All Maine Matters

January 2006



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Medicare Prescription Provision
by Rep. Henry Joy

Much mail has filled my mailbox recently with information concerning the new Medicare Prescription Provision that was passed by Congress and signed by the President. The material is very confusing and does little to clarify the matter for most senior citizens. Clinics or advisory counseling are being held for seniors across the state and programs are on some of the radio stations in an effort to clarify matters for eligible persons. If one carefully looks at the proposal, he or she must come away from the briefing sessions shaking one’s head. It may be a satisfactory program for an individual who is far below the so-called poverty level or for an individual with massive prescription needs, but…

If we consider the costs related to the program, it soon becomes apparent that the cost may outweigh the benefit.

Most informational descriptions indicate that a monthly fee will be deducted from an individual’s social security amount. For those who are borderline in meeting living expenses, this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If an individual is too confused to sign up for a program this year, they may sign up in the open enrollment period near the end of 2006. This, however, carries an additional penalty for the enrollee. There is a per month fee added on to the premium to be deducted for those who delay in enrolling in the program.

A letter writer to the editor of a California Newspaper refers to this as “the Blackmail Clause”. Sign up now for a questionable program or pay a bigger fee to sign up later for the same questionable program.

One can only speculate as to why the Senators and Representatives in Washington would attempt to saddle Medicare recipients with a “benefit” (???) of this type. Other sources indicate that this program adds 7 trillion dollars to the federal deficit. This information is available to Congress and the President. Why are they persisting in supporting a program that debt will doom to failure? Are people with private plans immune to the blackmail clause? What if economic demands push businesses and insurance companies to discontinue that private plan and an individual then has to enter the Medicare prescription program?

That individual is subject to the higher fees because of the delays in signing up for the program.

What is the answer? Voters must educate themselves to the issue and notify their representatives and senators that they will be turning the tables on them. They must be given an assurance that if the program is not changed and made workable with no deficit increase in the Federal budget they will be voted out of office in the next election cycle.

They must be reminded that they are there to REPRESENT the PEOPLE, not create programs that have “Blackmail Clauses.”
As new representatives and senators are elected to replace them, rescind the current benefit programs that congressional people have and enroll them in social security and Medicare. Then the people would be truly represented.

Henry Joy, a retired educator, has loyally represented his district – currently called House District 141 -- during the 116th, 117th, 118th, 119th, 121st, and 122nd sessions. He and his wife, Mary, live in Crystal.

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