CSE Responds to Gore Medicare Rhetoric

Today, Citizens for a Sound Economy responded to Vice President Gore’s Medicare Proposal. “Evidently, Al Gore’s definition of Medicare reform is more accounting tricks and empty promises,” said CSE Vice President of Public Affairs Marty Reiser. “The Gore plan ignores Medicare’s dire financial status by pretending that an undefined lock-box scheme will somehow secure the necessary funds that won’t even be there in the first place.”

The Medicare proposals offered by Gore ranged from disingenuous to malevolent. For instance:

 Gore’s plan for a lock-box relies on the failed assumptions that payroll tax revenue will continue to exceed outlays, and somehow Congress will be prevented from “picking the lock.”

 Gore said that if Medicare were designed today it would undoubtedly have a prescription drug benefit. What Gore didn’t say is that it is equally true that if Medicare were designed today it would not in the form of a hyper-centralized Soviet-style bureaucracy either.

 Gore proposed “tough penalties against HMOs that try to exclude or drop seniors.” While the declining enrollment of seniors in HMOs is lamentable, ornery HFCA regulation has caused it. Gore wants to crucify HMOs for HFCA’s sins. Gore ignores the HFCA reimbursement miscalculations and relies on vilification of HMOs. This strategy is both ill conceived and deceiving.

 Once again, Gore has chosen political expediency over leadership. Gore would have you believe that seniors prefer HFCA regulation to the choice of private insurance and that Medicare can be rescued from bankruptcy by accounting gimmickry. Both accounts are patently false. Medicare needs to be fundamentally reformed if it is to survive into the next generation. Not only does its current bureaucratic structure make this impossible, it also acts as a shackle that prevents the choice and customized care seniors deserve.

 Gore would allow 55-65 year old “near-seniors” to opt into Medicare. Yet, his proposal only gives seniors a one-time, ‘till death-do-us-part decision at 64½ to enter his prescription drug plan, or nothing else.

It is clear from today’s speech that Gore’s Medicare reform recipe is one-part demagoguery, one- part empty promises, and a pinch of deception. Such a concoction might smell sweet, but if enacted into law the taste would be quite revolting.