Commentary Magazine


Not Quick Enough

Quicker than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would like, the truth is seeping out about his Medicare switch-and-bait scheme. Remove one version of a public option and slip in the ultimate public option — government-run Medicare. The Wall Street Journal‘s editors explain:

Mr. Reid’s buy-in simply cuts out the middle man. Why go to the trouble of creating a new plan like Medicare when Medicare itself is already handy? A buy-in is an old chestnut of single-payer advocate Pete Stark, and it’s the political strategy liberals have tried since the Great Society: Ratchet down the enrollment age for Medicare, boost the income limits to qualify for Medicaid, and soon health care for the entire middle class becomes a taxpayer commitment.

But of course Medicare is already going broke, and doctors are already shortchanged by chintzy reimbursement rates. This creaky ship is expected to take on millions of new patients, many of whom will be among the sickest, as those who don’t or can’t get insurance elsewhere seek refuge in Medicare.

This mad-cap dash for a plan, any plan, that can garner 60 votes depends on no one paying much attention or heed to what’s in it. Unfortunately for Reid, editorial pages, moderate senators, and the public are starting to wake up. (“The latest polls show public support for the Senate plan falling into the mid-30%-range. The remaining supporters must not be paying attention.”) It seems that Reid was not quite adept or fast enough to induce a lemming-like stampede to embrace what certainly is the lamest attempt at health-care “reform” yet. In a year in which we’ve seen some ill-conceived ideas, that’s saying something.