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Senior Citizen Politics
Senior Citizens Certain to See Lower Priced Drugs
with Democrat Wins
Other than Iraq War, senior issues may have been
most important to voters
By Tucker Sutherland, editor
November 8, 2006 The results from yesterday's
election showing Democrats gaining control of the House of
Representatives and close to control of the Senate signals major changes
ahead that directly impact senior citizens. First, the price of
prescription drugs is going to go down. And this was the final nail in
the coffin that contains the private accounts proposed by President Bush
for Social Security. "Tonight we have made history; now let us make
progress," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is now
destined to be the first female Speaker of the House and most powerful
woman in the history of the U.S. government.
World War II Generation May Tell Bush to Let
Democrats Handle the Iraq War
Seniors were first to back the President but seem
to have had enough
By Tucker Sutherland, editor
November 6, 2006 I remember lying in my bed at
night, searching the darkness outside my window for any sign of movement
that could be an invading German soldier or spy. I knew just how long it
would take me to get to my .22 rifle in the closet and had thought out
the best defensive positions around my house from where to fire. It was
World War II and my mother and I lived in a small Texas town not too far
from the Gulf coast and the Texas border proximities that flamed my
fear that Nazis may show up any day. My Dad, my uncles and even one aunt
a Marine - were away defending our country.
Less Than Half of Boomers-Seniors Think Medicare
Drug Program is Good for Older Americans, says AARP Poll
Those 61 and older
more negative than baby boomers
30, 2006 Senior citizens may not be as favorably impressed with
Medicare's prescription drug program as many have assumed. A new poll
by AARP shows only 46% of Americans age 61 and older think Medicares
prescription drug plan will be a good thing for older Americans who have
difficulty paying for their prescriptions. Interestingly, these older
people are less likely than baby boomers, not yet eligible to
participate, to give it a favorable rating.
Pharmaceuticals Pour Millions into GOP
Races to Avoid Negotiating Prices with Medicare
Democrats promising negotiated drug prices in
Medicare like VA
25, 2006 It is not talked about much in the Congressional campaigns
but an issue that is having a major impact on the cash contributions in
key races is the question of allowing Medicare to negotiate better
prices on drugs with the pharmaceutical companies, as is done by the
Candidates Not Supporting Social Security Private Accounts
AARP says in 45
Congressional races most candidates oppose idea
October 24, 2006 President Bush's plan for
private accounts as part of the Social Security program is a dead issue,
if a recent survey of 45 heated Congressional races is an indicator. It
found only one candidate out of 20 in
10 of the closest Senate races indicated support. It was even worse in
35 of the top House races where only two candidates voiced support for
private accounts. An earlier election poll by AARP found 72 percent of
older American voters also oppose the idea.
Senior Citizen Issues Getting Top Billing in
AARP wants lower drug prices, Canada
Social Security reform
October 10, 2006 The "hot" issues in this
November election appear to include several that are critical to senior
citizens. A review of campaign activities by KaiserNet.org finds
Democrats pushing for lower drug prices in Medicare through direct price
negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, funding for stem cell
research and greater access to healthcare. AARP says it wants lower drug
prices through pressure on drug companies, legal reimportation of drugs
from Canada and a bipartisan commission to study Social Security reform.
Politics for Senior Citizens
"After a lifetime of hard work, America's seniors
have earned their right to a dignified retirement. Their monthly payroll
contributions to Medicare and Social Security have served as a down
payment toward a secure retirement. Unfortunately, Republican policies
have undermined this security," charged Pelosi.
"First," she says, "the Republican majority enacted
a prescription drug program that does more to increase profits for big
pharmaceutical companies than it does to lower prescription drug costs
for seniors. Then, President Bush and House Republicans pursued a risky
Social Security privatization plan that would have slashed guaranteed
benefits and drained trillions of dollars from Social Security."
Pelosi says Democrats fought against Social
Security privatization, and are now working to fix the flaws in the
Republican prescription drug program.
What she calls "The Democratic Prescription for
Change" will ensure:
● Affordability: Reduce the cost of prescription
● Simplicity: Allow individuals to choose a plan
administered directly through Medicare; and
● Reliability: Provide uninterrupted access to
The Medicare Part D the prescription drug program
certainly received the most attention during the campaigns, at least
The criticisms seem to center on these changes:
1. Lower drug prices - primarily by allowing
Medicare to negotiate for better prices from the drug companies, as does
the Veterans Administration, but also being more permissible about the
importation of lower priced drugs from Canada, and maybe other
Note: follow this link to the Democrat position on negotiated drug
2. Plugging the Donut Hole will be a top priority.
This is the gap in the Part D program where seniors must pay the entire
cost of their prescriptions between $2,250 and $5,100, while continuing
to pay monthly premiums. The current plan is not only illogical but
devastating to the senior citizens most in need of the assistance.
3. The issue that is probably the most far reaching
is the Democrat proposal to have the Medicare drug plans administered
directly by Medicare. This may make Part D more like Part B,
administered directly by Medicare, or at least like Medigap insurance,
where there are fewer choices than the current drug program. It is
likely to at least have a few options to balance the needs of those who
need a lot of prescription drugs and those who need few, if any.
A statement on Pelosi's Website says, "Rather than
building on the existing framework in Medicare, the Republican Congress
chose to outsource prescription drug coverage to private plans resulting
in an unnecessarily complex program."
There have also been indications that the Democrats
are concerned about some of the cost-cutting measures proposed by
Medicare. Specifically, the Democrat Party Website has highlighted the
proposed reduction in payments by Medicare for power wheelchairs.
The power wheelchair industry and the American
Medical Association, both fighting Medicare pay cuts, are expected to be
back in Washington when Congress reconvenes to ask the legislators to
override the rules by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Stopping the proposal to create Social Security
private accounts does not solve the longer-range problem of the programs
financial viability. Democrats will feel pressure to make some changes
that will guarantee these retirement payments for future generations.
"Democrats will expand retirement savings and will
fight to preserve seniors benefits," Pelosi has declared.
The Democrat plan, as described on the Pelosi
Website, says they will:
● Reform bankruptcy and pension laws to prevent
companies from unfairly dumping pension plans.
● Make certain that employees receive the
benefits they have been promised after a lifetime of hard work; if
employee benefits are cut, executives should face similar restrictions.
● Protect longtime, older employees when a
company moves from a traditional pension to a cash-balance plan.
These is not much, however, on the specifics of how
to maintain the viability of the program as the massive numbers of baby
boomers reach age 65 and begin to withdraw from the pot.
Stem Cell Research
Another big issue for Democrats, which many may not
see as a senior citizen issue, is government funding of stem cell
A statement by the Democrat Party says, "We also
believe in investing in life saving stem cell and other medical research
that offers real hope for cures and treatment for millions of
Many senior citizens, who are the generation most
concerned about matters of health, see stem cell research as a possible
solution to many diseases, but in particular the most feared
And, finally, many senior citizens may have been
persuaded to vote for the Democrats because of a general concern about
the quality and cost of healthcare in America. It is a problem that is
not as easy to put your finger on as say, the cost of drugs, but
seniors, and probably most working class Americans, are generally
dissatisfied and seem to increasingly share a belief that the
Republicans have favored too heavily the insurance companies and the
healthcare providers at the expense of the citizens.
It has, the seniors and other citizens seem to
feel, greatly increased their cost and access to care. It has blocked
their attempts to recapture losses through legal claims by limiting
liability for those industries. It has caused the cost of healthcare to
far out pace inflation for other goods and services. It has created
gigantic profits for these industries and scandalous compensation for
The seniors are not blind to the courts and
Congress allowing big pharmaceutical companies to buy off generic drug
producers - paying them big dollars to keep the lower priced generics
off the market and maintaining, what most see, as on warranted profits.
There is plenty of dissatisfaction out there and
now we will see if the Democrats can make progress, as Pelosi has
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