« Time to pay a little more attention to China | Main | Rumors abound! »

Is the Medicare Bill Really Almost Done?

It's pretty rare that Robert Pear of the New York Times misses a story on federal social or health policy. He's been on that beat forever, everyone knows him, he's the first person they call when they want to put something out. But his story on progress on the Medicare prescription drug legislation is flatly contradicted by the Washington Post:

Congress Strikes a Tentative Deal on Drug Benefits (NY Times)

Medicare Proposal Outlined (washingtonpost.com)

Pear reports that the House and Senate negotiators have reached a general agreement on some of the core issues, including the basic structure of benefits and premiums, and the policy, which for some reason is called "premium support," under which Medicare services would be open to private-sector competiton. In general, the draft agreement is closer to the outrageous bill passed by the House than the somewhat more responsible bill passed in the Senate.

The Post's Amy Goldstein, though, reports that what really happened is that Bill Thomas, the disagreeable chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, put down on paper what he thought the final deal should look like, and pissed off everyone, including Senate Republicans, one of whom was heard saying "Hell, no" about the provision on private-sector competition.

So which story is right? It's crazy to bet against Pear, but his story doesn't identify his sources, is vague about specifics, and he's so focused on whether the bill will "attract bipartisan support" that his only quotes come from Senate Democrats, most of whom are unlikely to vote for the bill anyway, and probably won't be needed. Goldstein's sources are anonymous, but she's pretty specific about her evidence that Republicans disagree with the draft and are angry with Thomas, which is what really matters. Plus, Goldstein's story has the virtue of plausibility: Bill Thomas acting in a haughty manner and dividing Republicans -- this is a movie we've seen before.

But even Pear's story offers a long list of issues yet to be resolved:

House and Senate negotiators said these issues were still unresolved:

How to ensure that the cost of drug benefits does not exceed $400 billion over 10 years.

Whether to allow consumers and pharmacies to import drugs from Canada and Europe.

Whether to offer new tax breaks to encourage people to save for medical expenses.

The negotiators are also searching for ways to deter employers from dumping their obligations for retiree health benefits onto Medicare.

Anyone want to try to figure these four things out over the weekend??

Seriously, there's less than one chance in five that Congress will produce any kind of Medicare prescription drug bill at all. And that's not a bad thing, because these are terrible bills. When one possibility is off the table -- forcing pharmaceutical companies to absorb discounted prices to either a government purchaser or individuals -- then we're left with a bill that will simultaneously cost individuals too much, provide only modest benefits -- roughly a 50% discount for someone with $3,000 in drug costs -- and saddle the government with an enormous, unpredictable new long-term obligation.

The conventional wisdom is that it will hurt Bush to fail to produce a Medicare bill. But it is also likely to hurt Bush if seniors ever get the chance to find out just how much they will have to pay and how little they will get, not to mention that they may lose Medicare as they know it.

The only way for the Republicans to gain an advantage from Medicare would be to somehow make it seem as if it's the Democrats who are blocking the bill, a spin that Pear's story helps facilitate. But Ted Kennedy's strong support earlier this year helps belie the claim that Democrats aren't serious about prescription drug coverage. A number of people wondered at the time what Kennedy was doing, and wished he had not conferred his credibility on such a bad bill. But maybe he knew exactly what he was doing. Maybe he knew that the House and Senate Republicans could never produce a compromise, and that by supporting the bill, he could prevent Democrats from getting blamed for its failure. If that was what he was thinking, good for him, because it's exactly what's happening.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on October 23, 2003 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is the Medicare Bill Really Almost Done?:

» Bmw. Bmw part bmw motorcycle bmw usa bmw m3 bmw car from Godzik Blog
2005 BMW 5-Series. Competition from Acura, Audi and Mercedes-Benz Make AWD 5-Series Reality... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 24, 2005 6:45:15 AM

» No Worms in this Apple from The Other Corner
Couldn't have said this (or this) better myself. Nowhere in the first amendment does it give someone the right to traffic stolen property... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 25, 2005 12:59:09 PM

» Conspicuous absenc from Crooked Ti mber
Forbes is the latest magazine trying to capitalize on the blogging thing by holding a best blog competition across various categories. It’s interesting to note that no less than 53% of voters say that the best blog on the economy... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 28, 2005 10:38:05 AM

» Ask About That from Ask About That
Ask About That [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 27, 2005 11:31:00 AM

» Furniture search by phrase: Bars from Searching the Catalog
Modern furniture design store : Contemporary lighting, cool accessories and ... with the exact phrase. with at least one of the words. without the words ... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 13, 2006 1:05:38 AM

» Putting equilibrium on hold from a one-dimensional
atoms. According to the team, the gas behaves like a "quantum Newton's cradle" -- the atomic equivalent of the popular desk toy that has five [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 26, 2006 11:44:45 AM

» Armstrong, Discovery Seek New Cycling Star (AP) from manager Johan
Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel said nobody could replace his superstar cyclist. Now [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 26, 2006 2:11:25 PM

» For the Clippers, These Are the Best of Times from new era has dawned
last. The Clippers are good. Better than good. Better than the Lakers, even, [Read More]

Tracked on May 21, 2006 4:04:27 AM

» Dow Climbs 138 Pts. to End at 6-Year High from Data Sends Dow
Data Sends Dow Up 138 Pts. to End at 6-Year High, Other Indexes Also Close [Read More]

Tracked on May 22, 2006 12:42:59 PM

» Curing Cancer Through Vaccines: What's the Outlook? from ome Infections
ome Infections Create Cellular Changes That Cause Cancer [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 11, 2006 3:00:59 PM

» Indian Muslims welcome dialogue between the USA and Iran from ant Dialogue
ant Dialogue to be Unconditional and Under the IAEA... [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 20, 2006 6:58:07 PM

» Free ESRI Virtual Campus Live Training Seminar: Working with ArcPad 7 from at 9:00 a.m.,
using ArcPad 7 as well as an overview and demonstration of its powerful capabilities [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 21, 2006 4:59:55 PM

» President of St. Paul's Ordway Center Resigns from Galligan has
has stepped down as president and CEO of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in [Read More]

Tracked on Jun 30, 2006 3:28:44 AM

» Inside Iraq's 'Amnesty' Plan from Maliki scales
scales back a proposal to forgive insurgents. Here's what he is and isn't offering [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 1, 2006 5:51:26 AM

» They're Back: A New, Vicious Taliban Take Shape in Afghanistan from pium Drug Trade
pium Drug Trade Funding New Type of Taliban Army [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 24, 2006 1:43:23 PM


http://backgammon.neptune-tech.com backgammon
http://backgammon-rules.neptune-tech.com backgammon rules
http://free-backgammon.neptune-tech.com free backgammon
http://motif-backgammon.neptune-tech.com motif backgammon
http://backgammon-online.neptune-tech.com backgammon online
http://play-backgammon.neptune-tech.com play backgammon
http://backgammon-download.neptune-tech.com backgammon download
http://backgammon-sets.neptune-tech.com backgammon sets
http://backgammon-game.neptune-tech.com backgammon game
http://how-to-play-backgammon.neptune-tech.com how to play backgammon
http://backgammon-board.neptune-tech.com backgammon board
http://backgammon-free.neptune-tech.com backgammon free
http://online-backgammon.neptune-tech.com online backgammon

Posted by: | Jun 10, 2005 7:39:36 AM


Posted by: hustler magazine | Nov 9, 2005 7:45:09 AM


los foros
anunciate ya anuncios gratis
ven a chatear gratis

liens gratuits en dur

web directory



portal web de motril



Posted by: portal web | Sep 8, 2007 11:52:01 AM