"How long do you have to get hit in the head before you start asking who's hitting you in the head?"

Friday, January 13, 2006

A bitter pill

“Since the drug benefit took effect on Jan. 1, tens of thousands of low-income people have been overcharged, and some have been turned away from pharmacies without getting their medications. In many cases, pharmacists say, they cannot identify the plan in which a person has been enrolled. The federal government is supposed to compute the subsidy available to each low-income beneficiary, but, in many cases, that information was not shared with insurers or pharmacists.”

Wow…That’s really weird, because Mark McClellan, Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said quite clearly during “Medicare Rx, A National Conversation,”

“No matter how you pay for your prescription drugs, no matter how you get your Medicare today, no matter what your income, the new Medicare drug benefit can help you with the cost and with security when it comes to prescription drugs which are just an essential part of modern medicine today.”

Hmm…Is that final clause a disclaimer? Maybe these silly folks tried to get prescription drugs which are not an essential part of modern medicine today…

The NYT further reports that

“Under the new Medicare law, poor people are entitled to extra help, and Medicare officials have repeatedly assured them that their co-payments will not exceed $3 or $5 for a prescription. But many have been charged $50 to $100 or more.”

This finding is not so strange, because during that same “conversation,” Ms. Carla Obiol, Director of North Carolina's State Health Insurance Assistance Program, gave herself a little semantic wiggle room when she stated that

“The Medicare drug plans will probably provide you more significant savings than what you're currently paying with your co-payment and also give you better protection for higher drug costs.”

Stupid low-income beneficiaries! They obviously couldn’t parse if their lives depended on it…



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