The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Alan Barber, (202) 293-5380 x115

Few Seniors Benefit From Medicare Modernization Act

Only Lowest-Income Quintiles of Seniors Saw Reduction in Prescription Drug Expenses


On the eve of the 5th anniversary of the signing of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), a new study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) analyzes the extent to which various groups of seniors benefited from this legislation.

The report, "The Impact of the Medicare Drug Benefit on Health Care Spending by Older Households," found that most seniors experienced no reductions in their health care spending as a result of the Medicare Drug benefit.

"While the intent of the MMA was to ease the financial burden health
care costs imposed on seniors, there is only limited evidence that the
Medicare drug benefit provided relief for older households," said Dean Baker,
Co-director of CEPR and an author of the report. "In fact, for many
seniors, the burden of health care costs actually increased."

The study used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey
(CEX) to compare the changes in spending by older households from 2004
to 2006. The analysis found that only seniors in the lowest income
quintiles, those who were most likely to qualify for the additional
subsidies that were provided under the MMA , experienced savings on
health related expenditures.

While households in the
1st and 2nd quintiles saw the rate of increase in drug expenditures
fall or rise at a slower pace as a result of the MMA, households in the
higher quintiles saw a more rapid increase in their prescription drug
expenditures. The latter may have been associated with greater use of
drugs, which could improve health. However, for these families, the MMA
was not associated with a lower burden of total health care

The full report can be found on the CEPR website here.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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