Wanna Save $30 Billion a Year?

Bill Scher

$30 billion. A year. That’s the potential savings if we empower Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drugs.

Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy and Research released his findings today in a report, “Celebrating Pork: The Dubious Success of the Medicare Drug Benefit.”

In addition to laying out the cost savings, Baker debunks claims from the Bush Administration, Big Pharma and several corners of the media that the current drug program is holding down costs.

Baker finds that part of the reason why the program hasn’t spent as much as expected is:

…fewer people are expected to enroll in the program than had previously been projected…because fewer people believe that they will benefit from the program than [the Congressional Budget Office] had originally anticipated. This does save the federal government money, but it means that the program is helping fewer people than had originally been expected.

No wonder why the Bush Administration won’t release its data on drug prices. It likely wouldn’t back up their claims that private insurers are driving costs down and helping consumers.

Meanwhile, if we reformed the program to empower Medicare to negotiate, we’d save so much money, we could easily deal with our pressing problem in providing health insurance to children.

It’ll take $10 billion a year to ensure all children eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program actually get enrolled. (Democrats in Congress support that, while Bush has proposed less than $1 billion.)

Let’s see if anyone in the media actually covers the Baker report, or if they just keep spitting out White House spin.

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