Senator Frist: Big Spending Big Government Conservative?
Since it is an election year, it shouldn’t surprise me that some members argue the medicare part D benefit didn’t go far enough– they have to make a political win for the GOP look like a loss. The part D benefit is a huge expansion of an entitlement program and yet folks still say it doesn’t do enough for seniors.–emphasis added
It seems pretty clear that the Republicans have abandoned any and all pretenses of being the party for smaller more limited government. When Bush or any other Republican talks about people spending their money more wisely than the government he is lying.
UPDATE: Wow, I just read the first post written by “Healthalicious” and the final paragraph got me wondering.
The real problem of course is that it was foolish to tie health care to employment in this country in the first place. And it’s getting to be a sillier and sillier system now that we compete in a global economy with flex time and part time and the vast majority of today’s college graduates highly unlikely to retire in 25 years from IBM with a gold rolex. State laws like the WalMart law in Maryland are vain attempts to legislate looking in the rear view mirror, miring Americans in a past that no longer exists, and perpetuating an outdated, inefficient, and costly health care system which hurts consumers.
I’m wondering if we are seeing the first movement amongst Republicans towards universal, government supplied health care. My guess is yes.
UPDATE (James Joyner): It should be clear that, although “MedicalMatters.org is a special project of Senator Bill Frist’s leadership committee, VOLPAC” and the Senator’s picture is prominently featured on the site, Frist is not the author of either of these posts. Whether he endorses these posts is unknown [Update: Steve’s update below gives us ample reason to suspect he does, however.] Certainly, I don’t agree with everything written by my co-authors here. Then, I’m not running a political action committee here, either.
A spokesman for VOLPAC has contacted Steve and myself and argues that the post “misrepresents” the blog posts in question:
Sailor was simply making the point that Democrats are doing everything they can to deny the GOP a victory on Medicare Part D…..so they’ve complained about too little choice, too much choice, too difficult a sign up process, etc. And Democrats being Democrats, Sailor is certainly right to say that they will complain that the Medicare prescription drug benefit isn’t big enough — no matter how large of an expansion of Medicare it actually is.
That’s almost certainly true; that’s politics. Still, Steve is right: “Sailor” is trying to appease old folks whining about how little they’re getting from the government–Hey, we’re giving you a damn donut!–without even a mention of the idea that the taxpayers don’t owe anybody any damned pastry to begin with.
[As to] the second selection you quote. If you read the full post, you could tell that Healthalicious is upset at government interference with health care distribution (specifically the state of Maryland’s interference with Walmart’s system)……he certainly does not favor “universal, government supplied health care.” I can’t speak for him, but I suspect that he would be in favor of individual or group purchase of health care through private providers…..rather than as a benefit bound to their employment.
This strikes me as a fair point. “Healthalicious” [Why is a professional PAC site using immature pseudonyms? -ed. Good question.] calls measures like the Maryland law “bad policy” and writes “It is after all primarily liberal Democrats that have tried to build overly generous health care safety nets in the states.”
It’s not clear from the post itself, however, what “Healthalicious” would have us do. If company-funded health care is unworkable owing to expanding costs (and it probably is) then a single payer system is likely the only way to ensure universal coverage. But “Healthalicious” might have an unspoken (in that post, at least) third alternative in mind.
Update (Steve Verdon): Lets be very, very clear on this: Senator Frist supported the massive expansion of Medicare entitlements. This is beyond any and all doubt when we turn to Senator Frist’s comments during the Republican Convention.
Health care is the lifeblood of our future and it touches every life-our grandparents, our parents, our children, you. And when you need it, you want it to be reliable. You want it to be affordable and lifelong. You want it to reflect the dignity and the value of those you love. And you want it to be the best. Let me remind you: in 2000, before someone borrowed his line, George Bush promised that “help is on the way.” Tonight, America can take comfort that help is here. Today, unlike when my dad practiced, the most powerful tools in American medicine are prescription drugs. These medicines help so many get out of bed, pick up their grandchild, walk to the store and find joy in each day. Yet these miracle medicines were denied by Medicare. Well, George Bush has righted that wrong! Thanks to his leadership, over 40 million seniors and individuals with disabilities will soon have access to prescription drugs.–link
And this bit from the GOP website, GOP.com,
As a physician, Sen. Frist is uniquely familiar with the challenges facing the American health care system. Over the years, he has worked with fellow senators to bring about Medicare reforms, and he will continue to work to “strengthen and improve the Medicare program in a way that provides prescription drugs to all seniors.”–GOP.com
As for the post by “Healthalicious” and universal health care I thought I was pretty clear in my writing that it was speculation on my part as to whether or not the Republicans would shift course and jump on the universal health care bandwagon. After all, there is that old saying that the Democrats want to burn down the capitol today while the Republicans want a plan to burn it down over three years. So, I wouldn’t be at all surprised at such a shift in policy.
Update (Steve Verdon): And from VOLPAC’s own site under the section on Senator Frist on the issues,
I will say that I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made with the Medicare prescription drug plan that we passed. As of today, 31 million senior citizens have signed up for the plan.
The average enrollee will save $1,100 a year in this plan that is simple to use and provides enrollees on fixed income greater peace of mind by protecting them from unexpected drug expenses
Bottom line … seniors should have the right to choose the health care plan that suits them best. By strengthening Medicare with this new prescription drug benefit, we’ve enabled millions of seniors to live with dignity, security and independence.
If we take these numbers and do some simple arithmetic we get an increase to Medicare to the tune of $34,100,000,000/year. Now that is just a crude back-of-the-envelope calculation, but it does show that Frist has helped with a very, very large expansion of health care entitlements.