Crisis! Crisis! Crisis!

From Holden:

Medicare costs are exploding! Where’s our 60 cities/60 days Medicare roadshow?

Medicare spending for doctors’ services shot up 15 percent last year, and beneficiaries will have to pay premiums of $89 a month in 2006, up $11 from the current level, the Bush administration said Thursday.


Dr. Mark B. McClellan*, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, provided the new data in a letter to a federal advisory panel. He expressed “great concern” about the rapid increase in Medicare spending.

His tone on Thursday differed from that of senior Bush administration officials last week. Eight days ago, John W. Snow, the Treasury secretary; and Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said the financial problems of Social Security were more severe and urgent than those of Medicare.


Beneficiaries now pay a premium of $78.20 a month. The administration said last week that the premium would rise to $87.70 next year. On Thursday, Medicare officials raised their estimate to $89.20. That amounts to a 34 percent increase in two years, from $66.60 in 2004.

Those numbers do not include the cost of the Medicare prescription drug benefit that becomes available in January. Those premiums are expected to average $35 a month.

*Yes, that’s Little Scottie’s brother Markie-Mark.