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The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Medicare fiasco

Inquiry Confirms Top Medicare Official Threatened Actuary Over Cost of Drug Benefits
WASHINGTON, July 6 - An internal investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services confirms that the top Medicare official threatened to fire the program's chief actuary if he told Congress that drug benefits would probably cost much more than the White House acknowledged.

My first reaction to this story is simple: well, no shit.

I'm still furious about the Medicare laws - in my opinion the worst mistake Bush has made - a good reason why I can't stand the idea of voting for the man.

If the Republicans are supposed to stand for one thing, it is financial restraint. This was a case of Republicans proudly doing what Democrats do routinely: using the treasury to buy votes.

The Medicare scheme had its genesis in Karl Rove's "win at all costs" mentality - winning even if it meant sacrificing the ideals of the party.

Nobody is going to let costs get in the way of a grand vote buying scheme!

Well Karl, how did it work?

Are grateful senoirs are sporting "Bush-Cheney" stickers as far as the eye can see?


No, they're not. Everytime I see them, they're bitching that this budget buster is not enough, and saying that they prefer the more generous Democratic plan. And at some point they'll probably get that too.

The greedy senior vote is up to the highest bidder. And the Democrats are far more eager to spend (and eventually tax) than Republicans will ever be.

Lost in the debate is any idea how to really solve the medical crisis in the US. Politicians eager to shovel money into the existing system will solve nothing; they will only encourage the inefficiencies that are already there. That means more expensive medicine and more federal deficits.

At some point, politicians in the next decade will have to face facts: medicine is a market like any other, and it has the same supply and demand constraints that the food and housing industries face. We have to get rid of the idea that medicine is saintly and that health care is a right. What we have right now is quasi-socialism, and we have the crisis to prove it.

Moving in a more socialist direction - as both parties seem intent on doing - will solve nothing.

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