What the new Medicare legislation means to the North Olympic Peninsula: first of two parts

New Medicare legislation signed into law by President Bush on Dec. 8 includes a drug benefit program that starts in 2006.

The Medicare system will pay for medications for seniors for the first time in the program’s history.

But it also could lead the way to a more immediate push to a system of standardized care to reduce health-care costs.

The $400 billion bill will present a new range of choices for the North Olympic Peninsula’s sizable population of residents eligible for Medicare — those 65 and older.

In Clallam and Jefferson counties, the age group accounts for 19,208 residents.

At 21.3 percent, Clallam has the second highest percentage of population older than 65 in Washington state.

Jefferson is right behind at third with 21.1 percent.

Both percentages are twice the national and state averages.

“Clallam County is [about] 22 percent of 65 and older — and that’s what is predicted for the country in 15 years, when the health care experts are saying there’s going to be doomsday to the system, and not enough money nor services,” Olympic Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Mike Glenn said.

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The rest of the story appears in the Tuesday Peninsula Daily News.

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