Obama Eyes Medicare Part D

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President Obama wants to severely wound the most successful government entitlement program and thereby undermine freedom of choice while putting at risk new biopharmaceutical research.

Even though he and many Democrats won’t face the reality of the foreboding bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security entitlement behemoths, Obama wants to make mincemeat of the prescription drug plan for seniors. That plan is known as Medicare Part D. What makes it so noxious to ultra-liberals is that it employs the power of the marketplace, “not top-down central planning,” as Grace-Maria Turner, president of the Galen Institute, puts it.

Another reason the prescription drug program gets under Obama’s thin skin is that it was George W. Bush’s idea and was enacted in 2003 under the Bush administration. It is so irritating to lefties because it “is providing unprecedented access and cost savings on medicines to over 29 million Medicare beneficiaries,” according to a July 2011 analysis by the Battelle Memorial Institute. Battelle is the largest international research and development organization. It is based in Cincinnati.

“Enrollees are overwhelmingly satisfied with their coverage” with an 84 percent satisfaction rate. However, the Part D plan was controversial when first enacted — It was feared its costs would exceed early estimates as is typical of federal government programs. Instead “average beneficiary Part D premiums in 2011 are 43 percent below original projections. The average monthly Part D coverage will be $30 in 2011, far below the $53 forecast originally, and an increase of only $1 over the 2010 average premium of $29,” said the Battelle study. A fact almost unheard of in these times of soaring health costs.

Medicare Part D offers subsidies to seniors which they can use to buy prescription plans from private companies, which compete for their business. The private plans have varying costs and work in ways from which seniors can choose. And they cover a large number of different drugs as needed by seniors. “The competition,” Turner explains, “create more choices for seniors with plans constantly forced to balance costs with providing the broadest coverge possible.”

The number of people enrolled in Part D has been rising steadily, from 11.6 million in 2005 to 27.6 million last year. Typically, the insurance companies offering prescription drug coverge plans negotiate with drug companies and pharmacies for the lowest prices. By getting bulk discounts, they can get lower prices for the drugs.

Price controls on medications is a public-policy threat, according to Kenneth C. Frazier, president and CEO of Merck & Co, pharmaceutical company. In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal July 13, he wrote Part D “is a successful program” which has allowed seniors “to have comprehensive drug coverage at a cost that is 50 percent below initial projections.” He cites the Battelle study showing that each job in the biopharmaceutical industry supports about 5.95 additional jobs in the economy. So each job lost has a large impact. He said the policy proposed by the Administration and some in Congress would result in 130,000 to 260,000 lost jobs, as cited in the Battelle analysis.

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  • Marilyn Heatb

    I believe anyone who thinks Obama doesn’t know what he is doing
    are also in the dark. Google “Cloward Piven” & you will understand
    why we are sinking so fast.

  • geez

    The fact is Obama will always give out pain pills to anyone 70 years and older, that's really all they need according to dictator Obama. I say his usefulness is over in 2012, we can't afford anymore of his communist idea's and values.

  • Chezwick_mac

    Believe it or not, the unfunded liabilities from Bush's prescription drug subsidy for seniors exceed the unfunded liabilities of social security. Just go to USdebtclock.org and look at bottom of page.

    Just like with every other social program, good intentions ran up against the ugly reality of dollars and cents. The entitlement age is over, we just haven't accepted it yet.

  • pyeatte

    Hopefully the Congress can stop the Obama insanity or at least slow it down until we can vote this character out of office. The left just wants to get control of everyones lives. That a corrupt bunch of thugs – just never forget it.

  • Tanstaafl

    If it works, break it. The obaminions have to break everything,

  • Palin

    Part D has been a cash cow for insurance companies and big drug companies. After four years on four different plans I still pay more and get little in return. I generally go in the donut hole after 3 months and then pay for everything until the end of the year. I also pay insurance premiums for those 9 months and get NOTHING in return. If I stop–I get a permanent government penalty. Who came up with this insidious plan?

    Premiums rise each year, drugs are limited by plan and tiers, co-pays and deductibles are up, drug prices are up and even getting 50% for some in the donut hole is a game where prices and co-pays just rise to offset any real cost to insurance companies.

    My wife goes in the donut hole after one month. Her prescriptions run about $1500 a month. So she can get some benefit due to her serious health condition. Part D is good for persons with no health problems or others with catastrophic problems. There's little for those of us in the middle.

    One example: My wife had uncontrolled vomiting for days. From the Dr's office we went to the drugstore with a prescription. Denied by the insurance company. The pharmacist said I could file a written appeal and get an answer in about a week. She continued vomiting, we still pay the premiums–NO Drug was received as prescribed by the Dr. and rejected by the insurance company. What a political nightmare!

    I watch countless seniors walk away from the drugstore refusing to pay the high prices on some drugs. They stop taking meds. Is this part of Part D?? Too many seniors are getting poor or no service with the plan written by the drug companies and passed by Bush supporters. What idiot says this is the best plan ever sponsored by the government. It's obvious they are spewing the party line or never relied on Part D for help.

    At present I get free drugs from the drug company because my income is not high enough to buy their meds. I also get FREE mrds from Publix food store such as metformin and lisinopril–now that's a public service that NO government or insurance company could match because they skim the profits for their own benefit. Part D might have some benefit if you can remove the insurance companies and drug manufacturers. Both of these outfits are making obscene profits and pay great salaries to selected people. Most drugs are made in foreign countries. Think about what is really behind Part D before you conclude mindlessly that it is the best thing since sliced cheese!