Legislative Update September 2008

Because Congress was on break for the month of August, there’s not much to report about this time. The following are a few items having to do with Medicare:

Medicare Part D Coverage Gap:

A report, entitled “The Medicare Part D Coverage Gap: Costs and Consequences in 2007,” has been released by the Kaiser Family Foundation that quantifies the number of Medicare Part D enrollees who reached the gap in their prescription drug coverage known as “the doughnut hole.” The findings revealed that many enrollees who reached the doughnut hole, upon finding their out-of-pocket expenses for their medications for chronic ailments, such as diabetes, alzheimers, and osteoporosis had almost doubled, either stopped taking their medications or reduced their dosage. A small percentage of patients ultimately received catastrophic coverage after reaching the “doughnut hole” and subsequently paying the $3,216 out of pocket expense. After reaching that limit, the beneficiary pays 5% of any additional drug costs. The complete report is available online at http://www.kff.org/medicare/7811.cfm.

A NARVRE member recently put out the following notice with regard to the Medicare Part D “Doughnut Hole”:  Some seniors do not know that in the case of generic drugs, where the pharmacy has advertised that they will give them a 30 day supply for $4.00 or a 90 day supply for $10.00, that you can tell the pharmacy to not send that generic drug cost to their drug Insurance company for reimbursement, because it was advertised for $4.00 and their insurance company should not then have to reimburse the pharmacy. An advertised price of $4.00 is all it is! This way, the seniors will not reach the “doughnut hole”  so quickly or not at all.  The advertised price should be it, no drug insurance involved at all!

The following is from a recent “Friday Alert” from the Alliance for Retired Americans:

Republican Convention Platform Raises Concerns
The Republican Party held its nominating convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, this week, officially nominating Sen. John McCain of Arizona for President and Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska to be Vice President.  As a U.S. Senator, McCain has a 29% voting record with the Alliance on issues important to retirees, including a score of 0% in 2007.  Gov. Palin offended many by mocking community organizers during her speech.  “Community organizers help bring food and health care to senior citizens.  They educate and mobilize seniors and others who are often forgotten in this country.  It was deeply offensive to hear their work belittled and turned into a cheap punch line,” said George J. Kourpias, President of theAlliance.

The Republican platform mentions Medicare, focusing on its “out of control growth.”  In citing Social Security, the platform calls for “reform” while touting “personal investment accounts.”  “Beware seemingly innocent buzzwords that mask true intentions,” continued Mr. Kourpias.  “Because the wording in their platform does not mention any of the positive developments that Social Security and Medicare have brought, there is reason for seniors to be concerned.  Words like ‘reform’ can be used to mask continuing attempts to privatize Social Security and Medicare.”