July 12, 2004

July 12, 2004 | WebMemo on Health Care

Bitter Pills #12: Can You See The Big Picture in Medicare Spending?

If you can, you know that the problem is more than just the recent drug entitlement.

"Indeed, the emerging Medicare crisis is reflective of the larger problem-failure by Congress to reform and restructure federal entitlement programs," writes Heritage Foundation health care expert Robert Moffit in a recent online research paper.

Case in point: The U.S. debt is $7 trillion - or about $24,000 for every man, woman and child in the country, according to Comptroller General David Walker. But, Walker notes, this figure doesn't count the unfunded promises Congress has made over the years through entitlement programs. Last year's Medicare drug benefit alone added $8 trillion in unfunded liability to the debt. When all such unfunded promises are added up, the debt is $42 trillion or $140,000 for every person in America. That means for a family of four, the debt is $560,000 -

the cost of a nice house (or two) in some parts of the country. But don't put out that "for sale" sign just yet. Moffit offers solutions to help contain spending costs, at least for Medicare, here:

For more information or to receive an e-mail version of "Bitter Pills," contact chris.kennedy@heritage.org or call Heritage Media Services at (202) 675-1761.

"Bitter Pills" is an occasional, but regular, feature from The Heritage Foundation on how the 2003 Medicare drug law is full of sickening "surprises" that have serious consequences for seniors and taxpayers. Of course, The Heritage Foundation isn't surprised at all. We diagnosed the problems long ago in ourMedicare Maladies series. Both Medicare Maladies and Bitter Pills are available on heritage.org (if you can stomach them).

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