Long ago in the Land of Except, there was great beauty, and riches beyond belief. It was an exceptional place, from which it took its name.
Over time, Exceptions, so called because citizens were all above average - became unquestioning and complacent.
Thus it came as a surprise akin to King Nixon going to the Land of Lotus when Except's king called for affordable medicine for senior citizens. “It is only right in this Kingdom of Exceptions that our beloved seniors have the medicine they need for long and healthy lives.”
Bells rang, and there was much jubilation. Never again would seniors have to choose between paying rent and taking the medicine prescribed to keep them alive and well.
“Of course,” said the king, “We must create change to make this medical fairy tale come true.”
And he so proclaimed, “Medicare becomes Medican't. For Medicare is single-choice socialized medicine,” explained the king, “whereas the new Plan D - for Delightful - offers the choice of 'a million cornucopias.'”
While most danced in the streets, others, more cautious, whispered, “Don't forget The Rule.” Indeed, upon the highest point of the highest monument in the land, The Rule was written:
The King's second proclamation detailed: “Plan D - for Discombobulating - means $250 plus $35/mo. minus 75 percent divided by a $2,850 hole plus a $3,600 deduction minus a 13.2 percent jump on top of last year's 17.4 percent equals Bliss - just sign here.”
Oyez, the medicine makers had written Plan D - for Daunting. To hide evidence that it was a bonanza, the law was more complicated than the chemical formula for Viagra. Harder, too.
So it came to pass that each of the million cornucopias dropped letters and pamphlets and brochures and TV ads and e-mails and telephone calls and even mall salesmen on every senior in the Land.
Several seniors suffocated! But since all cornucopias promised something for nothing, and said a lot of nothing about something, surviving senior Exceptions, though puzzled, trusted their king and enrolled.
“We have plenty of choice of cornucopias,” exclaimed one baffled Exception named Joe. “But any other choice is that of the cornucopias.”
“Huh?” said the others.
“The cornucopias' Plan D - for Deceptive” explained Joe, “can drop the medicines you use, or raise prices, and make you use only their doctors and their hospitals. But can you quickly change cornucopias? I don't think so!”
“Oh dear!” exclaimed the others. “Joe must not be a patriotic Exception.” After all, they reasoned, Plan D - for Damned Expensive - was expected to cost the government $720- to $900-billion over the next 10 years.
It must be good.
To which Joe yelled, “That government is us!” as he was dragged away, penalized for not joining a cornucopia in time.
And it came to pass that the cornucopias that had sought them so fiercely terminated those not in good health. And those healthy seniors ended up paying far more for their healthcare than before Plan D - for Double-Cross.
The medicine makers became richer than Croesus. According to Boston University's School of Public Health, fully 61 percent, or a half-trillion dollars of Plan D - for Duplicitous - went to windfall profits for drug makers.
Then stuff happened. Natural disasters, wars, pork, and tax cuts, until the treasury was dry.
As in 2001, it would no longer pay the cornucopias and they closed, pushing seniors into the cold. With Medicare proclaimed Medican't, there was nowhere to go.
Wailing and gnashing of teeth were heard throughout the land.
Moral: Even when you're Exceptional, always listen to the Exception that proves The Rule.
If your income is greater than $14,355 ($19,245 for married couples) and you're not eligible for additional assistance, do not join Plan D - for Disastrous.
Insist on a new bill that allows Medicare to negotiate with drug companies in a free market. Insist on open-market freedom to buy your drugs in Canada or elsewhere.
Insist on a bill for seniors, not for the drug and insurance industries.
If enough of us don't join, they must change the law. And Congress will learn that even it is answerable to THE RULE!