A recent letter to the editor raised some questions about the value of the Medicare drug benefit and discount cards. It deserves clarification.
The Medicare Modernization Act provides for voluntary discount drug cards for the next 18 months until the new Part D plans become available. The drug cards provide seniors who currently have no drug coverage with over 30 percent savings on generic drugs and 17 percent savings on brand name drugs. For low-income seniors - more than 70,000 Oregonians -we provided a $600 benefit this year and next - a total of $1,200 - to put toward prescription medications between now and 2006.
A recent report showed the cost of pharmaceutical drugs had gone up by double digit percentages over the last few years. Some say as a result of these cost increases somehow the new Medicare Discount Drug Cards are worthless. That just doesn't make sense. If a low-income Oregon senior who lacks coverage today can receive $600 toward their drug purchases and cut the cost of their drugs by double digits, isn't that a savings? A helping hand? Aren't they paying less than they otherwise would?
I think so. Get the facts for yourself by doing what over 3.5 million seniors have already done. Call Medicare and talk to the representatives about the drugs you take, the costs you pay and how you can save. The number is 1 800-MEDICARE. Or go online at www.Medicare.gov. Please take time to let the folks at Medicare explain how it can help you.
U.S. Rep. Greg Walden
2nd Congressional District, Oregon