Saturday, September 26, 2009

They really ARE going to take your medicare!

But that's a good thing... just hear me out!

In 2003, during the Bush years, before the Democratic surge in congress, the legislature passed something called, The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act (also MMA - Medicare Modernization Act). It's commonly referred to as "Medicare PartD" (Instated in 2006). I didn't know much about it back then, but I know about it now. As you can probably guess by the title, it was an attempt to reform regular old every-day Medicare.

As we know it, Medicare is a single-payer program established in the mid 60's (passed in '65, instated in '66) aimed to benefit our seniors. There were some problems (as there still are) with the rising costs of prescription drugs, and this was marketed as a promise to help with that. I have linked an article from the New England Journal of Medicine for reference to some of the atrocities that took place in order to pass this beast.

For those of you who find it too daunting to click links and read more, let me just cut and paste a little excerpt for you from the article. I find it enlightening and absolutely relevant (albeit sickening) to the current health care debate brewing throughout America.

"When the conference report was brought to the House for a vote, members were given less than one day to read the 850-page bill, a violation of House rules. When the vote was called at almost 3 a.m., voting Democrats stood unanimously with 22 Republicans in opposing the legislation. Had the vote been gaveled downin the customary 15 minutes, the bill would not have passed. So the Republican leadership held the vote open for a record three hours while attempting to change the outcome — through intimidation and other tactics that, again, violated House rules. Finding itself with a narrow lead at 5:53 a.m., the Republican leadership immediately brought the vote to a close."

Fast forward to the present. There's an upswell of concern that the government is going to "take away my medicare". Well, if you're a medicare PartD recipient, that's actually true. They ARE going to take your medicare away, and they should! You will not be left out in the cold however. You will return to regular old, every-day medicare. The way medicare was intended, and I promise you, you'll be better off for it.

Let me explain why this is a good thing:

When Medicare PartD was introduced, it was ushered in with the help of drug-company and health insurance lobbyists. As driving forces behind the bill, the only thing they really "insured" was the interests of drug and health insurance companies. With the help of congress, they succeeded in taking Medicare out of the hands of the non-profit single-payer system and into the hands of for-profit private insurance and pharmaceutical companies. As you can imagine, this presents an enormous conflict of interest.

Tax-payer dollars were then siphoned to the Medicare Part D providers, a.k.a. private insurance/pharmaceutical companies, as they would be allocated to every-day Medicare. The problem arises when these private insurers have no legal obligation to actually abide by the laws that govern Medicare. They can take those tax dollars and do with them what they will. And they do.

For example, they cherry-picked who they would cover. They would search insurance rosters for the most healthy of 65+ citizens they could find, and petitioned them for support, by signing up for PartD voluntarily. Thereby increasing the odds that they would not be burdened with actually PAYING OUT those tax dollars they received to provide proper health care to someone who might need it. Some of these private companies made people sign away their every-day Medicare rights, in order to be covered under the private insurers. For others, there wasn't even an option. And by others, I mean poor. Seniors under the Medicaid program were automatically dumped into the new PartD program without any say. In fact, the poor are some of the worse off under this program. I have linked another article, this one from the Heritage Foundation, to further enlighten the reader to some of the horrors of this "Medicare Modernization Act".

I haven't even TOUCHED the "donut-hole" issue. Basically, you pay 25% of costs for any drugs you may require, up to $2,250.00. From $2,051.00 to $3,600.00, the recipient is required to pay 100% of the cost for whatever drugs they might require. The assistance with coverage is resumed after the $3,600.00 mark, and the patient goes back down to only paying 25%, which is STILL MORE than they would pay under every-day Medicare! Whew! Now, I'm not entirely sure HOW this can be construed as BENEFICIAL, but you know what Rick James always says, "Cocaine's a helluva drug!" I kid! .......... maybe ......

As time has passed we've heard stories of people getting sick (not all of them of course), and the trusty PartD providers (which we know now just regular old private insurers) would play the same games they do with all of us, by rejecting tests, care, attention, help, information, and drugs. They also made it IMPOSSIBLE for American's to negotiate with Canada or Mexico for more COMPETITIVE drug prices, and added patent protections to generic brands. As a result of these irrational and completely cruel actions, beneficiaries under Part D pay up to 80 percent more for their prescription drugs than Medicare recipients.

So basically, all that has happened is that health insurance companies are subsidized by tax-payer dollars to make promises they won't keep, to seniors who were forced into something they weren't necessarily interested in, which also requires that they pay MORE out-of-pocket expenses to/for pharmaceutical drugs, which are ALSO subsidized by tax-payer dollars! WOW!!!! How's that for some reform?

There is SO MUCH MORE to this story, and I'm SURE there will be some reluctance to accept my word as truth, but all I ask is that if you DO CARE, you check it out. Do some Google searches for yourself. Find out what's happening. It could be your mother or grandmother or uncle or father who becomes the next victim of underhanded dealings.

Back to the rumor. The "they're going to take my medicare", rally cry. That isn't a lie, but it's also not true. They ARE going to take your medicare, IF you are currently under PartD. And if they DO take your PartD, they'll just be putting you back where you're supposed to be, under every-day Medicare, and that (a la Martha Stewart) is "a good thing".

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