Don’t be too critical of the Affordable Care Act’s new marketplaces. Medicare Part D had a rocky rollout, too.
“In terms of confusion, lack of knowledge, and misinformation, the current situation with exchanges resembles the situation that prevailed when Part D enrollment opened,” Daniel McFadden, a UC-Berkeley economist and Nobel laureate, told the Wall Street Journal‘s David Wessel earlier this month.
Part D, “at the time that it was passed was actually less popular than the Affordable Care Act,” President Obama said in an NPR interview on Oct. 1, the day the new marketplaces launched.
There are similarities between the two programs, from the political fight over their enactment to the difficulties in making the laws a reality. But the laws differ in some important ways, too, including ones that supporters haven’t fully acknowledged.
So what can we take away from Part D? Here is a quick guide to lessons from the drug plan’s rollout.
The political environment
How it’s similar: Just as Democrats fiercely resisted Republicans’ efforts to enact a Medicare drug benefit, the GOP refused to support the Democrat-led ACA.
How it differs: While Part D is seen as successful today — 90% of seniors were satisfied, according to a 2009 survey — Democrats say that their party deserves some credit.
“We lost the policy fight, and what did we do?” asked Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), at a hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. “We went back to our districts and we told our seniors although we voted no, we … will work with the Bush administration to make it work,” Pascrell added.