Retirees fear that if the Medicare prescription drug bill is enacted, they stand to lose drug benefits they already have from former employers, according to an article in the New York Times.
The issue is emerging as the most immediate threat to the Medicare drug benefit legislation. Although employers are not required to do so, some voluntarily provide prescription drug coverage to retirees. Members of Congress are slowly realizing that if they add a drug benefit to Medicare, no matter how meager, many employers may take this as a cue to withdraw their own drug coverage.
About 12 million of the 40 million Medicare recipients have retiree health benefits, usually including some drug benefits, according to the article. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that one-third of the people with such drug coverage could lose it under the Medicare bills passed in June by the House and the Senate, which the two chambers are now trying to reconcile.
Retirees are up in arms at this prospect, and members of Congress are scrambling to add incentives for employers to continue providing drug benefits to retirees.
To read the New York Times article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/16/politics/16MEDI.html?hp.
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