Tag: Medicare

Making Drugs Affordable


shutterstock_197494286Remember Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical executive who jacked up the prices of an off-patent drug used by some AIDS patients last year and who was recently perp-walked for securities fraud? The Left treated his arrest as a victory for the common man, but it hasn’t made pyrimethamine, the active ingredient in Daraprim, any more available to those who need it.

Mark Baum, however, has done just that: Since last year’s media fiasco, the compounding pharmacy he runs has been selling drugs with the same chemical properties (with an added, relevant vitamin) for about a $1 a pill. That’s among the reasons why Shkreli’s antics didn’t lead to a pile of dead bodies.

The reason Baum’s company has been able to do this so quickly and inexpensively is because compounding pharmaceuticals are not subject to the same regulatory scrutiny as generic manufacturers and are often able to charge prices closer to the costs of manufacture.

Speaker Ryan’s Common Ground


lossy-page1-640px-Speaker_Ryan_1.tifPaul Ryan “outlined his vision for a confident America at home and abroad, pledging that his top priority as Speaker in 2016 will be offering the country a bold, pro-growth agenda” (to quote the page on his website that features the full text of the remarks, hosts a video of the address and, inexplicably, contains a comments section on a par with the non-Ricochet parts of the interwebs).

True to his reform icon roots, the Speaker wants to retain Social Security and Medicare, but then goes on to lay out a vision more-or-less compatible with that offered by the various Presidential candidates: more growth, simpler tax code, smaller government, stronger military. This is presumably by design.

He has some great lines that should become staples of conservative discourse. Discussing how bureaucracy is doomed to failure in today’s world (more than a hint of Fiorina here), he says:

SS and Medicare: The Truth Stinks


When the subject of debt and deficits comes up in polite conversation — with its progenitor, entitlements —  and I respond, I often feel like the dog who passed gas under the Thanksgiving dinner table. Sometimes, weakness shows and the “we all paid in” defense is presented with resounding harrumphs exchanged in agreement. If it gets this far, there is the assurance that the trust fund, while depleted, remains to cover our obligations. When I proceed to point out that this piggybank is filled with IOUs, not cash (and even if it were filled with appreciating assets, it contains far less than what will be needed to cover the actuarial obligation) I am summarily labeled as an un-American, naysaying, and unbelieving apostate. Who am I to denigrate the “full faith and promise of the USA?” To preserve the peace, I relent and agree to be muzzled.

The underlying and accepted conceit here is quite simple: wealth must find its origin in the bowels of Washington, DC. The corollary conceit is that the free marketplace perverts wealth and provides the means for its corruption. Thus, Washington not only creates wealth out of sheer political will, but it must counter the corrupting influence of the free market.

Red Ink Alert: So Donald Trump Wants to Slash Taxes and Leave Medicare Alone?


People holds signs as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference to reveal his tax policy at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton.

Even with dynamic scoring, Donald Trump’s tax plan is likely to lose a ton of money. (And, yes, I am dismissing out of hand Trump’s 6% growth claim. Please.) But Trump isn’t counting entirely on faster economic growth to make the numbers work. As he pointed out in the WSJ yesterday:

Are Republicans Going to Abandon Entitlement Reform?



A few quick facts on entitlement spending: (a) CBO projects federal spending on Medicare and Social Security over the next 25 years will rise by roughly 3 percentage points of GDP,  to 11% from 8%; (b) an aging US population will be the prime driver of that projected higher spending; (c) a middle-class, one-earner couple retiring in 2030 will receive $1.3 million in lifetime Medicare and Social Security benefits having paid in just under $500,000.

To me, these numbers argue pretty strong in favor of reforming entitlements to spend less than projected and weight that future spending more toward lower-income Americans. Now, I have been worried that Republicans are backing way from reforming Medicare and Social Security in favor of cutting Medicaid and various income support programs. The former would be classified as “earned benefits” or as the WSJ’s Homan Jenkins has put it,  “… middle-class rewards for a life of hard work and tax-paying, against Mr. Obama’s vast expansion of the means-tested welfare state for working-age Americans. ”

An Appeal to Older People From a Millennial


shutterstock_177669056I recently had a discussion with an older cousin of mine in his 50s. He was telling me he would like to see the welfare state gone, deregulation, smaller government, and all the other standard stuff Conservatives want for the future. Then he was telling me how my generation is footing the bill and tough luck for you guys. Live with it while I benefit because you guys didn’t vote the other way in very large numbers. I have heard this same line of argument or reasoning multiple times before. And I explained to him that this position towards millennials as on the hook for paying for the Boomers’ and Gen-Xers’ tab is immoral.

First off, Social Security and Medicare are the biggest welfare programs in the country. People get mad when I say it, but it is true. It was sold to the country as a government-run savings account, but that isn’t the case. People generally take out more than they put in and these programs are bankrupting the nation. Medicare alone will rise from about $615 billion at present, to a little over $1 trillion in just the next seven years. The rise in costs is far beyond anything that was put into it. This is welfare, pure and simple. It is robbing the young and their future to pay for the old. It is robbing the future of this country. That is what is happening. To complain about Uncle Sam stealing or taxing all the time while cashing these checks and enjoying medicare is hypocrisy to the 10th power.

Yes, you got fleeced. The government forcibly took money out of your paychecks for decades to fund unsustainable programs that are robbing the future of this country you hold dear, and the futures of your kids and grandkids, whom I also hope you hold just as dear. You lost that money and what was done to you is unjust. But to then turn around and fleece your progeny because you got robbed does not make it right. It makes things even more unjust and puts in jeopardy the economic well being of your progeny and this nation. I am 26 years old. These programs will not exist at all when I am old enough to be done working or can work no longer. But if I had the choice right now or in the foreseeable future, I would tell the government to keep the money they robbed from me, as I will not jeopardize or steal my descendants’ future. Many conservatives have bought into the idea that we should just accept the New Deal and Great Society as already here. I reject that, totally. The New Deal and Great Society have given us decades of nothing but highway robbery and phony promises. As I reminded my cousin, Millennials didn’t invent Social Security or Medicare, and we have nothing to do with — or to gain from — these programs that will soon break our country.

The New Paul Ryan Budget Plan: A Brief Review


The annual House of Representatives budget resolution – you may know it as the “Ryan plan” or perhaps as the “Path to Prosperity” — has turned into a weird Washington phenomenon, one that combines analysis fiscal, political, and psychological. Do the numbers really add up? Will it hurt or help GOP election odds? Does it signal that Roman Catholic Paul Ryan or Randian Paul Ryan is the fellow running the budget committee? And, of course: does the budget suggest Ryan will run for president  2016?

Of those questions, I’m confident only in answering the first. (Alert: CNBC and MSNBC bookers. Ignore that last sentence. I am supremely confident in answering any and all possible questions about the Ryan budget, as well as the 2016 presidential race, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the Yellowstone earthquakes, and the new Captain America film. I also know a thing or two about nanotech.)

Member Post


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