Jump to content

Sponsored Ads

  • Latest Donations

  • Advertisemnt

  • 14 Questions about VA Disability Compensation Benefits Claims


    When a Veteran starts considering whether or not to file a VA Disability Claim, there are a lot of questions that he or she tends to ask. Over the last 10 years, the following are the 14 most common basic questions I am asked about ...
    Continue Reading
  • Ads

  • Most Common VA Disabilities Claimed for Compensation:   


  • Advertisemnt

  • Advertisemnt

  • Ads

  • Can a 100 percent Disabled Veteran Work and Earn an Income?

    employment 2.jpeg

    You’ve just been rated 100% disabled by the Veterans Affairs. After the excitement of finally having the rating you deserve wears off, you start asking questions. One of the first questions that you might ask is this: It’s a legitimate question – rare is the Veteran that finds themselves sitting on the couch eating bon-bons … Continue reading

Sponsored Ads

  • Searches Community Forums, Blog and more

  • Donation Box

    Please donate to support the community.
    We appreciate all donations!
Sign in to follow this  

Medicare Drugs Bill

Recommended Posts

I think everybody needs to know this. Sorry about the politics.

Medicare Misery

The new Medicare bill is about to kick in, and what it offers to seniors isn’t pretty.

By Robert Kuttner

Web Exclusive: 01.02.06

The New Year brings with it Congressional mid-term elections. Here is an issue that should be a real political gift to the opposition party – the colossal Medicare drug-benefit mess.

It was clear back in 2003, when the Bush administration rammed this bill through the Republican Congress, that the purpose was not to devise an affordable prescription drug program for seniors. Rather the administration wanted to help two friendly industries, the pharmaceutical companies and the HMO’s; and to get bragging rights for the 2004 election that Bush had helped seniors. Few voters would grasp just how bad the law was, since its effective date was deliberately put off until 2006.

Now, as the year of reckoning arrives, the true cynicism of Bush’s program is becoming evident to each senior citizen (or adult child of senior citizen) who attempts to fathom what Bush and the industry lobbyists wrought.

For starters, coverage is woefully inadequate. You pay a $250 deductible and then a 25 percent co-pay on the first $2,250 of drug benefits each year, plus roughly another $450 a year in premiums. So if your prescriptions cost $2,250 a year, or about $190 a month, for prescriptions, you pay $1,200 a year all told and the plan pays just $1050.

That’s pretty shabby. But then, the truly bizarre feature of the plan kicks in. Coverage simply disappears, until you have spent nearly $3,100 out of pocket. This is the infamous "hole in the donut." Coverage kicks in again only after a total of $5,100 in prescription costs.

A great many seniors will never get the coverage because the plan is a bad bargain, and they just won’t sign up. Of if they do sign up, they will run out of the ability to pay enough out of pocket before qualifying for needed benefits. Even with these disgracefully skimpy benefits, the plan is expected to add over half a trillion to the federal budget over the next decade.

Why would anyone have designed such an insane program?

Because the political purpose was never to deliver good benefits. One administration goal, running the program through the private insurance industry, conflicted with the imperative of a clear, cost-effective plan. Seniors must evaluate innumerable competing private plans, each with subtle differences in costs and benefits that make an impenetrable program even less fathomable, and raise total costs because each of these private plans tacks on a profit. This was a case of privatizing something done far more efficiently through a direct government program.

The second administration goal, fattening the drug industry, led to a provision explicitly prohibiting the government from negotiating bulk price discounts from drug companies, as the Veterans hospitals do. As a result, according to a study by Families USA, drug prices obtained by the VA are about 48 percent less on average than those expected to be charged to people enrolled in the Medicare drug program. Among the twenty most widely prescribed drugs for seniors, for instance, a year’s supply of Protonix (for ulcers) costs the VA $253, but the seniors in the Bush Medicare program, which prohibits such bulk discounts, pay a sticker price of $1,080. That will give you ulcers! A year of Zocor, the cholesterol-reducing drug, costs the VA $251. Seniors in Bush’s drug plan get whacked for $1,323.

It was these inflated costs that necessitated some gimmick to keep down the overall cost to taxpaypers. Hence the notorious donut hole.

If the Democrats have the moxie and the wit, they should propose a straightforward fix, take it to the country in the 2006 elections, and dare Republicans to oppose it:

First, get rid of the costly crazy-quilt of private programs and bring the "Medicare" drug program back into public Medicare.

Second, allow Medicare to negotiate bulk discounts the way the VA does.

Third, get rid of the donut hole, and design a simplified benefit structure with modest co-pays and then 100 percent coverage after a set annual cap on out-of-pocket costs.

Finally, if the savings from the bulk price discounts are not quite sufficient to cover costs of filling in the donut hole, take back a little of Bush’s tax cuts to the richest one percent.

This debate will also remind voters of a useful meta-lesson. A party whose mantra is hate-government, and that sees government mainly as a vehicle for rewarding special-interest allies rather than serving ordinary citizens, can never be trusted to run government competently.

A happier New Year to all.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of The American Prospect.

© 2006 by The American Prospect, Inc.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Hey Wally,

I wanted to read this but I felt like the guy in clockwork orange. You know when they proped his eyes open and made him watch films. hehe

Just a joke Wally.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

A year of Zocor, the cholesterol-reducing drug, costs the VA $251. Seniors in Bush’s drug plan get whacked for $1,323.

I think that the VA is paying to much. Out of all the Meds I take I do think Zocpr is one of the best

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey Wally,

I wanted to read this but I felt like the guy in clockwork orange. You know when they proped his eyes open and made him watch films. hehe

Just a joke Wally.

When you get a message that hurts your eyes to read it just highlight it and it will be more pleasant to your eyes

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Wally and railroader,

I read this finally. Seems this year I will look like the hole in a donut.

BTW if "None of the above" were put on the ballot for next presidental election it would win with about 70%

Edited by Stretch

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

  • Ads

  • Ad

  • Latest News
  • Our picks

    • OK so I had pancreatectomy in 2003 due to an impacted goldstone 2/3 of my  Pancreas was removed I am type one diabetes with very large scars continued diarrhea stomach problems Constant back and shoulder pain I recently received a Nexus letter from my  endocrinologist related to my service in the gulf war.  Any suggestions or advice from anyone
    • I would like to meet other Hadit members who live in Michigan.  We have at least two major VA Hospitals (Battle Creek, Ann Arbor).  Or maybe you go to the the John Dingell in Detroit.  

      I like Ann Arbor.  I like the fact that most of the doctors there are also at the UM Hospital.  I don't like how uickly they seem to turn over though.  
        • Like
      • 5 replies
    • Really?
      I am confused.  A few days ago I spoke to a person at a VARO who said if I die from something other than service-connected my husband gets zero, zilch, squat.  Hmmmmmm, it seems the rules change willy-nilly...I have been rated 100% P & T for over 10 years, MS is static, and I am 56 years of age.

      Can a fellow Veteran shed a light on this?

      Thank you.
        • Haha
      • 15 replies
    • Fund raising for HadIt.com
      The site is supported through ads and ad free subscriptions, we are also asking for any support you would like to send our way. You can give a $1 or more it all helps. Keep in mind though that it is NOT tax deductible and we are NOT a non profit. As the site grows so do the costs and ads and subscription do not always keep pace with the costs. Any help is appreciated, but not required.
      • 11 replies
    • Carol Ozanecki- Blue Water vet Advocate called me with this news:


      Also there is a article in Pop Culture she sent to me----mentionig Blue Water vets buy I felt it was too political to post here. You can google it if you want to read it.


      • 10 replies

Important Information

{terms] and Guidelines