A Leap Toward Socialized Medicineby One Vote
By Scott Holleran
June 27, 2003
night Congress approved President Bush's expansion of Medicare by
one vote. Once Bush signs the bill, every American over age 65 will
lose the freedom to choose, pay for and control drug treatments. The
proposal, set to start in three years, is a plan only Hillary
Clinton could love.
In fact, its
core premisemedical treatment controlled by the stateis an
exact application of the Clinton health care philosophy. The
similarity is not lost on the Clinton administration's former
Medicare administrator, Nancy-Ann DeParle, who told the Washington
Post: "Democrats should do everything they can to whisk [the
Medicare bill] to [Bush's] desk. In signing it, as he will surely be
forced to do, he will preside over the biggest expansion of
government health benefits since the Great Society."
conservative Heritage Foundation, which rarely opposes any Bush
administration notion, opposed the Medicare reform. Heritage called
it "an unforgivable failure of leadership." The conservative
newspaper Human Events, labeled the GOP-backed bills "fiscally and
denounced Bush and the GOP too late. Both House and Senate versions
of the bill control the cost and distribution of drugs for older
Americansthree quarters of whom already have private drug
coverageand grant government the power to define what drugs are
acceptable for seniors and how much they will cost.
their own private coverage are likely to lose it. The government's
Congressional Budget Office estimates that 37 percent of all the
nation's employers will eliminate their retired employees' drug
benefits. The real percentage is probably much higher.
health care for older Americans is, in a certain sense, Medicare's
destiny; it had to happen. In 1965, on the premise that health care
is a right, government forced doctors and hospitals to treat
everyone over age 65 by rates and standards determined by the state
while preserving a patients' right to choose his or her doctor.
Predictably, with health care for seniors subsidized, patients and
doctors used medicine more than necessary, driving costs up. Over
the years, socialized medicine for seniors has completely distorted
the market in medicine.
Bush and the
GOP-controlled Congress have abandoned the free market approachprotecting free choice by gradually eliminating subsidized health
care for seniorsbecause it has been deemed politically
impossible. Instead, Bush's Medicare bill lets bureaucrats control
how, when, whereand whetherolder Americans receive treatment.
bill puts to rest the notion that Bush and today's Republicans are
seriously opposed to government-run health care. As one Republicanquoted in an Associated Press storyput it: "We just caved."
Bush's handpicked Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, recently
proclaimed: "What we do . . . will affect every American." Frist is
right: what he's done will make practicing and receiving medicine
Bush, who has broken promises on everything from expanding medical
savings accounts (MSAs) to opposing campaign finance reform, is
advancing government-controlled health care faster than Hillary
Clinton. As the New York Times described Bush's encouragement of the
Medicare bill, "[Bush] has signaled, repeatedly, [his] willingness
to compromise on . . . free market principles."
President's latest compromise makes Bush the nation's foremost
advocate of state-run health carewhich, for every American,
means less choice, higher costs and one huge step toward socialized
Scott Holleran is a health care correspondent and commentator. Holleran was a
campaign aide and congressional assistant to House Labor, Health and
Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman
Rep. John Porter, (R, IL,). Holleranís articles have been published
in the Wall Street Journal, Silicon Valley Business
Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Los Angeles Times.
Copyright © 2003 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.
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