As the current administration and the like-minded of the Congressional majority attempt to convince us that they have our best interests at heart, their actions are nothing short of a travesty. In the interest of those poor and elderly who cannot afford to purchase sufficient prescription medication to maintain life and health, they have given us the new Medicare pharmacy plan. According to this plan, those who are already eligible for Medicaid will receive the same benefits they have now, with the exception that now they will have to find the money for larger co-payments in their meager food budget. The elderly and disabled poor will now have a "drug plan" whereby they will be forced to purchase medications insurance under a plan that is so complicated that even those who will have to work under it can't understand the rules sufficiently to educate the public about it. However, if we do not buy it by the deadline, we will be punished by higher premiums, the amount of which we do not yet know and which is not controlled by any government agancy. We are told that "most" will have to begin by paying about $35 per month but that the insurance companies may increase this amount at will.
For many who will be paying these mandatory premiums, there will be no foreseeable savings whatever. First, you will pay at least $ 444 per year for the premiums, and then the first $250 will come right out of your pocket. Then the insurance will pay 75% of the amount up to a total of $2500, another $625.00 that you will have to pay before reaching the "donut hole" where you will have to pay the next $2800 yourself before reaching the "catastrophic" level where the insurance pays in full until the end of the year, at which time you get to start all over. It has been estimated that the average retiree receives Social Security income of $100 per month less Medicare premiums for Part A and Part B. This Part D will add at least $75 in fixed expenses for most elderly and reduce their buying power even more. When you consider that many prescription medications may cost as much as $10 per dose, it is not hard to pass the "deductible" period and enter the "donut hole. No wonder the average elderly person suffers attacks of anxiety just from trying to figure it out!
When you couple these figures with the information that the projected "cost of living raise" for those on Social Security will be 3% next year, you are seeing the situation in perspective, particularly in light of the fact that there will be an increase in the Medicare Part A and Part B premiums. To sum up, the increase in Social Security will net about $300 per year, from which we subtract perhaps $300 for increased Medicare premiums and the $1666 for prescription "assistance" and we are supposed to be reassured about the health and monetary well-being of the elderly in 2006. (In addition, it will cost the government several trillion dollars over ten years to administer the system.)
It is nothing more nor less than the same old "bait and switch" that the Bush administration tried to sell the American public for the Social Security program, but this time the elderly are stuck with the "snake oil" with no recourse. Add in the fact that energy prices are expected to double this year and Congress is planning to cut domestic programs such as Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs in order to "save" enough money to repair the Katrina damage without forsaking another tax cut for the rich, brace yourself for the news of elderly people dying of malnutition and hypothermia in the year to come. At least they may be able to afford to hoard enough medications to allow them to overdose and end their own suffering, further relieving the national budget of that burden.