Medicare’s Disabled Beneficiaries: The Forgotten Population in the Debate Over Drug Benefits

About 5 million Americans under age 65 qualify for Medicare coverage because they are totally and permanently disabled. They are more likely than the elderly to live in poverty, to be in poor health, and to experience difficulties living independently and performing basic daily tasks. A new study from The Commonwealth Fund and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, reports that the disabled have few options other than Medicaid for obtaining prescription coverage. In , Becky Briesacher, Bruce Stuart, Jalpa Doshi, and Sachin Kamal-Bahl of the University of Maryland, and Dennis Shea of the Pennsylvania State University, conclude that a Medicare drug benefit designed for the elderly will not suffice for the disabled unless their particular needs are assessed and addressed.

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