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WebMemo #mm6 on Health Care

July 21, 2003

Medicare Malady #6: 21 Papers to Medicare "Reform": Drop Dead

By

"Great politics. Lousy policy."

That's what the Sacramento Bee said about Medicare "reform" bills pending in Congress in a July 6 editorial-and it's not alone.

Across the country, 20 other major newspapers also have expressed doubts about the bills, now being hammered into one version by a Capitol Hill committee.

"They're going to cost a lot of money and ultimately disappoint seniors," the Chicago Tribune wrote June 15. Its rival, the Chicago Sun-Times, declared a few days later: "…the solution to our health care crisis will not come from adding to the bureaucracy, but by introducing streamlined practices and new ways of thinking."

Said the Kansas City Star: "It is easy to promise new government assistance. The hard part is figuring out how to pay for it." Meanwhile, The Washington Post said the best thing to do with the bills is to go "back to the drawing board." And New York's Daily News advised readers to "consult your local Congress member before swallowing this whole."

Not all the newspapers are conservative. Some are moderate, even liberal. In fact, their editorials sometimes disagreed on why the Medicare bills are flawed. But they can agree on this: These Medicare "reform" bills are a disaster and will cost taxpayers billions.

Read excerpts from the editorials below and see what major newspapers in your area are saying about these Medicare "reform" bills.

For more information or to receive an e-mail version of "Medicare Maladies," e-mail medicaremaladies@heritage.org or call Heritage Media Services at (202) 675-1761.

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What Newspapers are Saying About Medicare Reform
Compiled by The Heritage Foundation

Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Georgia)
"The nation cannot afford a massive prescription drug benefit to cover all Medicare beneficiaries. Indeed, it is not clear that the nation can afford the Medicare system already in place-especially when today's 50 year olds begin to retire en masse." - July 9, 2003

Buffalo News (New York)
"[W]ith the tsunami of baby boomer retirements gathering and the likelihood of a new prescription entitlement, anyone who values Medicare needs to start worrying about it now. . . . Without some kind of significant change Medicare will not be around to serve anyone." - July 7, 2003

Chicago Sun-Times (Illinois)
"Just as the breakthrough medicines of the past half century came, not from big government labs, but from private industry investment and research, so the solution to our health care crisis will not come from adding to the bureaucracy, but by introducing streamlined new practices and new ways of thinking." - June 11, 2003

Chicago Tribune (Illinois)
"The new prescription drug benefits for Medicare patients moving through the House and Senate have two things in common: They're going to cost a lot of money and ultimately disappoint many seniors." - June 15, 2003

Daily News (New York)
"Seniors interested in the proposed prescription drug plan should be aware that it's expensive and may have side effects. Consult your local Congress member before swallowing this whole. . . . Without real reforms, the plan will cause internal bleeding of the U.S. Treasury." - June 23, 2003

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)
"Politics aside, the question remains: Can the nation afford a new program costing $400 billion over 10 years? As it looks now, the answer is probably an emphatic 'No!'" - June 10, 2003

Kansas City Star (Missouri)
"It is easy to promise new government assistance. The hard part is figuring out how to pay for it. Unfortunately, President Bush and Congress haven't done that . . . Bush and Congress must put together a fiscal plan that involves more than simply pulling out Uncle Sam's credit card." - July 6, 2003

Newsday (New York)
"The proposals racing through the House and Senate this week are a mess. Unless they improve dramatically en route to passage, doing nothing would be better than enacting such flawed laws." - June 25, 2003

Orange County Register (California)
"Never mind that Republicans had previously committed themselves to dealing with the entitlements crisis, or that Republicans surely know better than most that the estimated 10-year, $400 billion cost of the new benefit is almost certain to be grossly low; it will win him votes, so Mr. Bush is all for it." - June 26, 2003

Philadelphia Inquirer (Pennsylvania)
"As the fiscal picture gets more and more terrifying, our leaders have gotten more and more profligate. The latest exercise in irresponsibility is the push to provide Medicare recipients with coverage for prescription drugs, a desirable benefit that no one has figured out how to pay for." - June 23, 2003

Rocky Mountain News (Colorado)
"The program will simply be a transfer of money from one age group to another. Meanwhile, the entitlement will be a damaging weight on the back of Medicare, an already wobbly program that needs restructuring if it is to survive intact." - June 11, 2003

Sacramento Bee (California)
"Great politics. Lousy policy. . . . This prescription drug bill is a small band-aid on a broken system." - July 6, 2003

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri)
"Politicians are likely to score big points with their constituents for creating buying clubs or adding drug coverage to Medicare. But for the many elderly seeking help with skyrocketing prescription drug costs, the benefits of these plans are likely to be considerably more modest." - June 22, 2003

The Courier-Journal (Kentucky)
"[I]n the name of solving a problem that's hurting about a quarter of the nation's elderly, Congress is headed toward paying a needlessly high price and engaging in a needlessly grandiose experiment, both of which could leave Medicare worse off rather than better. … America has moved no closer to - and perhaps even further away from - any realistic solution to its looming Medicare crisis." - June 30, 2003.

The Detroit News (Michigan)
"What's shaping up in the Senate is a wildly expensive new drug plan and very little in the way of reform. That path - motivated by presidential election politics rather than the long-term good of the country - will certainly lead to a bankrupting of Medicare and place an oppressive burden on the backs of future taxpayers." - June 16, 2003

The Houston Chronicle (Texas)
"Given the ruinous cost and poor design of the proposed prescription drug plans, politicians clearly are less concerned with physical or fiscal health than with inoculating themselves against electoral defeat." - June 26, 2003

The Plain Dealer (Ohio)
"And the biggest unintended consequence of these bills is that by driving out flexibility and pushing the private sector away, they would give seniors only one place to turn for their medical care: the federal government." - June 29, 2003

The San Francisco Chronicle (California)
"The refusal to look ahead at the costs and rules is dishonest. Over the next 30 years, the number of Medicare enrollees will double. The program's costs will double to 25 percent of the federal budget by 2025. What will the drug benefits cost long-term, and where will the money come from?" - June 17, 2003

The Washington Post (District of Columbia)
"…the responsible route would be back to the drawing board." - June 12, 2003

Times-Picayune (Louisiana)
"So while Medicare recipients deserve a sensible and comprehensive health plan, it's crucial to add prescription drug coverage in a way that doesn't jeopardize the nation's economic prospects in the future." - June 21, 2003

USA Today
"By adding a costly new benefit without updating the rest of the program, Congress is squandering the opportunity to address other needed changes." - June 11, 2003

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