Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Investigating the Medicare Prescription Plan

Yesterday we discussed reports on Light Up the Darkness about Bush's underestimation of the costs of the Medicare prescription drug benefits. The Washington Post now reports on calls for investigations by Democrats:
Democratic lawmakers seized on news yesterday that the Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost much more than first projected, blasting the Bush administration and saying it cannot be trusted to acknowledge the likely costs of its priorities, including revisions to Social Security.

In hearings, speeches and interviews, Democrats said the sharply higher Medicare cost estimate is a matter of credibility, not bookkeeping quibbles, and they wielded it as a new weapon in their bid to prevent President Bush from converting a portion of Social Security payroll taxes to personal accounts. Some House and Senate Democrats called for a congressional investigation into the hard-fought 2003 Medicare prescription drug battle, in which an administration official said he was pressured to keep long-term cost estimates hidden from lawmakers.
In investigating this, I hope it is not forgotten how Bush kept the public and Congress from finding out about the true costs of the plan, as the Washington Post reviewed previously.

We must also continue to keep in mind how little this bill helps senior as opposed to promoting other aspects of the Republican agenda, including helping the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, while undermining Medicare by channeling more money into Medicare HMO's. Medicare HMO's drain the Medicare program of needed money, despite typically having overhead costs of four times that of the government program. That's an expensive cost to pay for programs which limit the choices of both patients and doctors. If you think government health care is bad, corporate health care is far worse, as they are constantly searching for ways to reduce spending and limit choice.


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