Seniors Need More Choices

President Bush wants to create new options for Medicare beneficiaries to give them the same choices of private health plans that member of Congress already have.

Critics demean the proposal, claiming that Medicare is a great program as it is and that its only problem is lack of a drug benefit.

Yet the agency that runs Medicare – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — says the program currently covers only 53% of beneficiaries’ health costs – substandard compared to private health plans. If Medicare were one of the health plan choices offered to members of Congress, no one would pick it because the other plans are so much better.



  • Medicare is burdened by price controls and crushing paperwork that are causing more and more doctors to refuse new patients.


  • Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs, probably the most important tools in the medical arsenal, and other new technologies are delayed long beyond the time they are adopted by private plans.


  • Medicare is a virtual monopoly driven by more than 110,000 pages of rules and regulations, with government officials deciding what products and services seniors can have and how much Medicare will pay.

What is needed is a fresh breath of competition and consumer-choice to allow seniors to decide for themselves what health plan they want, plans that will include prescription drug coverage.

The White House has lost valuable momentum and time with its delay in explaining its Medicare plan. It has been on the defensive against critics who wrongly have said it planned to push seniors into HMOs to get drug coverage.

Now that the details of the plan are out, it’s clear that President Bush wants to bring Medicare into the modern age to give seniors more choices.

It’s the right thing to do.




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization that studies the health care marketplace. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA 22320, or at galen@galen.org

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President Bush wants to create new options for Medicare beneficiaries to give them the same choices of private health plans that member of Congress already have.

Critics demean the proposal, claiming that Medicare is a great program as it is and that its only problem is lack of a drug benefit.

Yet the agency that runs Medicare – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services — says the program currently covers only 53% of beneficiaries’ health costs – substandard compared to private health plans. If Medicare were one of the health plan choices offered to members of Congress, no one would pick it because the other plans are so much better.



  • Medicare is burdened by price controls and crushing paperwork that are causing more and more doctors to refuse new patients.


  • Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs, probably the most important tools in the medical arsenal, and other new technologies are delayed long beyond the time they are adopted by private plans.


  • Medicare is a virtual monopoly driven by more than 110,000 pages of rules and regulations, with government officials deciding what products and services seniors can have and how much Medicare will pay.

What is needed is a fresh breath of competition and consumer-choice to allow seniors to decide for themselves what health plan they want, plans that will include prescription drug coverage.

The White House has lost valuable momentum and time with its delay in explaining its Medicare plan. It has been on the defensive against critics who wrongly have said it planned to push seniors into HMOs to get drug coverage.

Now that the details of the plan are out, it’s clear that President Bush wants to bring Medicare into the modern age to give seniors more choices.

It’s the right thing to do.




Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a not-for-profit research organization that studies the health care marketplace. She can be reached at P.O. Box 19080, Alexandria, VA 22320, or at galen@galen.org

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

About the author