Why Democrats Should Be Talking Medicare

Ken AshfordHealth CareLeave a Comment

The Medicare issue is a gift to Democrats.  There are so many things wrong with it, that it is a wonder how it got passed.  Well, not really.  Consider the following:

  • It is the largest entitlement program in 40 years, with virtually no way to pay for it.
  • It is a massive giveaway to private corporate special interests.  How?  It forces millions of poor senior citizens out of Medicaid and into private plans subsidized by Medicare. It’s so complex precisely because it funnels people through the private sector.
  • The Bush Administration assured Congress it would cost no more than $400 billion over a decade. That number was a lie. The chief Medicare actuary knew it would cost more — at least 20% higher — but was forbidden by Bush appointee Thomas Scully from sharing his estimate with Congress.
  • Bad as it was, Republicans could not get the bill passed without breaking House rules and holding open the vote for an astounding three hours, ultimately eking out a victory shortly before dawn. Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein called it "the ugliest and most outrageous breach of standards in the modern history of the House."
  • During those three hours, Republican leaders indulged in all manner of threats and bribery. One holdout, then-Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.), later alleged that a member of the House leadership promised to raise $100,000 for his son’s congressional campaign to replace him if he’d support the bill.
  • Not only do fiscal conservatives hate it; but so do most Medicare-eligible recipients.

This is what happens when conservatives, who are opposed to entitlements anyway, are in charge of providing the safety net to Americans.