The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has done a much better job of advertising its new prescription drug discount card than actually providing senior citizens the crucial information they need to determine which, if any, of the 70 discount cards they should sign up for.
"Independent pharmaceutical groups have concluded the Medicare website is 'riddled with flaws.' If seniors choose to call the 1-800-MEDICARE number, they should expect, as I did, to sit on the line for about 30 minutes making their way through menus before they finally have the chance to actually talk to a human being.
"Seniors aren't fooled by the HHS' slick advertising campaign. How else can the Bush administration explain why, despite its own prediction that 7.3 million seniors would sign up, only about 400,000 Medicare beneficiaries have voluntarily signed up for one of these cards?
"Seniors finally realized the cards don't guarantee them a consistent discount, nor do they guarantee that a particular card will offer discounts on all medicines taken by a Medicare beneficiary. And if seniors get past all that, they realize the actual price for their drugs can vary from pharmacy to pharmacy.
"When are Republicans going to realize that we can't do anything to help seniors out with their prescription drug bills until we actually do something about the skyrocketing drug prices. The Families USA report today shows that if we really want to provide seniors relief, we should give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the ability to negotiate on behalf of the 40 million seniors. These discounts mean nothing if the price of prescription drugs continues to increase five times the rate of inflation each year. Veterans are now paying much lower prices than other seniors for their drugs because the Department of Veterans Affairs negotiates on their behalf. When will Congressional Republicans and President Bush give that same privilege to seniors?"