May 12, 2006

THAT'S A RHETORICAL QUESTION, RIGHT?:

Drug Plan Is Meeting Goals: The Medicare benefit is helping millions even as the system's complexity vexes many pharmacists and patients. A penalty looms for late enrollees. (Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, May 7, 2006, Los Angeles Times)

With the first enrollment deadline a week away, the Medicare prescription benefit apparently is achieving its primary objective: helping millions of Americans get protection they did not previously have against one of the most draining problems of growing older.

By the May 15 deadline, federal officials expect to have more than 20 million seniors enrolled in plans under Medicare Part D, as the benefit program is called. That would include at least 7 million who previously lacked insurance for outpatient prescriptions. Of the millions who have signed up, many are enjoying significant savings, sometimes $1,000 a year or more.

That's a considerable achievement for a government that has not tried to roll out such an ambitious entitlement program since the days of Lyndon B. Johnson. It's especially so for President Bush, who is no fan of big government.

Even some of the program's critics have given up trying to repeal it, while vowing to make it better.

And the performance of the drug plan, offered through private insurers, goes well beyond benefits for today's seniors. The plan is a test of Bush's idea that, instead of creating new federal bureaucracies, Washington can use businesses, informed consumers and market competition to solve knotty social problems such as access to healthcare — potentially for all Americans.

"This is the first full test of competition in Medicare," said Joseph Antos, a health policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. "It's also a test of consumerism in healthcare."

So if Medicare Part D is meeting its goals and helping millions of elderly Americans, why isn't it being hailed as an unqualified success?

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 12, 2006 6:42 PM
Comments

Because Bush did it.

Posted by: Noel at May 12, 2006 7:56 PM

Both conservatives and liberals have been bashing the program, albeit for entirely different reasons. But the killer is this paragraph:

'...The plan is a test of Bush's idea that, instead of creating new federal bureaucracies, Washington can use businesses, informed consumers and market competition to solve knotty social problems such as access to healthcare potentially for all Americans...'

At some point, conservatives will see this as a success, but fans of traditional government bureaucracies will correctly see it as a threat and therefore try to kill it.

Posted by: Kurt Brouwer at May 13, 2006 5:24 PM

Kurt:

No, they won't, they're conservatives....

Posted by: oj at May 13, 2006 5:41 PM

btw, it wasn't a rhetorical question. Asking if it was a rhetorical question was, however.

Here's another one: will BDS medication be covered under Part B?

Posted by: Noel at May 13, 2006 9:44 PM
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