They call themselves Compassionate Conservatives while playing smarmy, contemptible games with the most vulnerable among us--senior citizens.
Would you like to know how my 96-year old neighbor copes with your miserable fucking Medicare D donut hole?
READ THIS! These people are our mother and fathers, our grandmothers and our grandfathers. These people are American citizens.
Election day is fast approaching.
November 7th, 2006 Justice Tuesday. Republicans and any Democrats responsible for this brutal assault on America's elderly will stand before the constituents they've victimized. . .
That day cannot come soon enough for millions of Americans who have been on the receiving end of the Republican Medicare D disaster.
We always say hello. I've written about her in the past. She and my mother who is a teenager compared to this wonder of nature are my Medicare D informants.
First though she was headed to the drugstore. Since I'm nyceve, she said drugstore and my interest was piqued.
Here is a snippet of our conversation.
How's the new drug benefit working?
Neighbor: I didn't want to sign up, but my family insisted.
Me: Is it helping?
Neighbor: Not any longer, now I pay.
Me: That donut hole problem.
Neighbor: The plan just stopped paying. It's so confusing.
Me: Just stopped paying. So what do you do?
Neighbor: My family helps. I split my medication.
Me: You only take half?
Neighbor: I need to make it last. It's too expensive.
The pharmacist says I'm not alone. Do you know why they did this to us?
Do I know why they did this to you--a good question. A very good question indeed. Here's what Medicare Administrator Mark B. McClellan has to say. "What millions of these beneficiaries had before was no coverage at all for their prescription expenses,"
It boils down to this dear neighbor: Dr. McClellan wants you to be very grateful this Republican government gave you a damn thing. When people who hate government and hate you institute a new "benefit" you can be certain that it won't be a good thing for you. Medicare D was designed by, for and about enriching the pharmaceutical industry.
But very tragically, this identical scenerio is playing out across America. The elderly are "stretching" their medication supplies because the sting of the Medicare D donut hole is being felt by millions.
This is what the Los Angeles Times is reporting:
Now, six months into the drug program -- the first new major healthcare benefit for the elderly in decades -- 3.4 million seniors are approaching the doughnut hole.
Most of them are middle-class seniors with multiple chronic illnesses. (The poor are exempt from the gap.) Some have already experienced an abrupt surge in prescription costs.
Melvin Kinnison, 65, of Huntington Beach was shocked to discover that the out-of-pocket cost to refill his prescription for antiseizure medication was jumping to $178 from $10. He left the pharmacy empty-handed.
You're not alone dear neighbor.
Kinnison is trying to figure out how to handle a monthly tab for heart, diabetes and acid reflux medications that has climbed to $1,000 from $80. "I thought Medicare is supposed to be helpful," he said. "It sure isn't."
And the government doesn't give a rat's ass whether you live or die, dear neighbor.
But the significance of the issue extends beyond the immediate problem. At stake is a basic approach of the Bush administration and many conservatives and business leaders for dealing with the cost crisis in healthcare. They say consumers must be made to take more responsibility for their medical affairs. Costs are growing so fast, they say, the government and private employers cannot shoulder the burden alone.
Medicare D is not your friend.
Some doctors worry that vulnerable patients may fall victim to the gap, unable to pay the suddenly higher costs of their medicines.
"There is a huge amount of evidence from research and clinical experience that seniors skip medicines when the price is too high," said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Baltimore's public health commissioner.
"If we find that people are skipping their medications, that is a subject of concern."
A gap in coverage is to put it nicely, unusual. But there had to be a gap in coverage because Medicare is prohibited from negotiating prices with the pharmauceutical industry.
Industry experts say a hole in the middle of an insurance benefit is highly unusual. Most medical insurance plans have a yearly deductible. And some prescription drug plans limit how much they will pay each year.
Under the Medicare drug benefit designed by Congress, beneficiaries pay the first $250 in drug costs for the year. The plan then pays 75% of the next $2,000. After that comes the $2,850 doughnut hole, for which seniors are solely responsible. Then, when a beneficiary's drug bills for the year exceed $5,100 ($250 plus $2,000 plus $2,850), Medicare pays 95%.
"I think this is unique," said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a healthcare research and consulting firm.
. . .Democrats say the coverage gap can be closed if Congress grants Medicare authority to directly negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers. Eliminating the gap with tax dollars would be expensive, perhaps costing more than $10 billion a year now, and bigger sums in the future.
But nothing will change until the American people remove from office the thugs responsible for this crime.
My neighbor needs help. So do millions of mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers.
The Republicans have no shame. The elderly are the people they target and victimize.