# Love them Clueless Editorials, Sometimes

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Sometimes things like this really irk me.

From http://opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009222"
If we had to pick the precise moment when House Republicans lost their way, it would be three years ago during the floor vote over the Medicare prescription drug bill. So unpopular was the bill among conservatives, and rightly so, that House leaders kept the vote open for an unheard of three hours as they dragooned reluctant Members to vote aye.
Then, later in that same article, we get
Then President Bush gave Republicans a once-in-a-generation chance to reform Social Security and health care along free market lines, but GOP House leaders fought him behind the scenes. For this alone, they should be returned to the backbenches.
Just how stupid can editorials get? The Medicare debacle began life as precisely the same sort of "reform" they wanted to apply to Social Security. Thank god that effort went down in flames. I dread to think where it might otherwise have wound up.

[edited to add] Just the increase in the cost of Medicare from the "reform" was greater than the entire Social Security problem is now.

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Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
twisting_edge said:
Just how stupid can editorials get? The Medicare debacle began life as precisely the same sort of "reform" they wanted to apply to Social Security. Thank god that effort went down in flames. I dread to think where it might otherwise have wound up.

[edited to add] Just the increase in the cost of Medicare from the "reform" was greater than the entire Social Security problem is now.
Well the Republicans did kill the provision that the government would negotiate for lower prescription drug prices. The pharmaceutical companies made sure of that.

The Republicans 'lost it' when they elected Dennis Hastert as speaker of the House, and then allowed Tom Delay ( :yuck: ) to become majority leader.

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That blasted mediacre drug plan stinks not only because it is a windfall to the pharmaceutical companies, it is one the most confusing programs ever presented to the American people. Now we add the 65+ demographic who ended up dealing with it and it is a total piece of crap.

Currently in Arizona there are 18 plans offered through 43 differen't companies. The Medicare drug plan is a good example of what happens when lobbyists are allowed to write the laws.

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
Report Warns of Medicare Drug Coverage Gaps
2006 Benefit Could Anger Seniors Expecting More Help With Drug Costs, Analyst Says

June 1, 2004 -- Medicare began its controversial prescription-drug discount plan today, although some analysts are already looking ahead to 2006 when the program's paid drug benefit begins. And some are warning that many seniors may find far lower benefits than they expect.

A new report issued Tuesday warns that substantial numbers of elderly and disabled Medicare beneficiaries can expect high drug expenses even after the program begins in 19 months. Some, especially those with more than one chronic illness requiring medication, may still incur thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs, it concludes.

"I suspect there are a lot of people who will be particularly disadvantaged after just a few years" with the benefit, says Marilyn Moon, director of health programs at the American Institutes for Research, who authored the report for the Commonwealth Fund.

The 'Donut Hole' Revealed

The expected costs are due to peculiarities in the Medicare benefit law that cause a gap in available coverage. Medicare is set to pay 75% of initial drug costs up to $2,250 after a$250 deductible for most seniors. But then the program pays nothing until drug expenses reach $5,100, after which the government pays 95% of all costs. The complete lack of coverage for drug spending between$2,251 and $5,100 is often called Medicare's "donut hole" by Washington analysts and lawmakers. More than one-quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries are projected to have drug spending that falls in the donut hole's range, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The structure means that sicker patients with higher drug costs will end up not only paying more for their drugs, but paying a higher share of their drug costs than those with fewer prescriptions, Moon says. A senior with$1,000 in annual drug costs would pay $438 out of pocket under the plan, while a beneficiary with$5,000 in costs would be responsible for $3,500 of their total costs. "The donut hole will reduce protection against drug expenses just as many of those Medicare beneficiaries who are most in need are expecting financial relief," writes Moon, who is a former Medicare trustee. "The new benefit's donut hole will likely anger many beneficiaries once they understand these rules," the report states. Most observers agree that Congress allowed the donut hole because lawmakers wanted to provide at least some aid to seniors with both low and high drug costs. The program's projected$410 billion, 10-year budget is not nearly enough to cover the estimated \$1.2 trillion seniors are expected to spend on drugs between now and 2013, Moon says.

Low-income seniors living at 150% of the federal poverty level get far more help with their drug costs. Overall, seniors are expected to see about 47% of their drug costs covered, on average.
And the same people who wrote the legislation want to privatize Social Security?! I think NOT!

As edward pointed out, lobbyists wrote the legislation to favor the pharmaceutical industry - which gave generously to lawmakers campaigns for 2004 and 2006.

If one has elderly parents or grandparents, check with them regarding the cost of their medication and whether or not they have to choose between paying for medication and paying for food/utilities/rent, or if they are given 'cheaper, less effective' medication (as has been the case with my mother-in-law) in order to 'save' money.

And this is the same Medicare reform the Republican congress (just lost their majority) tried to kill, remember. Bush held the voting open very late (as the article even notes) in order to twist more arms. I think he was overseas at that time, but there were threatening phone calls made to specific members late at night in order to get the bill to pass.

Reason? Bush didn't want to suffer a legislative defeat in an election year. He basically sold off a large chunk of the country's financial future with that bill just to help himself stay in office.

That bill's passage was his baby, and his alone. The actual contents are nothing other than what you would expect from a divided Congress.

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
twisting_edge said:
And this is the same Medicare reform the Republican congress (just lost their majority) tried to kill, remember. Bush held the voting open very late (as the article even notes) in order to twist more arms. I think he was overseas at that time, but there were threatening phone calls made to specific members late at night in order to get the bill to pass.

Reason? Bush didn't want to suffer a legislative defeat in an election year. He basically sold off a large chunk of the country's financial future with that bill just to help himself stay in office.

That bill's passage was his baby, and his alone. The actual contents are nothing other than what you would expect from a divided Congress.
Well, the democrats were shut out of the process apparently, and Hastert and Delay just couldn't say no to Bush. So much of oversight. I think, Delay, Hastert et al, were enticed by the K-street cash.

Astronuc said:
Well, the democrats were shut out of the process apparently, and Hastert and Delay just couldn't say no to Bush. So much of oversight. I think, Delay, Hastert et al, were enticed by the K-street cash.
The cost of the bill doesn't come from payments to drug companies. It comes from a much simpler source.

There was a massive expansion of benefits. This is not hard to figure out.

As to the source of said expansions, I believe there was a senator from Massachusetts from a long-established political family that spearheaded that little effort.

twisting_edge said:
The cost of the bill doesn't come from payments to drug companies. It comes from a much simpler source.

There was a massive expansion of benefits. This is not hard to figure out.

As to the source of said expansions, I believe there was a senator from Massachusetts from a long-established political family that spearheaded that little effort.
A bill expanding benifits is one thing , but building in profits for pharmaceutical companies while at at the same time cutting payments made to doctors, is quite another.