Just read a mailing from Medicare with preliminary information on the upcoming prescription drug plan, and I'm left scratching my head. (I guess that should be no surprise!)
We look after hubby's elderly aunt who resides in a nursing home. She currently has a good drug plan thru her late husband's employer which will expire on January 1, when the Medicare plan goes into effect. No surprise there, why would a private employer continue an expensive benefit when the Feds are poised to step in? Unfortunately, the Medicare plan will not pay nearly as well as her private plan, so her yearly drug costs are going to rise significantly. AARRGGHH!!
Secondly, there is a list of excluded meds, which includes infertility drugs (OK), and medications used for cosmetic purposes (OK). Also excluded are medications for the symptommatic relief of coughs, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines. I realize these drugs have the potential for abuse, but so do narcotics, and they are not excluded. So auntie can't have codeine cough syrup when she contracts pneumonia or bronchitis, which she gets every year. Also, no sleeping pills or anxiety medications.
But, guess what, there is no exclusion for Viagra or Cialis! Why am I not surprised?
The Medicare drug coverage plan is nothing but a big, fat giveaway of tax-payer dollars to Big Pharm. Many seniors will end up worse off than they were (as you note about your relative), and most will benefit only slightly (compared to how the drug companies are going to benefit!
The bill was just barely passed by Congress in the middle of the night, under highly irregular circumstances; once it passed, we found out that the Shrub administration lied through its collective teeth about the cost of the program (it's going to cost about twice what they originally said it would), in order to get the very reluctant Congresss to pass it; and Tom Scully, the man who was
the head of CMS and responsible for developing the rules for the new program, left CMS while the ink was still drying on the rules to take a cushy, new, better-paying job in one of the Big Pharm companies (I forget which one). The new head of CMS, Mark McClellan, is the brother of Scott McClellan, Shrub's official White House spokesperson (they certainly are clannish over there at the White House, aren't they?)
This is what you get when you let the Repugs run the government ...
Last edit by elkpark on Sep 27, '05