Democrats Assail Medicare Proposals
By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 24, 2003; Page A04
The complete article is currently (4/12/04) available on the
Washington Post website at-- http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A9104-2003Oct23?language=printer [found through a Google search by article title on the date
The race to find a compromise on Medicare prescription drug legislation hit
a substantial snag yesterday as Senate Democrats warned they would not tolerate several changes, sought by the leader of the
House-Senate negotiations, that would benefit private health plans and for the first time restrict government subsidies to
the program. ...
The most vehement protests centered on an aspect of the House bill that eventually
would require the traditional version of the program to compete with private health plans based on price. Proponents of that
competitive arrangement, known as premium support, say that it would encourage people to join private health plans and drive
down costs; critics predict it would end up costing more for patients who remain in the traditional fee-for-service program,
which now includes nearly 90 percent of the 40 million elderly and disabled Americans in Medicare. ...
Negotiations are taking place in secrecy ...
... Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), who signed the letter
to Bush, said afterward that forcing traditional Medicare into price competition with new health plans would be "the death
spiral" of the program. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said older constituents in his state "would rise up in arms" if Medicare
switches to the system of premium support.
Staff writer Helen Dewar contributed to this report.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company