Bush Administration Meets Medicare Enrollment Goals By Lowering Them

Yesterday was the deadline to sign up for the Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D). As of last week, Medicare administrator Dr. Mark McClellan said that “37 million people [out of 43 million] with Medicare have prescription drug coverage.” In late April, Medicare spokesman Peter Ashkenaz was already bragging:

Enrollment is surpassing our goals, satisfaction is high, and we see no reason to extend a deadline that’s working.

But Part D enrollment hasn’t even met the administration’s goals, let alone surpassed them. In 2004, the Bush administration projected that 40.7 million seniors and Americans with disabilities would sign up for its Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D).

So why are administration officials congratulating themselves? In 2005, CMS announced that its goals were now 10 million people lower: “28 to 30 million enrollees in the first year.”


It’s easy to claim success when you keep lowering the bar.