Obama’s Medicare Part D Changes Undermine Successful Program

Obama’s Medicare Part D Changes Undermine Successful Program
March 18, 2013

Policy successes in Washington are few and far between these days, so more than ever we pray that our leaders follow the old adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Sadly, that phrase has been all but banished at the White House. Unless seniors stop him, President Obama aims to destroy the one healthcare program that has proven extremely effective in controlling prescription drug costs, has near unanimous satisfaction among seniors, and is currently coming in 45 percent under its projected budget. Oh, and it offers a model of reform that could save our nation from financial ruin.

I am of course referring to the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, and no, that 45 percent under budget figure is not a typo. Thanks to Medicare Part D, Seniors now have access to prescription drugs at an affordable monthly premium that has averaged $30 for three straight years without increasing. And more seniors taking prescriptions and thus staying healthier lowered hospital costs to Medicare by $13.4 billion in the first year alone—not a bad side effect. 

Taxing Seniors Via Providers

Instead of embracing the reforms that have led to Part D's stunning success, President Obama is doing everything he can to undermine it with a price-control scheme in the form of a "soak the rich" tax on healthcare providers. 

We all know that tax will be passed on to seniors in the form of higher premiums and co-pays. Call it the "politics of spite." Anything that empowers individuals and actually works is bad by Obama's meter. Anything the government controls is by definition good.

Unfortunately, rejecting reform and doubling down on the failed models of the past is speeding our nation toward bankruptcy. It's absolute madness. 

Embracing Price Controls

Obama's call for price controls on the drug industry will be disastrous. In addition to higher premiums and less choice, seniors will suffer reduced research and development to find the lifesaving cures of the future. Drug costs are already being held down by the healthy competition Medicare Part D provides. Injecting price controls like those in the failed Medicaid program, where costs keep rising and doctors are less and less willing to serve patients, is not in the interest of seniors.

Sadly, the President and his allies are willing to destroy reform, choice, and innovation in order to keep healthcare a uniquely government enterprise.

Conservatives were vocal champions of Medicare Part D in last year's national election because it has proven that free-market reforms work and can be a significant contributor in curing our healthcare and budget ills. The president should acknowledge the success of Part D instead of attempting to undermine it. If he truly cared about seniors and strengthening Medicare for future retirees, he would build on this model of reform and quit trying to fix the one thing in Washington that "ain't broke."

James L. Martin (info@60plus.org) is the chairman and founder of the 60 Plus Association.