Medicare issue not just for seniors

By Christina Williams
September 16, 2004


In two months one of the biggest events of the year will be taking place. Yes, it is time for the 2004 Presidential Election. President George W. Bush will be competing with John Kerry to keep his title.

In these next two months it should be on every registered voter’s mind to look at the key issues each candidate is talking about. Even if it does not seem like half the issues pertain to students now, they will be everything to us in the future.

One of these major issues that students should be looking at right now is Medicare. For those who know what Medicare is this is probably not a top priority in your mind right now. Instead most students are probably thinking about school work or their internship.

For those who do not know what Medicare is, it is basically health insurance for the elderly. There are other people who receive Medicare such as young people with disabilities and people that have End Stage Renal Disease like kidney failure.

There are two parts that make up Medicare. Part A covers hospital insurance, which covers hospices and nursing facilities. The money for hospital insurance comes from the payroll tax that is taken out of paychecks.

Part B, called Supplemental Medical Insurance, covers doctors’ services, outpatient hospital care and nurse practitioners. Those are just some of the features that the second part of Medicare covers. Part B gets its funding from premiums people pay and general tax revenues.

Even though there is a Part A and a Part B neither one covers the major aspects such as prescription drugs, dental care or nursing care. The fact that Medicare does not cover prescription drugs links to the other major issue, which is the cost of prescription drugs.

So, why is Medicare so important that it is an issue that students should know about and be aware of? The major issue when it comes to Medicare is Medicare’s long term finances.

The second issue as said before is how much should the elderly pay for their prescriptions. One of the important factors in this decision is the baby boom generation. The baby boom generation is a big percentage of the population and there will be a 30 million person increase in how many people need prescription drugs when all those in the baby boomer generation is in need of prescription drugs.

The reason it is important for the younger generations to be aware of this issue is because we need to be prepared for what happens after the baby boom generation fades out. There are always talks of the baby boom depleting Social Security for the next generation. The same could be true for Medicare if the younger generations do not pay attention to where the money is going.

Right now as each candidate goes around lobbying for votes, one of their main topics is Medicare. Each candidate has their own visions for Medicare and how it will operate and what it will do for the elderly.

So far, since in office, Bush has signed a bill to cut out wasteful spending and put certain regulations in place to supposedly save elders and taxpayers money over a certain amount of years. Bush has also allocated waivers to allow millions who could not afford Medicare to receive Medicare as long as they are eligible.

As for Bush’s second term he has new plans for Medicare. One plan is to implement a prescription drug benefit. This means that in about two years seniors will be able to sign up for prescription drug coverage under Medicare. Bush is hoping that this will help seniors who cannot afford to buy all of their prescription drugs to do so and save at the same time.

Bush’s second plan for Medicare if he were to win a second term would be to expand and improve benefits for elders. Medicare will expand their coverage of preventive services and cover an initial physical examination. Finally, a disease management service will be offered by Medicare for the first time ever. These services will hopefully help those who qualify with chronic medical conditions to avoid dangerous and costly medical complications.

Kerry’s main goal when it comes to Medicare is to strengthen it in order to make it better. Kerry has come up with three steps to strengthen Medicare to make it better for elders.

First, Kerry plans to provide a better drug benefit plan to elders then Bush will. Kerry’s drug plan will be run by Medicare instead of private insurance companies that charge seniors whatever they want and will benefit all elders no matter where they live.

The second part of Kerry’s plan is to ensure access to affordable prescription drugs. Kerry plans to cut the cost by finding a way to lower the prices of prescription drugs, allow drugs to be imported from cheaper countries such as Canada, establish rules that will keep pharmacies to buy drugs in large bulks from the government and by helping states provide discounts to give incentives to execute more efficient contracts to obtain better rates for prescription drugs.

Finally, Kerry’s plan for strengthening Medicare will be to give seniors options when it comes to long-term health care. This part of the plan will make sure that nursing homes are properly inspected and that there are fully trained health care workers. Falling under this part of the plan will also be support for those who are caregivers to those who need long-term health care.

Posted to the web by Cecelia Francisco

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Christina Williams

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