Reporting Problems of Another Kind

  • by: |
  • 06/19/2006

The AP headline reads:

“Number of seniors with drug coverage down”

Here’s the first paragraph:

WASHINGTON (AP): About 500,000 fewer Medicare beneficiaries have prescription drug coverage than the federal government originally projected this month.

But here’s the story:

The drop occurred because many of the 3 million beneficiaries being counted as getting coverage through the Veterans Affairs Department had switched over to a private plan under Medicare Part D, so they were being counted twice, said Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

So, in fact, the number of seniors with drug coverage is NOT down.


But, as usual, Mark McClellan — the hardest working man in health care — puts the story in the proper perspective:

McClellan said the new numbers reflect that the Medicare program was more popular with veterans than had been anticipated. When VA officials ran final numbers after the May 15 enrollment deadline, they found that about a third of those seniors participating in VA drug coverage had enrolled in a private plan under Medicare Part D.

And, at the end of the day, according to the story:

… the new numbers do little to change the overall percentage of seniors with some insurance coverage for their medicine. About 90 percent have some coverage, either through Medicare or through another program, officials say.

Talk about Headline News!


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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