August 03, 2006
Memo to Democrats: Medicare Drug Plan Actually Works

I've taken a dim view of the state Democrats' hack job website attacking Mike McGavick's Open Mike Tour. A large part of that dim view is based on the pathetic questions posed at the site, which I've already described as the policy versions of "when did you stop beating your wife?"

Take Question #3:

Why does Mike McGavick support President Bush's confusing prescription drug program and how does he intend to help Washington seniors get access to affordable medicines when President Bush and the Republican leadership won't allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices with pharmaceutical companies?

Give the Democrats credit, in one question they've packed in every myth about the Medicare Drug Benefit they can find. Too bad all of them are false.

A recent story in the Washington Post highlighting multiple independent studies noted "80 percent of people in Medicare drug plans were satisfied with their particular plan." But that wasn't the first time good news has been heard about the drug plan, though you wouldn't know it from Democrats.

A number of polls in the spring showed seniors overwhelmingly found the paperwork and signup process easy to complete, and that the program saved them money.

Democrats can't even get it straight on how the private sector competition in Medicare is saving money. Not only have costs to the federal government been lower than expected, and premiums for seniors cheaper than initial estimates, but it's happening because of competition, not government mandates. Specifically:

The drug plans competing for Medicare beneficiaries have been able to establish greater than expected cost savings from aggressive price negotiations, very low-cost coverage for generic drugs and less costly brand-name drugs, and other steps to keep drug costs down.

Oh.

The plan is by no means perfect, and no large government program is administered perfectly. But to believe Democrats, the Bush administration and pharmaceutical executives are simultaneously ripping seniors off while stealing the pill bottles out of the their dying hands.

Meanwhile, local Democrats continue to harp on the issue in defiance of recent news and facts. Today's Seattle Times quotes Darcy Burner as saying, "'Every senior we've talked to is completely frustrated with that program.'" Ever wonder why she thinks that?

Most likely because she's been hanging out with people like the Washington chapter of the Alliance for Retired Americans, the same group lauded thus at Horsesass in June when Congressman Dave Reichert wisely chose to pass on a forum hosted by the group:

It's a shame really, because this sounds like it would have been a wonderful opportunity for constituents to engage their representatives on these important issues, in a relatively nonpartisan setting.

Nonpartisan? Hah! Even the densest observer reading through the FAQ's at the Alliance's website, not to mention the list of unions that fund the group, can figure out their agenda. In case it's still a mystery, the main page at the website for information on Medicare and Prescription Drugs leads with, "Part D: What's Gone Wrong...Persistent problems continue to plague the floundering drug benefit."

On a personal note, I've dealt with this group before when I worked for Slade Gorton; at the time it was known as the Council of Senior Citizens . The politest way I can describe them is as a geriatric, slighter less vulgar - though equally rude - version of the commenters at Horse's Ass, plus they're all retired union hacks (meaning they're wildly open-minded).

These are the same people who used to look at me funny when I said most people my age don't rely on a pension for retirement (the idea of 401k's terrified them). If the Kossacks exemplify they new grassroots force in Democratic foreign policy thought, it's clowns like these that represent grassroots thought on Medicare: private companies = bad, government mandated handouts = good, actual policy facts = nowhere to be seen.

Inspiring.

UPDATE: description of the Council of Senior Citizens corrected.

Posted by Eric Earling at August 03, 2006 10:16 PM | Email This
Comments
1. this is one of the dumbest posts you've ever written. the bush administration is destroying medicare...just like they want to destroy social security.

I've read the lit, Eric. Your side doesn't believe in social programs. They've gotta be axed. Your side believes in concentrating wealth and power. Did I mention tax cuts for the wealthy and massive subsidies for super rich oil companies? More conservative policies that are unhealthy for our nation.

Why even bother writing something like this?

Posted by: mountolympus on August 3, 2006 10:23 PM
2. ...just like they want to destroy social security...
And this is a bad thing how, exactly?
Do you know how Social Security works, and what's going to happen to it in 30 years or so?
Here's a hint--it's not a big savings account you put money into and then get it back years later. Your money you pay NOW is going into your grandmother's SS check.
The big problem happens when the demographics of old age vs. younger working people shows that there are more people getting payouts than there are people who are paying in.
We could start to do something about the system now, or wait for a few decades when you retire and you get a pittance, or no money at all because there is not enough coming in to cover all the elderly eligible.

Posted by: pseudotsuga on August 3, 2006 10:39 PM
3. Mount -

Uh, if we believe in destroying Medicare, why did Republicans pass a drug benefit for which the staunchest fiscal conservatives have given the Bush administration a ton of grief?

Plus, before you characterize my side perhaps maybe you'd like to talk to my side about what we actually believe...instead of believing whatever "lit" you run across in liberal circles. Example: my posts here about Social Security have been about actually reforming the program to keep it intact, not the more radical, libertarian-style approach to disband the it all together and forgo the social compact that is now entrenched in our society.

I don't believe in concentrating wealth and power, I believe in empowering individuals with choices, not top-down government programs. Big difference.

Characterizing my beliefs as "your side" is like me pinning the beliefs expressed at DailyKos or MyDD on you, as if either of our "sides" is some sort of monolith. I might disagree with you, Mount, but I had until now given you credit for being more constructive than that.

Posted by: Eric Earling on August 3, 2006 10:48 PM
4. Admiral Eric! You just keelhauled ole mountocrap. Please continue to keep these pirates from stealing our bounty!

Thank You!

Posted by: GS on August 3, 2006 11:50 PM
5. When we toss an extra $1.2 Trillion bone to the group that was already getting more government money than any other, they sure as hell better be "satisfied".

To anyone who complains about medicare part D, I have a very simple message: I am more than happy to rescind it!

Posted by: David Wright on August 4, 2006 12:06 AM
6. Yes, it was a real revelation to me when i realized that my generation didn't really have a clue what pensions were all about, because we were busy happily putting money into our 401Ks, IRA's etc. and feeling cool about the fact that we could self-direct our investments. Pensions are from a different generation and fast becoming obsolete.

Posted by: Michele on August 4, 2006 12:07 AM
7. ..oh, and I also realized never to listen to Democrat complaints. About anything. Because they have proved over and over that they will never be happy. About anything. No matter how much you give them, or say etc etc. So just quit listening to them. It's a lost cause. Just do what you know to be right and quit looking over to see what they think, because they have made up their minds to be crabby and negative about everything. I personally couldn't live that way, and I'm sure as heck not gonna play my life to people who choose to live like that.

Posted by: Michele on August 4, 2006 12:10 AM
8. Michele, you are correct. The left is out of ideas, and the only thing they have left is their hatred of Dubya.

Posted by: Obi-Wan on August 4, 2006 06:19 AM
9. My favorite part is where Darcy Burner says that everyone they talked to is completely frustrated with the plan. Ain't that a Window in to Democrats. If they'd broaden their discussion with people outside of their Blue Cocoon, maybe they'd find that there are others with a different viewpoint.

They'll be sticking with the fierce rhetoric though because the reality is that any time competition is introduced into anything, and especially a formerly big and bulky government program, the results can't help but be good.

The only thing the Democrats have here to console them, is their own complaining.

Posted by: Jeff B. on August 4, 2006 07:40 AM
10. mountolympus obviously failed economics and civics. Please come back when you've completed the 8th grade.

Posted by: H Moul on August 4, 2006 07:55 AM
11. Jeff,

It makes perfect sense that "everyone" they talk to is frustrated with the plan. Say you ask people to rate the plan on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being it's absolutely worthless, untenable, unusable, and 10 being you don't have to lift a finger, everything just happens without thinking or doing.

Anyone rating it less than a 10 must have SOME problem with the system - I mean, they actually have to fill out a form, or do SOMETHING to get their benefit. Thus the system could be "improved", meaning that they must be dissatisfied.

See? Just have to look at it the right way...;)

Posted by: Edmonds Dan on August 4, 2006 09:13 AM
12. Mount, do you even realize that social security is near bankruptcy? Let's face it, social security, like other liberal programs, is a dismal failure. It never took in account for things like the baby boomers era. As for your statement about tax cuts for the rich, I am tired of hearing that falsehood. When the tax cuts came out every married member of the armed forces received a major tax cut. It reduced my taxable income while I was in the military by about $1500 a month and I am sure you are aware that there are not alot of rich folk running around the military. You also mentioned that the tax cuts are "unhelathy for the country", yet we have had the largest economic increase in the last 20 years (the Reagan Years) with these tax cuts.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on August 4, 2006 09:27 AM
13. TrueSoldier is right....the truth of the Bush tax cuts is that the ones on the lowest tax bracket got the highest percentage cut. And that's just a fact. But a fact that Dems never mentioned, because it did not fit in with their agenda to confuse people. Frankly, those at the top bracket got a pathetic percentage cut compared with the lowest bracket. That's a fact, too, but the Dems didn't really feel like mentioning that, either.

Posted by: Michele on August 4, 2006 09:51 AM
14. The Dems comments about Part D being confusing and difficult is hogwash. There is assistance all over the place, making it REALLY to get the deed done. Almost all pharmacists are working hard to work up analyses of different plans based on medications taken, so that good decisions can be made on which plan to use. The sign up process by phone is rather lengthy, but very, very easy. And if the persons signing up are really elderly, deaf, confused, etc., their children can, after a verbal authorization, speak for them on this phone interview to sign them up, which is what I did. I don't understand the beef. The process for both my parents and me was pleasant and done in one day. I guess the moonbats just have to make stuff up to bolster their whining.

Posted by: katomar on August 4, 2006 11:36 AM
15. My guess is that the Dems are quoting the same elderly folks in Florida who had problems voting in the 2000 election.

Posted by: TrueSoldier on August 4, 2006 11:42 AM
16. I can see it now...

The Demorat's take over...it's thirty years down the road... they have taxed every penny they can extract from us and it still is not enough. What will they do...what will they ever do?

Can anyone say "positive eugenics,"... as Margaret Sanger founder of Planned Parenthood has suggested? Ms. Sanger, hero of the Demorat cause, has advocated eliminating the unfit, the "weeds overrunning the human garden"; the segregation of "the morons, misfits and maladjusted"; and the sterilization of "genetically inferior races." Ms. Sanger also stated that "caring for such weeds, destine to become a burden to themselves, to their families and ultimately to the nation," is not cost effective.

Positive Eugenics looks like the logical conclusion for those that may become "obsolete" in the eye of the DEMORAT'S!!!


Posted by: Pacific Grove Phlash on August 4, 2006 11:49 AM
17. It is easy to explain - she has her campaign workers ask people ahead of time, then a second team brings her to the people that answer the question 'correctly' so that she can ask them. Now everyone she askes hate the system.

Selecting your population properly allows for any answer youso desire.

Posted by: Fred on August 4, 2006 11:50 AM
18. "Selecting your population properly allows for any answer you so desire."

LOL. Yes, Fred. Just talk to Fidel Castro or Saddam Hussein right now. Actually, maybe Darcy has taken a cue from their tyrannical playbooks on how to interpret surveys and such.

Posted by: ferrous on August 4, 2006 12:34 PM
19. Something I was reading made me want to look up presidential election results. While doing that, I noticed that D.C. has voted Democrat by margins of between 75% to 89% since 1964. Who you talk to is as important as what you talk about. If only D.C. residents were polled about something that also impacted all of, say, Virginia - do you think the answers may be less representative?

Posted by: SouthernRoots on August 4, 2006 01:29 PM
20. You obviously don't know what you are talking about.
1. Pharma raised prices in anticipation of the start of the plan.
2. The Doughnut Hole is forcing the elderly into a situation as difficult as when they did not have a Part D.
3. If 80 percent are satisfied--questionable in light of the timing of a spin that typifies this Administration--that means 20 percent are not satisfied.
4. The fact is that prescriptions from outside the U.S. (from licensed registered pharmacies) are still less than Part D. The Congress of California Seniors has a new site that provides savings of as high as 42 percent--and there is no deductible, no premiums, no Doughnut Hole.
5. Even with the FDA and Pharma acting in collusion to seize legally prescribed medicines from outside the U.S. (and don't pull the old tired saw that such prescriptions are illegal...they are not because law allows up to a 90-day order if a prescription drug is unavailable in the U.S., and my contention is that a medicine that is overpriced is not safe, affordable or available...)both the House and Senate have overwhelmingly voted to stop such seizures in the name of 'national security.'

So, if you'd like the facts, visit my site at http://www.TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com...

Posted by: Daniel Hines on August 4, 2006 02:21 PM
21. Daniel: Given a choice between the current part D benefit and no part D benefit (i.e. the situation 2 years ago), which would you choose?

Yes, I know you want the third alternative of an improved part D benefit, but I'm asking you for a binary judgement between the two policies which have really existed, not a comparsion between reality and a fantasy in which you have wished away all the problems and compromises of the real world. So which do you prefer: the part D benefit that exists today or the no part D benefit that existed two years ago?

Posted by: David Wright on August 4, 2006 03:04 PM
22. Guess it's not as perfect as planned.

http://www.senate.gov/~levin/newsroom/release.cfm?id=251091

I am sure GoPharmawhores shut this down.

PS Does the plan cover any re-attachments for self hating jews like Stephan? I guess he is counting on being one of the converted for the Bushco Armagedon. Thanks George.

Posted by: danw on August 4, 2006 03:22 PM
23. Uh, speaking of partisan outfits...the source of information for Eric's post is a press release from the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Uh, call me a wild-eyed skeptic, but isn't it a bad idea to rely on the federal bureaucracy to evaluate its own performance?

Eric, I'm sure you can do better than this. This report should at least have been laundered through some nominally-independent think tank before being posted on Sound Politics.

Posted by: John A. on August 4, 2006 04:33 PM
24. oops--posted too fast and did not click through to the WaPo article. My bad, Eric.

Posted by: John A. on August 4, 2006 05:10 PM
25. A fundamental question that seems to never get asked, is why should my tax dollars go to pay for someone's medicine?

Posted by: Obi-Wan on August 5, 2006 10:59 AM
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