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Buying The Pharm #2
Another look at the mess that is our health care industry

by Julia Sneden

Having read Betty Soldz’s article entitled New Medicare Changes Constitute a Farce on this website a few weeks ago, I was already viewing the highly-touted prescription drug benefit with a jaundiced eye when my local newspaper reprinted a piece on yet another problem. According to The Washington Post, the chief analyst of Medicare costs has claimed that officials of the Bush Administration threatened to have him fired if he disclosed to Congress his belief that the proposed prescription drug legislation would prove more costly than the congressmen had been told.

Richard Foster, identified as a non-partisan official of Health and Human Services who has spent nine years as Medicare’s chief actuary, reported that he nearly quit in protest because he believed that the Administration and possibly even White House officials were “acting against the public interest by withholding data about how much the changes to the program would cost.”

Foster, according to The Post, is “regarded in government and policy circles as a competent and neutral civil servant.”

Apparently, the administration’s insistence on withholding budget predictions remained firm until after the passage of the bill in November. Several weeks afterwards, the White House announced that the cost estimates for the new law were now significantly higher than the estimates on which Congress had relied.¹


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