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Medicare prescription costs must be controlled somehow



Published: Mon, February 28, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Medicare prescription costs must be controlled somehow

EDITOR:

As a retiree on Medicare without prescription drug benefits I try to follow the news on the coming Medicare drug benefit as closely as I can. Now that President Bush has been re-elected and the predicted cost of the program for the next 10 years has increased to $724 billion, many think it has served its purpose and should be changed -- or eliminated? I can't make up my mind just what the people criticizing it have in mind, re-writing the bill to lower drug costs or shifting the costs back to retirees. Certainly they can't believe the seniors will be able to pick up the $500 billion tag. In most cases I suspect that those who write to say that they can't afford to help pay for the program either have drug coverage by their employer or have enough income to purchase coverage.

Some say the program should be means tested. How would that work? Some people with a small income might not have hardly any drug costs. Others with more income might have drug costs taking a large percentage of their income. Which would get the better coverage? If you have coverage at work is it means tested? In other words does the janitor get better coverage than the top man who could afford it. I think not.

When you step back and look at the facts, you can see that the consumer pays for any prescription drug program whether it is private or public. You may be retired, without any coverage but every time you make a purchase whether it is a car, groceries, newspapers, etc., and that business provides health insurance for their employees, you help pay for it. The same thing goes for government employees, teachers, police, maintenance people, etc. The taxes you pay provides them benefits you yourself may not have.

Some say, well, you are on Medicare and don't have to worry. I will say that I don't know what older people with their accompanying health problems would do without it, but it doesn't come free. A retired couple now pay $159 monthly for part B. My former employer does not provide any health coverage but I am able to purchase Medigap insurance with a drug benefit which for two people cost $600 per month. On the drug plan, each prescription costs $10 per month. That is a fair amount of money.

I don't know the answer to the drug costs. but someway or another they must be brought under control. If a Medicare patient goes to the doctor, Medicare determines the amount the doctor will receive. The same goes for the hospital. I don't see why the same shouldn't apply to the drug companies Instead the Bush administration wrote the bill to protect the drug companies from any such negotiations.

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Of one thing you can be certain, if the present Bush administration has its way, big business will be the winner. After all they contribute the most money

WINSTON SWAN

Hubbard

By definition, Social Security is bankrupt; spread the word

EDITOR:

In your story about the Ryan/Strickland "meeting," U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan makes the statement that Social Security "will not go bankrupt" even though the sentence before that he admits it will run out of money and only be able to pay 70 percent of promised benefits. Please advise our knowledgeable politician of the definition of the word:

Bankrupt n : someone who has insufficient assets to cover their debts

It is obvious to me that the Social Security system by Ryan's own math is going bankrupt. Ryan is a typical Democrat politician misleading the American people who do not think, but only follow their leader's words without the facts. If we can only pay 70 percent of our bills, we would be bankrupt, so why is it different for the U.S. government?

I have a solution. Do away with the politician's bloated retirement package and make them receive the same benefits from the same Social Security system we all do and see how fast they make the system better.

RICH CONKLIN

Warren




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