My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Funny Numbers On Medicare

From the Wash Post: The White House released budget figures yesterday indicating that the new Medicare prescription drug benefit will cost more than $1.2 trillion in the coming decade, a much higher price tag than President Bush suggested when he narrowly won passage of the law in late 2003

From the New York Times:The Bush administration offered a new estimate of the cost of the Medicare drug benefit on Tuesday, saying it would cost $720 billion in the next 10 years.

That is much more than the $400 billion Congress assumed when it passed legislation creating the benefit in late 2003.

Yeah, sure. . . but what's $500 billion between friends?

So what accounts for this discrepancy? Oh, just a little thing a little later in the WaPo article:

Last night, he acknowledged that the cumulative cost of the program between 2006 and 2015 will reach $1.2 trillion, but he cited several major savings and offsets that he said will reduce the federal government's bottom-line cost to $720 billion.

I wonder if the Post deliberately put that paragraph after the banner headline and opening paragraph announcing 1.2 tril?? Nah, I don't wonder.

On a side note, this strikes me as a massively expensive program. But I think what we need to know about this is how much do these drugs reduce the need for hospitalization and in/out-patient procedures? Does this drug benefit actually ultimately reduce the costs to the feds because patient management is easier than emergancy care?

I don't know. And I don't think anybody does, yet. This is the sort of thing that should be tracked by media.

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