It’s incredible how a couple of bullshit surveys, dishonestly conducted have changed the rhetoric a little on Part D. Now there’s a very odd article about Part D in The LA Times, which has been speaking truth to one power (Kaiser Permanente) all last week. Apparently it’s all going swimmingly well.
By the May 15 deadline, federal officials expect to have more than 20 million seniors enrolled in plans under Medicare Part D, as the benefit program is called. That would include at least 7 million who previously lacked insurance for outpatient prescriptions. Of the millions who have signed up, many are enjoying significant savings, sometimes $1,000 a year or more. That’s a considerable achievement for a government that has not tried to roll out such an ambitious entitlement program since the days of Lyndon B. Johnson. It’s especially so for President Bush, who is no fan of big government.
And read on because it quotes lots of dinisterested parties like everyone’s favorite lobbyist and truth-teller Karen Ignagni, and the flack from the AEI, before it gets to the real triumph of Medicare Part D. It’s cheap, much cheaper than we were told!
Mike Leavitt, HHS secretary was happy to point that out:
As proof that privatization is already working, Leavitt points to estimates that the program’s net cost to the federal government will be $678 billion over 10 years, instead of the $737 billion projected last year.
Funny that because this is what the PBS Newshour reported in March 2004
When the Medicare law was passed last November, Congress’s scorekeeping arm, the Congressional Budget Office, pegged the cost at $395 billion over ten years. Contrast that with the $534 billion estimate from HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS. The Bush administration released that estimate last month as part of its 2005 federal budget request.
So we’re not yet hitting some of the wilder estimates of the program cost, and we’re only going to be (maybe) $280 billion over the original budget promised, or a mere $140 billion over the real estimate that was deemed so explosive that it was forcibly hidden from Congress by Tom Scully, the Bush flack then running CMS. That must mean that the whole thing is cheap and shows that the market is working! And of course we can trust everything that these guys say, as in every other aspect of their performance.
Pity that if we just paid the prices the VA gets we could cover all seniors with no donut hole for less money, but at least we’re helping out with private enterprise and promoting choice! Because that’s such a great thing.
Martha Straub, 86, a retired secretary from Woodland Hills, gives her new drug benefit an A and the signup ordeal a D. That averages out to a C+. "It’s very hard for an individual to dial in the plan that’s going to be most beneficial to you," said Straub’s daughter, Lorna Bashara, who helped her mother. "It was like looking for a needle in a haystack."
(Cross posted over at TPMCafe, who’s blog on the subject is somewhat quietening down)