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Medicare Has a Drug Problem

March 29, 2004

Last week, I was so pleased to receive a personal letter from Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. He advised me that Medicare would provide benefits that could save (me) money on life-enhancing and lifesaving prescription drugs. I was so impressed when he advised that Medicare would provide better preventive healthcare and improve my access to doctors. Then, in The Times, I learned that "Medicare Could Go Broke by 2019" (March 24), that the entitlements will break the federal government's bank "unless steps are taken to raise revenues." We know what that means: more taxes or reduced benefits.

I have returned my membership card to AARP to protest its lobbying efforts on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies, which helped to pass this poor piece of legislation. I am only one sweet little old lady who mourns the Medicare mess. I'm concerned about the impact on my 50-year-old children.

Lucille Kuehn

Corona del Mar

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Medicare will go broke not because of the rising costs but the waste and lame decisions made by Congress. I received my "Medicare Summary Notice," which clearly shows that a claim for $1,400 for 10 days of in-house skilled nursing was submitted to Medicare -- and Medicare paid the provider $2,297.43. No wonder we were deluged by phone calls to give us in-house skilled care. This only opens the door for abuse and stealing legally.

Hourig Kalebdjian

Encino

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Simplify, simplify. Where have we heard this before?

Medications are out of sight, price-wise. Everyone is complaining today -- except the companies making the various drugs. Why on Earth are these companies permitted to advertise in various consumer magazines and newspapers and radio and TV commercials, where they ask consumers to ask their doctor if these drugs are "right for them"? If I have to ask my doctor about medications, I am going to the wrong physician! These drug companies expense out the costs for the various ads; the costs are high, and these are tax deductions -- but the costs are then passed on to the poor consumer, who has to pay through the nose for these drugs for survival.

Why not return to advertising only in the various trade publications that are pertinent to the illness that the medication covers? Costs would then return to a somewhat more realistic level -- that is, of course, if the various CEOs, CFOs and other officers stop bilking the companies for stock options, travel perks and other outrageous costs.

Sylvia Graham

Los Angeles

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