Due to proposed cuts in the federal reimbursement rate, many doctors are saying they will no longer treat patients who have Medicare, or will decrease the number of Medicare patients that they are willing to accept.

There are currently approximately 546 pending bills to fix Medicare D(isaster), including    legislation called the “Taste of Our Own Medicine Act”. This was introduced by by Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), and would

“ensure that members of Congress do not receive better prescription drug benefits than Medicare beneficiaries.”

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According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, fewer than 5 million of the estimated 22 million Medicare beneficiaries who need drug coverage and were eligible for Part D have signed up. Instead, some are getting their rx’s in Canada. The remainder are not participating in Medicare D(isaster), although they are satisfied with the Part A and B coverage.

However, the Salesman-In-Chief, is stubbornly pitching Medicare D(isaster), and refusing to entertain the idea of extending the enrollment period.  Many senior citizens and people with disabilities have contacted their representatives urging that that this be done or have contacted the media to obtain assistance in getting their rx’s.  Instead of listening to the concerns of those most effected by the complexities of this program, gwb justifies his refusal to do so by saying

“There’s got to be a fixed time for people to sign up…Nobody is making you do anything…I’m just traveling around saying take a look.”

Senate Republicans pushed a non-binding amendment that would give Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, authority to move the deadline back if people need more time to decide on a plan.  Ironically, this is the same Michael Leavitt, who, according to
Senator Charles Schumer, said he wasn’t really “aware of the problems [people were having with Medicare D(isaster)].”

The non-binding amendment passed 76-22 and is recognixed as a political ploy by lawmakers.  Charles Grassley, who received $296,429 from the rx lobby, stated,

“Personally, I think that it’s premature to change the date…So I offer this amendment as a compromise.”

The AARP,  is observing, opposed to their earlier stance re:  Social Security privatization.  This inaction by the AARP gives the impression of an alliance with the gwb, but, AARP gave into Republican demands that the prescription drug benefit handed to private insurance companies. What is not widely known or aknowledged is that the AARP is selling the United Medicare D(isaster) plan and earning commissions by doing so.  

AARP chief William Novelli acknowledged that the AARP-endorsed Part D option (from which it gets royalties in amounts AARP won’t disclose) was having problems, and he asked for members’ patience as AARP seeks to make things smoother.

Their stance is Grassley’s preferring administrative fixes as opposed to legislative ones.

However, the Center for Medicare Advocacy’s position is that

“The problems with Part D are fundamental and systemic. … These problems are not small ‘glitches’ that will be worked out in time. Problems with Part D will change over time and they will get worse. …It is Congress that wrote this legislation to privatize Medicare. … Congress needs to replace Part D with a comprehensive prescription drug benefit in the Medicare program.”

Medicare could save $800 billion over the next 10 years if Medicare D(isaster) was run the way Parts A and B are, according to economist Dean Baker.
Democrats feel there is little, if any,  chance of getting any health care reform past the Republican-controlled Congress. Republicans brag that Medicare D(isaster) is better than any Democratic alternatives and have dared the Democrats to make Medicare D(isaster) into a political issue.   Some Democrats have called their bluff and are mentioning the horrible effects of Medicare D(isaster).  Unfortunately, most are content to wait for the mid-terms and hope the anger of those effected will benefit their party before making any real changes.

With that in mind, it is worth wondering if the Democrats will get a taste of their own medicine by so many voters being disgusted by their inaction and supporting third party candidates?  

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