The new Medicare prescription drug benefit will increase beneficiaries' cost-sharing at a rate exceeding inflation, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said in a report he released through the congressional Joint Economic Committee. Under the law, increases in premiums, deductibles, copayments and other out-of-pocket expenses for seniors are to be indexed to increases in drug prices, Stark said. Thus, beneficiaries' total out-of-pocket costs will rise 7.4% to 8.6% annually from 2006 to 2013. By comparison, general inflation has averaged 2.4% over the past 10 years. Citing figures from the Congressional Budget Office, Stark said Medicare beneficiaries' average premium will reach $696 per year by 2013, up 65.7% from $420 in 2006. Read Stark's report. -- by Jeff Tieman
Stark attacks Medicare bill's cost-sharing plan
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