Sunday, January 15, 2006

Breaking News: Seniors Can’t Afford Drugs Under Bush Plan

Top news stories today:

Miners Funeral

Comet Dust Probe Returns

Iran plans Holocaust Conference while threatening nuclear capability

Feinstein Warns Against Alito Filibuster

None of these stories immediately affects as many people as the Bush drug prescription plan, yet that headline is not even on the grid.

Once again dad has brought a perspective to the issues of the world that seems to be missing from the media reports of late: seniors can’t afford the drugs they need under the new Bush drug prescription program. Maybe his interest is due to his holding a license as a pharmacist for 60 years. Or maybe he doesn’t like seeing the underdog, in this case the American senior citizen, treated unfairly. Or maybe he doesn’t trust Bush, or most politicians for that matter, when statements are made saying,

"Some older Americans spend much of their Social Security checks just on their medications. This new law will ease the burden on seniors and will give them the extra help they need." (George W. Bush at bill signing ceremony, December 8, 2003 2)

The facts: Most Medicare beneficiaries will end up paying MORE for
their prescriptions. (

Here’s the enactment of the Bush drug plan:

Since Jan. 1, countless low-income Medicare patients have been turned away from druggists' counters or forced to come up with large sums of cash for crucial drugs. Despite emergency measures announced Thursday by California officials to cover the costs of drugs for this group in the short term, relatively few patients were able to take advantage of the move Friday. Many didn't know about it.

Indeed, hundreds of pharmacies — including stores operated by at least two major chains, Long's and Rite Aid — apparently hadn't received word of the last-minute guarantees by the state and were charging regular prices for the drugs. Some people went away empty-handed; others dependent on vital drugs such as insulin dipped deep into limited savings or borrowed from others. Still others made tough choices, forgoing asthma medication, for example, for blood pressure pills.

Even when glitches in the new drug plan were resolved thanks to the emergency measures, many seniors were overwhelmed by new co-payments they didn't realize they would have to pay.Medicare Situation Still Chaotic, Los AngelesTimes, 1/14/06

Dad’s reaction:

Isn't it awful to read this and realize nobody (not even Diane Feinstein [Democratic Senator-CA]) cares? I was waiting until this plan come into effect to see how the poor are affected and now see it clearly---where they got medi-cal free and other states have medicaid--they are now pushed into this plan where they have to pay a co-pay (I worked in a welfare drug store in Hartford and know these people don't have any money for Rx)--so what happens today on the talk shows Feinstein appears on CBS and says our big problem is the gov't invasion of privacy.
Feinstein did have something to say about the Bush drug plan for which she voted:

On Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the few Democrats to vote for the prescription drug plan pushed by President Bush in 2003, described the program's faulty debut in dire terms."The result is a major health emergency in California, particularly for people with chronic and debilitating diseases who rely on multiple medications daily to keep them alive," she wrote. L. A. Times

Multiply the following story by millions:

Henry Cook, 52, of Los Angeles, who has had diabetes since age 6 and was disabled by complications of an aneurysm, chokes up as he talks about what happened to him.

The Rite Aid drugstore he has patronized for years told him he owed $250 because his deductible hadn't been covered to pay for insulin and related supplies. He opted to forgo his blood pressure medicine, but still had to borrow money. By the time he got home to measure his blood sugar, it had soared.

He has since resolved some of the problems after spending hours on the phone. "What's worrisome is that any time I'm going to have to get the prescriptions refilled, I'm going to be sweating bullets because I'll never know what to expect," Cook said. L. A. Times

As George W would say, the Bush senior prescription initiative is a heck of a plan.

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