Healthcare spending cuts will be expensive to seniors

Medicare Drug CoverageThe recent budget deal and struggles in negotiations over the national debt have handed lawmakers yet another requirement to further slash federal spending, and healthcare price controls are one of the plans being considered to help achieve that goal; forcing seniors to have to pay more for their necessary medications.

These Medicare Part D program prescription drug price controls aren’t a new idea, but they have been brought back into the spotlight by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who are the most recent to advocate the initiative.

Though price controls for medications may seem like a strategy that will allow the government to save a tremendous amount of money on prescription drugs, it will, unfortunately, shift the expense onto the individuals who require the medicines in the first place. The largest group of prescription drug users are, of course, senior citizens who will therefore need to pay more to maintain their health or – much worse – will not be able to afford their vital medicines.

Since 2003, many lawmakers have been expressing concerns that pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the Medicare Part D program, while senior citizens are simultaneously forced to choose between being able to buy their prescription drugs or being able to afford other basic necessities such as food.

In April 2007, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) protested that “Congress has allowed the drug companies to charge excessive prices.”

Regardless of the fact that the cost of Part D is approximately 40 percent less than the original predictions of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and that the plans for Part D have brought about discounts of 20 to 30 percent for brand name prescription drugs – which have led to the ability to lower premiums for beneficiaries – critics of the program still wish to lower the expense of the program. As a result, coverage will require seniors to pay more.

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