Medicare participants probably won't even have access to some drugs that are already developed. To see this we need only look at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I happened to have lunch with Sen. Hillary Clinton recently. When I went into one of my usual libertarian rants about free markets, Ms. Clinton cited the VA as an example of government success. Indeed, under her husband's administration, the Veterans Health Administration came to provide the "best care anywhere," according to The Washington Monthly. Great.
But government monopolies like the VA never embrace innovation in the same way the private market does. And sure enough, the VA now rations drugs. If you are a VA patient and you need a new and expensive drug, you can't get it. Writes Sally Pipes, president of the Pacific Research Institute and author of "Miracle Cure: How to Solve America's Health-Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn't the Answer", "Only 19 percent of drugs approved by the FDA since 2000 are listed on the VA formulary, and only 38 percent of drugs approved in the 1990s are listed. ... ".
In other words, the department keeps a rein on costs by withholding drugs from veterans.
The giant Medicare drug program, which created the cost problem the Democrats say they will solve, shouldn't have been created. We ought to get our drugs through the private marketplace or from private charities. If government must be involved, at least let it be through the states so they can compete against each other.
The last thing we should do is give federal officials more power. When government controls prices, it must eventually ration supplies. Consumers suffer. When the product is medicine, the results could be catastrophic.