series of embarrassing debacles and failures to respond in 2005, the
Bush administration hoped to ring in the New Year on a positive
note. The expansion of Medicare drug benefits, the most significant
development in the program since its 1965 conception, was meant to
win over lower-income and senior populations which were most
effected by the letdowns of the previous year.
underprivileged customers who switched from Medicaid to the new
Medicare plans across the country have faced severe complications
when attempting to purchase prescription drugs under the new plan.
Some were told that instead of a deductible of $5 dollars, they owed
$250 or that they were not listed as Medicare participants at all.
Pharmacists’ attempts at contacting insurance companies or the
Medicare line were met with up to four hour waiting periods or no
response at all.
While the federal government promises that it is rushing to
synchronize the enrollment lists for insurance companies, it’s the
state governments that are picking up the slack. Over a dozen states
have stepped in to assist their most vulnerable residents. Arkansas
declared a state of emergency. Minnesota and Illinois offered to be
the “payer-of-last-resort”. Ohio, Wisconsin, Connecticut,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and Vermont
also announced that they would help those in need until the federal
government organizes the prescription plan coverage.
Although the Bush Administration did finally step in to tell
insurance companies that they must provide at least a 30-day supply
of medication to beneficiaries at a cost of no more than $2 for
generic drugs and $5 for brand-name drugs, in many cases the
response is too little too late.
concern over the issue has been expressed by both Democrats and
Republicans. Senate Minority leader Harry Reid and 34 other
Democrats have penned a letter inquiring about the reasons why
preventive measures for the current pitfalls were not planned, while
many Republican governors of affected states have questioned their
handling of the Medicare drug benefits, which the Administration has
quoted as being one of its priorities for the year, is a potential
problem for the Republicans. But like other major mistakes on the
part of this administration- over 1,000 dead after “Mission
Accomplished” or FEMA’s sluggish response to Katrina- it too will
soon blow over.
willingness to forgive and forget mistakes it would at any other
time be in outrage over has been a disturbing trend for the past
five years. While instant uproar may come from those directly
affected by the errors, it lasts only long enough for network news
and political columnists to get their feed and is almost immediately
gone. Maybe we’ve learned to discard the bitter memories of mistakes
past in order to make room for the ones we know are surely coming.
when it comes to the polls, and eventually to voting, our judgment
of the Administration should not be based on current events, but
rather on our cumulative experience. The only way to achieve this
effect is if Americans stay true to their post 9/11 promise of
Instead of seeing the neglect and lack of concern on the part of the
Administration as an offense against a geographic, socio-economic or
age group, we should begin analyzing preventable crises as
transgressions of a government against its constituents. Those of us
who are not affected by the Medicare predicament directly should be
equally as outraged as those who are, and not cease to remember it
next time we visit the ballot box.