Washington Scores of insurers have signed up to offer Medicare prescription coverage next year, the federal government said Friday, but conservatives are trying to delay the benefit because of mounting hurricane relief costs.
Ten companies have been approved to offer government-subsidized drug plans at the national level. Many more choices will be available in individual states. It would mark the first time Medicare has offered outpatient drug coverage to its more than 40 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries.
Among some Republicans, however, there is renewed concern about the benefit's cost, estimated as high as $700 billion over 10 years, when Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita are putting new demands on the federal budget.
The White House insists that drug coverage will begin Jan. 1, on schedule.