The Magazine

Medicare's New Critics

Why is the Obama administration trashing a health program that works?

Oct 5, 2009, Vol. 15, No. 03 • By FRED BARNES
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Minorities and the poor have turned out to be wise consumers of health care. A study by professors Adam Atherly and Ken Thorpe at Emory University found that nearly 53 percent of Hispanic seniors and 40 percent of blacks chose MA, as did only 33 percent of white seniors. Seniors with incomes between $10,000 and $20,000 a year also joined MA at a higher rate. One result: They don't have to tap Medicaid to help pay their medical bills.

Medicare Advantage has another, very large benefit. It provides coordinated care, partly through more IT hardware, that allows providers and doctors to keep track of patients and their health. It limits duplicative care. In a sense, MA is the future of medical care, though increased competition and other ways of reducing costs are needed. For Obama and the Democrats, however, MA lacks an important feature. "They are not getting a political advantage from Medicare Advantage," says health care expert Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute. That's a sad fact, but true.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of THE WEEKLY STANDARD.