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Drug and insurance firms are real Medicare drug plan winners

Letters to the Editor
Published May 12, 2006

Re: Friends and skeptics to greet Bush, May 9.

George Bush did not fly to Florida out of concern for seniors and their misunderstanding of the convoluted Medicare Part D provisions. He flew down here as a shill for the drug and insurance companies who wrote the seniors discount drug bill for their own benefit, and who want as many participants to sign up as possible.

Everything Bush has done since he first took office has been for the rich and the powerful - his "base" - and not for ordinary working Americans. This is just another example of his partiality posing as genuine concern for the less affluent.

As always, he picked a supportive audience, so it is not surprising that the two questions he should have been asked were not:

1. Why was House Speaker Dennis Hastert allowed to hold the voting period for the bill open for nearly three hours beyond the permitted 15 minutes, in the early hours of the morning, until he (in person) and Bush (by phone) had twisted enough Republican arms to get the bill passed?

2. Why were the drug and insurance companies allowed to insert the clause that states no matter how much they raise the prices of their products in future, neither Medicare nor the government, by law, can intercede on behalf of the general public? And why did our spineless so-called representatives stoop to put their signatures to this odious license to steal, thereby abandoning their constituents to the tender mercies of the drug and insurance industries, whose only concern is profit?

We know the answers, of course: In Washington, money to the right people can accomplish anything. But it is a scandal that Bush was allowed to fly in and fly out without being confronted by these questions.

R.G. Wheeler, Lealman

Coverage gap is a major problem

Re: President hopes to twist a few arms, May 9.

Why hasn't anyone, including the president, figured out what a real problem seniors will have with the $3,000 gap in Part D?

In our case we no longer have the drug-industry-provided discount plan and in three months have used up half the allowed $2,250. With the way our insurance company calculates the expense, we will be paying almost $500 a month for most of the year or at least until the gap figure is covered. This is a major, major problem and it won't take much time for a lot of seniors to be asking, "What happened?"

Sign me disenchanted by this wonderful Republican coup.

Robert Carge, Beverly Hills


Many are mad about Part D

Re: Help Medicare stragglers, editorial, May 10.

The article stated, "The program is mostly a hit with retirees."

Funny, none of those I have spoken with have this sentiment. Most are mad that it is too complex to figure out and that they are being rushed into having to make a decision. If this program were truly beneficial, seniors would be lining up to sign up.

Why impose a cutoff time? What about seniors who don't take any medications right now? Sadly, this is just a giveaway to the powerful drug companies (no price negotiations). And the GOP will try to take credit for the numbers on the program even though many seniors had to be forced into signing up.

Scott McKown, Palm Harbor


He's having nothing to do with it

Although I'm eligible, I haven't enrolled in the hopelessly complex Medicare prescription program, and I won't. Even if the plan were intelligently created, even if the private insurance companies were excluded (as they should have been), and even if the coverage were comprehensible, I still wouldn't join it.

It's the product of the most corrupt and inept administration in the nation's history, and I'll have nothing to do with it.

Nick Hobart, New Port Richey


Plan should have been kept simple

Re: A Medicare pitch from salesman-in-chief, May 10.

The president says that children should help their parents figure out his convoluted Medicare drug plan. This is a ridiculous notion. There shouldn't be any "figuring out." It should be so simple that programming the VCR is more of a challenge.

Cyndi Schmitt, Dunedin


Deadline needs to be extended

I note with some interest that the president refuses to extend the deadline for sign-up for Medicare Part D, sometimes known as the "No Drug Company Left Behind Act."

I find it even more interesting that Rep. Mike Bilirakis has received almost $350,000 in political contributions from the drug companies that stand to benefit from the program. While we might debate the merits of the program, it is clear that millions of people have not signed up for any plan and face penalties if they do not do so before May 15.

I urge every affected constituent in his district to ask Bilirakis to extend the deadline and maybe use some of those contributions to run workshops on how they can intelligently sign up.

Bob Tankel, Dunedin


The mystery of drug ads

Re: Prescription medication advertisements.

Since only those who are being treated by a physician are allowed to redeem prescriptions, why are there public advertisements for these products in your paper?

The public (patients) cannot order, or instruct physicians or pharmacists to deliver, these advertised items. These slickly produced self-endorsements cost millions, and who benefits most?

Mark S. Kowal, Largo


A lot of money is flying away

Re: Work here, send the money home, May 10.

Has anyone really thought about the ramifications of the remittances situation? This story quotes an economist who says the remittances are no big deal.

Oh no? Having $40-billion a year or more leaving the country is minor? This guy sounds like a shill for the open-borders movement.

Think of all the poverty (of real Americans) those billions could cure, starting with hurricane victims.

Robert Emanuel, Tampa


Flag-waving is overvalued

Re: Flag waver receives president's civic award, May 7.

I agree with Julie Whitney when she says, "I am shocked, I don't feel like I deserve it." She does not deserve the Presidents' Volunteer Service Award. This award, a Bush administration creation in 2003, is for "giving outstanding volunteer service and civic participation over a one-year period." I do not see what standing on a corner waving a flag in support of the invasion of Iraq has to do with "volunteer service and civic participation."

This is a political farce. As President Bush's support plummets, he comes to Tampa and awards a woman for blind patriotism and support of the Iraq war!

The president, if he had any sense of honor, would be at the VA hospital in Tampa, giving this award to the volunteer who has put in the most hours in the last year.

Instead of promoting his confusing Medicare plan, the president should be visiting some of the Iraq war wounded at the Tampa VA hospital.

By the way, I am a disabled Vietnam veteran, and I am not impressed with Whitney's devotion to flag- waving. I do believe that all the devoted volunteers at our VA hospital deserve an award for civic service.

Janice Josephine Carney, Largo

[Last modified May 12, 2006, 09:15:26]

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