WASHINGTON – On the first day seniors were able to sign up for new Medicare drug discount cards, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson (search) held a big Washington press conference to sell to the idea to seniors.
"For the first time, we're going to pool the purchasing power of Medicare (search) beneficiaries to drive down the prices that they pay for prescriptions," Thompson said.
Savings could eventually amount to between 10 and 25 percent, he said.
But Democrats who oppose the plan offer a far gloomier forecast, saying the program is too rigid and does not cut costs enough.
"If I were going to put a title on this, I would say 'How to cheat old people without really trying,'" said pharmacist-turned-congressman, Rep. Marion Berry (search), D-Ark.
Of course, there is a political element. Republicans have an interest in making the card work —so grateful seniors can show their gratitude in the fall elections. Democrats have an interest in seeing the program fail — so they can blame the Republicans for harming Medicare. For the moment, seniors must now comb through some rather complex issues to decide what is in their best interest.
Click here to watch a report by Fox News' Brian Wilson.