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..::: JULY 7, 2003

AFCM on Drug Plan: A Prescription for Less Freedom, Higher Costs

NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA—As the recently approved prescription drug plan for seniors goes to a Congressional conference committee, the grass-roots Americans for Free Choice In Medicine (AFCM) countered the Bush Administration's claim that either bill opens Medicare to private, free market competition.

"Instead of making their own decisions about the best medications, patients and their doctors will be reduced to seeking permission to use what the government decides to provide," argued Richard E. Ralston, AFCM's executive director, in an op-ed. "This can only result in what government supplied health care has always produced in the U.S. and elsewhere: shortages, rationing, waiting lists, higher taxes, lower quality, less research and fewer new drugs."

Ralston also cautioned the public, including seniors, that drug subsidies are coming with many strings attached.

"Citizens who think that they should not be responsible for paying for their own prescription drugs will find, after these proposals become law, that they are now responsible for paying for everyone elsešs prescription drugs," he explained.

Citing government-controlled medical systems in other nations, Ralston asserted that all forms of government intervention in health care have not been able to deliver improved health care. Quoting the Times of London, he pointed out that Britain's Labor Party has poured billions into health care since coming to power and has pledged 40 billion pounds more over the next three years. But two-thirds of newly diagnosed cancer victims in Britain still have to wait over a month for radiotherapy to begin.

The American experience, Ralston contended, is no better.

"Medicare, which cost $3 billion a year in 1967, costs $250 billion today and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will cost $474 billion a year by 2012 without any new prescription benefits," he wrote.

"If the government really cares about the cost of drugs," he continued, "it can stop taxing the dollars that citizens spend on their own health care costs and open the door to unrestricted medical savings accounts (MSA). Citizens spending their own dollars on medications will always spend them more wisely and prudently than the government."

Americans for Free Choice in Medicine, (AFCM), founded in 1993, is the nation's only educational organization based on individual rights, personal responsibility and free market ideas in medicine.

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