High Cost of Medicare

We posted last week on the false spin that the Financial Times, followed by many other media outlets, put on a study commissioned by the Treasury Department. The study by Jagadeesh Gokhale and Kent Smetters, calculated a $44 trillion “Fiscal Imbalance” in the federal budget, assuming that no changes are made in the Social Security and Medicare programs.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune, always a few days behind the news curve, had an editorial on the study yesterday which deplored the nation’s “future of chronic deficits of staggering proportions.” The Strib noted that a large majority of the “Fiscal Imbalance”–$36.6 trillion out of $44.2 trillion–arises from the Medicare program, but made no comment on the implications of that fact.
This highlights what strikes me as a common disconnect in the thinking of liberals. The moral to be drawn from the Treasury study is that Medicare is a non-sustainable program which must be reformed or repealed. The program’s costs have turned out to be many times higher than was predicted by the act’s sponsors in the early 1960’s. Why is that? The reason, obviously, is that there is virtually no end to the amount of medical care that people can consume, as long as someone else is paying the bill.
Yet the liberal editorialists who wring their hands over the “imbalance” looming because of out-of-control Medicare costs are the very same people who want to socialize the entire health care industry. One can only imagine how many trillions of dollars of fiscal imbalance could be racked up if we extended the out-of-control Medicare program to all Americans. Yet this is exactly what the left proposes to do.

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