About five weeks ago, I began working at a company that is coordinating senior enrollment in this Medicare Part D Prescription coverage stuff. Let me tell you, it has been an interesting education into how the political machine grinds out half-baked policies and leaves it to the American public to try to put it back together again.
Many of you may remember that during the Presidential debates 2004, a lot of time was spent talking about prescription coverage for seniors. The problem is that all of us intend to retire on a small portion of what we now live on, predicated by the thought that our living expenses will be greatly reduced by the fact that we’ve paid off our home, got the kids through college, and no longer have expensive lovers to maintain. It sounds like a good plan, but unfortunately we had too many seniors eating dog food so that can keep popping those $35 each hypertension pills.
With the population in America aging rapidly, politicians suddenly realized that they needed to do something to keep seniors voting their way. Thus, the Part D plan was born. The Part D coverage is offered by literally hundreds of insurance companies across America. Each company offers three levels of coverage. Every plan is different, covers different drugs, and has different costs. But regardless of the plan chosen, the senior will pay $3600 out of the first $5100 in drug costs, including co-pays and deductibles. After the $5100 threshold, they reach the “catastrophic coverage” level where they are responsible for the first 5% and Medicare subsidizes the insurance company for the other 95%.
Advocates say that this is the best thing that has ever happed to seniors. After all, they used to pay 100% of their prescriptions. Opponents, nay-sayers and cynics think that the program leaves a lot to be desired, like a genuine release of prescription cost burden on the seniors.
Interestingly, our dear ol’ Prez hit a home-run just by passing this legislation. Now, the legacy of his presidency will officially include the fact that he gave seniors what they needed – desperately. However, as a wise person once said (myself!), you can’t just give people the help you want to give, in order to make an impact you have to give the kind of help they really need.
While “W” spends his political capital on crap policies like this, our soldiers are dying. While “W” writes his legacy about helping seniors in a pen of gold, there will still be a lot of seniors eating dog food. And while the blue-nosed bureaucrats pat each other on the back about what a wonderful thing they’ve done, the oil crisis builds.
If we can’t drug the elderly, the least we could is drug ourselves. With the way things are going, it looks like we are going to need it.