Business Raps Clinton's Call For Medicare Expansion

U.S. business groups have been quick to criticize President Clinton's proposal last week for an expansion of Medicare benefits in the wake of higher budget-surplus forecasts by both the White House and the Congressional Budget Office. "Adding a new, politically popular spending item like a drug benefit without a serious attempt at financial reform for Medicare is the wrong prescription at the wrong time" for the financially ailing program, declares U.S. Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Thomas J. Donohue. Adds National Assn. of Manufacturers President Jerry Jasinowski: "The President deserves credit for proposing a voluntary program for prescription drug coverage that makes seniors responsible for cost-sharing. But we would like to see a modernized Medicare program that lets beneficiaries choose among private-sector health plans for their drug coverage. And we must be cautious not to move in the direction of price controls." Both business groups urge enactment of the Medicare legislation sponsored by Sen. John Breaux (D, La.), who chaired the Commission on the Future of Medicare, which was created by President Clinton. Breaux's market-based proposal calls for Medicare beneficiaries to be able to choose from among competing health-care providers, not only in the private sector, but also from a government-run fee-for-service plan.

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