Drug Companies Reap Benefits of New Medicare Bill:
The new Medicare drug benefit will provide the prescription drug industry with extra profits of up to $2 billion, according to a Knight-Ridder report. The increased profits come from the shift of Medicaid recipients, who receive drugs at the lowest price, to the Medicare drug benefit system that provides a choice of different plans, but at higher prices. Medicare officials state that the Medicare deals are offering bigger discounts than Medicaid did and that through competition the prices will continue to go down. Pharmaceutical economist Stephen Schondelmeyer disagrees, “The argument that more plans will be more competitive doesn’t appear to be true. More players doesn’t result in lower prices if they have much smaller volumes and much less leverage.” Democrats claim that the only beneficiaries of the prescription drug bill are Republicans and the prescription drug companies who contribute millions of dollars to their campaigns. Republicans say that the program is flawed and blame a partisan atmosphere in Washington for it not being better.