Monday, November 17, 2003

What the frick is AARP doing supporting the Bush Medicare reform? Let me break this down- As far as I can see this is NOT even a step in the direction of universal health insurance. This is politics as usual-worse than that it's another Bush bait and switch. Everyone is hearing about this "prescription drug benefit" for low income seniors. sounds great right? So does "no child left behind", and the "healthy forests" initiative. The prescription drug benefit is not really that great-

From the Post-

The most popular aspect of the legislation would offer federal help to elderly and disabled people in paying for prescription drugs. Next year, the government would coordinate a network of private drug discount cards that Medicare patients could buy. In three years, the federal drug coverage would begin.

So seniors who can't afford their drugs can BUY a DISCOUNT CARD. The discount?


Interim drug card
In 2004 and 2005, older Americans would be eligible to purchase a discount card that the Bush administration estimates would yield savings of 15 percent or higher off the cost of drugs. Low-income seniors would receive an annual subsidy of $600 to defray drug costs further.

So you get a discount card, and $600.oo a year through 2005. And that's not all. The bill will also encourage seniors to buy their own private insurance by making the prices competitive. Now there's where they lose me-and I will find out more about this-I see no indication that the republicans are going to ask private drug or insurance companies to do any sacrificing. In fact alot of this plan seems tailored to those groups interests. So when they say "make prices competitive" with private insurers, do they mean force private firms to lower prices, Or raise the price of medicare? This passage from the Post article gives me some idea-

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), the lead negotiator and a longtime proponent of redesigning Medicare, said the agreement sought to provide better benefits while preventing the financially fragile system from running out of money through what he called "a fairer sharing of costs."

Specifically, Medicare would abandon its tradition of providing everyone in the program the same benefits for the same price. People with incomes of more than $80,000 would be charged higher premiums for the part of the program that covers doctor visits and other outpatient services. And regardless of income, the yearly deductible that patients pay for that outpatient care, fixed at $100 for years, would increase annually starting in 2005.

Catch that last bit-"regardless of income" the yearly deductable would increase annually. Mark my words-just because they put a big shiny bow on it and call it reform, it doesn't change the fact that they're phasing out medicare and moving towards fully privitized, expensive health insurance for all. And the politics as usual-well that's obvious-as long as it's supporters can spin this as a great reformation of prescription drug benefits anyone who opposes it looks like an a-hole. sigh.........

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