Via the New York Times, more bad news on the Medicare Part D front:
Bush administration officials say they have received scores of complaints about the aggressive tactics used by some insurance companies and agents to market Medicare's new prescription drug benefit . . . Possible violations reported to Medicare officials in the past few weeks include uninvited door-to-door solicitation of business and misrepresentation of insurance products.These accusations, if true, are the inevitable consequence of horribly designed policy. (For more on the absurdity of the bill, see my posts here and here). If you enact a program that no one understands, certain less-than-moral companies will use illegal tactics to try to get prospective customers' attention (i.e. door-to-door solicitation, pretending to be from SSA or MMS).
Federal and state officials said they had also received complaints that some insurance agents identified themselves as working for the Social Security Administration or the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Insurers are rushing into the Medicare market, offering drug coverage to 42 million people who are 65 and older or disabled. The new drug benefit is heavily subsidized by the federal government, but will be delivered by private health plans and insurers. Many of the insurers have little experience with Medicare.
When the bill passed in 2003, I was chiefly pursuing pre-med and paying little attention to the hubub around it. Now that the enrollment period has begun and my brain is primarily concerned with policy, I continue to find myself astounded that the senate actually passed this wolf in sheep's clothing of a bill (a wolf who happens to be very, very friendly with PhRMA).
I'm just totally disgusted. Paying for pharmaceuticals is a real problem for millions of people (not just seniors, by the way), and the best our legislators can do is this? A program that no one can even figure out how to sign up for while the companies proffering it employ illegal tactics to entice enrollees? This legislation is just one more nail in the coffin of American-style health care. One day people will look back and think, "Gee, that sure was unnecessary". And that's a damn shame.