[lit-ideas] Health care lottery (sic)

  • From: JulieReneB@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 16:21:00 EDT

Only Bush .....I'm betting this was his personal little brain-child.....


<<WASHINGTON - The Bush administration will give "50,000 lucky individuals"=20
chosen in a lottery up to a 16-month jump on Medicare  prescription drug=20
coverage, paying for costly medications for cancer and other illnesses this=20=
Health and Human Services  Secretary Tommy Thompson estimated that 500,000 t=
600,000 Medicare recipients without prescription drug coverage are eligible=20
for the program Congress wrote into last year's prescription drug law.=20

"There'll be a lottery to be chosen as one of 50,000 lucky individuals,"=20
Thompson said at a news conference Thursday to announce the program. More th=
450,000 others must wait until prescription drug insurance under Medicare be=
in 2006.=20

The law limits the new program to 50,000 people and $500 million, at least=20
$200 million of which must be spent on oral cancer drugs that can cost tens=20=
thousands of dollars a year. Treatments for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid=20
arthritis and six other illnesses that can be administered at home also will=
covered. Similar drugs often are paid for when dispensed in doctors' offices=

"This initiative will get these breakthrough oral medications into the hands=
of seniors fighting cancer so that they have the best opportunity possible t=
beat the disease," said Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, whose daughter died of=20
cancer. She wrote the provision, along with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.=20

Wendy Selig, vice president for legislative affairs for the American Cancer=20
Society (news - web sites), said some coverage is better than none. "It's=20
clearly not going to meet the needs of every person who may be eligible. The=
again, Congress didn't give them the authority to go out and do that so we c=
hold them responsible," she said, referring to Medicare.=20
The American Society for Clinical Oncology, an organization of cancer=20
doctors, has said that because of the limits, the program "will have a minim=
al impact=20
on people with cancer" until 2006.=20

The new law, thought to be an election-year boon for the GOP, actually has=20
been a thorn. Allegations of ethical improprieties in the law's passage and=20=
slow, confusing start to the Medicare-approved discount drug cards have plag=
the Bush administration and congressional Republicans.=20

Pryce and two other Republican lawmakers joined Thompson and Medicare chief=20
Mark McClellan to announce the start of the new program. Thompson said it=20
offered a taste of the savings that will be available in 2006.=20

Medicare will accept applications for the lottery from July 6 to Sept. 30,=20
and will randomly select 25,000 cancer patients and 25,000 people with the o=

People who apply by Aug. 16 will be eligible for an early draw, with coverag=
beginning Sept. 1.=20

McClellan said people can call the Medicare hotline at 1-800-633-4227 or=20
visit its Web site, www.medicare.gov for information.=20

The government is paying Trailblazer Health Enterprises, a subsidiary of Blu=
Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, $8.7 million to run the program,=20
Medicare officials said.=20
Among the cancer drugs covered are Gleevec for stomach cancer, thalidomide=20
for blood cancer and tamoxifen for breast cancer. The new cancer drugs are=20
increasingly available only in oral form. Medicare has long paid for chemoth=
and other cancer treatments administered in hospitals and doctors' offices.=20

The program will mirror the 2006 drug benefit, meaning that there will be a=20
gap in coverage =E2=80=94 known as a doughnut hole =E2=80=94 in which patien=
ts will bear the=20
entire cost of the medicines. People still will have to spend about $5,300 a=
year for Gleevec, but that represents nearly 90 percent off the annual avera=
wholesale price of $45,952, Medicare said.=20

"Only a cynical pessimist can look at a doughnut and complain about the=20
hole," Thompson said. >>
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