Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt continues the entitlement crisis call, this time in an address to conservative think-tankers who’d rather see Social Security and Medicare just go away entirely. While using language like “drifting toward disaster” and “serious danger” to describe the program he’s overseen for almost 8 years, he conveniently ignores the role the Bush Administration has played in worsening Medicare’s financial condition.

It’s very hard to take these clarion calls very seriously when it was this administration that implemented and continues to fight to protect $150 billion in industry subsidies to insurance companies providing private Medicare coverage. These subsidies alone steal almost two years of solvency from the Medicare program. If Secretary Leavitt and the Bush administration are really worried about Medicare’s about putting that $150 billion back into Medicare rather than private insurers’ pockets?

Secretary Leavitt also expressed concerns there could be a generational divide on funding entitlement programs:
“The kind of division I worry about is when we begin to see one generation pitted against another or when you begin to see economic classes pitted against each other. Those are the kinds of divisions that have classically divided and undermined nations.”
No kidding. Maybe this administration should’ve considered that before making a generational divide and conquer strategy a key component in the President’s failed Social Security road tour three years ago. Lamenting your own strategy, so long after the fact is disingenuous at best.

There’s also an interesting discussion of Medicare and the Secretary’s remarks, from a beneficiaries point of view, at Time Goes By. It’s definitely worth a read.