Editorial overlooked savings on drugs by senior citizens
Your Sept. 27 editorial on Medicare does not accurately capture the significant savings America's seniors are experiencing through the Medicare prescription drug program. Furthermore, it neglects to mention that seniors can still experience savings and discounts even if they reach the coverage gap.
For the first time in history, more than 38 million Medicare beneficiaries have comprehensive prescription drug coverage that provides access to life-saving medicines that can help them live healthier, longer lives. A recent study by J.D. Power and Associates found that more than 80 percent of beneficiaries are satisfied with their Medicare prescription coverage. According to CMS, competition among the private plans serving elderly and disabled Medicare patients has reduced the average premium cost by more than a third, from the estimated 37 to 24. In addition, seniors are seeing average savings of 1,200 since signing up.
Low-income beneficiaries -- a group that makes up about 23 percent or 10 million of all Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the new prescription drug program -- will not face any gap in their coverage at all. In addition, under the law, seniors who face spending in the coverage gap will continue to save by purchasing drugs at the discounted prices negotiated by their prescription drug plans. During the next enrollment period, these Medicare beneficiaries may also want to consider choosing a plan that offers full or partial gap coverage -- an option that 2.4 million beneficiaries have already chosen since coverage began last January. In some cases, additional assistance may be available from various sources, including state pharmacy assistance programs, charitable foundations, or patient assistance programs offered by America's pharmaceutical research companies.
The writer is senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
Check out the credentialsof staff at doctors' offices
This letter is in response to one written a few weeks ago by a nurse who complained that nursing assistants were passing medications and performing procedures they were not qualified to do. As a certified medical assistant, I can relate to her frustration. Not only are there unqualified staff in nursing homes, there are also unqualified staff in physicians' offices.
Recently, my brother was seen at a local physician's office; he had a procedure done that was considered surgical. Later he found out that the "medical assistant" that was helping the physician had no formal training. She was hired off the street and trained on site.
Many physicians believe that if they are present in the office, it is OK for anyone to help because they are assuming the responsibility. What if an emergency occurs? So what if the doctor is there; if the person who is to help the physician has no idea what to do, then what good is he or she?
We assume that everyone we meet in the physician's office is educated in the medical field. The real facts are that about 80 to 90 percent of the staff has never sat in a classroom for any type of formal medical training. As a certified medical assistant, it saddens me to think that physicians have so little regard for our profession that they hire just anyone to do what we have studied and trained for.
The public has the right to have a trained professional attend to our health needs. Not until we demand this will there be a change. I hope, until then, for the sake of some poor assuming patient, that they never need any emergency care when they are visiting their doctor.
KAREN MARIE, CMA