Just in Case you Forget: Medicare Part D is a Killer

Just in case you all forget,  Medicare Part D is a killer.  Two weeks ago, my grandmother's Medicare Prescription program refused to cover her heart medication and put her on a generic.  But, as her doctor explained in the appeal,  the generic does not work for her.  Now, she is on a heart monitor and might die because she can't afford to pay out of pocket for her medication.  I am ashamed to be an American right now and am ashamed that any Democrat voted for this awful bill.   If she dies, can anyone be charged with murder?

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Can You Believe This President?

I believe that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people, of course I still believe that a man's word is his bond, and a handshake is as good as a written contract.

Naïve, yea guess so to a degree. But aren't we all?

I have some big ideas for growing the progressive movement and in turn changing the way America is governed, and while we all wish that everyone was on the same wave link, we see small men like this President who has small ideas that don't a make a whit of difference in the lives of working Americans.

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Govern first, campaign later

Democrats have to govern now that they have majorities in the House and Senate.  And one of the effects of governing is the ability to make choices with real world repurcussions.  These choices will produce multiple winners, multiple losers and exist in a mutli-dimensional issue space with plenty of trade-offs.  The Democratic majority was elected to do three things: restore accountability and reality to government, check Bush on Iraq, and to clean out stupid waste and fraud.

The First 100 Hour Agenda for the House Democrats is primarily an agenda to address the third issue --- cleaning out stupidity and mindless inertia on the security and economic fronts.  One of the big signature votes is H.R. 3 to allow Medicare to negoatiate with drug companies for better prices for Medicare Part-D.  Forcing potentially the largest drug buyer in the world to take list price is just stupid, so mandating negoations is a good idea.  However implementation of this idea seems to seriously suck as Robert Reich points out:

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The Real Middle Ground on the Rx Bill

Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus is firmly establishing himself as the buzzkill of The First 100 Hours.

After dirtying up a minimum wage bill with special interest tax breaks, now he's undermining Dem efforts to pass a bill requiring Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. Instead, he wants a bill that merely allows it, but does not require it.

This wouldn't be that big a deal, if we could trust the Bush Administration to act in the best interest of the public.

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Bush White House: Stick the Old People in HMOs

With the holiday season now in full swing, one might expect the traits of charity and benevolence would be the marker of our time. Yet in the Thanksgiving issue of The New York Times we learn from Robert Pear that the Bush administration wants to reduce the health benefits going to many of our nation's seniors and shove them into unresponsive and overly bureaucratic HMOs.

A federal advisory panel says that long-term care for aging baby boomers threatens to bankrupt Medicaid, and it recommends sweeping changes to rein in costs, including greater use of managed care for the sickest Medicaid recipients.

The proposals set up a likely clash between the new Democratic Congress and the Bush administration, which has sent strong signals that it will seek big savings in Medicaid next year.

Panel members adopted the recommendations last week, by a vote of 11 to 1, and are drafting a report to be submitted next month to Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services. Mr. Leavitt created the panel in May 2005 and is receptive to many of its proposals.

There is little question that the government must endeavor to rework some of the federal entitlement programs to ensure that they are sufficiently funded and not excessively costly. This far Democrats and Republicans agree.

However in their ideological battle to destroy almost all things government, Republicans want to take this move one step further, either privatizing the programs that have helped America prosper for the last several decades or decreasing their level of service to the point at which they are both unuseful and unpopular with voters. Whether it is sucking the lifeblood out of Social Security through so-called "private accounts" or forcing ill seniors out of nursing homes and into unwieldy HMOs, the aim is the same: undermining the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and making America a fundamentally less efficient and less fair country.

Of course the plan laid out by the President's commission would be dead on arrival in the Democratic Congress. In fact, it would have been dead on arrival even during the current Republican Congress, just as was the partial privatization of Social Security.

While the American people want to see the long-term deficits in these programs substantially reduced, they are clear in their determination to do so without placing all of the burden on the needy, as the aforementioned panel recommends. Though there is not a large amount of polling on Medicaid or even the Medicare program in general, the numbers regarding Social Security are likely indicative of Americans' general sentiments towards the entitlement programs. Looking at the somewhat recent surveys on the subject, Americans overwhelmingly trust Democratic plans for the program over Republican ones, opposing private accounts while strongly supporting an increase to the cap on income subject to Social Security taxes and slowing the rate of growth in benefits for the well-to-do, for instance.

Thanksgiving or not, the American people are a benevolent people. And the more often Republicans suggest policies that would punish the poor to help pay for the disastrous policies of the current administration (much of which has predominantly favored the wealthy and the extremely wealthy), the less likely the GOP will be able to return to the governing majority it enjoyed for the better part of the last decade.

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