Friday, December 09, 2005

Drug the Elderly

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.


DCveR said...

Shooting the elderly would make the problem go away.
Ok, I'll try not to be cynical nor sarcastic, but why on Earth do people pay taxes? To finance a government, that bit is known, but that same government is supposed to do something about the average Joe. I don't say this specifically about the US, in fact I can say this about every nation, sadly as that is. It seems that all rulers forget the fact they are supposed to be the people's representatives and not the people's masters. Elderly people who worked an entire life and payed taxes should be entitled to a good support, regardless of living in Europe, the US, Africa or Mars.

bunnyjo georg said...

I agree!! And if you'd just run for office in America, I'd vote for ya! :)

cream said...

First something tasteless: Send the elderly to war. Bring back the soldiers. Problem solved!

It is a shame that in "developed" countries the poor elderly are just forgotten about and stuck in death's waiting rooms something called old people's homes.

In poor countries, the elderly are looked after by their own families whatever their means.
So who's "developed", then?

Chai-rista said...

Hey Bunnyjo: Sorry - this has nothing to do with your post. I just wanted to give you the name of this book that I used to generally make my life better. It gives you something positive to focus on for each day of the month - which probably sounds corny as all hell, but seriously ... if you can get your head in a better place, your ass WILL follow:

Absolutely Effortless Prosperity by Bijan

Bijan has his own web site you can look up. Sorry to tack this on to an unrelated post!

shortensweet said...

ya know, it is sad. Back in the day (I don't know what day that was) the ederly were respected and treated kindly. You spend your life paying taxes to the government, working hard to make ends meet and then after you retire and stop paying taxes the government don't want to help you anymore. You're lucky to get the little help that you do. It's sad. It's really sad. Working for the cable company we lost a lot of elderly customers who were shut ins because they couldn't afford the $13 per month package because they had large out of pocket costs for perscriptions. What a quality of life.

Chill Daddy said...

One thing I don't understand about pharmaceuticals, and I work in the medical field, is why they don't just give the patients the meds they need regardless of ability to pay. I work with surgeons everyday who are doing operations the people can't pay for. Oh, sure, they'll bill them afterwards, but they don't seriously expect to be paid -- patients go deeply into debt, but with better health. There are laws which say you can't refuse medical treatment based on ability to pay, so why doesn't that apply to medications?

Chill Daddy said...

And don't blame ''w' and his yellow-bellied washington cronies' or anything like that. This has been a growing problem for twenty years and pinning it on the politics you disagree with is a cop out.

bunnyjo georg said...

Huh, did someone say cop out?

The cop out "W" is guilty of is not giving the seniors something that truly helps them. His policies, while they make good sound bites, are typically funded by taking money out of entitlement programs. And while entitlement programs may not be very popular, many of them do important things like pay for veterans hospitals and money for college students. THAT is why I don't like "W." He rapes the poor, the powerless and the needy while padding his political capital account. So there!


bunnyjo georg said...

Cream: Interesting solution to a difficult problem. Hey, at least it gets a chuckle. You make a good point about whether we truly are developed as a culture when we treat people the way we do. Oh, hold it - we live in a capitalist country. It makes perfect sense!
Chai: Thank you for the recommendation! After what I did today, I will most likely need it! Self-torture seems to be a specialty of mine.
Shorty:Well said. My heart truly goes out to the elderly in this society. They are disregarded, left behind and taken advantage of. We ought to be ashamed. The REALLY sad thing is, most people are not. They don't even think about it.

Marcheline said...

ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... oh, sorry... politics?


- M

bunnyjo georg said...

Politics is boring because we feel so distant from the process, from the results of that process. It interests me because I HOPE that with awareness will come the motivation to do something about it. For instance, I have been contemplating doing volunteer work with seniors once a week. If we all do a little, a lot can happen!

Mom said...

About 20 years ago I did an independent study in college on the state of affairs of seniors in our area. There were many programs in place to help seniors then. But the two problems that never went away were transportation (inadequate, expensive, and not tailored to special needs) and inability to buy prescription drugs! For a time in our county there used to be free diabetic and high blood pressure medication. It was hoped providing these meds would prevent catastrophic illness, and thereby prevent catastrophic cost. Like Ray said, the taxpayers would have to pay for the illness anyway. That program is no longer in place. But there always seems to be money flowing for the research and development of new meds, techniques, etc. I'm all for new stuff that will save lives, but poor people are suffering and dying because they can't afford the cures that are already out there. Health care has evolved into just another big business. Although there are still many in the health care field who are altruists.

bunnyjo georg said...

My new post up there, I think, strikes at the heart of the matter. If we are too busy striving to get ours, we don't take the time to notice people who don't have anything. Nor do we care.