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The Current State of Medicare Reform and Prescription Drugs from Canada -
Excerpts from Frank Kaiser's Suddenly Senior newsletter:

As the Senate’s bill stands now, we’ll pay 35 bucks a month, and the first $275 of our yearly drug costs, then trusty Medicare will step up to the plate and pay half of all our expensive pharmaceuticals from there on out.

Well, not exactly. At $4,500, just when you desperately need help, coverage stops, not to start again until you’ve reached $5,800 in drug expenses. Wily politicians call that the “hole in the donut.”

Say you have $1,000 in drug bills. Under the proposed Senate plan, those drugs will now cost you only $1,057.

Huh? Little wonder Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., calls collecting the $35 premiums “really nothing more than a tax on the sick.” And seniors with higher drug costs of, say, $5,000, must still pay $3,695.

Canada's Still Far Cheaper

Nothing’s really changed. For most of us, it will still be far cheaper to buy our medicines in Canada.

John Rother of the AARP says his research reveals that as few as 20 percent of seniors will buy into this new drug benefit once they know the facts. He states, “There are billions of dollars hidden away in here for providers. The money Congress set aside was supposed to be for a drug benefit.”

Could that be the reason these so-called drug benefits don’t go into effect until 2006, long after the next presidential election? I find it odd that Congress and the President can pass tax cuts for the wealthy retroactive to last year, yet must wait two and a half years before implementing this long-awaited “drug benefit.”

When it does take effect, the bill will cover about $40 billion a year — we have failed weapons systems that cost more than that — while experts predict that seniors currently need $160 billion a year to pay for their prescription drugs.

They think we’re fools. And, unless we do something to stop this charade, they will be right.

Copyright © 2003 — Frank Kaiser



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