Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Seniors Line Up With Kerry On Prescription Drugs

Poll: Seniors favor drug imports

Elderly strongly support access to cheaper prescriptions

The Associated Press released this story today about seniors who favor Kerry's plan prescription drugs and healthcare. In a conversation about this issue today, a friend told me that his mother, a lifelong Republican was finally throwing in the towel and would be supporting Kerry. He cited the lack of support from the Bush administration for seniors, for his mother's change of heart and vote!

WASHINGTON - Older and disabled Americans strongly support proposals, also backed by the Kerry presidential campaign, to permit prescription drug imports and allow the government to negotiate prices of medicines, said a poll released Tuesday.

Both ideas would give Americans access to cheaper prescription drugs, most of those polled, all Medicare recipients, said. Four-fifths of those questioned in the Kaiser Family Foundation poll said they support both proposals, dismissing misgivings about the safety of imported drugs.

By contrast, nearly half the people questioned said they have an unfavorable impression of the new prescription drug law passed last year by the Republican-led Congress and signed by President Bush. Among major complaints, the law does not do enough to bring down prices, is too complicated and rewards drug makers and insurers. A quarter of those surveyed said they like the law.

The criticisms are similar to those put forward by Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry and other opponents of last year’s Medicare overhaul. The poll suggests an election-year advantage for the Democrats on the issue.

“So far, it doesn’t look like passage of the drug bill has been a positive for the president and Republicans,” said Drew Altman, Kaiser’s president and chief executive.

Read more.

Also of note on MSNBC where I found this article was this comparison of Bush and Kerry on Health:


Signed legislation to take effect in 2006 to make prescription drug coverage available to more seniors and disabled through Medicare, created a voluntary Medicare drug benefit for seniors to reduce out-of-pocket drug spending, as well as allowing for prescription drug discount cards with monthly premiums.

Malpractice premiums
Adopt minimum standards in the medical liability system.

Allow individuals and small businesses to put money in Health Savings Accounts to cover out-of-pocket expenses until coverage kicks in at a higher deductible to help moderate premiums, expand reach of community health centers by funding 1,200 new or expanded sites over five years, help states develop new approaches to expand coverage and avoid reductions in Medicaid programs, provide a health coverage tax credit to certain displaced workers.

Use technology to reduce preventable medical errors and reduce costs, double funding to achieve broader adoption of health IT systems to $100 million under FY’05 budget, allow most Americans to have personal electronic records within the next 10 years.


Create a prescription drug benefit that is run by Medicare instead of private insurance companies.

Prescription drugs
Require Secretary of heath and Human Services to negotiate better prices, allow importation of FDA-approved drugs from Canada and other countries to take advantages of discounts, require businesses that work with the federal government to reveal profits from the drug industry, help states to provide discounts by granting incentives for more efficient contracting in order to get better drug rates.

Long-term care
Ensure that nursing homes have adequate inspection and better worker training, give seniors more flexibility to use their coverage for alternative care options so more could continue to live at home, provide more support for caregivers.

Extend state-based programs in order to pick up the full cost of covering 20 million children enrolled in Medicaid, as well as expanding coverage for families up to 200 percent of poverty and childless adults up to 100 percent of poverty, cut premiums by up to $1000 per year for families by stepping in on certain high-cost cases.

Malpractice premiums
Require qualified specialist to certify merits of a case before it can move forward, work with states to make non-binding mediation available in all cases before trial, punishing lawyers who file frivolous cases with sanctions, oppose punitive damages unless intentional misconduct, gross negligence or reckless indifference is established, prevent insurance companies from fixing prices and increasing premiums.

Patient Bill of Rights
Access to specialists, emergency protections, appeals process for HMO decisions, ability to sue HMOs, whistleblower protections for health workers.

Ensure privacy for medical records, provide technology bonuses to health providers to streamline paperwork, require that private insurers use systems that make transactions less costly as a condition for doing business with the federal government.


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