The New Old Age: Part D Gains May Be Eroding

In 2003, when President George W. Bush signed the major Medicare expansion that would establish prescription drug coverage, he called it "a promise, a solemn promise, to America's seniors."

In 2003, when President George W. Bush signed the major Medicare expansion that would establish prescription drug coverage, he called it “a promise, a solemn promise, to America’s seniors.”

Medicare Part D, which took effect in 2006, initially made plenty of people angry. Some Congressional Democrats had argued that it would “privatize Medicare” by relying on insurance companies, while a number of Republicans insisted that the nation couldn’t afford the new program. Ordinary older adults learned to fear falling into the infamous “doughnut hole” coverage gap.

But in its first few years, national data shows, Part D did help elderly Medicare beneficiaries make modest progress. Out-of-pocket costs decreased. Better able to afford their medications, seniors were less likely to stop taking them for financial reasons. And they were less likely to do without other basic needs — like food and heat — in order to pay for drugs.

Source: The New York Times

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