The impact of Medicare D(isaster) is taking another turn, as some independent pharmacies are now facing the possibility of closing, refusing to participate in Medicare D(isaster), or bankruptcy.  

However, their concerns are not adequately being addressed.  Instead, it appears the policies and legislation that have been addressed in the past and are currently being debated, attempt to fix Medicare D(isaster).  This does not address any of the issues that many are having with it.

As stated in this article, a survey completed by pharmacists found

…a troubling trend for consumers: A high percentage of Medicare customers find out their list of covered drugs has changed.  Sixty-one percent of pharmacists said customers’ “formularies” had changed after they signed up. In two-thirds of cases, the changes were not beneficial to consumers.

According to Dave Olig, an independent pharmacist/business owner

the original drug lists might have been designed to lure customers, who sign up for a year of coverage.

He continued

“In the retail world they call that bait and switch…And I fear that’s going to happen.”

 (The “bait and switch” technique is illegal in some states.)  

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Olig spoke to the Democratic Senate Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., to discuss the problems of the Medicare D(isaster).

It is now being suggested (again) that the enrollment deadline of May 15 be extended to allow more to enroll and for Congress to fix Medicare D(isaster)

Olig stated that

Medicare should define a standard program, with options for different deductibles and co-payments a[and that] program [be] understandable.

 He also feels that Medicare D(isaster) doesn’t need to be completely scrapped, however, it does need a major overhaul.

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., stated

“I think pressure is building on Congress and the Bush administration to get this straightened out…My hope is in the coming weeks we’ll be able to pass legislation to get it straightened out.”

 Also, it is worth repeating that the republicans have repeatedly refused to any enrollment extension in the past.

However, there in increasing pressure by the Democrats for an extension of the May 15 deadline.  During earlier congressional hearings, an extension was frequently mentioned.  Now, there is some bipartisan support, from a couple of Republican lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  

Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio,

“How can anyone blame seniors if they’ve been either too perplexed or too wary to enter the fray?”

Rep. Michael Bilirakis, R-Fla.

“We should all have an open mind on some of these things, particularly in that area.”

It appears that there may be success in gaining a fix to Medicare D(isaster), as some of the organizations that fought the privatization of Social Security appear to be joining forces again.

Americans United–a group that rose from the ashes of Americans United to Protect Social Security–is leading a coalition to reform Part D.  In addition to participating in the AU coalition, the liberal advocacy group Campaign for America’s Future is teaming up with, the Public Campaign Action Fund and USAction to educate voters in key districts about the real costs of the Medicare boondoggle.  Last week, several prominent groups–including the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Consumers Union, Families USA, the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, U.S. PIRGS and USAction–met with Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin to begin plotting on how to best force action. On the House side, a unified Democratic Party is organizing more then 100 Medicare “town halls” in the upcoming weeks.


It’s a start!

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