November 27, 2003

Medicare Fraud: Reforming our way to bankruptcy

Excellent article by Jacob Sullum on the Medicare bill:

Economists Jagadeesh Gokhale and Kent Smetters estimate that the long-term imbalance between Medicare costs and revenues under existing law is something like $36 trillion, more than five times the current national debt. Given a problem of this magnitude, the gestures toward reform in the Medicare bill—limited medical savings accounts, higher premiums for beneficiaries making more than $80,000 a year, and a six-city experiment with private competition that's supposed to begin in 2010—are pretty pathetic.

Especially since the price of getting these meager changes was a drug benefit that will add trillions to Medicare's fiscal imbalance while taking from the poor and giving to the rich. As the Heritage Foundation's Robert Moffit notes, the drug plan "will guarantee that low-income working people pay the drug bills of rich retirees with six-figure incomes." Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), one of the few Republicans who placed principle above politics by voting against the bill, called it "the largest tax increase that one generation has put on another generation in the history of the country."

After the Senate approved the bill, President Bush bragged that "year after year the problems in the Medicare system were studied and debated," and finally "we got something done." Sometimes nothing is better than something.