Thursday, September 29, 2005

One with no heart, one with no spine

The 89-member Republican Study Committee has a plan to pay the bill for the Republican Administration's bungled response to Hurricane Katrina: make the old and sick pay for it. Last week they announced their plan for increases in Medicare beneficiary premiums and a one-year delay in the program's prescription drug benefits as a way to prevent the reconstruction costs to "become a catastrophe of debt for our children and grandchildren," as Indiana Rep. Mike Pence, put it.

As an extra little bonus, the Republican plan would also fight Big Government in a meaningful way: a $25 billion cut in CDC's budget over the next decade. Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California had an appropriate response:
"This would be, if it happens, irresponsible, incompetent, and immoral.
CDC Director Julie Gerberding had an inappropriate response:
Gerberding declined to comment directly on how the proposed budget cuts would affect her agency's ability to respond to disasters. "It's a sobering proposal," she said.
This makes me want to scream. What Rep. Capps said is correct, if too mild and more polite than deserved. But it is easy to discount it as more carping from the political opposition (what there is of it). Those words should have been uttered by the CDC Director herself.

CDC (once the jewel in the crown of American public health), the public health profession, the citizens of this country, and indeed the world, deserve a CDC Director who will fight for public health, not an incompetent manager without the guts and spine to say what everyone knows needs to be said.

Once again, I am disgusted.