Bait and switch: How the government cons US

Published 15 years ago -  - 15y ago 36


Late last month the Bush administration announced that the Medicare prescription drug benefit the president signed into law just two months ago would cost not the $400 billion for the first ten years as originally estimated but $534 billion. In short, a majority of members in both houses of Congress voted for a new senior citizen entitlement, the cost of which was grossly underestimated.

One Republican senator, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, wants a $400 billion cap on the drug benefit. In addition, he said he would not have voted for the original bill if the price tag had been $534 billion.

Given the Bush administration’s new estimates of the prescription drug benefit, shouldn’t members of Congress demand a revote of the bill inasmuch as the original “terms and conditions” of the $400 billion cost is no longer valid?

Could you imagine the national uproar if an automobile dealer or manufacturer pulled this stunt? If you signed a contract for an automobile that had factory and/or dealer installed options, and when the time came to pick up the vehicle, the dealer said, by the way, the price of the car and the options are now 30% higher, you would be outraged. And rightfully so. Congress in its righteous indignation would issue subpoenas of the automobile company executives faster than you could say SUV.

Members of Congress have a moral obligation to the American people as their representatives to the federal government to review the prescription drug issue benefit. Congress should demand all the notes and reports the Bush administration has on the prescription drug issue. Did the administration deliberately lowball the cost of the prescription drug issue to get it off the table for the 2004 election?

We will see if members of Congress are working for the American people, or are they playing politics as usual with the American people’s money to expand the welfare state at the expense of the long-term financial health of the country? We will see who in Congress exhibits “profiles in courage”, given the egregious way the prescription drug bill was presented to the people’s representatives.

Instead of revisiting the bill to vote on the new estimated costs, some members of Congress have expressed interest in “lowering drug costs”. One method would be to conduct “bulk price purchasing”. This would allow the federal government to use its “buying power” to negotiate lower drug prices. In the future, don’t be surprised if the federal government imposes some form of drug price controls, especially after the baby boomers begin to retire in a few years, and the costs of providing drug benefits to them skyrocket. Then, we will see the unintended consequences of a federal drug benefit–rationing, premature deaths, and scrambling overseas to get lower priced medicines.

By creating a federal government prescription drug benefit, the federal government will impose more and more controls on this industry as time goes by. Just as the federal government showered physicians with money when Medicare and Medicaid was passed in 1965, physicians have seen their practices become subsidiaries of the federal government’s healthcare bureaucracy.

More than ever we need economic freedom in healthcare as we do in other areas of our society. Government is incompetent in “managing” any sector of the economy. If the current trend of more government spending, ballooning budget deficits, onerous regulation and monetary debasement continues, our living standards will grow very slowly, at best.

Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”

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