What are We Getting for Our $535 billion?

As Kash noted earlier, the projected price tag for the Republican Medicare reform has shot up by a third, from $400b to $535 billion.

Now is as good a time as any to remind everyone that the coverage seniors get under this plan is fairly meager. For example, most seniors will still pay at least 60% of their drug costs and virtually all seniors will pay 40% or more of their own drug costs. Only when total drug costs exceed $25,000 does the government’s share rise to 80%.

This CNN story has an interesting explanation of how the numbers were so far off — by my reading, McClellan is saying that the administration simply made up the $400b figure:

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the disparate numbers do not mean the president misled Congress. He said the administration’s actuaries in the budget office began work on the numbers only after the bill became law.

I suppose the president can’t lie to Congress when he doesn’t know the true number. Instead, someone simply made a guess, Bush repeated it, the government took action, and only then did they bother analyzing the data and gathering facts. This sequence is causing a strong sense of deja vu

And by the way, has anyone seen numbers on how much of the $535 billion is attributable to actually paying for drugs, as opposed to the various subsidies to employers and insurers?