Sunday, November 19, 2006


Gil Gutknecht, who voted against the Prescription Drug plan known as Medicare Part-D, has endorsed legislation to alter that law to allow the government to negotiate prices directly with pharmaceutical companies. The Republican leadership would not allow this legislation to be voted upon and this became a rallying cry for the Democrats in November’s election. No doubt, this will be addressed early when the next Congress convenes in January.
But, for many Americans there are changes coming that cannot wait until January.

Last year, the federal government randomly assigned 6 million people, who had received their medicine through the Medicaid program for low-income families. Now, the government is telling an estimated 1 million low-income seniors that they will be randomly assigned - again - to a new plan next year because their current plan was canceled or raised its price. At the same time, some enrollees also are receiving letters from their current plans telling them they can stay. These letters don't mention they will have to pay for the privilege, even though they qualify for a waiver of the premium and other fees. If low-income drug plan members disregard the wrong letter, they could end up paying a bill they didn't expect.

Confusion seemed to be the norm when the program started. Pharmacists often couldn't confirm coverage with the government's computers. Many seniors wound up in plans that didn't cover their drugs, were enrolled in two plans or were overcharged.

We don’t need this happening again.

Gutknecht has a chance to step up and lead on legislation to delay the government from implementing these changes until the next Congress can thoroughly review this poorly managed and excessively costly program.

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