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A Policy Analysis of the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act of 2005

This paper looks at the Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act of 2005, also known as the Medicare D Drug plan.

The paper will look at its’ historical underpinnings, an overview into how the policy started, view into the policy itself, as well as an analysis of it—whether the policy is really giving benefits to its intended beneficiaries. This paper however, contends that the Medicare D drug plan is not sufficiently meeting the needs of those who are its beneficiaries.

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Before the arguments as to whether the policy is effective or not however, it may well be first necessary to look at and understand the policy.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Plan and Choice Plan, otherwise known as Medicare D Drug plan was aimed to supplement or enhance the original Medicare program. The Medicare D drug plan was passed into what is known as the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act or MMA legislation. It was enacted by the Bush administration in 2003. Benefits from the program started only recently, in January 2006. (“Medicare Part D”, 2006)

Medicare D drug benefit plan is a voluntary outpatient prescription drug benefit for people under the Medicare program—beneficiaries include the elderly (over 65 years of age) and diseased beneficiaries (end stage renal disease patients, for example) (“Medicare (United States)”, 2006).

Simply stated, the Medicare D Drug plan is a type of insurance to seniors and other disabled citizens who may not be able to anticipate or pay for the high cost of medicine. The Medicare program works with many private insurance and other companies to bring these seniors a variety of plans. (Lieberman, 2006)

The original Medicare program previously had two parts: part A and part B. Part A of the program covers hospital care for inpatients, skilled nursing services, health care for patients at home, as well as other health services. Part B, on the other hand covers a wide range of frequently used health services, examples of which are doctor visits and diagnostic testing. (“Medicare Savings Program”, 2005)

Because of former problems with the previous Medicare program such that it was ineffective as cited, “when President Bush came into office, Medicare was outdated and not meeting the needs of American seniors.”

Hence, legislation was passed into Congress and the President signed into law what was to modernize the Medicare program—this was by providing preventive care, offering of more choices to seniors and most of all giving seniors’ better access to prescription drugs that they need, the Medicare D Drug plan.(“Strengthening Medicare: A Framework to Modernize and Improve Medicare”, 2005)

Furthermore, with the revolutionizing of the Medicare D drug plan, President Bush has concentrated on preventative health care—it was believed that if diseases were caught early, these diseases would be easier to cure. In addition to that objective, a need existed to revolutionize the original Medicare program and this was due to “gaps” in the original Medicare plan coverage (“Choosing a Medigap Policy to Supplement the Original Medicare Plan “, 2006).

Changes in the original Medicare policy involved a means testing. This means that a higher income (and this includes Social Security benefits) would consequently mean a higher pay for Medicare beneficiaries. To illustrate the point: Medicare beneficiaries would see their premiums increase dramatically before they die, i.e. they retire at an age of 65, live until 95, but have an inflation of 3%; without working out the numbers this already clearly shows that beneficiaries aren’t getting benefits.

The next generation of Medicare beneficiaries is said to have to pay the full price of their Medicare benefit from the beginning of their retirement, despite of paying Medicare taxes their entire life. Hence, the 2003 legislation was enacted—to eliminate the effect of inflation on income. (“Medicare (United States)”, 2006)