Prescription Drugs Bush and Gore both have plans to help the estimated 13 million seniors who lack prescription-drug coverage–and the candidates offer voters a real choice of approaches. The Gore plan, costing $253 billion through 2010, adds a prescription-drug benefit to Medicare. After paying a $25 monthly premium, a senior would be reimbursed half of all drug bills up to a maximum of $5,000 in bills per year. In addition, the plan would cover all prescription payments exceeding $4,000 in out-of-pocket costs per year.
Bush’s plan, less clear on the details, has a price tag of $158 billion. He says he will work with Congress to reform Medicare. Until then, he will provide $48 billion to the states to help low-income seniors pay for their drugs. The rest of the money would cover at least 25 percent of the premiums for seniors buying health insurance, including drug coverage, from private insurers or Medicare. All prescriptions are covered after $6,000 in out-of-pocket expenses. Both plans, which are voluntary, cover pre-existing conditions and pay all costs for seniors with incomes below $11,300.
As an expansion of Medicare, Gore’s plan builds on an imperfect but generally dependable system that serves some 39 million seniors. Bush’s plan, preferred by drugmakers and insurance companies, is intended to offer seniors wider choices.
– David Noonan
Social Security Both candidates are discussing Social Security’s long-term problems, which is good. But neither will admit publicly that the only way to manage the baby boomers’ retirement is to raise Social Security taxes to the moon, increase the retirement age and scale back benefits in other ways, or to stuff trillions of dollars into the system.