January 19, 2006

Republican Medicare Part D prescription plan a prescription for disaster

Watch and listen as this disastrous plan explodes onto the country.

A commenter at Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo puts it thusly:
I have been surprised by the amount of silence on Medicare Part D in the blogosphere. A fiasco of this magnitude deserves the same sort of deafening response that the FEMA response received. This has become a big, big story this month which has given many likely voters a significantly negative personal experience with Republican corruption.

Public health emergencies have now been declared in twelve states. There will be political consequences for the party responsible. There is already a wide popular conception among the affected portions of the public that the drug benefit was designed not in good faith, but to enrich insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

Arbitrary drug classes like benzodiazepenes and barbiturates are specifically excluded from coverage. Congress left no clue as to the legislative intent of the exclusion. Someone seems to have decided that these two drug classes are incompatible with some Biblical teaching. Or maybe the competing drug classes are much more profitable for someone's campaign contributors (as both benzodiazepines and barbiturates are cheap and produced as generics, unlike their likely treatment alternatives). As a result the nation's psychiatrists are going batshit right now, trying to figure out what to do with patients on drug regimens for things like seizures.

Just like Katrina, and Iraqi reconstruction difficulties, this is an unfolding disaster that could be seen approaching from a mile away beforehand. The government took little or no preparation before the deadline to make sure things would run smoothly. As usual, someone in charge seems to have assumed that the invisible hand of the markets would take care of everything, or something. As a result, phone lines are clogged, web sites are down or inaccessible, pharmacists and doctors have no idea what is going on after being kept out of the loop, and seniors themselves are panicked, confused, and freaking out.

Last year's Social Security discussion was abstract for most senior citizens. They were specifically told it "would not affect them" and yet they were instrumental in destroying the Bush privatization attempts.

Medicare Plan D isn't like that at all- it's right in their faces. Old people (and their adult children trying to help them) are getting hit with nasty surprises at pharmacies everywhere this month. And they are MAD. They are being snowed under by the confusing paperwork and tricky decisions they are being forced to make. Many have yet to find out that the plan they're in won't cover the drugs they're on, or that they were automatically and quietly disenrolled from superior private coverage. And later in the year, say around November, a significant portion of beneficiaries will have entered their Part-D "doughnut-holes" and will be paying a monthly premium to receive zero benefits! How do you think that will go over? Might a surprise jump in monthly expenses affect voting behavior around then, if it can easily be associated with the party that calls Medicare Part D their "signature domestic achievement"?
This is going to be an utter mess. And Karl Rove knows it.

So what do Bush and the Republicans do when their ill-conceived and bone-headed actions prove to be just that? Do they quickly mobilize to fix the problem? Do they go back to the drawing board to correct mistakes?

Hell no! They launch a massive media propaganda campaign of course. We've seen this M.O. before. Bloggers have dubbed this the Bamboozlepalooza Tour.
President Bush's top health advisers will fan out across the country this week to quell rising discontent with a new Medicare prescription drug benefit that has tens of thousands of elderly and disabled Americans, their pharmacists, and governors struggling to resolve myriad start-up problems.
When things go horribly wrong, don't admit it or fix it, just spend millions on an effort to tell everyone that up is down and down is up. They pee on your leg and tell you it's raining.

No wonder the country is in an uproar and so sharply divided. Half the country knows what their eyes and ears tell them, and the other half is operating on the erroneous spin that the White House feeds them. When one group is dealing with reality and the other is operating in Bush land, any sort of accommodation is impossible.


At 1/19/2006 12:30 PM, Blogger HRC said...

You got that one right, Dope.

I've been working on some numbers after getting a good look at this stuff at my Unc's over the holidays.

He is madder than Hell at all the "choices" he has. What's more, it virtually drains his Social Security income to pay for the 7 or 8 drugs he takes.

Robbing God-Damned Bastards. (his words)

At 1/20/2006 6:43 PM, Blogger maybesomeday said...

All I can say is "Thank you George Bush for this big mess."


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