Medicare drug plan fattens pharmaceuticals’ wallets while emptying those of consumers


November 25, 2003

Medicare drug plan fattens pharmaceuticals’ wallets while emptying those of consumers
Consumers Union Analysis Shows Seniors Will Continue to Pay Top Dollar for Drugs; Face Limited Choice of Doctors

(Washington, D.C.) – An analysis by Consumers Union shows seniors will continue to pay top dollar for prescriptions and have fewer choices in doctors under the Medicare prescription drug plan passed today by the Senate, leaving seniors without the real relief they were promised by Congress.
“It’s tragic that a majority of Congress values the special interests – pharmaceutical and insurance companies – over the best interests of American seniors and the disabled,” said Gail Shearer, director of health policy analysis for Consumers Union and author of the analysis, which can be found at www.consumersunion.org.
“Seniors will be shocked to find that when it comes time to pay for their prescriptions, the benefit likely won’t keep up with their costs, because this bill explicitly prohibits the federal government from negotiating for lower drug prices. That means the pharmaceutical industry will continue to hike drug costs, and consumers of all ages will foot the bill,” she added.
Consumers Union’s analysis of the bill now headed to the President shows Medicare beneficiaries’ expectations for relief will not be met:

  • Prescription drug prices will continue to grow at double-digit rates.
  • Many seniors and disabled will find that their out-of-pocket costs when coverage is fully implemented in 2007 will be higher than they are today when they don’t have coverage.
  • Beneficiaries will face less freedom to choose their doctor, since they are more likely to end up in an HMO or other private plan.
  • Millions will lose comprehensive retiree coverage.
  • Consumers under 65 are likely to face higher premiums for low-deductible health insurance, or face higher deductibles.

For more information about the impact of the bill on consumers, including a calculator of out-of-pocket costs, see www.consumersunion.org.
Contact: Gail Shearer 202-462-6262