Lawmakers Debate Impact of Medicare Rx Plan Foul-Ups

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said Sunday the new Medicare prescription drug program will be "a huge plus" for Republicans, despite Democrats' hopes to benefit politically from the program's rocky start.

Frist said that early problems were inevitable when 25 million people were moved into a new government program.

Seniors have complained of confusion while sorting through a myriad of private options offered in the prescription drug program. And many needy people ran into problems when they were switched over from their drug benefits within Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, to the new Medicare drug benefit.

"There are all sorts of stumbles and glitches and there is confusion," said Frist, who added that a million prescriptions are being delivered daily and seniors will appreciate the program six months from now.

"We are giving seniors affordable access to prescription drugs by choice -- it's voluntarily -- that they didn't have before," Frist said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "Of course it won't be a liability. I think it will be a huge plus."

That view is sharply disputed by Democrats. The more the American people learn about the program, the more they will turn against it, said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

"This legislation was crafted, in my opinion, to primarily benefit the pharmaceutical industry, the insurance industry," she said on the same news program. "It's the privatization of Medicare, just as they wanted to do with Social Security."

Democratic lawmakers have been introducing legislation in Congress intended to highlight problems with the program and to point out resistance to changes from the Bush administration and most Republican lawmakers.