Drugs For Seniors Take Center Stage


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If ever there was a political hot potato, a Medicare drug benefit is it. For at least a dozen years now, there has been much debate — but little consensus — on how such a benefit for Medicare beneficiaries should be structured and financed. Senior citizens, politicians, healthcare, and pharmaceutical leaders all agree that there should be a prescription benefit for this population. The sticking points concern what that benefit should look like and who should pay for it.
This spring, Congress once again tried to develop a law to address this issue after President Bush challenged political leaders in January to create a Medicare system modeled on the healthcare benefit plan that federal employees have access to.
As this issue went to press, no bill had been introduced in either chamber, although in early June, the Senate’s Finance Committee had offered a proposal that would allow seniors, beginning in 2006, access to outpatient prescription drug coverage through a discount card or as part of a new, coordinated Medicare Advantage program.

Medicare’s Not-So-Rosy Future

Experts on this Topic
Nancy-Ann DeParle, J.D. Senior advisor to JPMorgan Partners LLC and an adjunct professor at the Wharton School of the
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; The Wharton School is recognized for its academic strengths across every major
discipline. Ms. DeParle served as HCFA administrator from 1997 to 2000 under President Bill Clinton. For more
information, visit
Robert A. Freeman. Senior director of public policy, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Wilmington, Del.; AstraZeneca is an international healthcare business engaged in the research, development, manufacture, and marketing of prescription pharmaceuticals and the supply of healthcare services. For more information, visit
Matthew Keith. Consultant pharmacist, Chugiak, Alaska; Mr. Keith is a pharmacist and former director of pharmacy benefits, at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Tom Mahowald. VP of public affairs, Express Scripts, Bloomington, Minn.; Express Scripts is one of the largest pharmacy
benefit management companies in North America. For more information, visit
Nancy Pekarek. Spokeswoman, GlaxoSmithKline, Philadelphia; GSK is one of the world’s leading research-based
pharmaceutical and healthcare companies. For more information, visit
Marc Scheineson. Partner, Reed Smith, Washington, D.C., and former associate commissioner at the Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Md.; Reed Smith, with headquarters in Pittsburgh, is an international law firm. For more information, visit
Samuel O. Thier, M.D. Chairman of the Commonwealth Fund, professor of Medicine and Health Care Policy at Harvard University Medical School, Boston; Harvard Medical School is one of the world’s preeminent institutions in medical education and research. For more information, visit
Bruce C. Vladeck, Ph.D. Professor of health policy and senior VP of policy at Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York; Mount Sinai Medical Center is one of the country’s oldest and largest voluntary teaching hospitals. Dr. Vladeck served at HCFA administrator from 1993 to 1997 under President Bill Clinton. For more information, visit
Judy Waltz. Partner, health law department and cochair of the compliance payment department, Foley & Lardner, San Francisco; Foley & Lardner is a provider of legal counsel to global companies. For more information, visit
Greg Weishar. President and CEO, PharmaCare Management Services Inc., Lincoln, R.I.; PharmaCare is a pharmacy benefit management company serving more than 15 million lives. For more information, visit
Gail R. Wilensky, Ph.D. John. M. Olin senior fellow, Project HOPE, Millwood, N.J.; Project HOPE’s — Health Opportunities for People Everywhere — mission is to achieve sustainable advances in healthcare around the world. Dr. Wilensky served as the
administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration from 1989 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush. For more
information, visit