Donuts, Not Donut Holes

DONUTS, NOT DONUT HOLES….In Texas, Robert Pear reports that senior citizens are finally learning about the notorious ? but until now mostly theoretical ? Medicare prescription drug donut hole:

Jose M. Flores, a Medicare beneficiary who lives outside McAllen, used the new drug benefit four times from January to April to purchase Byetta, an injectable medicine for diabetes. Each time he paid $40.

So when he went to the pharmacy on May 25, he was dismayed to be told that he owed $167.56 for the next month’s supply. Mr. Flores had reached the notorious gap in Medicare’s drug coverage. He had to pay the full price of Byetta. His Medicare drug plan paid nothing.

“It’s almost useless,” said Mr. Flores, a 66-year-old school bus mechanic who was interviewed at his home in La Joya, Tex. “I’m paying the premium, but not getting protection.”

Yep, the Republican Party’s Medicare prescription drug plan pays for prescription drugs until you reach a certain limit, then pays nothing, and then after a few thousand more dollars starts paying for your drugs again. And this isn’t just an embarrassing mistake. It’s deliberate. As Mr. Flores astutely points out, though, there’s no donut hole in the premiums: you keep paying those every month regardless of whether or not Medicare is paying for your drugs. With considerable justice, this strikes most people as insane.

Democrats are generally in favor of government programs for worthy purposes like healthcare, education, and the environment, and people generally say they trust Democrats on these issues. The problem is that people lie. They trust Democrats not to randomly trash program they care about, but they don’t trust them ? or anyone else ? to create new programs that don’t piss away most of their funding on waste, fraud, and transparently idiotic things like donut holes and insurance industry pork. (As Pear’s article suggests, but doesn’t quite say, insurance company bureaucracy makes the prescription drug program far more expensive and inefficient than it needs to be.) What’s worse, since the press rarely even bothers to report which party supports which stuff, Democrats probably suffer as much from Medicare’s donut holes and mind-boggling complexity as Republicans.

I’m not really going anywhere with this. Just venting a bit after a week of inactivity. This is hardly a new observation or a sufficient one, but if we liberals want the public to support liberal goals, we have to convince them that we can create programs that actually work well and spend their money wisely. I’ll bet Harry Reid would get more mileage out of “Donuts, not donut holes” than he does out of “Together, America can do better.”