More Democrats are speaking up re: their opposition to Medicare D(isaster).  Refering to the prohibition against the negotiation of rx prices, the AG of New Mexico, Patricia Madrid stated

“Big corporations routinely use their purchasing power to drive down prices for consumers. But the Republican Congress banned our government from doing the same…rather than allowing Medicare to provide prescription drugs directly to seniors, the Republican Congress invited the health insurance industry into the process and wrote a needlessly complicated law that has confused millions of seniors and their caregivers.”

Madrid continued, saying that senior citiznes are being told that if they don’t sign up by May 15

“they will have to pay a complexity tax that will raise the cost of their coverage even higher.””

Madrid is running against Republican Heather Wilson in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, a seat that has been held by a Republican for years.  (This election is perceived as vital to the Democrats re-gaining the  majority in Congess.)She also stated that rx companies and insurance carriers have contributed millions of dollars to republican candidates.  

more below
Newsday  chastized gwb and the administration, claiming

It’s past time that the Bush administration and its buddies in Congress concede it has been a fiasco entrusting a prescription drug benefit for 42 million elderly Americans – sick, mentally ill, disabled or poor – to scores of insurance and drug companies, thousands of pharmacies and countless others.

Instead the administration is tinkering at the edges of the chaos, as if the problems were a computer glitch, and sending public relations people around appealing to the foxes of the drug and insurance industries to be kind to the chickens.

The causes of the chaos are further identified in the Newsday article as:

  •  the hypocrisy of lawmakers on emphasizing “personal responsibility” and the need for less government spending, despite the fact that lawmakers receive more-than-generous salaries.
  •  the decreasing funding for social programs that are designed to assist those who need them to survive.
  •  the role of the insurance companies and lobbyists in the designing of Medicare D(isaster), as the legislation was developed

    behind closed doors, with all Democrats barred, and 942 industry lobbyists plus AARP helping to write [it, which] gave Medicare almost no role in the Part D benefit.

  •  the AARP which advocated the passing of Medicare D(isaster), defending it and selling the United plan, from which it earns commissions.

So, the AARP perceives the problems transitory and appears to advocate adjusting Medicare D(isaster) by putting band-aids on it, as opposed to a complete overhaul of the legislation.    However,  attorney Judith Stein, head of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, states,  

the problems are structural because Part D is dozens of different private plans. Insurers impose “quantity limits,” “step therapy” and other hidden restrictions on drugs and their prices.

The NYT
claims that the dissatisfaction of older voters w/Medicare D(isaster) could be a deciding factor in the mid-term elections.

Democrats are set to begin a major new campaign to highlight what Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, describes as “this disastrous Republican Medicare prescription drug plan.”

Democratic incumbents and challengers plan nearly 100 public forums around the country, armed with briefing books and talking points on a law that, party leaders assert, “was written by and for big drug companies and H.M.O.’s, not American families.”

In the 22nd Congressional District, in Florida, Representative E. Clay Shaw Jr is being challenged by  State Senator Ron Klein.  Klein stated,

“Things have gotten pretty rough in the last couple years, and these Medicare prescription drug costs, on top of the other issues, are weighing pretty heavily on people with fixed incomes…Let’s start thinking about the consumer side, instead of figuring out how to prop up the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.”

A need for more emphasis on the consumer side is further illustrated in this aricle which addresses the problems of those who do not have insurance and the increasing numbers of free clinics.

  •  Sevices at free clinics vary, depending on the community in which it is located and the population it serves.
  •  Such clinics are short-staffed and under-funded.
  •  Free clinics are now serving more who are working two and three jobs to make ends meet, as opposed to the stereotype of serving the just the homeless.

With about 46 million uninsured Americans today, those clinics are rapidly growing to accommodate a flood of patients…free clinics across the country annually serve only about 3.5 million people, just a fraction of the nation’s uninsured.

Liz Forer, director of the Venice Family Clinic,

“They’re Band-Aid solutions until we have a more nationalized way of addressing the issue.”

Such as replacing Medicare D(isaster) w/a single payer health care system!!

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