Home Lots More Columns Get Column E-mailed 222 Best Senior Links Week's Best Jokes Pans and Praise
Today's Column Senior Travel Other Good Stuff Epic Senior Trivia Bee's Knees Nostalgia Forum


HOW TO FIX
MEDICARE OVERNIGHT

By Frank Kaiser

I called my Congressman's office today. I wanted to learn how he's coping with his Congressional drug plan.

You see, if I sign with the new Medicare drug plan, my donut hole - the amount from $2,250 to $5,100 where there's absolutely zero drug coverage - is $2,850 out of my pocket. [In 2009, that hole amounts to $4,350.]

I wanted to know how big my Congressman's donut hole is.

My Representative, Mike Bilirakis, as Vice-Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was key to getting Plan D passed. His committee is the funnel through which all such bills must travel.

Perhaps that's why, according to opensecrets.org, the health and pharmaceutical industries have given Mike over a million bucks in legal bribes, all part of Big Pharma's $108.6-million in Congressional payola four years back to assure that Medicare couldn't bargain drug prices. A small price to pay, , don't you think, for the $140-billion in windfall profits Plan D is expected to dole out to drug companies in the next 10 years.

But I digress.

I also wanted to find out from Mike how many drug plans he has to choose from. I figured he might have expert advice for constituents like me, baffled by the promiscuous offerings of over 40 providers here in Florida.

Plus I wanted to ask how often Congressional insurance changes its drug formulary. Under Plan D, they change more often than gas pump prices in a Mideast crisis. I wondered, too, if Mike had to pay out of pocket, like we do, for drugs he needs that aren't supported by his plan.

But when I called, instead of any answers, Shirley in his office asked sternly, "Why do you want to know?"

I explained that just maybe Mike had a simpler, cheaper plan than that available to me, and I wondered how it worked.

Well, I've never been told so nicely that it is none of my damned business.

Retire on $85,000 a Year?

Turns out that Congressfolk get health coverage through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, considered a model by even fiscal conservatives. In 2000, a Congressman and his family paid about 160 bucks a month for complete coverage, the low price thanks to a huge subsidy ironically dubbed "Fair Share."

Congress also has three state-of-the-art Attending Physician's facilities in the US Capital. And superb outpatient/inpatient care at the unofficial Congressional wings of the famed Walter Reed Army Hospital and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Nice plan, indeed, and no donut hole.

But Congress is different from you and me, with its House and Senate gymnasiums, barbershops and beauty salons, subsidized life insurance, and a pension benefit 2-3 times more generous than what a similarly salaried executive could expect to receive upon retiring from the private sector. (Congressman Mike will get about $85,000 a year, plus COLAs, when he retires after this term.)

All this, plus $174,000 a year [2009] with generous automatic annual raises.

What's wrong with this picture?

Founding Father James Madison wrote, "[I]t is essential to liberty that the government in general should have a common interest with the people, so it is particularly essential that [Congress] should have an immediate dependence on, and an intimate sympathy with, the people."

With the average American earning about $35,000, Madison must be spinning at the idea of Congressional salaries in the very top 5 percent. And these guys and girls don't even fill out their own tax returns. The IRS does it for them.

How can we expect Medicare's new Plan D to reflect reality when our representatives in Washington have no stake in it themselves?

So here's my modest proposal: That all present and former government officials receive their health care under the exact same program the rest of us have.

Doesn't matter what you call it. The CRAP (Comparable Rights for All People) Act of 2006, for all I care. Main thing: Do it!

If we get donut holes, they get donut holes. It's that simple, that fair.

I'd call my Congressman for his opinion on all this, but frankly I get the feeling that his office doesn't want to know how I feel. It may just take an act of Congress to change their minds.

© 2006 Frank Kaiser


GET SUDDENLY SENIOR EVERY FRIDAY. SIMPLY SEND A BLANK E-MAIL TO GET-SS@SUDDENLYSENIOR.COM

GET UP-TO-THE-MINUTE NEWS EVERY DAY ABOUT MEDICARE'S NEW DRUG PLAN. SIMPLY SEND A BLANK E-MAIL TO GET-RXNEWS@SUDDENLYSENIOR.COM.

BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE HELPFUL LINKS BELOW


THIS WEEK AT SUDDENLY SENIOR

Learn about Life Settlements, ancient words of wisdom, listening to Fibber McGee and Molly today, when to best take Social Security, 10 tips on finding assisted living, what it's like to be 80, life's 13 rules, what happens when kids revise the Bible, and how to know when you're mature at http://www.suddenlysenior.com/othergoodstuff.html

RECENT COLUMNS

THE DAY THE PRESIDENT THREATENED
ROSE'S 57-YEAR MARRIAGE

Here's how to get President George W. Bush to send a personal Birthday Greeting to someone you love. Ex-presidents Clinton, Bush, Reagan and Ford, too. It's a nice gesture, but watch out! It can cause BIG TROUBLE. READ FULL STORY

ALIENS IN CONGRESS

Wouldn't that explain a lot? Who else but aliens, posing as "representatives of the people," would dismiss their constituents' biggest problems, listening only to and voting only for those who give them big money? For proof, READ FULL STORY

DISGUSTED WITH PLAN D?
CONGRESS SUGGESTS PLAN C.

While Medicare's Plan D sinks under the weight of political bribes and drug and insurance giveaways, a recent Congressional report concludes the drug prices offered by Part D drug plans are “over 60 percent higher than the prices available to consumers in Canada…almost 3 percent higher than the prices available at Costco.” READ FULL STORY

WANNA LIVE FOREVER?

Through molecular manipulations, doctors soon will be switching off so-called death genes, reversing aging by craftily messing with chromosome caps, and creating replacement organs on demand. But have you considered the downside to living forever? READ FULL STORY

BLAME AARP FOR PLAN D’s
MANY SHORTCOMINGS

Learn how and why AARP lies to us about Medicare‘s Plan D. Instead of fighting for seniors, AARP throws us to the HMO wolves and builds power on our good names. In turn we are rewarded with the occasional hotel discount. READ FULL STORY


THIS WEEK'S

BEST

SENIOR CARTOON
















THIS WEEK'S BEST 222 SENIOR SITES

http://www.suddenlysenior.com/links.shtml
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE BEST OF SENIOR SEX
http://www.suddenlysenior.com/sexpage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR NOSTALGIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/nostalgiapage.html
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
SEE THE BEST SENIOR TRIVIA ANYWHERE, http://www.suddenlysenior.com/triviapage.html


Want to get "Monday's Best Jokes" e-mailed every week? Send blank e-mail to get-jokes@suddenlysenior.com

To get the Suddenly Senior column, absolutely free, send blank e-mail to Get-ss@suddenlysenior.com

NEW! Get the latest Medicare and Canadian drug store news e-mailed almost every day, send blank e-mail to
Get-rxnews@suddenlysenior.com

To unsubscribe to the Suddenly Senior column, send a blank e-mail to Remove-sslist@suddenlysenior.com

To unsubscribe to This Week's Best Jokes, send a blank e-mail to Remove-jokes@suddenlysenior.com


HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, EVERYONE!

Frank

Frank Kaiser frank@suddenlysenior.com

http://www.suddenlysenior.com/

The nationally syndicated column seen by more than one and a half million Americans over 50 who've become senior before their time.

PicoSearch
FIND IT AT
SUDDENLY SENIOR!




SINCE 1999, AMERICA'S MOST TRUSTED SENIOR CITIZEN WEBSITE


Seniors Having Fun
• To be a Kid Today in Florida

How Suddenly Senior began
• E-MAIL FRANK


Now read by 3.1 million in 83 newspapers from Florida’s St. Petersburg Times to the Mumbai, India News. CLICK FOR MORE INFO


ADVERTISE WITH
SUDDENLY SENIOR