INCOMPETENCE ATOP INCOMPETENCE....

INCOMPETENCE ATOP INCOMPETENCE. Kate Steadman has a good catch today, finding that even when the Bush administration tries to fix Medicare Part D's problems, they still misdiagnose the ailment and prescribe a useless cure. The occasion is the first official fix to one of Part D's structural issues: the overabundance of "choice" in drug plans, which has led to scores of confused seniors unwilling or unable to sift through dozens of complex drug formularies to find the one that may work for them. It's been widely understood, on the left and the right, that the market required some pruning; choice was fine, but offering so much was crippling the program. So the Bush administration heroically swept in and mucked it up further.

Fine, no flowers and chocolates for them.

The issue at hand is the concentration of participating insurers in certain regions. With so many offering plans, specific areas were a mess. The administration's fix? Reduce the number of plans each insurer could provide from three to two -- or sometimes three, circumstances depending. Brilliant. What was needed was a regional cap on plans, but that would hurt various insurers (read: contributors) and the Bush administration lacked the courage to actually face down corporations even in limited, region-specific contexts. The American Prospect, thankfully, suffers from no such problems, and offers three easy, instantly understandable plans to choose from:

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--Ezra Klein

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