Roll Call executive editor and FOX News contributor Morton M. Kondracke overstated the cost of the prescription drug benefit by a factor of ten to falsely accuse Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) of grossly understating the cost of a proposal to create a single-payer healthcare system by expanding Medicare to cover all Americans from cradle to grave. Kondracke insisted that Kennedy's estimate of $600 billion in Medicare expansion costs was "nonsense" because "the prescription drug benefit by itself will cost $500 billion a year."
In fact, while Medicare's chief actuary has revealed that the Bush administration forbade him to reveal the full cost of the recently enacted Medicare prescription drug benefit bill -- which was substantially higher than the estimates released publicly -- before the final vote in Congress, the law's current projected cost is still only about one-tenth of what Kondracke claimed. The 2004 report of the Medicare trustees estimates that the entitlement will cost $534 billion over ten years. That means the average cost per year is about $53 billion, not $500 billion.
On the January 12 edition of FOX News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Kondracke criticized Kennedy's "vision of America" as "too expensive":
KONDRACKE: But his vision of America is a European social welfare system, which the Europeans are trying to get away from themselves because it's too expensive and it's burdensome on their productivity and all that. And this Medicare plan that he's proposing, as you say, "cradle to the grave," his staff said it will cost $600 billion a year. That's nonsense. I mean, the prescription drug benefit by itself will cost $500 billion a year. And this would cover everybody in the Medicare system, like Canada, for everybody in the country. It can't -- it can't be limited to $600 billion.