Bruce Bartlett has a very nice post on how Newt Gingrich was a huge cheerleader for Medicare part D. According to the latest reports, Medicare part D only added $16 trillion to our national debt. For those who are not familiar with it, Medicare part D was George W. Bush’s transparent ploy to buy the senior vote. It was also a huge giveaway to the pharmaceutical companies. Medicare part D paid for a line of prescription drugs. It also promised the pharmaceutical industry that the United States government would not negotiate drug prices.
Back in 2003 when we were negotiating (arguing over) this giveaway, here’s what Newt Gingrich wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
If you are a fiscal conservative who cares about balancing the federal budget, there may be no more important vote in your career than one in support of this bill. Since health expenditures comprise almost 14 percent of the U.S. GDP, a shifting away from the failed bureaucratic third-party payer model and back to a market-mediated binary payer model, where the customer controls his own first health dollars, is the single most significant reform that can be made in saving the country from skyrocketing health costs and steadily increasing calls for taxpayers to finance more and more of the healthcare system through higher taxes.
Although some conservatives may complain about the cost of the drug benefit, this benefit was designed within the framework of the budget resolution. The Medicare drug benefit is a necessary improvement to a Medicare system that was designed before modern pharmaceuticals became a key to staying healthy. Does anyone believe it makes sense to pay billions for kidney dialysis and not pay for the preventive care drugs that lets people keep their kidneys healthy for only pennies per day? Let’s face it, a Medicare drug benefit is inevitable. Liberals, some of whom are running for president, would pass it without any of the changes contained in this bill, and have said as much. However, to meet the future demands of retiring baby boomers the same liberals would either raise taxes massively or shift to a bureaucratic rationing of care–both disastrous policies.