Gray Panthers of San Francisco
May, 2006 Newsletter

Repeal the Medicare Modernization Act (MMA)


What is the MMA passed by Congress in 2003? The pharmaceutical industry, HMOs, and related interests spent almost $141 million to get it passed, according to Public Citizen’s analysis of lobbying disclosure records. Even so, House leaders had to hold the House in session for four extra hours while they pressured representatives to vote yes. It was enacted by a bare two votes.

What did they get for their money? The HMOs and managed health care plans may increase their revenues by $531 billion in the next ten years, according to the Medicare actuary. Medicare is forbidden to negotiate drug and medical appliances discounts. The push for privatization is intensified, forcing people into HMOs and new private drug benefit companies.

What does it mean to you? The premium for the new drug benefit averages $32/month. If you belong to a health plan, you are required to pay it or lose all your health coverage, even if you use no drugs. Drug co-pays have increased, in many cases doubled. If you are a private patient you are being blackmailed into signing up with a private drug benefit company this month. If you don’t sign up now, you will pay a penalty for every month you didn’t sign up if you join a plan in the future. If you are among the few who use a lot of prescription drugs, you may indeed benefit from having your drugs covered, even with the increased co-payments. But when you have spent $2500 in one year, your next $2500 of drug costs will come out of your pocket (the famous donut hole) before you are again covered.


Gray Panthers member writes on the effects of Medicare Drug Plan on her family.

(back to May 2006 Newsletter front page)