Nationalizing Prescription Drugs is Bad Medicine: Clinton-Gore Plan Will Quickly Lead to Rationing for Seniors

Medicare is already insolvent, losing $9 billion last year alone. The Medicare trustees have reported that Medicare will be totally bankrupt in just sixteen years.

Due to the federal government’s mismanagement of Medicare, provider payments for hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes have already been significantly reduced, and some nursing homes and HMOs are refusing new Medicare beneficiaries.

The Clinton-Gore administration rejected a bipartisan commission’s recommendations to save Medicare from bankruptcy – a plan based on what federal employees already have.

Government-run plan will lead to rationing of drugs and medical care

With Medicare moving towards bankruptcy, government needs to find savings sooner rather than later if we want to save the program for Baby Boomers.

Medicare prescription drug coverage means the government decides which drugs are covered and which seniors get those drugs. How will the government decide between competing drugs? Can Medicare patients get access to expensive experimental drugs? Is Viagra covered? Weight-loss drugs?

There is no free lunch. An outpatient prescription drug program could cause seniors’ Medicare premiums to jump $25 to $40 a month. For taxpayers, it would add $20 to $40 billion in costs to a program that already loses $9 billion a year and is headed towards bankruptcy. Two-thirds of seniors already have outpatient prescription drug coverage. Why should they be charged new premiums for coverage they already have?

Market-based Medicare reform will give seniors access to prescription drug plans

The Breaux-Thomas proposal would give free prescription drugs to seniors with incomes below 135% of the poverty line. They would also require insurance policies to give seniors the option of prescription drug coverage and give seniors a choice of many health care plans.

Their reform plan takes a largely free-market approach to Medicare reform, most notably by expanding the opportunity for retirees to choose their health care providers through the Medicare+Choice program. Seniors deserve these new choices, not new regulations and higher premiums from Washington.