Bad Medicine on Prescription drugs.(EDITORIALS)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), July 1, 2002 | Go to article overview

Bad Medicine on Prescription drugs.(EDITORIALS)


Byline: THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Back in 1994, when the Democrats held a majority in both chambers, Congress thwarted President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton's power grab for control of America's health system. Since that political fiasco, advocates of a governmental takeover have shied away from such sweeping "reform" schemes, preferring instead to push for incremental steps toward more federal control.

But the House of Representatives' passage of the massively expensive prescription drug bill (expected to cost upwards of $320 billion over the next 10 years alone), which Republican leaders rammed through at 2:30 a.m. Friday morning, brings a jarring conclusion to the era of "incrementalism." On Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans have kicked off a political bidding war which is likely to result in the creation of the largest new entitlement program since LBJ rammed his Great Society initiatives through Congress in the 1960s.

Even without a new prescription-drug entitlement scheme, Medicare and its sister program, Medicaid, (the federal health entitlement program for the poor) have been growing like Pac-Man with no end in sight. Writing in the Commentary section of The Washington Times last week, economist Bruce Bartlett noted that in 1960, Washington spent virtually nothing for health care; today, federal health-care costs are 3.4 percent of GDP and nearly $400 billion a year.

And the future looks even worse. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Medicare alone will rise to 9.9 percent of GDP by 2075; overall federal spending, CBO estimates, will more than double its share of the nation's economy, reaching 42 percent of GDP by 2075. And that's under current law, before Congress enacts any prescription-drug bill.

Both the Democratic and Republican bills currently before Congress will further exacerbate the problem. …

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