Sahil Kapur at Talking Points Memo follows up on Rachel Maddow’s report on the many glitches and difficulties in the rollout of the Medicare Part D program in 2006. Turns out Rep. Joe Barton wasn’t the only Republicans who just wanted to cooperate to fix the glitches rather than railing against the Bush administration or the policy.
It was a rough time for the law’s proponents. The soft launch was “anything but smooth,” according to the Washington Post, marred by at least two delays along with other, deeper problems. Upon launch, the Bush administration admitted to receiving “tens of thousands of complaints by seniors, pharmacists and others” about implementation failures. Health and Human Services vowed to “fix every problem as quickly as possible.”
Boehner was far from alone in pushing to fix the problematic law, rather than repealing or dismantling it. And his judgment was vindicated — the Medicare Part D program turned out to be a success, expanding medical coverage for millions of seniors at a lower cost than many expected. Today it is a fixture of the Medicare program. Fortunately for Bush and his party, Democrats were a willing partner in tweaking and improving the law…
“This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be glitches,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) onFeb. 15, 2006. “My goal is the same as yours: Get rid of the glitches.”
“Rather than trying to scare and confuse seniors, I would hope that we can work together as we go through the implementation phase to find out what is wrong with the program and if we can make some changes to fix it, let us do it and let us do it on a bipartisan basis,” Barton pleaded during an Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on March 6, 2006. “We owe that to all of the millions of Medicare beneficiaries.”
Republican Rep. Nathan Deal, now the governor of Georgia, cautioned critics that “most significant programs” have problems early on, and that’s no reason to give up on them.
“Like most significant programs, the new benefit has not gone without a few isolated glitches and unexpected problems,” he said at the same hearing. “But I believe that if there is anything wrong with the plan, most of it has been fixed and that that hasn’t can be fixed over time.”
“Any time something is new, there is going to be some glitches,” Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) saidon April 6, 2006. “No matter what one does in life, when it is something new in learning the ropes of it, it is going to take a little adjustment.”
But that’s totally different from the problems currently because, while the Democrats generally supported the Bush program, the Republicans don’t support Obamacare (well, they don’t now; they loved it 20 years ago when it was the GOP alternative to Clinton’s health care proposals and the Heritage Foundation was pushing it):
Boehner’s office denies that the two situations are similar.
“Medicare Part D is a sound, popular program that faced some technical problems when it began,” an aide to the Speaker, who requested anonymity, said on Thursday. “The ACA is fundamentally flawed, and the problems with the website are just the tip of the iceberg.”
The funny thing is that if a Democratic president had proposed the Medicare Part D bill, the Republicans would have been fanatically opposed to it. For crying out loud, it was an unfunded new entitlement program that expanded Medicare, which was supposed to turn us into a communist hellhole according to the wingnuts.