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Medicare Beneficiaries Underwhelmed By New Drug Benefit

  • December 1st, 2003

Few elderly Florida residents interviewed by the New York Times expect to get much help from the new Medicare drug benefit just approved by Congress.

Many say they feel they were sold out by Republicans and AARP, which endorsed a Medicare bill drafted mainly by Republicans. At the same time, they fault the Democrats for not fighting hard enough for a better drug benefit.

"We've been waiting, waiting for this prescription drug bill to provide some relief to seniors, but it won't do much for them, not much at all," said Lorraine M. Angelotti, 72, of Fort Lauderdale. "You would have to be a major, major user of very expensive medications to get any kind of halfway decent benefit."

Ernest D. DeBlasis, 73, said the new coverage "amounts to peanuts."

"It's not going to help me," said Mr. DeBlasis. "Let's hope Congress revises this thing before it takes effect in 2006."

Several Medicare beneficiaries remarked that they would need lawyers to figure out the new benefits, which may vary depending on the insurer offering them.

While some believe that the new legislation will assist low-income Medicare recipients, most expressed keen disappointment in the drug coverage.

"If they can send $87 billion to Iraq and Afghanistan this year, I think they could do a little better for our citizens, especially senior citizens who are on fixed incomes," said Tony J. Forzese, 71.

Said another 73-year-old man sitting on the Hollywood Beach promenade, "I'm more angry at AARP than at Congress because they are supposed to support us. They sold us out"

In a Newsday article on the Medicare legislation, two ElderLawAnswers member attorneys from New York are quoted.

"I think it's going to be really tough for some people," said New York City and Long Island elder law attorney Ronald Fatoullah. "For those seniors who really need prescription drugs, and it's a real burden for them, this still really won't cut it."

Both Fatoullah and fellow elder law attorney Judith Grimaldi, a partner at the New York City firm of Freedman and Fish, suggested that seniors should maintain whatever alternative means they may have of paying for prescription drugs, especially if they participate in an employer-based plan, which might be more generous.

"If you have created other solutions, stick with them," said Grimaldi.

For the full New York Times article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/30/national/30VOIC.html (Free registration required and article may no longer be available.)

For the Newsday article, go to: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1125medicare-wait25.html (Article may no longer be available.)

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Last Modified: 12/01/2003

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