Clinton releases new drug access report

Pharmaceutical Representative

President Clinton released a new report from the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council showing that rural beneficiaries tend to have a greater need for prescription drug coverage but have fewer coverage options. Their incomes are lower, access to pharmacies is more limited and out-of-pocket spending is higher. The report highlights the fact that the private prescription drug coverage options available to rural beneficiaries are not only severely limited, but are extremely expensive.

President Clinton released a new report from the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council showing that rural beneficiaries tend to have a greater need for prescription drug coverage but have fewer coverage options. Their incomes are lower, access to pharmacies is more limited and out-of-pocket spending is higher. The report highlights the fact that the private prescription drug coverage options available to rural beneficiaries are not only severely limited, but are extremely expensive.

Rural Medicare beneficiaries represent nearly one-fourth of the Medicare population.

Other highlights from the report:


•Â Rural beneficiaries pay more for prescription drugs than urban beneficiaries and are more likely to go without needed medication because of cost concerns. Rural beneficiaries are more than 60% more likely to go without prescription medication because of cost concerns than urban beneficiaries.


•Â Rural elderly are more likely to have high out-of-pocket spending than urban seniors, even among the chronically ill.


•Â Rural Medicare beneficiaries are 50% less likely to have any prescription drug coverage than urban dwellers. The proportion of rural beneficiaries who lack drug coverage for the entire year is 43%, compared with 27% in urban areas.


•Â In rural America, most beneficiaries who lack prescription drug coverage are middle income. Although rural seniors have lower incomes than urban seniors, about 45% of those without prescription drug coverage have incomes between 150% and 400% of poverty.


•Â Rural beneficiaries are about one-third less likely to have retiree health insurance. Only about one in four rural seniors have drug coverage through employer-based retiree insurance, compared with 35% of urban seniors.

The president used the release of the report as an opportunity to pitch his Medicare prescription drug benefit. "This is amazing to me that we're even having this debate," said President Clinton after the report was released. "We've got a strong economy, we've got a big projected surplus, we know that the surplus will be revised upward by some amount in the so-called midsession review that's coming just a few days from now. Now, there is no excuse not to do this right, not to provide prescription drug coverage under Medicare." PR