With private managed care plans available to only 19% of rural Medicare beneficiaries, prescription drug bills pending in Congress would make it difficult for many seniors to access the benefit. That's the finding of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, which today released an analysis of the House Medicare reform bill that would put Medicare in competition with private health plans.
The House bill "may particularly disadvantage rural areas that depend on the traditional Medicare program," said Frank Clemente, director of Public Citizens' Congress Watch. In urban areas, some 74% of Medicare beneficiaries have access to the type of private plan that would be largely responsible for administering a drug benefit under the reform proposals Congress is considering, according to Public Citizen's research. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) joined Public Citizen in condemning the plan to heavily involve private managed care plans in the Medicare program. Public Citizen's report is available online at www.citizen.org.
-- by Jeff Tieman