- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

David M. Dickson’s article “Health programs have history of cost overruns” (Page 1, Wednesday) tells us that the Obama administration insists that its final health care program will not add one dime to the federal deficit. The truth is that the current Medicare program is partially funded from the federal deficit.

Medicare’s income last year was less than Medicare’s cost. The shortfall supposedly is covered by the Medicare Trust Fund. The Medicare Trust Fund is held in the national debt as monies that the government borrowed from Medicare surplus in previous years and spent. The current budget must be tapped to redeem money from the trust fund. Because Medicare is an off-budget item (similar to Social Security), the redeemed funds add to the deficit.

Our present government’s health plans are in a deep financial death spiral, so it should be very interesting to see how the dysfunctional Congress can expand government-run health care programs and reduce costs. A panel of actual - not political - health care experts should be tasked to define accurately the nation’s health care problems before solutions are offered. Defining the actual problem before trying to solve it would be a new concept for the federal government.

JOHN T. MCVICKAR

Vienna

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