Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) popularity on the campaign circuit could potentially translate into policy changes that would negatively affect millions of senior citizens who enjoy the benefits of Medicare Part D.
Medicare Part D, which was enacted in 2003, provides seniors with Medicare coverage for prescription drugs. Unlike other one-size-fits-all government program, Medicare Part D was uniquely designed to allow market forces to compete for seniors business. As of 2013, there were 23 different plans for seniors to pick from. Proving, once again, that competition is good, the actual costs of the program was lower than what the government predicted.
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The Congressional Budget Office has said the costs for Part D are now 45 percent lower than their initial estimates. It’s hard to name another government program that has cost less than projected. In 1967, for instance, Medicare was estimated to cost about $12 billion by 1990. In reality, they missed their mark by $86 billion. Today, things look even worse as the program costs more than $500 billion a year. And, unlike Obamacare, seniors are satisfied with the program.
Politicians seem to love the saying, "if it ain't broke, have government fix it."
[sharequote align="center"]Politicians seem to love the saying, "if it ain't broke, have government fix it."[/sharequote]
Sanders has proposed to radically alter Medicare Part D by having the government negotiate prices under the plans. Of course, government never negotiates prices; it dictates them. Government pricing would restrict access to medicines and ultimately harm senior health care.
Sanders and his supporters continue to argue that government price controls would save money, a claim the Congressional Budget Office has refuted.
But saving taxpayer money is not the reasons supporters of government-run health care are pushing this scheme. Instead, they view government "price negotiations" as a camel's nose under the socialist health care tent. But pushing their theories will impact seniors negatively.
As Peter Pitts, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner said:
"Government 'negotiations' with private vendors almost always mean public officials simply dictating below-market prices. If that holds true in the public option, drug companies that want to participate in the program will be forced to deeply discount their meds.... But the long term effect would be a stifling of pharmaceutical innovation, leading to fewer new breakthrough medicines and compromised patient care."
Sadly, Sanders initial popularity has moved Hillary Clinton further to the left in order to protect her flank. She has endorsed the proposal.
Ultimately, the Medicare Part D program shows that competition and market forces are beneficial to seniors and taxpayers. No wonder Sanders and Clinton have set their sights on destroying the program.
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