Monday, January 16, 2006

Bush Gives Only 30 Days to Get Medicare Drug Mess Worked Out

When I first read this New York Times article by Robert Pear, I felt relief that our parents and grandparents would be able to get the prescriptions they need. Then I read further. Bush has said that insurers must make sure beneficiaries receive drugs, but only if they were taking them prior to the date the new plan started on January 1 and only for the next 30 days. If it is a new prescription the elderly may just have to find a way to pay for the drug or the co-pay which can put the purchase of necessary prescriptions out of reach for most. And 30 days? The federal government and the insurers they are working with to provide this benefit have had months to prepare for this. What makes them think they can fix this disaster in 30 days?

Dr. Mark B. McLellan, administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says that with this latest temporary fix by the federal government all people covered by the plan should be able to get their prescriptions filled. The reporter for the New York Times has a more realistic view:
In the past, such predictions proved to be premature. New problems appeared as old ones were solved, and some insurers were slow to carry out federal instructions.

The article also says that the Bush administration is rushing to provide insurers with correct information about the extra subsidies available to the poor. Wait! How many months have they been working on this? Why don't insurers already have that information? I just don't get it. I can understand computer issues with new programs or providers being swamped with calls and response time being slow, but insurers not having the information they need BEFORE the program goes into effect is absolutely outrageous. The implementation of any new or revised government program is going to be cumbersome at best and problems are expected, but this is a disaster.

It begs the question: Which of Bush's cronies was put in charge of this disaster?

This is being covered in most major newspapers and other traditional news media. Here are a few: L.A. Times, CNN, MSNBC, NYTimes (requires subscription), Washington Post

Update: What are the Bloggers saying? Check them out: MyDD, Yellow Dog, Needlenose, and AMERICAblog


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