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Tue Jan 17, 2006

Medicare debacle

I just got off the phone with my dad, who is a pharmacist and small businessman. He manages and is the sole pharmacist in a small town store he owns with 2 employees who work part time.

Seems this medicare switchover that happened on January 1 is more than a little headache. He is spending every available waking hour dealing with medicare - the whole system is so screwed up it's got most people enrolled in medicare baffled, plus the person behind the counter at the drugstore.

For my father what has gone from a demanding job that requires long hours in managing the store, ordering, doing the books, and finally being there as the staff pharmacist (after all, it's a pharmacy and there always has to be a registered pharmacist present in a pharmacy) to now dealing with the medicare switch has turned his normal 10+ hour days into 16 hour days plus both days on weekends to straighten it out. After 40 years working as a pharmacist he is reconsidering - talking about selling the store, something.

I really can't believe it but this was supposed to be a reform. I don't know much about medicare - and I haven't got all the details from my dad about why exactly this is taking so much time, just that what was a fairly simple process before has become a nightmare. The government has help lines, but you can spend an hour on hold, disconnected, or transfered. All for the pharmacist to actually get paid for the medicine he or she dispenses.

As I have read, the new medicare plan is a step on the way to privitization - 'consumer driven'. I read that in New Hampshire there are 41 different plans you could sign up for. I also read that an entire class - barbituates - were cut out under the plan. So just don't plan on getting any seizures if you are on medicare.

Bush's Medicare plan is going to cost 750 billion dollars, and is turning out a nightmare for a small business person. Seniors get out of this plans that are in many cases less comprehensive than what they had before, with the full deductible hitting in the 'doughnut hole' in the plan when you've spent more than $2500 and less than $5000. Hmm.

The weird thing about this is, why? It seems like it's engineered for failure. Did they consult anyone when writing this? Yes, maybe someday there will be an educated populace making good decisions about their choices in healthcare. As I understand that's what this plan is supposed to do - make people make choices about what plan is right for them, and saving the insurance companies lots of money. What do seniors get out of it? Well, just be sure and don't get sick with an illness that is not covered by your plan. And save up for the part in your plan where the full deductible kicks in.

Maybe these kind of bills written by the Republican congress is a big wet kiss to the big Pharmacutical companies and big business, screw the consumer, and screw the small business owner who has to make sense of it.

It would seem to me that the small pharmacy is set in front of a firing squad in an atmosphere that already favors big business in attempting to decode this.

Someone told me Bush said that the elderly who are having problems with the new program should "have their children help them, ask someone at their church to help them or someone at the community center.."

[Followup: I posted more on medicarehere in this post

Moral Citizen: evil-barry on Jan 17, 06 | 10:55 pm | Profile

Category: George W. Bush
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