Saturday, May 13, 2006

Medicare Part (D)isaster Penalties: Will Rethugs Blink?

Monday, May 15 is the deadline for seniors to sign up for the Medicare Part (D)isaster prescription drug plan. If you don't sign up by Monday, no matter what your circumstances, you face a lifetime of escalating penalties for missing the deadline. Read the last paragraph of today's WaPo article: they have already waived the deadlines and penalties for the poorest seniors. I wonder if all this Bush blather about enforcing the deadline was just a bait-and-switch to get seniors signed up (to the benefit of the real beneficiaries of the plan, the pharmaceutical companies) and then give his Rethug supporters the chance to look good by doing the right thing on May 15th?

WaPo: GOP Wavers On Penalties In Medicare Drug Plan

As older Americans face a nationwide deadline Monday to sign up for Medicare prescription drug coverage, key Republicans are examining ways to remove or reduce financial penalties the Bush administration plans to charge people who try to join the program after the enrollment cutoff, according to lawmakers and legislative aides.

GOP lawmakers are reluctant to talk openly of their plans before midnight on May 15, for fear of counteracting a cheerleading blitz that President Bush and his top health advisers have undertaken to spur a last-minute surge in enrollment.

Still, motivated by Republicans' concerns about their prospects in the fall elections and by persistent confusion about the new drug benefit, several of Congress's architects of the program have concluded that it would be unwise to punish people who miss the deadline. The rethinking of the penalties, by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), House Ways and Means health subcommittee Chairman Nancy L. Johnson (R-Conn.), and others, marks the first time Republicans have broken with the White House over the program.


The financial penalties are an attempt to motivate relatively healthy Medicare patients to sign up right away, rather than waiting until their health falters and they need more prescription drugs. The late fee, based on 1 percent of the national average price of the insurance premiums for the drug coverage, starts out relatively small. It starts at an extra $1.98 per month if they sign up later this year, but it mushrooms the longer people wait to get coverage.


Of the 6 million people who still lack drug coverage based on the administration figures, a disproportionately large share -- about 3.2 million -- have relatively low incomes. CMS announced a few days ago that it would eliminate deadlines and penalties for that group.

Previous posts:

Bush To Old People: Drop Dead (May 10, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster, Incompetently Administered, Misleading Poor Seniors (May 7, 2006)

Most Severely Ill Senior Citizens Already in Medicare Part (D)isaster Doughnut Hole (April 27, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster: Watch Out For That Hole (April 12, 2006)

President Out-of-Touch Moron Meets the Seniors
(March 19, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster: Making the Mentally Ill Sicker (February 6, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster Creating Havoc at Social Security Administration (February 4, 2006)

Right Wing Blogs Exhibit Myopia Over Medicare Part D(isaster)
(January 24, 2006)

Medicare Part (D)isaster (January 20, 2006)

Operation Photo Op, Medicare Part D edition, 1.0 (January 18, 2006)

'Horrific at Best'
(January 9, 2006)

The Incompetence, The Corruption, and The Cronyism: Sunday, January 8, 2006
(January 8, 2006)

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