinator for the group. They are both available for interviews about the future of Medicare.
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DEAN BAKER
Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker said today: “The 2004 Medicare trustees report, released yesterday, provides further proof that President Bush’s drug plan was a massive giveaway to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries…. It is important that the public be made aware that the financial problems facing Medicare are due to corruption and not demographics…. If our government is too corrupt to fix the U.S. health care system, then it should at least allow seniors to buy into the superior systems in other countries.” Baker is author of the report “Medicare Choice Plus: The Answer to the Long-Term Deficit Problem,” which outlines this proposal at the above web page.
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DUNE LANKARD
Fifteen years ago today, the Exxon Valdez spilled millions of gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound. Lankard (currently in D.C.) is an Eyak of the Eagle Clan and fished for salmon in the Copper River flats and Prince William Sound until the spill. Named a Time magazine “Hero for the Planet” in 1998, Lankard is the founder and executive director of the Eyak Preservation Council. He said today: “Exxon Mobil has yet to make good on their promise for an additional $100 million for the Sound if it had not recovered by now. Meanwhile, the just-released Fortune 500 list found Exxon Mobil to be the second biggest company on this list — and the one with the biggest profits.”
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PAMELA MILLER
Also currently in D.C., Miller is a biologist and director of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, an organization that focuses on environmental health and justice issues.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020