The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Why Wait to Reform Medicare?

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Medicare is already run by the government so why do we need to pass a bill to enact reform?

As discussed here and here, South Carolina has hosted a number of health care town halls over the past few weeks.

One of the questions I heard asked at a DeMint town hall in Charleston concerned the length of time it takes doctors to get credentialed by Medicare.

The person asking the question was a local health care administrator, who said it takes about nine months for the process to be completed – highlighting the high administrative costs.

Sen. DeMint’s response recounted a recent visit to the Medical University of South Carolina. He said one of the largest buildings on campus was simply called “Compliance.”

The Obama administration is claiming that excessive compliance costs, as well as waste and abuse in Medicare, will be fixed by Obama’s proposed health care reforms. Argued the president in a New York Times op-ed:

Third, by making Medicare more efficient, we’ll be able to ensure that more tax dollars go directly to caring for seniors instead of enriching insurance companies. This will not only help provide today’s seniors with the benefits they’ve been promised; it will also ensure the long-term health of Medicare for tomorrow’s seniors. And our reforms will also reduce the amount our seniors pay for their prescription drugs.

But if Medicare reform is so vital, why the delay? Medicare is already a government-run plan. If there is waste and abuse that could be cut, why not implement these reforms now?

Shouldn’t all government programs be run as efficiently and effectively as possible? There is no need to pass a bill saying a government program must improve operations.

Furthermore, the Cash for Clunkers program has demonstrated very clearly what can be expected from government “efficiency.” If only 2 percent of dealers have been reimbursed for clunker deals, what does that say about the federal government’s ability to manage a program as large as Medicare?

If the government can’t effectively run a $3 billion program, how can we possibly expect them to manage health care – a $2.2 trillion industry, according to government expenditure figures.

Whatever the fate of ObamaCare, it is clear the administration is overlooking opportunities to enact easy reforms that will help all patients and doctors, without further burdening taxpayers or expanding government.

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Written by Geoff Pallay

September 1, 2009 at 7:56 am

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