Stark Realities

  • by: |
  • 07/27/2007
From today's edition of the Washington Times ...

Dingell, Stark and Medi-scare

There is no truth to the rumors that Democratic Reps. Fortney "Pete" Stark of California and John Dingell of Michigan secretly jumped ship and are helping Republicans recapture the majority in the House. But you would never know it based on their health-care agenda. The two liberal old bulls who face little-to-no personal electoral vulnerability seem determined to march their caucus back to minority status by forcing them to cast a highly unpopular vote to cut Medicare.

A peak below the surface reveals why these two lawmakers' ideological crusade could put House Speaker Nancy Pelosi back in the minority leader's suite. This week, two House committees began consideration of legislation to reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Initiative Program. Predictably, Democrats want to balloon it into a massive Leviathan costing more than $50 billion over the next five years. This large an expansion will induce millions to drop their private insurance coverage to feast at the taxpayer's expense. The program could accomplish its objectives with a lot less money, but consider who is in charge of Congress now.

But here's the kicker. To pay for this new largesse, Messrs. Stark and Dingell set their sights on cutting Medicare Advantage — a popular alternative to traditional fee-for-service. Medicare Advantage offers seniors an option of lower costs and more benefits in a managed-care setting. For over 8 million people in this rapidly growing program — nearly one out of every five seniors — this is their Medicare. For them, reducing funding means higher health-care costs and fewer benefits.

A recent national survey by Democratic pollster Mark Mellman underscores this point, noting "a vote to cut Medicare Advantage will elicit major negative political consequences." Mr. Mellman's data shows over half (52 percent) believe "a member of Congress who promised not to cut Medicare would be breaking their promise if they voted to cut Medicare Advantage." It's now Messrs. Stark and Dingell who want to "end Medicare as we know it" for a good number of seniors.

And while they will claim cuts to Medicare Advantage simply bring the program's funding into parity with fee-for-service, the real motivation is different. This alternative to traditional Medicare is one of the only hopes of reforming this exploding entitlement program. It provides seniors choices in health care and uses private -sector competition to drive down costs. But its biggest offense in eyes of the left is it doesn't fit their one-size-fits-all ideology. The Democrats should beware following Messrs. Stark and Dingell's ideologically driven lead. They are marching their party back to minority status while by breaking promises to seniors.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog