More Medicare Prescription Drug Problems

From the Los Angeles Times, we learn:

Many seniors have yet to sign up for Medicare drug coverage because they are confused by the array of plans — each with its own premiums, co-pays, deductibles and lists of covered drugs and participating drugstores. But others are making a calculated choice to opt out — and buy from foreign pharmacies instead.

These seniors are not bothered by the idea of relying on prescriptions filled by foreign pharmacists. Indeed, some say they prefer the ease of shopping by mail over schlepping to the drugstore.

And many have accepted the risk of paying a penalty if they change their mind and sign up for the Medicare program after the May 15 deadline. What matters most is how much they are spending now.

“By the time I factored in the monthly payments, deductibles, etc., the Medicare prescription drug plan offered me no greater benefits than buying my drugs from Canada,” said 72-year-old Pat Virden of Greenbelt, Md., another retired nurse, speaking at a recent congressional hearing.

The article goes on to note that only 3.6 million seniors have signed up for the program. Those that don’t sign up will face government fees. The government wasted $720 billion of your money for this? To make matters worse, as this Kaiser Family Foundation study notes, "If enrollment is less than expected, average premiums will increase" (page 2) because there aren’t enough seniors paying into the program. Reason reasons that when premiums increase, enrollment will drop, leading to premium increases, etc. The bottom of the "Medicare Death Spiral" is, well, death.

All of which raises the question: what were the real conservatives doing when this insane bill was passed?