Sunday, November 23, 2003

AARP cheerleaders embrace GOP's poison pill prescription for seniors 

The Bushies and the Republicans keep showing us time and time again that there is nothing they won't stoop to or lie about. Now, with one of their own, William D. Novelli, ensconced as chairman of AARP, they are on the path to their wet dream of destroying Medicare under the guise of providing prescription drug benefits to senior citizens.

By this time, most people are aware that this bill is nothing but another gift to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. Yet, AARP, which is spending $7 million of its members' money on TV and newspaper ads, says it ain't perfect, but "we can't wait for perfect." Right, so you cut seniors' throats by prohibiting them from buying prescription drugs at much lower costs from Canada, require them to kick out an average of $35 a month, plus an annual deductible of $275, in exchange for getting up to 75 percent of their costs picked up by Medicare until they reach $2,200 in drug costs, after that they get nothing until they have paid $3,600 out of pocket to trigger the next phase that will pay 95 percent of their costs. Oh yes, this madness doesn't begin until 2006, so in the meantime poor seniors can continue choosing between buying food or prescription drugs, unless they want to buy, in 2004 and 2005, a discount card that will save them a whole 15 percent on their prescription costs, because the bill also makes buying prescription drugs from foreign sources illegal. Such a deal not!

Then there is the part to force seniors -- except it's called giving them a "choice" -- out of the Medicare program and into private HMOs. So the healthiest will get picked off by the private insurers and the sickest will have to rely on what is left of the Medicare program. In both cases, premiums will continue to rise as nothing will be done to rein in costs. As a matter of fact, $12 billion of your tax dollars will be given, as a gift (called subsidies), to private insurers that offer basic health insurance.

And these are just some of the horrors in this bill, which include increases in the Medicare deductible, premiums based on income, and cuts in payments to home health care services.

Of course, a universal health care system for all is too simple for Republicans to contemplate. Never mind that it would save billions. Can't have that when it would deprive their biggest campaign donors -- the pharmaceutical and insurance industries -- of obscene profits. So, rather than these sham bills, why not just shoot everyone over 65 who suffers a costly illness? That later could be expanded to anyone who can't afford to pay for medical care or prescription drugs. It would be a hell of a lot kinder and help the overpopulation problem, too.

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