Monday, June 28, 2004

Politics: You Can't Win if You Don't Play...

The other day in the car I heard a story on NPR about a "Medicare lottery" where 50,000 people would be chosen out of millions to have expensive (chemo, etc) treatment paid for by Medicare. I could hardly believe what I was hearing...and I meant to find out what the hell the deal was. Digby has the analysis (and a link)...

Here's the story (my emphasis added):
Posted on Fri, Jun. 25, 2004

Medicare drug lottery to help 50,000

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Medicare is planning a lottery later this year for people with cancer, multiple sclerosis and several other diseases. For the 50,000 winners, the government will start helping pay for their medicine, but more than 450,000 others must wait until 2006.

Congress wrote the program into last year's Medicare prescription drug law to give a head start to people who take oral cancer drugs that can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Treatments for MS, rheumatoid arthritis and six other illnesses that can be administered at home also will be covered, the Bush administration announced Thursday.

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

However, the law limits the new program to 50,000 people and $500 million, at least $200 million of which must be spent on cancer drugs. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Medicare recipients without prescription drug coverage are eligible.

"There'll be a lottery to be chosen as one of 50,000 lucky individuals," Thompson said.

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

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


For more information and to sign up for the lottery, go to and click on "Medicare to Extend Access to Certain Drugs For Beneficiaries with Serious and Chronic Illnesses."

You can also call Medicare at (800) 633-4227 to speak to a representative.

How about calling your actual Representative, and telling them what a fucking travesty this is.

"50,000 winners" !?! Oooo. You with the life-threatening disease, you WIN! You might not die as quickly because the government might help pay for some of your medication! Don't worry, special provisions in the bill requested by the pharmacutecal industry mean you have to take unproven oral medication... As Secretary Thompson says, you sure are "lucky."

Can Michael Moore whip out another movie before November that covers the War this Administration is waging here at home on the vulnerable of our society? Un-fucking-believable.


Mr Furious said...

I posted this as a diary at Kos, and an interesting thing happened in the comments. Check out this exchange:

Thank You! (none / 0)
Thank you so much for posting this. My Mom can apply for this. My Mom is 78 and she has lung cancer. She takes Iressa (an oral cancer drug), which is included in this lottery. She pays $1659 per month for Iressa. PLUS, she pays $700 per month for the other drugs she takes. That is a TOTAL of $28,308 per year just for my Mom's drugs. PLUS, my Dad pays several hundred dollars per month for the drugs he takes.

Here's the real kicker. They pay several hundred dollars per month for a Medicare HMO that INCLUDES DRUG COVERAGE! However, the only drugs that are ACTUALLY covered are their cheap drugs. MOST of their drugs are NOT COVERED, because they are not included in the Medicare formulary.

My Mom has been taking Iressa for about 9 months and it has stopped the cancer from growing. She also feels better. She must take the Iressa for the rest of her life. My parents are not rich. They are using their savings to pay for their medicines, and they will definitely run out of savings at some point. Thanks again for posting this. Now I can just HOPE that my Mom "WINS" this life-saving lottery.

by jdld on Mon Jun 28th, 2004 at 13:12:16 EDT
[ Reply to This | Rate All ]

WOW! (none / 0)
I never expected something like this as a comment. I'm sorry to hear about your mom's illness, and I hope something about this wretched system ends up working out for you/her.
"I'm so mad, I'm bulletproof!"

by Mr Furious on Mon Jun 28th, 2004 at 16:02:42 EDT
[ Parent | Reply to This ]

* [new] Thanks again... (none / 0)
for your kind words, and for posting this. I had never heard of this lottery before. My Mom's situation is one of several reasons I am getting involved with politics for the first time in my life. I volunteered for Howard Dean, and am now volunteering for Nancy Farmer.

I am kind of dreading calling my Mom to tell her about this lottery. She already applied to AstraZeneca (the drug maker) for assistance and was turned down. She is so frustrated already, I am not sure how she will react to this lottery. I will help her apply and make sure she does.

I helped my parents pick a drug discount card and apply for it. They said they never would have been able to figure it out by themselves. It is just unbelievably complicated.

My parents are both definitely voting for Kerry!

by jdld on Mon Jun 28th, 2004 at 17:05:20 EDT
[ Reply to This | Rate All ]
Wow, I guess this blog / my rants may actually have accomplished something! Much as I think this "lottery" deal blows, I hope it works out for someone

Dude Quixote said...

I guess you helped someone by blogging, Mr. F, but it would have been preferrable had you been able to help me by running down some flares in the outfield last night. Dropped a 1-run decision because of poor OF play... Goodbye first place.

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