Rush's site has some interesting statistics from a Robert Samuelson column in the Washington Times (which I can't find) on the new prescription drug entitlement our Congress has just tacked onto Medicare. It looks like seniors don't even want it.

Robert Samuelson, who is one of my favorite columnists, is in the Washington Times. He's an economist. He says given all of the excitement you think that passing a Medicare drug benefit would solve one of the nation's pressing social problems. It won't, he says pointedly. But you wouldn't know that from politicians in the news media. They treat the elderly’s problems in getting drugs as a major social crisis. You would know it if you'd read a government survey of Medicare recipients in 2002. It asked this question. "In the last six months, how much of a problem, if any, was it to get the prescription medicine you needed?" The answers were, 86.5%, not a problem. 9.4%, a small problem. 4.2%, a big problem. This a government survey of Medicare recipients! And only 4.2% say it's a big problem! And we are creating the largest entitlement in 40 years to solve a big problem for 4.2%, not of the population, but of the Medicare population. Which is why I have been saying lets fix it for those people - 86.4%, it's not a problem. That's why we're not hearing from them on the phones here calling and complaining at me for standing in the way of something they need. It's not a problem. Prescription drugs are not a problem. It is a manufactured Washington politician problem, to advance the expansion of government conceptually and realistically. Now, let's put some numbers to these percentages, okay? Let me give you the percentages again. Numbers are hard to follow on the radio. Medicare recipient survey, 2002, federal government did the work. 86.5% getting drugs not a problem. 9.4%, small problem. 4.2%, a big problem. Medicare has 41 million beneficiaries. Even 4.2% represents about 1.7 million people. We are creating the nation's largest entitlement in 40 years to serve the needs of 1.7 million people. ...

One thing the government survey doesn't say is whether the problems of this 1.7 million people reflected high drug costs, doctors' reluctance to write scripts or something else. But most people can somehow afford their prescription drugs. Now, in 1999, about 30% of retirees had insurance from former employers. About 20% had government coverage, mainly from Medicaid and the department of veterans affairs. Another 25% bought insurance, called Medigap or had some other coverage. For the very poor without coverage, pharmaceutical companies provide free or heavily discounted drugs. Nobody designed this. It's a flawed and messy hodgepodge that on balance works, though. It works.

My biggest frustration with the Bush administration is its proliferate spending. Does Bush really think old people are going to start voting Republican if he gives them money? Please. I know a good number of older folks, and their political affiliation is pretty well set in concrete. My grandmother wouldn't vote for a guy with an R behind his name if he was running against the Marquis de Sade - D.



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