March 23, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Crumbling Medicare Foundation will Topple with Addition of Drug Benefit
Washington, D.C. -- The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons issued the following statement by Executive Director, Jane M. Orient, M.D., at a news conference today at the National Press Club in Washington:
“The fact is that the handwriting is on the wall. You can read it for yourselves in the 2004 report of the Medicare Trustees. Medicare has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. The gap between income and expenditures will increase progressively, and the trust fund will be exhausted long before the baby boomers retire.
“Now that the prescription drug benefit has passed and political deceptions are replaced with more realistic estimates, the cost is expected to surpass a trillion dollars – not the “mere” $400 billion price tag slapped on taxpayers at passage.
“The truth is that Medicare was built on an unsound foundation and straddles a major fault. The foundation is crumbling, and the building is about to be hit by a major earthquake, the demographic dislocation of baby boomer retirement.
“Instead of fixing the foundation, Congress has just remodeled and added a second- and third-story, and allowed a few private sector contractors work on the project through HSAs. But the structure will now collapse even sooner, and the private sector will be blamed by those who wanted to add a fourth story and higher drug benefit. And Medicare’s collapse will destroy the rest of the medical system.
“Medicare is a pyramid scheme founded on deceit. Seniors think they have paid for their benefits. In reality, current workers are paying for them and in addition must bear the brunt of the cost shifting and price inflation caused by Medicare.
“It is time to admit that we cannot repair the Medicare building and to shift our attention to the people trapped inside. Medicare traps patients and those who care for them into government dependency. We must immediately allow people who are able to do so to escape from Medicare. This will help to unload the stresses on the system.
“The AARP claims that the new benefits aren’t enough and that more discounts are needed. But how much is the AARP raking in on its discount drug program? And how much of those savings is it passing along to millions of seniors?
“The drug companies are the pariah du jour for politicians. But it’s easy to point fingers and simplify the issue into a 30-second tv spot instead of taking the big steps to fix a complex problem. “The numbers in the Trustees Report tell us that Congress should delay implementation of provisions of the new act scheduled to go into after this July.”