The new Medicare prescription drug benefit, enacted in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 and set to begin in January 2006, is the most significant and complex expansion of benefits since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

For an insightful portrait of the forty years of ideological conflict leading to the Medicare drug benefit, check out “A Political History of Medicare and Prescription Drug Coverage,” an article in the June issue of The Milbank Quarterly, by Thomas R. Oliver and colleagues.