There were several hundred people at this sometimes sober and sometimes raucous event organized by Metro Justice of Rochester, The Medicare Rights Center and Americans United for Change as well as groups from the health and labor sectors.
Reverend Phil Schaefer of Penfield was a big hit with the crowd. He came to explain why the plan, a partnership with Medicare A and B, is named Part D. D stands for disappointment, disaster and distress.
Schaefers first standing ovation was when he declared that he had as much, or more, right to the title Christian as the Neo-Cons or the Right Wing Republicans. Though Reverend Shaefer is retired from obligations to a specific congregation, he lives as a committed Christian. Were in this together, Schaefer pledged. The Bible and the teachings of Jesus tell us to bear one anothers burdens. FDR told us in his second inaugural speech that a third of our nation is ill housed, ill clad and ill fed. This holds true today and the measure of our national progress is not how much more wealth the wealthy have but the fate of the poor.
For Shaefer, Part D means delight. Delight in the fact that he has prescription coverage from his pension system and does not have to choose from the confusing array of plans offered in Part D. For others, D is for despondent a description of the situation endured by a number of the people at the hall who were suffering from the loss of their medications. Because Medicare is not allowed to negotiate for lower prices, D is for Deception the drug plan was not created to benefit citizens but to please pharmaceutical companies and insurance providers.
Do you remember when Congress held open a vote for over 3 hours while they bribed and threatened members to get them to change their votes? Congressional votes are to take place in a 15 minute period but for Part D, the Republicans extended the time while they pressured and pushed members to change their votes.
When Part D passed it went through a committee to reach a compromise bill. The compromise included a provision allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices. The White House removed that provision so that drug companies may set prices at will. That, speakers said, was either foolishness or corruption.
A series of responses during the meeting thrust one into awareness of the extremely low regard for Representative Randy Kuhl. Every time Kuhls name was mentioned catcalls and a din of booing and hissing erupted across the hall. Several speakers reported that they contacted Kuhl and they all heard the same comments Kuhl had not been in congress for the vote but that he was willing to be patient to see how Part D worked out its problems.
Sue Kaszynski showed that she has no patience left in the matter as she drove her wheel chair to the microphone. A Marine and a Vet, her jacket, hat and wheelchair were emblazoned with Semper Fi. Having served her country she wanted to know why she was now refused her medication. She was forced into participation in Part D but it simply doesnt cover her prescriptions. She wanted to ask George Bush herself but he was visiting the posh adult residential center known as Paris Hills and Kaszynski was refused a ticket for that event. Mr. Bush didnt have time to meet anyone at the Veterans Center though he was in an adjacent building.
Rally organizers reported three goals regarding Part D. 1. They want a law to require that Medicare negotiates lower prices for prescription drugs. The VA negotiates and saves 41% on average. 2. They also want Part D to be within traditional Medicare. Right now, people must sign up with private insurance companies throwing billions of dollars to middle men. As part of traditional Medicare, prescriptions would be covered by one universal and uniform program and payment would be made directly to health care providers. 3. They want Part D to cover the drugs that seniors need. HR 752 in the House and S 345 in the Senate both support these cost-saving and life-saving goals and medicarerights.org doesnt intend to let up until those bills repair Part D.