Medicare: George Bushs Fix
By Carolyn Westmoreland
for seniors? This
revision of Medicare is not going to help anyone but the drug and
insurance industries. There wont be a reduction in the
price of prescription drugs. But, it will allow insurance companies
to collect 12 billion of our tax dollars as incentives to stay in
the Medicare system. And, it might interest you to know that they
can still opt out and eliminate their own coverage altogether! This
is happening already. Since 1997, 2.5 million seniors and people
with disabilities have been dropped by some of these insurance companies,
and some of these same businesses will be receiving shares of the
billions handed over to them to provide services within the Medicare
system. This is according to the Health Reform Program analysis
of the bill. Sweet for someone, but certainly not the people who
need medications and health services.
The Health Policy Director of Consumers Union, Gail
Shearer, found that most beneficiaries, those without prescription
drug coverage, will face higher costs for prescription drugs after
full implementation of the new benefits provided by Medicare. In
other words, a person spending 2,318 on prescriptions in 2003 will
see their costs for the same drugs rise to 2,911 in 2007. Keep in
mind that increases in retirement benefits will not match these
cost hikes. I dont know about you, but this is a big ouch
in the pocketbook.
Drug makers will be pocketing 139 billion in new
revenues from the taxpayers, according to the Health Reform Program
analysis of the bill. According to the Wall Street Journal, "For
the drug industry, the legislation is good news
believe individual private buyers are less able to push down prices
than a centralized government purchaser with a pool of 40 million
patients." This legislation makes it illegal for Medicare to
bargain for lower drug prices.
Have you ever had to deal with an HMO? I have and
I dropped that kind of coverage like a hot potato. Now we are going
to be seeing HMOs subsidized by our tax dollars (12 billion)
in incentives handed out to sell health care coverage Medicare already
provides. The Alliance for Retired Americans states that "This
law really undermines the traditional Medicare program by forcing
it to compete, beginning in 2010, with private HMO insurance plans."
Supporters say that this is only a demonstration project, but many
financial experts think that this is the start of the privatization
of Medicare. Medicare will not only be forced to compete for members,
but it will have to pay skyrocketing drug costs with no bargaining
power allowed to find lower prices. There are also caps on Medicare
spending in the new law that require the President to cut Medicare
spending, and this includes benefit cuts, if the costs go above
an arbitrary spending limit.
Millions of poor people will lose Medicaid drug
coverage. And, middle class retirees will find that their employers
will drop their insurance coverage.
There are so many more negatives in this new Medicare
mess, I could go on to tell you about the tax cuts for the rich,
and the 14 million or more the drug industry spent in lobbying to
get this disaster passed in their favor, but space is limited.
When my President said, "This legislation is
a victory for all Americans" at the bill signing ceremony on
December 8, he must have been thinking about some other countrys
medical plan, not the one he put together for Americans. We are
already paying what single payer health coverage would cost, including
the drugs needed by millions of us, but we are not seeing the benefits.
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