Arnold Kling  

Medicare History

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John Lanius points out that in April of 1961, then-private-citizen Ronald Reagan warned,

The legislative chips are down. In the next few months Americans will decide whether or not this nation wants socialized medicine . . . first for its older citizens, soon for all its citizens. The pivotal point in the campaign is a bill currently before Congress. The King bill (HR 4222), another Forand-type bill, is a proposal to finance medical care for all persons on Social Security over 65, regardless of financial need, through the social security tax mechanism. Proponents admit the bill is a "foot in the door" for socialized medicine. Its eventual effect--across-the-board, government medicine for everyone!

Thanks to Virginia Postrel for the pointer.

For Discussion. Was this fear about Medicare justified?

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COMMENTS (5 to date)
wtf writes:
For Discussion. Was this fear about Medicare justified?


Lawrance George Lux writes:

A Government program will eventually have to take over health care in this Country, due specifically to the failure of the legislative process. Special Interet money can get legislative support, no matter how bad the cause. Health Care has become too expensive to let the Market do its job, not because of failure of the Market, but rather legislative failure to curb excesses. Case in point: Any Drug costing in excess of $3 per unit is too expensive to be borne by the American economy, if more than a quarter million units are used per day (my offbeat calculations which will not be explained). All medical Providers must come up with cheaper treatment programs, from which Windfall profits have been removed. lgl

Jason Ligon writes:

Was it justified? Spend 30 seconds in the comments section of Brad DeLong's blog and you tell me.

That the most cutting edge medicine costs a lot shouldn't bother us one bit. It will be affordable to most in 7 years-ish. If we pine for the days when all medicine was cheap, we should probably look at what we were getting for the money. Leeches don't cost much at all these days.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

I don't want to contradict you, but it is like my above Case illustrated. There are somewhere over 16,000 drugs proscribed in this Country. These Drugs are unaffordable at $3 per unit, if all are used in excess amounts of daily use (We are talking 1-8 units per day by in excess of a guarter million Patients). The current round of great Wonder drugs are hitting the market with a Price tag of around $7 per unit. I do not know the cost of a MRI, but have a family member taking one today. The cost is liable to be somewhere around $1800, if my guess is not completely wild. What happens to this most beneficial form of medical surveal, when a quarter million Patients per day receive MRIs at such a price? lgl

Jason Ligon writes:


I'm not sure I follow your point. Any guarantee of consumption regardless of cost, as is the case with government insurance or socialized care, would exacerbate the problem of excess consumption, right?

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