the difference between being put out to pasture and being
sent to the glue factory?
Well, that depends.
Do you need prescription coverage?
worked since I was fourteen," the caller said. "Now
I have this brain disease. It's like my brain is a
grape, and it's turning into a raisin. It's going
to kill me.
I can't get my prescriptions paid for anymore,
because I'm only 59." That was Norman Marriot
talking. His call was one of 62 calls coming into
our small office in less than two weeks.
of the calls were from people under sixty-five,
people with disabilities who rely on Medicare for
their health insurance. Each of the calls was as
gut-wrenching as that one. All 62 people were
referred to us by a state program. All 62 were
dumped by a Medicare HMO. They weren't as
profitable as expected....
HMOs got to our state government a couple years
back with a good deal: send your Medicare folks to
us, and we'll give them prescription benefits.
Later, the companies realized that people who need
lots of drugs aren't profitable.They raised the
premiums on some high-cost "beneficiaries,"
out-and-out dumping others. This is managed care;
they manage first, care later. As if they care at
the difference between being put out to pasture and
being sent to the glue factory? Well, that depends.
Do you need prescription coverage? If Medicare HMOs
are the new punks on the block, drug companies are
kingpins of organized drug crime. What a deal
they've got going! If you need the med, you need
the med. You'll do almost anything to get it. It's
what keeps you alive....
Josie Byzek works for the
Pennsylvania Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That's her at right, at a 1996
sit-in to free a woman who was held against her will in a
psych ward. (photo by Tom Olin)
These are excerpts from
Josie's report on HMOs and drug companies in the March 2000
The report (she calls it a rant) includes
a half-serious death threat against the CEO of a drug-pushing charity.
To read the whole thing, you have to be a subscriber to Mouth. You're
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