Part of the reason I made this graph of the just-passed Medicare Prescription drug benefit was to facilitate some clear thinking on the subject by commenters and other bloggers. In this post, Ruy Texiera points out that
[Seniors] will be hyper-aware of how much they will and will not be helped by the new bill. That’s why the concept that the GOP will be generally helped just because a bill with some sort of benefit for seniors–no matter how lousy!– has been passed is so ridiculous. Seniors are going to be calculating how much–“to the penny”, as one senior put it in this article–their out-of-pocket drug costs are going to be under this new bill and they’re not going to be pleased. And they are going to know there’s nothing stopping drug prices from continuing to escalate rapidly and, therefore, their out-of-pocket costs as well.
In another post, Ruy T. gives some poll data to support his contention that the GOP may not gain much politically from this particular drug plan. Given the actual amount of non-catastrophic coverage is at most 48% (i.e., the government pays 48% of total drug costs and the senior pays the rest), and that even under catastrophic coverage the goverment only plays for more than 50% of drug costs when total drug costs exceed $8366, Ruy just might be on to something.