Monday, May 15, 2006

'Part D is a complex system of subsidies to private insurance companies'


You say (d)ebacle, I say (d)isaster; let's call the whole thing off.

Krugman, NYTimes: D for Debacle (Like Bush will tell us tonight about Mexico, NYTimes has National Guard patrolling to keep Krugman behind his wall)

Today is the last day to sign up for Medicare Part D, the prescription drug benefit. It appears that millions of Americans, confused by the array of competing plans or simply unaware of the cutoff date, will miss the deadline. This will leave them without drug coverage for the rest of the year, and subject to financial penalties for the rest of their lives.

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[P]rescription drug coverage didn't have to be bafflingly complex. Drug coverage could simply have been added to traditional Medicare. If the government had done that, everyone currently covered by Medicare would automatically have been enrolled in the drug benefit.

Adding drug coverage as part of ordinary Medicare would also have saved a lot of money,
both by eliminating the cost of employing private insurance companies as middlemen and by allowing the government to negotiate lower drug prices. This would have made it possible to offer a better benefit at much less cost to taxpayers.

But while a straightforward addition of drug coverage to Medicare would have been good policy, it would have been bad politics from the point of view of conservatives, who want to privatize traditional social insurance programs, not make them better.

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So what we got was a drug program set up to serve the administration's friends and its political agenda, not the alleged beneficiaries. Instead of providing drug coverage directly, Part D is a complex system of subsidies to private insurance companies. The administration's insistence on running the program through these companies, which provide little if any additional value beyond what Medicare could easily have provided directly, is what makes the whole thing so complicated. And that complication, combined with an obvious lack of interest in making the system work, is what led to the disastrous start-up.

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And that's why when it comes to actual policy as opposed to politics, the Bush administration has turned out to have the reverse Midas touch. Everything it gets its hands on, from the reconstruction of Iraq to the rescue of New Orleans, from the drug benefit to the reform of the C.I.A., turns to crud.


Ed Strong has the full article.

Previous posts:

Medicare Part (D)isaster Penalties: Will Rethugs Blink? (May 13, 2006)

Bush To Old People: Drop Dead (May 10, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster, Incompetently Administered, Misleading Poor Seniors (May 7, 2006)

Most Severely Ill Senior Citizens Already in Medicare Part (D)isaster Doughnut Hole (April 27, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster: Watch Out For That Hole (April 12, 2006)

President Out-of-Touch Moron Meets the Seniors
(March 19, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster: Making the Mentally Ill Sicker (February 6, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster Creating Havoc at Social Security Administration (February 4, 2006)

Right Wing Blogs Exhibit Myopia Over Medicare Part D(isaster)
(January 24, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster (January 20, 2006)

Operation Photo Op, Medicare Part D edition, 1.0 (January 18, 2006)

'Horrific at Best'
(January 9, 2006)

The Incompetence, The Corruption, and The Cronyism: Sunday, January 8, 2006
(January 8, 2006)

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