Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Score: 1-0 Veterans vs. Seniors

Got an email from my dad this morning asking “how stupid are we?” This time he was referring to an email he received from Families USA.org, which is a watchdog group for healthcare consumers. Here’s what inflamed my dad, who, as a former pharmacist, is concerned and dismayed by the constant inequities in government healthcare aid for seniors.

...for the 50 drugs most frequently prescribed to seniors, the lowest Medicare discount card price was almost always considerably higher than the lowest price negotiated by one large government purchaser, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The median difference between the lowest Medicare discount card price and the best price available from the VA was 58.2 percent. This means that, for half of the top 50 drugs prescribed to seniors, the purchase price with a discount card was at least 58.2 percent higher than for those same drugs purchased through the VA.--Report from Families USA September 2005 "Getting the Best Price:Lessons Learned from theMedicare Discount"

…The best way to make medicines affordable for seniors is to allow Medicare to negotiate for better prices directly with drug companies, the way the VA successfully does," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. "The continued prohibition against such bargaining will not only hurt seniors, but it will also fleece the American taxpayer."

…"A big reason why the new Medicare program is so costly is because Congress and the President chose to support the pharmaceutical lobby over the interests of America's seniors and taxpayers," said Pollack. [emphasis added]–Press Release from Families USA 9/27/05

My dad's concern is twofold: the government gives the seniors a bad deal, then tells them what a good deal it is. And the media, too lazy to do any research beyond the partisan press releases, is in on the lie.

All of this should come as no surprise in the post-hurricane days of no-bid FEMA contracts, politicians like Frist and Delay enmeshed in ethics dilemmas, and general “crony capitalism” as Robert Scheer calls the Republican game of “take care of your friends and leave the risks of the free market for the suckers.” How do these guys get away with it—all? We’re letting them.

My dad has been writing to me over a year regarding the Medicare drug plan and its discount card, which has to be purchased:

“…as senior citizens we are being bombarded by the insurance co's who want to run Medicare with all the money they got from bush's signing of the Medicare bill”--3/18/2004

He also copies me on letters to the editor which reflect his obvious frustration.

“…You write what big pharma tells you and I have to laugh when you end your piece "Medicare officials predict the initial premiums will be about $35 a month"---who are they kidding? Give the millions of Medicare recipients a little more credit ---they are not all stupid”—9/12/2005 letter to editor re: Miami Herald article 9/2/05 by Larry Lipman “MEDICARE DRUG BENEFIT AARP ads aim to educate"

As I indicated in this blog back in May, the senior Medicare drug card is a government smoke-and-mirrors scam intended to fatten the coffers of the drug companies. As long as we, the people, are not fooled by this nonsense, we can continue to demand appropriate government aid in healthcare. But if the mainstream press is going to front for these scammers, we’re going to need a lot more help than we’ve been getting.

As my dad emailed me about the "crony leader," in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:

“…he's out preaching as to how they've made the Medicare Rx plan better so all the seniors should pay a smaller premium and join up---what a scam artist--you're 10 years away from his clutches.”—9/30/05

Funny, Dad, but I feel like he’s got me where he wants me right now.

Cooler heads prevail (not really, read on)—on a different note, a man above cronyism—head of the Federal Reserve--Alan Greenspan, offers this piercing clear-cut perspective on the economy for all of us sophisticated American taxpaying consumers:

“Therefore, because it is difficult to suppress growing market exuberance when the economic environment is perceived as more stable, a highly flexible system needs to be in place to rebalance an economy in which psychology and asset prices could change rapidly. Indeed, as I have pointed out in the past, policies to enhance economic flexibility need to be as integral a part of economic policy as are monetary and fiscal initiatives.”-- Remarks by Chairman Alan Greenspan - Economic flexibility To the National Association for Business Economics Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois (via satellite) September 27, 2005

I have no idea what that means--that—from the individual who determines how much money millions and millions of Americans will pay every month on any debt they carry. At least you can be sure that Greenspan’s pockets weren’t greased to make him say that.

The ball is back in our—we the people’s—court again. If this is representative government, then we can’t blame our elected representatives if we don’t care enough to get on their backs and tell them what we want. I am sure one thing we want is an honest, straightforward explanation of policies and available aid that affect our daily pocketbooks. Next step is to have a say in those policies. The time of Americans being treated like the Roman mob by benevolent dictators is over.

The rise to the surface, as in the quote from I’ Claudius, of all these poisons, may be just the ticket for their purging.

Time to email my congress people. Again.


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