President Clinton's Mythical Medical Reforms



American history is littered with mythical tall tales, from the adventures of Paul Bunyan to the exploits of Pecos Bill. While these stories have never really been taken seriously, there are other, more recent myths to which all seniors should pay close attention.

     They are being told by the White House, and they are related to Medicare reform. A few months ago, President Clinton proposed the inclusion of a government-administered prescription drug plan in Medicare. Aside from the tremendous impact such a plan would have on the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund, it is also likely to displace millions of seniors from their current prescription drug coverage. In defense of its plan, however, the White House has spread three myths:
     First, it has claimed that the plan would be “voluntary.” That is, seniors would be allowed to retain any coverage they currently carry. 
     Second, the White House has contended that its coverage plan would provide better prescription drug coverage for all seniors.
     Finally, it has argued that this new universal entitlement is affordable and would not bankrupt Medicare.
     While many have been led to believe that the White House plan is the perfect cure for the ailing Medicare system, the facts behind the myths point to a drastically different conclusion. By debunking the myths of the Clinton prescription drug plan, we can demonstrate how and why this is the case.

Myth #1:
Enrollment in the White House Prescription Drug Plan is “Voluntary.”

     Nearly seven out of 10 seniors already have quality prescription drug coverage. Under the President’s proposed reforms, however, these seniors would be effectively forced to give up their current coverage and enroll in a big government plan. All the experts agree that the Clinton plan is hardly voluntary. See for yourself:

bulletA study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers in September 1999 indicated that up to 75 percent of retirees with employer-sponsored coverage, or some 9 million seniors, could be forced out of their current prescription drug plans and into a bureaucratic, government-administered coverage plan;
bulletThe Clinton Administration itself admits that millions of seniors will be required to become a part of its “voluntary” prescription coverage plan;
bulletHealth Care Financing Administration (HCFA) Deputy Administrator Michael Hash said in recent congressional testimony that 80 percent of seniors would be included in the White House’s “voluntary” coverage plan. 

     The Clinton Administration has also claimed that seniors would choose the proposed government-run prescription drug plan over their current coverage plans. However, a national survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies told a very different story. An overwhelming 82 percent of respondents indicated that they would rather “retain their current coverage” than “switch their prescription coverage to the Clinton Medicare prescription drug plan.” 
     Seniors around the country have resoundingly spoken out in favor of the right to keep their current coverage and not be forced to accept coverage under a big-government plan. No one should be forced to forfeit his or her quality prescription drug plans for a bureaucratic government plan. Keep this in mind: the Clinton plan can’t possibly be voluntary because it takes away seniors’ choices to begin with!

Myth #2:
The White House Plan Will Provide Better Prescription Coverage for All Seniors.

    The Clinton Administration had argued that seniors would opt for its proposed plan because it would offer better prescription drug coverage to all Medicare beneficiaries. However, how can a one-size-fits-all, bureaucratic, big-government plan possibly replace and improve upon the quality coverage most seniors already have? 
     Rather than allowing them the flexibility that their current coverage plans provide, the Clinton plan will:

bulletPlace seniors into cookie-cutter prescription coverage that may not address their medical needs.
bulletPut important medical decisions into the hands of a Washington bureaucrat instead of where they belong— with you and your doctor.
bulletResult in the substitution of seniors’ current prescription medicines. In an effort to save money, experts agree that a government-administered plan would force doctors to prescribe cheaper and older substitute medicines, rather than newer and more effective, cutting-edge drugs.

     With government bureaucrats in charge and seniors left in a one-size-fits-all government plan, will the White House plan truly provide better prescription drug coverage for all Medicare beneficiaries? 

Myth #3:
We Can Afford the White House Plan.

     The Clinton Administration has estimated that its prescription drug plan will cost approximately $10 billion each year for the next 10 years. However, its calculations end there—in 2009—when most of the Baby Boomers will just be reaching retirement age. The Administration’s projections fail to take into account the additional strain that these new seniors may put on the entire system. Here are some questions to consider about the economics of the Clinton plan:
     How will we pay for this plan after 2009, and why has the Clinton Administration failed to provide the public with estimates beyond that date? 

     Can the Medicare Trust Fund, which was supposed to go bankrupt sometime within the next few years, truly handle this additional prescription drug benefit?
     Can we trust HCFA’s figures? Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-GA) recently noted the agency’s tendency to “guess” when it came to projections such as these. Who will pay the price if they are wrong?
     By providing a universal entitlement that gives all seniors big-government prescription coverage whether they want it or not, the Clinton Administration may bankrupt Medicare within the next few years. Rather than addressing the needs of those seniors who don’t already have prescription drug coverage, the White House plan will effectively force virtually everyone into a one-size-fits-all plan. 

    The White House plan is even more absurd when one considers the additional burden it will place on the American taxpayer. Employers are almost sure to drop the prescription coverage they currently provide for their retirees if the president’s proposal becomes law. But the Clinton Administration already knew this, so they’re asking taxpayers to foot the bill for subsidies they intend to give to businesses so that they will continue to provide prescription coverage for their employees and retirees. This means that under the White House plan, taxpayers will be asked to pay billions of dollars so corporations can do something they already do for free! The White House plan represents fiscal irresponsibility at its worse and should be curtailed before seniors start to suffer the consequences.
     Like the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the Clinton coverage plan is nothing but trouble underneath the deceivingly angelic rhetoric. By debunking the three myths that have been spread by the Administration in support of its prescription drug benefit, seniors can better ensure that they will keep government where it belongs—out of their medicine cabinets.

John Powell is the Vice President of Government Relations




                                                                Legislation Return                                 Top Return
                                                      Legislation Return                   Top Return