"I want to kill any Republican I know." --Mrs. Claus
WASHINGTON (AP) - When the federal government's new prescription drug benefit kicks in next year, it will not cover a category of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures.
That means those disabled and elderly people on Medicare who take Xanax, Valium, Ativan and other types of the drug benzodiazepine will have to look elsewhere for coverage or switch to a different, less addictive medication.
Finding other alternatives may not be easy for the 1.7 million low-income, elderly people who take the drug and will be automatically enrolled in the new prescription drug plan. They will depend on the states to continue paying for their benzodiazepines - "benzos" for short - on Jan. 1, but with no guarantee....
If states agree, they will continue to get federal matching funds when they pay for benzos.
But concerns remain among medical professionals and advocates for the elderly about what would happen if some states opt to save money by excluding benzos from their Medicaid program for the poor.
"Stopping the therapy abruptly can lead to seizures and dangerous, life-threatening problems," said Thomas Clark, policy director for the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists...
Basically, Congress excluded from the new benefit all drugs that states were entitled to omit from their Medicaid program. All states provide some level of coverage for benzos, even though they don't have to. Last year, they spent $57 million on that category of drugs for the dual-eligible population...
Over the past few years, my state, which has virtually a Republican one-party government, has systematically done everything it can to eliminate Medicaid coverage for the poor on any excuse whatsoever.
It is still doing this. And I have little doubt that it will follow the Federal Government's lead in this matter, and slowly but surely eliminate the disability drug coverage on as many as possible of the 20 prescription medications Mrs. Claus currently uses to keep the chronic pain of her incurable illnesses at bay and to sustain at least 2-4 hours a day of a normal life.
Mrs. Claus believes that the Republican war against the poor will systematically deprive her of every chance she has for a life where her intolerable pain and is at least mitigated, if not eliminated.
I can make no rational argument to the contrary that I, myself, would believe for a moment. Can you?
It's a shame. Mrs. Claus' mother has voted Republican for many years. Despite this, Mrs. Claus still meant what she said. And because of this the two of them may well be estranged to the grave and beyond.
I regard no one as my sworn enemy.
But despite my feelings about having no enemies, I have one simple question for any Republican who happens to read this post:
Can you see any reason why Mrs. Claus shouldn't regard you as her sworn enemy?
And for any of my readers I would have a further question:
If you were cut off, by the politics of our time, from every possibility of medicating a pain so constant and intolerable that it will deprive you of any desire to continue to live, what would you do when you got down to the last prescriptions you will ever have?