The Medicare Drug War Escalates: Bush Opens Up a New Front -- Comprehensive Reform
Publication Date: September 2000
Publisher(s): Cato Institute
Author(s): Tom Miller
On September 5, Governor George W. Bush unveiled his Medicare prescription drug benefit proposal, and he couldn't "just say no" to subsidized Medicare drugs. However, compared to an earlier plan offered by Vice President Albert Gore, the Bush approach is more targeted, more flexible, and less costly. It is structured to fit within his broader proposal to comprehensively overhaul and modernize the current Medicare program as a whole.
Most important, the new Bush plan moves the stagnant Medicare debate away from simply pouring more money into an antiquated benefits structure and remaining oblivious to competing national priorities and the growing tax burden on working Americans. It shifts the focus to the key Medicare issues of beneficiary choice, long-term program sustainability, and overall health care quality.
Like all presidential campaign proposals, more legislative details would need to be fleshed out to analyze the likely consequences of the Bush initiative. Not surprisingly, the rhetoric of the Republican candidate's plan outruns its sketchy substance. The Bush proposal stops well short of the full market-oriented restructuring of Medicare that remains ahead. Nevertheless, it may help reignite the drive to liberate seniors from inadequate health care choices, free health care professionals from oppressive regulatory complexity, ease the mounting tax burden on younger workers, and providing hope for future generations.
The Bush plan would cost an estimated $ 158 billion over 10 years. The Gore plan would cost an estimated $ 253 billion over 10 years. Based on past history for Medicare program expansions, either scheme is likely to cost much more in practice.
Bush would deliver Medicare drug coverage in two doses.