Policy makers stuck in drug benefit rut

May 1, 1999

Pharmaceutical Representative

President Clinton rejected the Medicare reform proposal presented by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) and his fellow policy makers on the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.

President Clinton rejected the Medicare reform proposal presented by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) and his fellow policy makers on the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare.

"The plan offered by Senator Breaux and his colleagues included some very strong elements, which should be seriously considered by Congress," Clinton said. "However, I believe their approach falls short in several respects."

Among those shortcomings, according to Clinton, are the lack of a prescription drug benefit, the potential to raise premiums for those in the traditional Medicare program, a raise in the age of eligibility for Medicare (from 65 to 67) and no solid commitment to financing a Medicare trust fund.

Clinton said his advisors will draft a plan for Congress to consider. Almost certainly, Clinton's plan will earmark 15% of the federal surplus to a trust fund for Medicare and include a prescription drug benefit. It is unclear, however, whether his plan will include a universal Medicare prescription drug benefit, which some industry experts have predicted could cost the nation more than $30 billion.

Despite Clinton's lack of support, Breaux indicated that he might still introduce Medicare reform legislation for debate this fall. PR

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