Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Remember hearing that Bush and the Republicans had coopted the Medicare issue with their snazzy prescription-drug plan, delighting seniors and thus dealing a critical blow to Democrats' election hopes in 2004? Well, things are working out a bit differently, as The New York Times reports:

73 Options for Medicare Plan Fuel Chaos, Not Prescriptions

..."Even the person who came to explain it to us didn't understand it," said Mary Shen, 77, at the Whittaker Senior Center on Manhattan's Lower East Side. "It's not fair to expect seniors, who have enough difficulties already, to have to figure this out."

Shirley Brauner, 75, pushed a metal walker through the center's lunchroom. "All I've got to say is they confuse the elderly, including me," she said. "I'm furious. They're taking advantage of the seniors. How can the seniors understand it?" ...

"What it's like is a bunch of confusion," said Katharine Roberts, 77, who said she had not been to a movie in six years, in part because of her drug expenses. "You might find you really need three cards, and you can only choose one."

...[Eighty-five year-old Florence] Daniels did not use the government Web site to compare drug cards, in part because she cannot afford a computer. "I'm trying to absorb all the information, but it's ridiculous," she said. "Not just ridiculous, it's scary. If there was a single card and it was administered by Medicare, and it got the cost of drugs down - wonderful, marvelous. But with these cards, the only thing we know is that we'll have to pay money to other people to administer what we can get and can't get."...

Sydney Bild, 81, a retired doctor in Chicago, ... said his main objection to the new plans was that companies could change prices on drugs, or change the drugs covered. Medicare requires plans to cover only one drug in each of 209 common categories. Consumers can change cards only once a year. Committing to a card is "like love - it's a sometime thing," Dr. Bild said. "What if I chose one? They could drop my drugs two weeks later." ...

Domestic mission accomplished!

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