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Millions of seniors and people with disabilities will hit the "donut hole"/coverage gap. Part D plans stop paying for medications while, at the same time, those who have Part D will be responsible for paying both premiums and all of the out of pocket costs for presctriptions.  Millions of people who aren't aware of the donut hole or its severity will be unable to afford their prescriptions.

In response to the unfair restrictions re: Part D, specifically, the closing of enrollment, the coverage gap, and the hidden restrictions on the formularies, as detailed in a report by Henry Waxman, a group of seniors went to Congressman Ray LaHood's office Thursday with empty pill bottles, symbolizing the thousands of prescriptions that will go unfilled because of the missed deadline.

In addition, the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans wrote a letter to Congressman LaHood, requesting the deadline be changed.

Nancy Gardner, of the Illinois Association of Retired Persons:
"The penalty of one percent of a month means that by the end of this year they were going to have a 7 percent penalty.  That's what they would have and, not only that, but they aren't going to be able to get their drugs filled between now and then. They're not going to have any insurance and a lot of them are the ones that need it the most, the ones that can't understand it are the ones that need it the most."

LaHood was unavailable, but a member of his staff did listen to the group's concerns.

In addition, a second group, Citizen's Action Council, echoed their concerns.

Third, Americans United announced will hold 18 'Fix Part D Hearings' in 14 states. Members of Congress and their staff will receive testimony from seniors, the disabled, and other experts on Part D. Real ways to fix it will be offerred. Americans United, along with state affiliates of national partner USAction, will also show video produced by the national health care consumers group Families USA.   The video is titled "The Problems with the Medicare Drug Program - and How to Fix Them".  It will be narrated by Walter Cronkite.   Members of Congress will be asked for their support on Americans United's plan to fix to Part D, which is briefly explained below.

       Americans United Plan to Fix Part D

*      Reduce the cost of prescription drugs by requiring Medicare to negotiate lower prices from drug companies,

*      Close the "donut hole" referring to the gap in coverage for annual costs between two thousand two hundred fifty dollars and five thousand one hundred dollars which will result in millions of seniors being denied coverage each year while they still pay monthly premiums

*      Allow seniors the choice of obtaining their prescription drug plan directly from Medicare--instead of from a private insurance company.

*      Prohibit insurance companies from dropping drugs after a plan stats if people are prohibited from switching plans

*      Re-open Part D enrollment and waive the late enrollment penalty until Part D is fixed.

Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Americans United:  

"It's important that Congress hear concerns directly from their senior and disabled constituents who have either been locked out of the Part D program until next year with no coverage and those who will soon find themselves within the program's massive coverage gap while still paying costly monthly premiums.  They need to hear first hand from people hurt by the costly and corrupt nature of the program and they need to support meaningful fixes to make it simple, affordable and guaranteed.  Part D was written by and for the special interests.  There's no other reason why Medicare would be prohibited from negotiating lower prices with the drug companies.  There's no other reason why seniors are forbidden from getting a drug plan directly through Medicare. There's no other reason why the private insurance plans are allowed to drop coverage for specific drugs at any time while seniors are locked into their plans."

Fix Part D Hearings' Schedule

AZ  6/1  5:00 PM Speakers: Nick Nyhart - Executive Director of Public Campaign

Hope Hall, Grace Lutheran Church, 1124 N 3rd St, Phoenix

CT New Briton

FL 6/1 2:30pm, Palm Harbor Community Center, 1500 16th St., Palm Harbor

IA 6/20 1:00 PM, Waterloo Public Library,Waterloo

IN  6/5 10:00am
Town Hall
North United Methodist Church, 38th and Meridian Streets, Indianapolis

6/8 10:00 am
Town Hall
The League for the Blind and Disabled
5821 S. Anthony Blvd.
Fort Wayne

MD Longbranch Senior Center, Silver Spring

ME 5/31, 10:00 am, Hammond Street Senior Center, Bangor

MN 5/31, 10:00 am, Senate Hearing Room 112, MN State Capitol, St. Paul

MO 5/31, 1:00 pm, Palestin Senior Activity Center
3325 Prospect, Kansas City

6/1, 7:30 PM, Daniel Boone Library - Friends Room,
100 W. Broadway, Columbia

6/1, 11:00 am, Ferguson Municipal Public Library
35 North Florissant Road, St. Louis

NY, 7/10 Saratoga Springs

PA 6/1, 1:30pm, Pennwood Library, 301 S Pine Street, Langhorne

6/2, 1:30pm, Chester County Library - Struble Room
450 Exton Square Parkway, Exton

WA  6/10, 12:00 PM, Part of White House Conference on Aging
Seattle Labor Temple - Main Hall, 2800 First Ave.

WI  6/2, Paper Valley Hotel, 333 W College Ave, Appleton

WV  5/31,  3:00 PM  Panel:
State Rep Don Perdue - Chair of House Heath & Human Resources
Larry Matheney - WV AFL-CIO Sec/Treasurer
Gary Zuckett - WVCAG

Cross Lanes Unity Apts, 101 Unity Lane, Cross Lane

Originally posted to Street Kid on Wed May 24, 2006 at 09:40 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  In addition, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Creosote, roses, epcraig, slksfca

    if a person has a Part D story that he/she would be willing to share for an epm journal article, please email it to partdstoriesatgmaildotcom

    Also, please indicate as to whether or not it it permissable to use your real name, or whether or not you would prefer to have the name that you blog under used.

    It is time for the blogosphere to get more involved in this.

    Thank you.  

    "Do not go gentle into that good night." Dylan Thomas.

    by Street Kid on Wed May 24, 2006 at 09:36:20 PM PDT

  •  I wrote a LTE today (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    epcraig, Street Kid

    I sent the following letter to USA Today, commenting on  this story.

    In your story, "Drug plan's bottom lines emerging", you talk about Geraldine and Paul Kuhn, who are "saving hundreds of dollars a month" and are "poster children for the new program". You say that they are now paying $125/month for drugs on their Medicare Part D plan, rather than the $475 they previously paid.

    It sounds good, but this is only part of the story. You fail to mention the infamous "Coverage Gap" or "Doughnut Hole" that is also part of the plan. For the Kuhn's the doughnut hole should be hitting right about now. So for the next 6 months or so, they will be back to paying the $475 full retail cost of their prescriptions, plus they must continue to pay the plan's monthly premium. Perhaps in late November or December they might reach the $3600 our-of-pocket maximum, which is when the plan will start to pay 95% of their drug costs.

    The Coverage Gap may come as a rude surprise to the Kuhns and many other people who erroneously believe that the savings they see in January will continue throughout the year.

    I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies..

    by lesliet on Wed May 24, 2006 at 09:45:00 PM PDT

  •  I recieved a letter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    epcraig, Street Kid

    from my Congressman in answer to my call asking (well, demanding would be more accurate) for an extension of the Part D sign up.  I was insulted and furious that his letter blamed Democrats for the donut hole and the deadline and to emphasize his lie, he included 8 pages of GOP talking points.  I zapped back and e-mail which was as rude and condesending as his missle to me.  Damn, there's only token opposition to Harold Coble, Dist. 6 , NC.  He's pushing 70 and has been in the House for about 30 years.  I wish he had to sign up for part D - it's a killer for sure.

    "He that sees but does not bear witness, be accursed" Book of Jubilees

    by Lying eyes on Wed May 24, 2006 at 09:51:26 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, the republicans are blaming the dems. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Like that is really going to solve anything.  Two of the organizations that I have mentioned have been VERY  active.  Americans United won the social security battle a few years back.  I get the feeling that this is far from over.

      I have already submitted testimony to Congress which will be in the next Federal Register and plan on re-wording that as well for what I am planning to write.  

      Again, it seems to me that personal stories help more and will give more credibility to changing this thing.  If you know of any, please submit them.

      Thanks again.

      "Do not go gentle into that good night." Dylan Thomas.

      by Street Kid on Wed May 24, 2006 at 10:21:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm still listening - thanks for the info (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Street Kid
    •  So glad that you are!!! (0+ / 0-)

      Hope that all of this helps get this thing changed.  I have my fingers crossed!!!  And please pass this on to anyone that you know of that may be interested.


      "Do not go gentle into that good night." Dylan Thomas.

      by Street Kid on Wed May 24, 2006 at 11:43:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the information (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Street Kid

    I'm going to get the information on the Ft. Wayne meeting to a neighbor couple.  I'm sure they will want to go.  

    DITCH MITCH-Republican "Bush Buddy" Governor of Indiana

    by libnewsie on Wed May 24, 2006 at 11:01:11 PM PDT

    •  Great!!! (0+ / 0-)

      I know that some of the days/times don't appear to be scheduled, but that is all I have for now.

      I really feel that this one can be beat--Social Security and the personal accounts were and the same groups are involved!!!

      "Do not go gentle into that good night." Dylan Thomas.

      by Street Kid on Wed May 24, 2006 at 11:22:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  also xposted (0+ / 0-)

    MLW and Green and at epm

    "Do not go gentle into that good night." Dylan Thomas.

    by Street Kid on Thu May 25, 2006 at 12:16:27 AM PDT

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