Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lautenberg Jumps Bush on "Medicare Fiasco"

Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who has long been one of my Senate favorites due to his uncompromising style with the GOP, has called on the Bush administration to fix the faulty Medicare prescription drug plan and to reimburse New Jersey for $9 million the state has already spent to keep citizens from falling through the bureaucratic cracks.

We're all pretty well aware that the drug plan was nothing more than a massive gift to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries anyway, but Lautenberg is taking the lead in ensuring that seniors actually manage to get the medical help promised under the program.

Lautenberg cites just one day -- Monday, January 9 – when his state was forced to spend $2.2 million, to cover the cost of prescriptions for senior citizens who were wrongly rejected for coverage from the Federal government.

"While states are bailing out the Bush Administration for these failures, they shouldn't have to wonder whether they will get repaid. The states must be repaid -- with appropriate interest," said Lautenberg. "The Medicare drug plan has already caused enough confusion, and the mishandling of low-income and disabled people is not only incompetent, but cruel."

According to Lautenberg, the new program has failed to help 50,000 seniors in his state just since the program took effect on January 1. New Jersey paid for the drugs – good thing these elderly folks live in a Blue state – so that residents could receive the medicine they need.

"The state of New Jersey shouldn't be punished for the failures of the Bush Administration," said Lautenberg. "These people must be enrolled in the Medicare drug plan immediately, and Medicare must reimburse the state for the prescriptions that have already been filled."

Lautenberg was a major opponent of the Bush Medicare drug plan from the very beginning.

"This Bush proposal would be laughable if it weren't such a serious issue," said Lautenberg in 2003. "It creates a new federal agency that will divide our seniors into two classes; those that can afford this new private coverage, and those that can't."

Little did the Senator know that the problems would be much more fundamental – like seniors even getting the medication promised under the benefit.