Readers of this blog have no doubt heard the bad news about the Bush Medicare drug plan. But, sometimes policies that seem stupid and damaging on the surface can have unintended positive consequences.
It's time, fellow progressives, to consider the upside of Bush's hapless reform attempt. Here are some points to ponder:
- It's been reported that because of blunders and red tape, some ailing senior citizens haven't been getting the prescription drugs they need to stay alive. Also, the prices of some drugs have gone up.
Remember Dick Lamm, Colorado's "Governor Gloom," who in 1984 stirred controversy by saying that sick old people have a "duty to die ..."? Lamm, a Democrat, saw in our overburdened health care system a serious threat to America's fiscal future.
George W. Bush has unintentionally given us the answer. If sick, elderly people can't get or afford life-extending drugs, this will force them to, as Lamm suggested, "... die and get out of the way." When enough of these high-maintenance geezers finally have their fatal heart attacks, strokes and cancers, think of the burden that will be lifted from the shoulders of the young!
Health care will be more affordable; Medicare and Medicaid claims will shrink; the decrease of the surface population will curb environmental damage and mean more food and water for the rest of us. Social Security will be less stressed as life expectancy decreases. Hospital beds will be plentiful, and competition for folks who have pulses will drive prices down further. Those cheesy oldies stations will vanish from the airwaves forever. The national debt will disappear, too.
I've got to hand it to George Bush. He's going to save Social Security in a way that would have done Thomas Malthus proud.
- There are reports that people in assisted living facilities are being arbitrarily enrolled with big insurers like Humana, and then they almost have to get an act of Congress to actually enroll in the plans they chose.
Hey, I'm all for choice. But it's for people who are competent to choose. A lot of people in assisted living are too senile to remember whether it's time to take the red pill or the white one. That's why they're there. Maybe they won't get the plans they chose, but at least they'll be enrolled in something. There's a risk that a feeble-minded person will forget and miss the May 15 deadline.
Under Bush, Medicare is making all assisted-living codgers get signed up, and therefore they won't get hit with that nasty "drug tax." If a person can't look out for his or her own interests, it's great to know that Humana, and our president, will.
- Americans are overmedicated anyway. Especially the Medicare-qualifying fossils. The pharmaceutical companies are making huge profits pushing pricey pills for everything from a runny nose to toenail fungus. IMS Health, a pharmaceutical-consulting company, reported in 2005 that the number of prescriptions had grown by two-thirds in just a decade.
And, people are forgetting that all medications have side effects -- even these new, high-tech ones. Sometimes, especially them. Each year, tens of thousands of Americans are killed by adverse reactions to medications. And there are even more health care debacles in the making. Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs like Lipitor are being passed out like Halloween candy to millions. I tried the stuff at my doctor's urging, and after one 10 mg. dose, I had so much mental fog that my supervisor at work accused me of being drunk.
So, people with high cholesterol -- please do us all a favor. Lay off the Egg McMuffins, the Ben and Jerry's, and the Starbucks double mocha lattes. Get some exercise. You'll lose weight, save money, and the cost of my group insurance will go down.
- The Bush administration may have stumbled upon an ingenious way to curb lawsuit abuse. With fewer people taking potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals, there will be fewer class actions. No more dirty old men claiming Viagra made them blind. (There's a theory that some of these old guys may be taking that stuff alone. Hey, old fella -- remember that hysterical warning from your mom after she walked in on you admiring that hot bondage shot of Bettie Page? What if, at long last, she was right?)
Maybe Adam Smith was right, too. Good things really can result from less-than-noble motives. George W. Bush, in what seemed a bogus scheme to further enrich health insurance companies, may have unintentionally saved America.
MANIFESTO JOE IS AN UNDERGROUND WRITER LIVING IN TEXAS.