First, from the WaPo, a LTE authored by John Breaux, Chairman of the Medicare Rx Education Network, in which he admits that
Medicare D is not without its flaws and admits that it is better now than it was the previous day, and
tomorrow will be better than today.
Also, he is of the opinion that Medicare D needs a chance, as it can save people’s lives.
Breaux also uses numbers to further attempt to descrbe Medicare D as successful by writing
More than 3.6 million people have signed up for the drug benefit, and 20,000 more are enrolling daily online.
However, these numbers are suspect.
However, The Detroit Free Press has questioned the use of the numbers that Breaux has cited.
The Department of Health and Human Services says 24 million of the 42 million eligible Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled. Others say only 3.6 million have voluntarily enrolled in the new prescription drug plans.
Use of the higher numbers imply that Medicare D is extemely successful and gives rx coverage to those who formerly lacked it, although many have been forced into a higher priced rx plan, when they were previously covered under Medicaid.
Use of the lower numbers, describe a government program that is struggling, that many feel is a failure.
NUMBERS FROM MICHIGAN:
14.2 million Americans, [including] 375,730 Michiganders, were enrolled in Medicare drug plans as of Jan. 13, according to the most recent data published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
when asked how many people have enrolled in the drug plans, However,
the same organization quotes the 24 million figure.
Now, who are these other people?
CMS includes about 10 million federal retirees and Medicare-age retirees who receive prescription drug coverage through their former employers. But neither group gets its drug benefit directly from Medicare.
The numbers are inflated because Medicare D is considered as a program that
“provides a safety net”.
And, employers who provide retiree benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees are subsidized for doing so. However, in some instances the health care benefits to retirees are superior than those provided by Medicare D.
Robert Herskovitz, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services claims
Medicare isn’t misleading the public by including in its numbers retirees whose employers receive government subsidies.
He is also quoted as saying,
“A government subsidy to a private employer health plan may make the difference between that employer still being able to serve their members or not.”
(Sounds like a typical divide-and-conquer game to me.)
Senator Debbie Stabenow:
The enrollment numbers for the new Medicare prescription drug program are inflated and misleading…This is just one more indication that the drug benefit is not working as it was intended or as it is being portrayed.”
Congressman Sander Levin:
“That’s my objection. They’ve tried to downplay the problem of so many people not enrolling and so many people who have had gargantuan problems.”