Medicare Part D – If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

J0399543Every so often, unlike some of the more partisan of those in my field, I have to admit when I might be wrong.  It hurts doing it, but afterward, I always feel better.  Plus, you have the added benefit of knowing that I at least try to be objective.

Since the election, there have been a number of articles about the fact that industry has been more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  There is good reason for that anxiety, but one of them, Medicare Part D, perhaps should not belong on the table.

Yesterday the Washington Post carried an article on Medicare Part D entitled "Success of Drug Plan Challenges Democrats" and it merits consideration by all of us who have been critics of this program.  A lot of concern about Medicare Part D centered on two things – (1) the failure to allow the government to negotiate prices and (2) the dreaded do-nut hole which would force seniors to pay for drugs on their own causing huge suffering in large numbers of people.  While I was complacent about the former, I was certainly concerned about the latter. 

However, it would appear that the program is costing less than projected – a lot less actually.  And polls cited in the article demonstrate that 80% of seniors are satisfied with the program.  While we don’t know the source of dissatisfaction for the other 20%, I would not be surprised if it centers on the complicated sign-up that everyone had to go through. 

In-coming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and fellow Democrats have cited the benefit as a target of instant reform.  They might reconsider.

In exit polls during the election, voters named two primary motivators for voting Democrats in and Republicans out.  First, scandal.  Second, the dreadful mess the Administration has brought about in Iraq.  Medicare Part D was not one of these.

J0399219Therefore, if they want to enjoy a majority for longer, rather than a shorter time, the Democrats would do well to focus on fixing that which is broken, and wait and see on those that do not appear to be in need of a fix. 

That is my slice of humble pie. 

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