• Heritage Action
  • Heritage Libertad
  • More
WebMemo #04-07 on Health Care

February 21, 2007

Medicare Malady #04-07: Making a Mess of the Medicare Drug Coverage

By

John O'Shea doesn't play a doctor on TV. He is one - a Harvard educated surgeon with first-hand experience in dealing with Medicare.

His memo to the Senate about proposals to have the Medicare bureaucracy "negotiate" drug prices is must-reading for those who care about the quality of health care provided through the Great Society program. If you think everything will be just fine once the government starts "negotiating," O'Shea writes, just take a look at how well Medicare has "negotiated" the cost of various medical procedures for doctors - and what it means for patient treatment.

"When Medicare was enacted in 1965, Congress statutorily prohibited government from interference in the practice of medicine," O'Shea notes. But that prohibition has been "largely ignored." Today Medicare imposes a complex and cumbersome pricing system covering more than 7,000 physician services. The result: coverage does not always extend to new, more effective treatments; patient access to doctors is compromised, and still costs increase.

Medicare coverage of prescription drugs will deteriorate in similar fashion, O'Shea warns, if Congress insists on making bureaucrats determine which drugs the program will cover, at what prices. Look for higher prices, less quality and more bureaucracy. "As senators weigh the merits of such an approach, they should keep in mind that the Medicare physician payment system...is a mess," O'Shea writes. "It should serve as a warning."

To read more about the dangers of letting government "negotiate" Medicare drug prices, click here.

For more information or to receive an e-mail version of "Medicare Maladies," contact medicaremaladies@heritage.org or call Heritage Media Services at (202) 675-1761. ("Medicare Maladies" is a regular feature, first launched in 2003 and revived in 2007, from The Heritage Foundation. Sad to say, there's another malady coming your way soon. Other "maladies" are also available on heritage.org.)

Heritage's daily Morning Bell e-mail keeps you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.


The subscription is free and delivers you the latest conservative policy perspectives on the news each weekday--straight from Heritage experts.


The Morning Bell is your daily wake-up call offering a fresh, conservative analysis of the news.


More than 450,000 Americans rely on Heritage's Morning Bell to stay up to date on the policy battles that affect them.


Rush Limbaugh says "The Heritage Foundation's Morning Bell is just terrific!"


Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) says it's "a great way to start the day for any conservative who wants to get America back on track."


Sign up to start your free subscription today!