One thing I keep hearing when it comes to support of HCR is that we can pass this bill now and fix it later. How often does that scenario play out in our Congress?
Let’s keep with the subject of health care and something that currently effects millions of seniors every year – the doughnut hole. This came about from the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act passed in 2003, but didn’t go into effect until 2006. This doughnut hole has been a huge gift to pharmaceutical companies. The best way to explain this is with a handy chart:
|Total drug spend||TrOOP||Out-of-pocket cost||Portion covered by Medicare|
|$0–$295||$0–$295||Deductible is out-of-pocket||No Medicare coverage of costs|
|$295–$2,700||$295–$896.25||25% out-of-pocket||75% covered by Medicare|
|$2,700-$6,154||$896.25-$4,350.25||All costs are out-of-pocket||No Medicare coverage of costs|
|over $6,154||over $4,350.25||5% out-of-pocket||95% covered by Medicare|
Once you hit the “doughnut hole”, the part in gray, you are looking at paying for 100% of your prescriptions – money straight to big pharma. This is what seniors face every year. We are talking about people on fixed incomes, some less than what you or me make in a week. Add to that the number of medications the average senior takes and you start looking at a huge problem – either don’t eat or don’t take your medicine.
Barack Obama campaigned on closing this atrocity and part of the reason for not allowing reimportation of drugs was so big pharma would help close it. Of course we are seeing the speed of our Congress in action here and the earliest projections to close this gap isn’t for 10 years. How many seniors will suffer or die from a lack of medication during this time?
Right now the Democrats have the biggest majority they will have in problem a lifetime. The Republicans aren’t going to do anything to fix this, so the last hope for the health of the United States is the Democrats and we can’t afford to half ass it.
Once this bill passes everyone on Capital Hill will have HCR fatigue. They won’t think about touching the issue for a very long time, so believing that we can pass it now and fix it later is a viable option is the same as believing in Santa Clause. It isn’t going to happen.