February 20, 2012


Rick Santorum's Part D Vote: His support of Medicare's prescription drug benefit is a feature, not a bug. (DAVID CATRON,  2.20.12, American Spectator)

[P]resident Bush stole the issue from the Democrats and, with much wrangling, convinced majorities in both houses of Congress to support option two. Part D was created by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA), which passed in the House with a slim majority that included such notorious spendthrifts as Paul Ryan and was pushed over the top in the upper chamber with the votes of Santorum and 53 other Senators, including several current Romney surrogates.

MMA established a system in which private insurers competed with one another to provide health and prescription drug coverage to seniors. The idea was that this competition would put downward pressure on Medicare costs in general, and the first signs that it was beginning to work came in the area of prescription drugs. Part D went into effect in 2006 and, by 2007, some if its initial critics began to acknowledge its efficacy. The Washington Post, for example, grudgingly admitted that "the new Medicare drug benefit appears to be slowing the growth in national spending on prescription medicines because the drug plans are negotiating lower prices with drug companies.... In the program, private insurers negotiate prices with drug companies as they compete to attract Medicare beneficiaries."

This result was precisely the opposite of what the program's critics had predicted, and it made the Democrats very nervous indeed. They correctly saw the success of Part D's emphasis on the free market and patient choice as a threat to their plans to implement a government-run health care system. These Democrat fears were stoked by the obvious enthusiasm shown by low-income and minority seniors for Medicare Advantage (MA), the primary vehicle through which patients acquire Part D. MA appeals to these patients precisely because its benefits, including prescription drug coverage, are more comprehensive than those of traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

Too bad none of these guys have learned from W's example.  He won an unwinnable election by running on things like making SS and Medicare more market-based.  If Romney and Santorum were running on doing the same for Obamacare it would be easier to take them seriously and they'd appeal to the vast middle.

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Posted by at February 20, 2012 6:59 AM

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