ABC Highlights 'Anything but Helpful' Government Healthcare 'Mess'

Grandma may be calling but this government program isn't answering.

ABC's "Good Morning America" exposed many problems with Medicare's hotline number 1-800-MEDICARE September 11, including telephone operators "who couldn't answer the [questions]," "gave out the wrong information" or were completely unreachable.

The onscreen caption for the ABC report read "Investigation Exposes Health Care Mess." The morning broadcast didn't disappoint, pointing to a Senate committee investigation that had staffers call the Medicare hotline more than 500 times.

Co-host Chris Cuomo teased to introduce Yunji de Nies' report:

Many seniors looking for answers to their questions often turn to help lines that can be anything but helpful.

Even though "Good Morning America" seems to have taken a recent interest in the glaring problems at the government-backed program, experts have been making the point for years.

J.D. Foster, Ph.D., the Norman B. Ture Senior Fellow in the Economics of Fiscal Policy at The Heritage Foundation, encouraged readers September 2 to look at Medicare as if it were a business saying, "taking a step back to view Medicare as a health insurance company simplifies the essentials of the matter."

Being a healthcare provider is already difficult when your client base is made up of mostly seniors. But for Medicare the difficulties are even worse because it is a government agency and needs to operate in the midst of "repeated changes in executive management, cumbersome government procure­ment and management rules and the vagaries of congressional oversight."

In 2005, The Heritage Foundation listed Medicare funding as one of their top 10 examples of government waste.