Back Page: The Incredible Shrinking Donut Hole
June 01, 2007
Medicare Part D's infamous donut hole-the gap in coverage where subscribers have to shell out full drug costs-sparked a national debate long before the first poor, frail, creaky (or so you imagine) senior citizen stumbled into it. Critics of Part D-mostly Democrats, plus advocates ranging from AARP to the Gray Panthers-argue that government price negotiations, which the legislation bans, would lead to savings that could close the gap. Part D backers-mostly Republicans and PhRMA-counter with "Don't fix it if it ain't broke," pointing to surveys showing that as many as 80 percent of the 23 million subscribers are pleased with the program after just the first year. Plus, they say, Part D's so-called consumer-driven design controls costs, which, in fact, came in lower than projected.