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Orange County Register- Oct. 16, 2005

"What this country needs are newspapers that believe in moral principle and have enough courage to express these principles
and point out practices and beliefs that violate moral principles. A newspaper that only tries to run editorials and columnists
and news items that are "popular" is of mighty little value to its readers." - R. C. Hoiles
.
"GOVERNMENT- KILLING OUR MOST VULNERABLE?"
.
Oct. 21, 2005; 5:10 A.M., PT
Gerry M. Kaye.

"Congress just walked away and left a lot of poor people hanging. It's frustrating and disheartening," - Kevin W. Concannon, Director of the Iowa Dept. of Human Services.
..
"It's hard to believe that Congress would cut off vulnerable seniors from the help they need at such a critical time. Medicare premiums have increased more than 50% in 3 years. Do we really want to have thousands of seniors to no longer afford to see their doctors?" - Howard J. Bedlin, vice president of the National Council of the Aging.
"ELITIST FRUGALITY"
....
Because Congress has not renewed a program that renews the payment of their monthly premiums by the federal govt., approx.192,000 low income, highly vulnerable seniors face a steep increase in health care costs. The program that was in effect to Sept. 30, 2005 has expired, and without its reinstatement, these poor and elderly citizens will have the premiums for Part B Medicare deducted from their social security checks. This means that without the program's reinstatement, what this uncaring "let 'em eat cake" attitude on the part of government will undoubtedly affect most in the lives of these poor and infirmed people, is the ability to pay for medical care and the prescription drugs that they need to survive.
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News Report 10/20/05: "Medications Unaffordable For Low Income Elderly"
Archives of Internal Medicine - 10/10/05, Study- "This study highlights, among other things, the importance of efforts to make drugs affordable for elderly persons," ...The inability to pay for medications is a central cause of non adherence, which in turn renders any drug regimen useless, " said Dr. Frederick A. Masoudi from Denver Health Medical Center, Colorado. Masoudi & colleagues studied patterns of medication prescriptions for older Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with heart failure between 1998 and 2001. "Clinicians should routinely review their patients' regimens & consider the justification for each drug, & every effort should be made to simplify wherever possible, with the goal of achieving drug regimens for every patient that are as simple and affordable as possible,...they should consider the number of drugs they prescribe, the complexity of these regimens, & what their patients must pay to obtain them," Masoudi said.
..
Former tugboat captain, Lawrence Michalski died of cardiorespiratory disease last month at his Seminole, Fla. home. Doctors and his wife say that the 67 year old man died in part, because changes in Medicare- reduced reimbursement funding left him scrambling to find a particular new treatment of intravenous immune globulin, or IVIG, that many health care providers say they can no longer afford to give needy patients. Mrs. Angelina Michalski said that a 4 week delay in her husband's IVIG treatment was partly responsible for his death, adding, "I had to fight every month to get the medicine, and everyone was saying they can't afford to get it for us."
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Congress left for their10 day vacations on Oct. 7, without resolving the reinstatement of govt. payment of monthly premiums issue, after the two houses disagreed about parts of the legislation. "Congress just walked away and left a lot of poor people hanging. It's frustrating and disheartening, said Kevin W. Concannon, director of the Iowa Dept. of Human Services. States such as Florida, Nevada, and New York have already begun the process of terminating these beneficiaries from the program. Howard J. Bedlin, vice president of the National Council of the Aging, said, " It's hard to believe that Congress would cut off vulnerable seniors from the help they need at such a critical time. Medicare premiums have increased more than 50% in 3 years. Do we really want to have thousands of seniors to no longer afford to see their doctors?
..
Gary R. Karr, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said, "We want Congress to renew the program. The agency said that if the Soc. Sec. Admin. receives a list of names in November, ..the beneficiary will see his or her Dec. check reduced by $234.60, the totaled amount for Oct., Nov., Dec."
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With proposals to reduce the federal deficit high on the agenda, legislators say they will work with the White House to cut $35 million from projected spending on Medicaid and other benefits programs over 5 years.
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In a hopeful note, Sen.Chuck Grassley R-Iowa, chairman of the finance committee, has said that he would try to preserve aid for low income Medicare beneficiaries, adding that the program "has proved its value in helping those who live on the edge of poverty." Also, Senator Jeff Bingaman D-N.M. has introduced a bill that would permanently authorize aid for low income people on Medicare.
..
Tyrannical torture leading to death comes in many forms. The United States Executive Branch, ever swirling with the economy, prompts the churning Legislative body called Congress; which quite certainly finds ways to keep the pork and to slam it to the most vulnerable; all while their own benefits of comfortable salaries and vacations, etc. are sustained like clockwork.
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Meanwhile, the nation's currently deepening in the pits. So much for "selective elitist frugality". Anyone for (selective) term-limitations?

^^

References: Orange County Register, Oct. 16, 2005 - "Elderly Poor Left To Pay", by Robert Pear; "Payment Changes by Medicare Costs Lives", by Devlin Barret.

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