June 8, 2004 (Washington) — Republicans on Capitol Hill are accusing Democrats of intentionally trying to undermine the Medicare prescription medicate rebate program, saying they are playing on seniors’ perplexity for political gain.
In a finance committee hearing nowadays, several GOP representatives criticized Democrats Tuesday for their proceeded assaults on a program they say is planned to provide much-needed prescription sedate discounts to Medicare beneficiaries. Democrats counter that the program has conveyed lower rebates than expected, is as well complicated to help numerous seniors, and does small to drive medicate companies to lower their prices.
The attacks were perhaps the first sign that the sedate card program has become completely politicized between political parties competing for support in the upcoming presidential and congressional races.
“The medicate markdown program has been the target of a consider campaign to discredit it and befuddle seniors almost how it works. This effort is driven and facilitated by those who restrict the Medicare Modernization Act not because of policy, but because of politics,” says Sen. Charles E. Grassley, (R-Iowa), chair of the back committee.
Grassley and other Republicans denounced Democrats and their supporters of playing upon early disarray over the program. Many seniors have expressed in surveys and in media reports their skepticism approximately the ability of the program to provide meaningful rebates on drugs.
A series of focus groups conducted final week by the Kaiser Family Establishment found low levels of approval for the cards among 63 seniors who were asked. Those and other seniors complain of complexity that asks them to choose between 73 available cards, each of which can offer discounts on different drugs, in some cases completely different districts of the country.
Democrats have over and over highlighted the confusion to columnists and have discharged a arrangement of reports challenging industry and Bush organization claims approximately the profundity of available rebates.
Republicans ‘Deeply Troubled’
Senate Larger part Pioneer Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) said within the hearing that he is “deeply disturbed” by Democrats’ actions. “There are a few aim on purposely confusing the open and deliberately frightening and startling seniors,” he says.
Medicare chief Mark McClellan, MD, says the cards provide seniors with normal discounts of 17% or more on brand-name drugs and 30%-60% savings on generics.
The feedback does little to influence Democrats, who proceed their assault on the program’s apparent inadequacies. They call consideration to the program’s moderately moo enrollment figures so distant. Around 2.9 million of Medicare’s 41 million qualified recipients have selected within the program, with 2.4 million of those having been signed up naturally through Medicare overseen care plans.
Meanwhile a program advantage offering $600 per year in credits to low-income seniors has gathered fair 20% of eligible seniors, according to Medicare. McClellan focuses to a program that automatically enlists low-income seniors who get government help with medicine drugs in seven states.
Democrats Boost Attacks
But Democrats fault the apparently moo enrollment on its complexity.
“What I hear overwhelmingly is, ‘How do you sort through 73 cards?'” says Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
Conrad introduced a bill Tuesday that would constrain the Bush administration to constrain the program to three cards per region and prohibit card sponsors from dropping discounts for drugs that are secured when seniors first sign up.
Twenty-six Democrats marked a letter to Wellbeing and Human Secretary Tommy G. Thompson encouraging him to expand the programmed enrollment program to low-income seniors across the nation. McClellan says his office is working with states in an effort to expand the program.
Meanwhile Majority rule pioneer Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) challenged Republicans to deliver prove of a conspiracy outlined to weaken the card program. “It doesn’t take any coordination by Democrats. [Seniors] have walked with their feet,” he tells reporters.
In an meet, Grassley pointed to press releases and reports that Democratic individuals regularly send out criticizing the program’s complexity while ignoring its potential esteem to seniors.
“You don’t have any trouble distinguishing the misinformation going out that they need to muddle the issue,” he says.
SOURCES: Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). Sen. Charge Frist (R-Tenn.). Stamp B. McClellan, MD, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrations. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). Sen. Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.)