Socialism, Anyone?

Medicare “reform” is another step closer to the President’s desk. And a federal entitlement program that will cost, at a minimum, $400 billion may well become law.

Don’t forget, this program is not free – your tax dollars will pay for other people’s medicine.

The Washington Times: “Bush Pushes Pact on Medicare”

    “Capitol Hill negotiators released a six-page summary of the 10-year Medicare prescription-drug bill, which is required by this year’s budget law to cost no more than $400 billion. The key provision would give millions of seniors prescription-drug coverage for the first time for a premium of about $35 a month.

    For those seniors who choose to stay with traditional Medicare, the drug benefit would be provided by private insurers. Or seniors could choose a new option under the Medicare law that would let private insurers provide comprehensive health insurance, including prescription drugs.

    The bill would provide a “fallback” government-guaranteed drug benefit for seniors if two or more private plans did not enter an area – an idea of Senate Democrats.”

The Los Angeles Times: “Deal Would Alter Medicare’s Core”

    “As Congress prepares to vote on a final $400-billion Medicare prescription drug bill, there is one thing on which most lawmakers agree: The legislation would, over time, change the essence of the 38-year-old health insurance program for the elderly and disabled.

    Now, the government sets the prices for thousands of medical services and pays the bills. But under the Medicare reform legislation, some details of which were released Sunday, the government would pay private insurance companies and managed-care plans billions of dollars in incentives to compete with traditional Medicare for the prescription drug business and general health-care needs of more than 40 million Americans.

    Medicare would begin to become ‘an insurance program backed by the American taxpayer, supervised by the government,’ Sen. John B. Breaux (D-La.), a key supporter of the compromise legislation, said Sunday.”

The Chicago Tribune: “Drug Bill Unveiled, Gets Bush Support”

    “Congressional leaders on Sunday unveiled their sweeping plan to provide a Medicare prescription drug benefit to 40 million senior citizens, and President Bush vowed that he will actively push for the legislation. [???]

    The deal, which was hammered out behind closed doors and largely excluded Democrats, would start by providing prescription-drug discount cards in April 2004 that could provide discounts of 15 percent or more.

    In 2006, seniors could sign up for prescription drug coverage after paying a $275 annual deductible and premiums roughly averaging $35 per month. Medicare would cover 75 percent of the cost of medicines and seniors would pay for 25 percent of the cost, up to $2,200.

    A coverage gap would begin when drug costs exceeded $2,200, but the program would step back in when a senior’s out-of-pocket expenses reached $3,600. After that, 95 percent of all drug costs would be covered.

    For low-income seniors, the cost of all premiums and deductibles would be waived when earnings do not exceed $12,123 a year. Also, the coverage gap after $2,200 would be eliminated. [???]

    But participants in the negotiations said this is the best chance Congress will have to provide a prescription drug benefit through Medicare. Congress budgeted $400 billion over the next 10 years to institute the program, and that money is not likely to be available again as the deficit continues to soar.”

USA Today: “Drug Benefit Deal Still Has Doubters”

    “Republican leaders began pushing in earnest Monday for passage by the Thanksgiving recess of the biggest expansion of Medicare since the health care program for seniors began in 1965.”

The Arizona Republic: “Medicare Reform Unveiled”

    “Even as they released an outline of the accord, tested their sales pitches and prepared for final votes within a week, the leaders said the 1,100-page bill is not entirely written and congressional budget analysts will not determine at least until late tonight how the plan fits in the $400 billion Congress has set aside for it.

    The most popular aspect of the bill would offer federal help to elderly and disabled people with prescriptions. Next year, the government would coordinate a network of private drug discount cards that Medicare patients could buy. In three years, the federal drug coverage would begin.”

The Washington Post: “Republican Medicare Plan Faces Challenges”

    “The most popular aspect of the legislation would offer federal help to elderly and disabled people in paying for prescription drugs. Next year, the government would coordinate a network of private drug discount cards that Medicare patients could buy. In three years, the federal drug coverage would begin.”

The New York Times: “GOP Begins Push for Medicare Bill”

    “Finally, Dr. Frist declared, the 40 million Medicare beneficiaries will be able to say: ‘Congress has delivered. Our government has delivered. Our president has delivered.’ [???]

    The government would offer tens of billions of dollars to employers to encourage them to continue providing health benefits, including drug coverage, to retirees.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Medicare Plan Details Emerge”

    “Beginning next April, Medicare beneficiaries would be eligible for a government-endorsed prescription discount card which the Bush Administration predicts would save about 15 percent to 25 percent on retail prices.

    The voluntary Medicare prescription drug plan would begin in 2006. To receive the drug coverage, beneficiaries would have to enroll in either a prescription-only private insurance plan or a managed care plans such as preferred provider organizations. If no private plans were available in a geographic area, the government would provide a fallback plan.”