Medicare and Prescription Drugs: What Next?

After years of discussion and debate, Congress has passed legislation providing prescription drug coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. The President is expected to sign it shortly.

What are the major provisions of the bill? What provisions are less well known? What resolution was reached on high-profile topics such as the structure and delivery mechanism for the new drug benefit, steps to hold down the cost of drugs and other parts of Medicare, and the relative roles of private plans and government? How will beneficiaries and other stakeholders be affected by the new legislation? What are the most important early implementation tasks?

To help examine these questions and others, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Commonwealth Fund cosponsored a December 5, 2003 briefing. Panelists were three of the nation’s most knowledgeable experts on Medicare: Julie James of Health Policy Alternatives; Marilyn Moon of the American Institutes for Research; and Joseph Antos of the American Enterprise Institute. Ed Howard of the Alliance and Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund, moderated the discussion.