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Will Congress Act Or Must We Buy Prescription 
Drugs Illegally In Canada And Mexico? 

by Ken Mahal, NSC President
Originally published on  October 16, 2003 - reprinted with permission

I’m afraid that at the rate Congress is working on a meaningful prescription drug program it is going to be a lot like the Notch issue they hope most of us will just fade away (die and shame on them). One thing for certain is I would never consider an illegal act to purchase prescription drugs across the boarder. We have a friend that has gone to Nagolis Mexico and bought his drugs at 40 to 60% discount. This is a legitimate pharmacist who has an address in California where he will ship. I am never sure these things are that trustworthy or worth the risk. I feel comfortable going to Sam's Club and the likes knowing the service, price and dependability is about as good as we can expect under the present situation. Yes our prescription costs are plenty hefty with most being retired for 20 years and no; money doesn’t grow on trees that only happen in Congress, Carson City and you city council chambers or Clark County.

It is long past time when Congress should have come up with a simple prescription drug program for the 20,000,000 retirees without the same great benefits they have. Being retired for 20 years and living on past earnings is no easy manner considering we pay every tax people with jobs do as well as having an ever increasing medical and prescription drug cost. On top of that our generation is also caring for more adult children as single parents with children, our grandchildren which, is something the average American and politician has no sense of what we are really faced with in our daily lives.

Believing simple is better see the below proposed Prescription Drug Program for Congress to act on now. They can do it. On the don’t call at dinner time where 50,000,000 signed up the Congress and the President came up with two changes to the court challenged law in as many days and got the job done. We challenge them to do the same with our very simple straight forward proposal below with no DAMM gimmicks.

A PRESCRIPTION DRUG PROGRAM THAT WORKS FOR ALL (PDP) 
Seniors in Medicare have lived without a prescription drug plan 20+ years. It is time to change that with a simple comprehensive, self financing plan, covering everyone, with $1,000 prescription drug increments including a catastrophic drug cap as shown below.

The plan suggested below are your options that you can select for the amount of prescription drug allowance that you feel meets your personal needs and pay accordingly.
(The below options are examples subject to actuarial refinement)
    
Plan A $1,000 per year of prescription drugs at $24 per month or $288 per year.
Plan B $2,000 -------------------------------------- $45 ---------------- $540-----------.
Plan C $3.000 -------------------------------------- $60 ---------------- $720-----------.
Plan D $4,000 -------------------------------------- $72 ---------------- $864-----------.
Plan E $5,000 -------------------------------------- $75 ---------------- $900-----------.
     
A Catastrophic Drug Program should be included on everything above $5,000 per person per year and would be included in the premiums listed above. Anyone who selects less than Plan E $ 5,000 coverage would be liable for that difference before the catastrophic coverage kicks in.

The Plan Administration is simple. Use a “Medicare Prescription Drug Smart Card” like a credit card with a computer chip defining the plan you purchased. You would simply select plans A, B, C, D, or E in $1,000 increments and pay the premiums accordingly. The Smart Card would automatically deduct, track purchases, pays and forwards that information to the central tracking system by computer thus eliminating all paperwork. You pay the plan by monthly or 12 month lump sum contract, with renewal and or plan change if any made in the 11th month.

For poverty level people as defined by the federal government let Congress set a subsidy program that will be financed separately in the general budget and not expected to be subsidized by plan members. Also there shall be NO means testing since everyone paying into the program has already paid their fair share of taxes to the federal government in their forty or fifty years of gainful employment before they retired.

As to how do we get a price break on the prescription drugs? One possibility I would consider is 6 or 9 regional geographic districts divided as close as possible with equal populations of retirees based on the last census and changed each ten years with the census. I would consider Non Profit Buyers Clubs that we could us as our purchasing power to bid in the open competitive market for the price of our bulk drug needs.

Ken Mahal A.I.A.
President Nevada Seniors Coalition

----------------------

P.S.
Four years ago the Governor of Nevada suggested the Senior RX plan for the poor and created a means testing program that was of no help to we seniors who pay full price for our prescriptions. We sent the governor a letter suggesting he add the hundreds of thousands of us seniors in Nevada to the program and create a Cooperative Buyers Club knowing if thousands of us joined it surely would help in finding a way to buy at lower prices. We weren’t asking for a free ride we just wanted to try an idea that might help all of us get a better deal not just the hand-full that might look good politically. The governor never so much as gave us the courtesy of responding to our request to try something a little innovative. Well his program has struggled every since he has been in office and is still of no consequences to hundreds of thousands of retirees in Nevada. As a matter of fact we imagine many of us are also helping pay for those on this subsidized program with little or nor help to the masses who really need a program and will pay their fair share.
     What a bummer Governor.

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