As predicted, the Medicare prescription drug plan that was supposed to benefit seniors in fact does not benefit seniors but instead benefits the GOP's pals in the pharmaceutical industry:

Tens of thousands of elderly participants nationwide have been unable to receive medicines promised by the government since the drug benefit went into effect Jan.1.

Waxman, the senior Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee, said that in the plan's legislation, "corruption, incompetence, and an ideology that favors private profits over public programs all played a role."

He specifically targeted the 2003 Republican-controlled Congress.

"The program was turned over to hundreds of private insurers who can charge what they want, cover what drugs they want, and change what they cover at will," he said. "Instead of the certainty of Medicare coverage, seniors are now faced with a confusing array of choices, inaccurate information, and sometimes even higher costs."

Waxman said he had "never seen a more dishonest legislative process than the one used to pass" the bill.

By "dishonest legislative process" does he mean writing secret legislation with the help of industry lobbyists and lying to Congress about its cost and forcing passage without any debate? At any rate, Waxman is calling for an overhaul of the bill. Not much chance of that happening until Democrats take back control of Congress.

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rikki's picture

Given that seniors

    Given that seniors make up a disproportionate share of the voting population, it is possible to win any election by appealing to them and ignoring everyone else. This, then, is the perfect issue for Democrats to hang their hopes on. It trumps the wedge issues and distractions by virtue of direct self-interest; it has no link to terrorism, but meshes nicely with corruption scandals; it allows for a positive, reformist message; attacks can be impersonal and grounded in core reservations about big government and dishonest politicians.

    It's  a dream issue for Democratic strategists. They'll probably forget it the minute they wake up.

SemiPundit's picture

Coverage of newly prescribed drug

One thing I have been curious about is this:

If an enrollee is in a plan that does not cover a certain drug, and if that drug is prescribed as needed by that patient shortly after enrollment, will that patient have to pay out-of-pocket for the medication? We are told that patient enrollment changes can only occur annually, while plan changes can occur as desired by the provider.

R. Neal's picture

That's my understanding. And

That's my understanding. And the plan changes that the provider can make include price increases at any time, yet the enrollee is stuck for a year. At least that's my understanding of the original proposal.

SemiPundit's picture

Disaster in the making

Already many price increases have wiped out the discounts. I see a trainwreck coming, and the perpetrators will, as usual, come out a little scuffed, but flush with cash to finance further ventures.

Andy Axel's picture

And it doesn't appear like

And it doesn't appear like seniors are buying into the program in droves.

I heard on NPR this morning that under 20% of eligibles have even signed up for this program:

The administration notes that some 24 million Medicare beneficiaries are covered by the new Part D program. But the vast majority already had coverage: 11 million are in plans run by their former employers -- with the employers taking a government subsidy to continue previous coverage. Another 6 million are the Medicare-Medicaid "dual eligibles," while 4.5 million are in Medicare HMOs that offer drugs as part of their comprehensive coverage.

Out of the roughly 21 million Medicare beneficiaries who did not have drug coverage prior to Jan. 1, only about 3.6 million have signed up; about 17 percent of the target population. Health consultant Robert Laszewski calls such a low number "concerning," because if not enough healthy people sign up for the program, it could result in financial losses for the sponsoring drug plans.

(link...)

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