Complaints Heard By Congress:

Two Congressional committees have held hearings about Medicare D, and have received input from those who the program was supposed to serve.  The complaints were that people were unable to get their rx’s and that the program was too confusing.  Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, questioned the way the program was being run and pushed for legislation that would allow the government to negotiate  drug prices. That was not part of the initial legislation and has been seen as a boon to drug companies.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) and Ron Wyden (D) drafted legislation giving the government the ability to negotiate the prices of rx’s>

According to Snowe,

“I can’t imagine why we’d spend $700 billion on this benefit and not allow the secretary to maximize the taxpayers’ money.”

Fact of the matter is that the legislation did pass and was signed into law.  It was also perceived as a cost-cutting measure.

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However, Mark McClellan claims

McClellan said that the plan needs no such intervention at the hands of government bureaucrats. It should…rely on competition and market forces to control costs.

…President Bush’s new budget allots $130 billion less for the benefit than originally expected…because so many insurers are involved in the program, competing for the business and keeping prices down.

However, McClellan blamed late enrollments for the errors in the implementation of Medicare D.  He also claimed to have taken responsibility for the glitches the Medicare D and that it is getting better as more operators have been hired for the 800 number.

According to Sen. Kent Conrad, D-S.D., the senators who described problems with the new plan as

“growing pains” were “detached from reality.”

And, he said that the implementation of the benefit as

“fiasco, botched, bungled. There has been no greater government failure since Katrina.”