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Medicare Drug Benefit Package Almost Double the Cost

Sad to say, I wasn't at all surprised to read the tab for the Medicare drug benefit passed two years ago by Congress will almost double from the original $400 billion to some $720 billion. Of course, the feds claim the numbers aren't comparable, partly because the start date of the benefit package has shifted from 2004 to 2006 and two extra years are included.

To frame this underreporting in a clearer perspective, one table shows the cost of the drug benefit amounting to $345 billion alone from 2005-10. Wow!

Because the Medicare package just squeaked by in the House by five votes, pundits believe the higher figure could spark a political uproar in Congress. Conservatives, who were already very concerned about rising Medicare costs, probably wouldn't have voted for it had they thought costs would exceed $500 billion.

What really makes my blood boil is the "hidden benefit" extended by the current administration to drug companies that stand to gain with taxpayers -- meaning you and me -- holding the bag. No wonder, pharmaceutical companies spent $135 million to lobby for the bill. Not surprising, several Congressmen were angered over last week's announcement that Medicare would cover lifestyle drugs like Viagra and Levitra, toxic, useless products that can hurt your health.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said it best: "I told you so. We can't trust numbers provided by administration officials. And if the new drug benefit costs more, the extra money goes to their friends in the pharmaceutical industry, not to senior citizens."

Can anyone honestly say that when the federal government gets involved, they ever wind up spending less money than they had planned?

I predicted, more than a year ago, the price tag for this drug bill was going to cost far more than the government initially claimed. And for what purpose? Perhaps, the noble goal of improving the health of our senior citizens? Guess again!

This expansion is "a prescription" for disaster. Another socialized medical system will only repeat the Medicare catastrophe we already have. The only solution is to change the entire system. If we don't, drug companies will continue to extract hundreds of billions of dollars from our economy with virtually no benefit -- other than making themselves richer.

That's why I'm so focused on replacing the existing health care paradigm, addicted to drugs and quick-fix "cures," for one that treats the true causes of disease, instead of the symptoms, and builds optimal health.

New York Times February 9, 2005

Spartanburg Herald Journal February 9, 2005

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