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Tommy Thompson on Fixing Medicare

Q: But couldn't they just get burned again?

A: Sure, but the likelihood isn't very high. Medicare+Choice was growing. Then Congress cut back on the reimbursement in areas where it was doing well in order to shift money to rural areas where it couldn't function. As a result, the plan didn't get any takers in the rural areas, and they starved the suburbs and urban areas. Is that kind of problem possible? Sure. But the probability [of it happening with the new Medicare plan] is so much lower.

Q: Liberals say the drug benefit is too skimpy. What's your response to that?

A: Look at a senior citizen who has to make a choice right now of not being able to purchase drugs and [must] split the pills or take them in an irrational way because of the cost. The federal government is going to pay 80% [of drug costs] in the House bill and 50% in the Senate bill. I can't imagine that any senior who's having financial difficulties isn't going to jump at that opportunity.

And the lowest-income individuals -- [e

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