HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Medicare Part D - More Woes

According to an article in USAToday, one out of five of the new enrollees in the Medicare Part D program may pay more for their prescription drugs than they did previously.  USAToday reports,

They are poor or near-poor, old, disabled or both. Some have cancer or AIDS, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis. Others have lists of medications as long as the alphabet.

They're paying more for their drugs, perhaps as little as $1 per prescription, but often thousands of dollars a year. Some buy on credit without knowing how they'll pay it off. Others scrimp on food and utilities or rely on the charity of family and friends.

When things get really bad, they space out their pills or injections, risking medical setbacks. They lose weight or swell up or get nauseated. Some wind up in emergency rooms.

They are the people that Medicare's new prescription-drug program has hurt, rather than helped. Most of the program's beneficiaries have saved money since it began Jan. 1. But for others, perhaps about 20%, the much-heralded program has meant higher costs, and in some cases greater pain and more worry. . . .

Before Medicare, 6.4 million of them had drug coverage through Medicaid. Others had state help or free drugs from drug companies. "They had good coverage before this program began," says Ron Pollack of Families USA, a liberal health care advocacy group. Now, "there's a sizeable group that is actually worse off."

This program really isn't working well for the people who apparently needed it the most.  Something tells me Congress won't be revisiting this anytime soon to help with these issues.   Thanks to FirstDraft for the heads up on on this article.  [bm]

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