Recent Activities






of San Francisco

Special focus of Sept. 10 combined SF Gray Panther and State-wide Gray Panther Meeting:
How Can We Survive Medicare Drug "Benefits"?

September 10 will be a combined meeting of the SF and state-wide Gray Panthers. State-wide will meet from 9:30 AM to 3:00 PM, everyone is welcome. The specific SF part will be 1-3 PM, and will be on the Medicare Drug Benefit, which will greatly concern seniors and disabled. We will especially talk about our response and a grant state-wide has gotten for advocacy on this.

More a gift to the drug industry than to us, this law prohibits Medicare from using its potential power to force down drug prices, yet it forces most seniors and disabled to pay out-of-pocket for each year’s first $250 in purchases, and “doughnut hole” purchases from $2250 to $5100, even though they still pay premiums. Money spent out-of-pocket is credited for the first $250 or for “doughnut hole” spending *only* if it is to buy drugs the company covers. Companies can change the drugs they cover every week, but most of us are locked into their plan for a year.

To compound the confusion, the above specifications are government guidelines, and companies will be allowed add here and subtract there, as long as their overall plan is “actuarially equivalent” to the government guidelines. Moreover, starting in May 2006, if a person is eligible for a drug plan and does not have equivalent coverage, there will be a 1% surcharge to a plan’s premium for each month a person delays signing up for a plan, for the rest of that person’s life.

Other serious concerns are:

* drug coverage for poor seniors and disabled will be transferred from Medi-Cal to Medicare’s inferior, less regulated, and more expensive coverage;

* the State has to pay Washington millions for that transfer;

there can be no effective regulation of companies’ plans;

* there is no plan for nursing homes;

* there is an incentive for employers to drop existing drug coverage; and

* finally the law’s future provisions to drive people into HMOs for doctor’s care and to cap federal payments to Medicare.

Please come, with your intelligence, outrage, and commitment to fight for our future.

Read an informative brochure on Medicare Drug Benefits by the California Alliance of Retired Americans (CARA). (The brochure as an Acrobat file, suitable for printing, long download)