Prescription Drug Plan Protested in Carrollwood

04/04/06

The Federal Government’s new and controversial Medicare Prescription D Drug Plan went into effect on January 1st. But with less than 6 weeks to go for beneficiaries to sign up for drug coverage this year without being subject to financial penalty, more than 7 million eligible Americans still have NOT done so.

Recently, 10 Senate Democrats, including Florida’s Bill Nelson, sent a letter to President Bush asking him to extend the transitional period under which private health plans administering the Medicare prescription drug benefit are required to cover all necessary and existing prescriptions for beneficiaries.

Today in the Carrollwood Section of Hillsborough County, a news conference called by the Florida Consumer Action Network demanded that the deadline be extended, as well, as arguing for other changes in the plan they say will be more beneficial for those on the plan, or about to get on it…..Phil Compton is Program Director with FCAN (roll tape#1 o.q.�that’s just plain wrong�)

In the first weeks of this year, there were countless reports from seniors and others about the mass confusion of trying to get on one of the more than 3 dozen health plans that were available for those eligible for the plan. Since then, more people have gotten on the plan, but there reportadley still lot of problems, or so says Carrollwood Pharmacy Dan Fucarino (roll tape#2 o.q. “getting ready to happen�)

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor has held workshops in recent months, and says the news regarding Prescription Drug Plan D has not been pretty (roll tape#3�to make those comparison��)

Earlier this year, Castor was able to get her fellow County Commissioners to agree to fund the transportation costs for dialysis patients, who lost that when the new plan kicked in January. She says she’s also heard from officials at Tampa General Hosptial that transplant patients, as well as those suffering from HIV and Cancer patients are not able to afford their drugs, and are being cut off.

Dave Froster has been a critic of Medicare since he had a kidney transplant in 2000 at Tampa General Hospital , when his HMO paid for his kidney transplant, but not for his drugs for him to survive.

He credited the progressive activist group MoveOn.Org with enlightening him a couple of years ago about the deficiences in the Prescription Drug Care plan, passed in Congress in late 2003 (roll tape#4 “ and there’s still a lot of confusion�)

SHINE is the group “Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders�…

Since the drug plan was introduced, there have been many stories in the media about how the plan has been confusing, and in many cases, restrictive to seniors and those on Medicaid in getting their drugs.

But Carrollwood pharmacist Dan Fucarino says that the problems with Medicare Part D has cost his pharmacy and others that he knows of, tens of thousands of dollars while waiting to be re-imbursed from those companies (roll tape#5 just to stay in business�)

In addition to rolling back the enrollment deadline, FCAN and their allies want the plan to change so that the government can negotiate wholesale bulk prices for drugs.

The battle over how well Medicare Plan D is doing is sure to be a talking point used by Democrats in the upcoming Congressional Elections….And County Commissioner Kathy Castor, running to succeed Jim Davis in Congress, made that abundantly clear in referencing the announced retirement of Texas Congressman Tom Delay (roll tape#6 o.q. “ part D�)

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