Thursday, July 31, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Protect Medicare’s Part D lifeline

By
From page A7 | December 18, 2012 |

The possibility of going over the “fiscal cliff” means different things to different groups. For Medicare recipients, any reduction in the Part D program, which provides affordable prescription drugs, is a frightening prospect. And it’s just one more reason that President Barack Obama and Congress need to find a solution that doesn’t involve arbitrary across-the-board cuts under sequestration.

The uncertainty sure makes me pay attention. Like other Medicare recipients, I recently selected my Part D plan for 2013. Call me a satisfied customer. And while cuts under sequestration could limit my means to buy affordable medicines, I will not be hurt as severely as many other seniors and disabled veterans. Fortunately, I am still able to earn income by writing and teaching part time. I also will not be hurt by the hike in the Medicare age eligibility on the table.

But not everyone is so fortunate. I spoke with 82-year-old Austin R. Curry, executive director of Elder Care Advocacy of Florida, about the fate of Medicare and Medicaid if intransigence wins in Washington.

For 30 years, Curry has been involved in senior affairs and was part of the launching of Part D in 2003. He understands that as the nation attempts to solve its many fiscal challenges, Medicare needs to evolve.

“But any changes must be implemented in a meticulous manner,” he said. “Arbitrary changes would be detrimental to the individuals who depend on Part D.

“It benefits the people and saves lives and should be recognized as a best practice. I have seen firsthand in Florida how it has helped seniors and persons with disabilities. Part D is working for those who would not be able to afford medications without it. We are facing unprecedented financial difficulties, but with the right changes, the program will remain a success and continue to help millions of seniors for years to come.”

As Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, a leading trade group, noted in a report that compiled extensive academic research on Medicare Part D:

  • Overall cost is 43 percent, or $435 billion, below initial projections.
  • Satisfaction rate among beneficiaries is 88 percent.
  • Seniors save money through monthly premiums as low as $14.
  • Low-income beneficiaries have access to medicines at little or no cost.
  • It has lowered Medicare spending by helping patients avoid costly hospitalizations and other health care services.

Curry, an Air Force veteran of the Korean conflict, said as lawmakers and the president negotiate, they need to remember that the Part D prescription drug program is essential, providing life-saving medications to those often in dire need.

“Even a 10 percent reduction in Part D will result in the deaths of many, as they are unable to afford the difference since many have hundreds of dollars a month in critical medications,” Curry said. “Most Medicare enrollees cannot even afford an extra $50 or $100 in additional monthly expense.”

Although legislators have legitimate concerns over an exploding federal budget deficit, reducing debt and spurring economic growth, they should keep in mind that our so-called entitlements are not equally effective. Medicare Part D is a worthy program, delivering exceptional value at a lower cost by using competitive prescription drug bidding. It is a lifeline that serves mostly senior citizens on fixed incomes.

It should be protected from cuts that would merely shift problems to other federal and state programs.

Bill Maxwell is a columnist for the Tampa Bay Times. E-mail bmaxwell@sptimes.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Cities dealing with state drought rules

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Muralist helps locals ready for some painted wall history

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

It’s ‘camping for 30′ at the Solano fair

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Richardson to run for Fairfield-Suisun school board

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Highway 12 crash sends 2 to hospital

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Fairfield man back in court after sixth arrest

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4

 
Police release name of Vallejo homicide victim

By Glen Faison | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Mall to host Ultimate Army Throw Down

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Price will seek re-election as Fairfield mayor

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4

Fairfield police log: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: July 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

Peace Corps evacuates over Ebola as 2 isolated

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4 | Gallery

AP Analysis: Amid war, endgames in Gaza emerge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
2 women survive ordeal along Indiana rail bridge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ex-IRS official called conservatives ‘crazies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Dissent quieted with most Israelis behind Gaza war

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Deadly Israeli strikes hit UN school, market area

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Obama takes tougher line against Gaza casualties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Suing Obama: GOP-led House gives the go-ahead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Congress cooperates – and fights – as recess nears

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Powell maybe not told early about CIA techniques

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Crews work to keep Yosemite fire from sequoias

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Sanctions will damage Russia if not lifted quickly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Clashes prevent experts from reaching bodies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

 
Why ‘compassionate conservatism’ is still dead

By Ramesh Ponnuru | From Page: A11

What happened to the US?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 9 Comments

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: July 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
I want to change my daughters last name to my maiden name

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Commentary: ‘Orphan Black,’ Emmy snubs and questions of identity

By Los Angeles Times | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Allison Williams headed skyward as NBC’s Peter Pan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Contract dispute delays ‘Big Bang’ production

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

Lloyd’s film watching impresses 49ers teammates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Complete game shutout lifts Expos to State Tournament win

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

SF benefits from Pirates’ blunder, ends skid at 6

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Hammel fails again for Athletics in loss to Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Ray Guy’s long wait for Hall of Fame comes to end

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders owner confirms talks with San Antonio

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Stanford star Ty Montgomery rehabbing shoulder

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Greg Ives to crew chief Earnhardt in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Pipe break that flooded UCLA dumps 20M gallons

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Steelers to retire Hall of Famer Greene’s No. 75

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Fairfield-Suisun 6U Bobby Sox win titles

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

 
Usain Bolt in controversy at Commonwealth Games

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Indians trade pitcher Masterson to Cardinals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Riley speaks out, insists Heat will be competitive

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Nadal out of 2 tournaments because of right wrist

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

A more vigorous US economy appears to be emerging

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
US judge slaps $1.3B fine on Bank of America

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5, 1 Comment

Overhaul approved for troubled California refinery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Judge says Crystal CEO should testify in lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment

.

Obituaries

Louise Scholten

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Ronald Witt Escue Sr.

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Scott Allen Shaver

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9