Rep. Ron Paul, M.D., a lifetime member of AAPS, issued the following statement regarding passage of H.R. 1, the Medicare Reform bill, including prescription drug coverage:
“HillaryCare, Republican Style”
By Rep. Ron Paul, M.D.
In a late-night vote last week, the
Republican congress managed to do what Hillary Clinton and Ted Kennedy tried to
do ten years ago: take the next big step toward socialized medicine in
Seniors have been terribly misled
about this new Medicare scheme. The essence of the new plan is government
control. Government will play an even greater role in deciding what drugs
seniors get, how doctors and pharmacies are paid, how private medical
information is distributed, and what drug companies benefit most. The plan
In order to participate, seniors must choose between staying in traditional Medicare and joining an HMO/PPO organization. This means either a federal bureaucrat or a nominally private-sector bureaucrat will decide what drugs will be available. Both Medicare and HMO bureaucrats inevitably will be forced to control costs, because the demand for subsidized drugs will be unlimited. They will do so by rationing drugs, especially expensive drugs. Bureaucrats may even go so far as to forbid seniors from using their own money to buy Medicare-covered drugs, just as Medicare rules now prohibit use of private funds to buy unapproved health-care services.
Medicare bureaucrats also will seek to pay pharmacies as little as possible for drugs, just as they now pay doctors as little as possible for services. Many doctors refuse to take Medicare patients, and now many pharmacies might follow suit. So in addition to the inevitable drug rationing, seniors will have fewer doctors and pharmacies to choose from.
The majority of seniors who like the private drug coverage they already have are the biggest losers in the new scheme. It provides a perverse incentive for private plans to dump seniors into the government plan, and some companies with large numbers of retirees have already announced their intention to do so. The Joint Economic Committee estimates that nearly 40% of private plans will stop providing prescription drug coverage because of the new Medicare plan. This number is sure to skyrocket as the cost of providing health care rises, and companies look to pass off the high costs of health care for their retired employees.
Pharmaceutical companies are the
biggest winners under the new plan. Demand for drugs will rise, as our
already overmedicated seniors will be happy to pass the cost off onto younger
taxpayers. Large drug makers will become virtual partners with government,
lobbying to make sure their drugs are part of the new system. Those drugs
will continue to cost much more in the
Taxpayers certainly can't afford an expansion of Medicare. Economists estimate the new program will cost between 3 and 4 trillion dollars over time, all financed by payroll taxes. Even as the added drug coverage makes Medicare more expensive, more seniors than ever will be herded into the program. This new strain on taxpayers will be especially acute when the large Baby Boomer generation retires and younger workers are expected to pay the bills.
A better approach would utilize Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) to provide flexibility and choice. Medicare monies could be placed in tax-free savings accounts and used by individual seniors as they see fit to buy prescription drugs, visit the doctor, or buy special services like mammograms. MSAs allow consumers to make their own choices by eliminating the federal middleman. But even this compromise approach means giving individuals control over tax dollars, which bureaucrats hate to do.
Drug rationing, fewer choices, bureaucracy, subsidies, and a declining quality of health care- these are the hallmarks of government medicine.
More from Rep. Paul at www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2003/tst063003.htm
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