Pull the plug on Medicare Part D, please | NevadaAppeal.com

Pull the plug on Medicare Part D, please

Nevada Appeal editorial board

We can’t recall a debacle of such magnitude.No, we’re not talking about the Abramoff scandal. There have been plenty of seamy congressional escapades over the decades.

We mean Medicare Part D, which is failing on every front.

n At $722 billion over the next 10 years (twice what Congress was told) and as much as $1.2 trillion, it is bankrupting the federal government, which eventually must extract that money from us, the taxpayers. Within 20 years, some predict, Medicare will overtake Social Security as the country’s largest entitlement program.

n While it promises to save money for the neediest Americans, that hasn’t proven to be the case in a significant number of examples. More to the point: By refusing to allow Medicare to negotiate bulk drug prices, as some other federal programs do, Congress clearly cost its constituents a lot of cash – at the benefit of big pharmaceutical companies.

n The startup this month seems about as organized as the Hurricane Katrina response. Yes, millions of people are being served. Many more millions aren’t. The frustration and confusion caused by late issuance of cards and jammed hotlines is literally making people sick.

n States, including Nevada, are stepping in to help the needy get their prescriptions, and in the process are spending millions more in tax dollars to get through the crisis caused by a seriously flawed federal program.

Is it too late to pull the plug on this travesty? We can’t imagine there are enough elected representatives in Washington, D.C., with the backbone to admit such a colossal mistake.

Yet that’s what needs to happen. If Medicare Part D were a patient, the prognosis would be short-term pain followed by a long, agonizing disability for the American public. End it now.