MAKING SENSE OF THE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PLAN
Seniors are completely confused. From the San Jose Mercury News (thanks, Peter):
Bill Wilson worked at an accounting company for 15 years. Marge Thompson was married to an accountant. Marion Block spent more than 30 years managing a family business.
But decades of close attention to figures and finance didn’t help these Santa Clara County seniors make sense of Medicare’s new prescription drug benefit, which opened for enrollment Tuesday.
‘We just couldn’t make heads or tails of it,’ said Block, 79, who asked her son, a 44-year-old housing developer, for help. He couldn’t figure it out, either. . . .
What they lack is a secret weapon. Ours is the estimable Less Less Antman. He writes: ‘I’ve done analyses for two clients looking to sign up for the new Medicare Prescription Drug Plan option. The web site at medicare.gov has a terrific service called Formulary Finder allowing you to enter all your prescriptions to see what is covered and what might be subject to quantity limits or other restrictions for every available plan. While each person is different, I think it more than coincidence that, for both clients, I found that the CIGNATURE Rx Complete Plan was the best ($42.63 per month with no deductible and 96 of the 100 most popular drugs covered, with participation by virtually all major pharmacies). There are also less expensive plans for those seniors not currently using any medications but wanting catastrophic protection. For those looking for a combination of a Medicare HMO/PPO and drug plan, I thought the Aetna Golden Medicare Premier plan looked pretty good. Needless to say, absent a personal analysis, this is only a general suggestion for those paralyzed by all the choices, and not all plans are available in all areas. What is most important to note is that anyone who doesn’t sign up when eligible (or by May 15, 2006 if already eligible) will pay 1% more for every month they delay in enrolling, and the increased premium will apply for the rest of their life. The only exception is if they already have equivalent or better coverage through another group plan (this is called ‘creditable coverage’), and their group can and should tell them if that is the case. By the way, the Medicare site also allows you to enroll in your chosen plan online.’
LUX ET VERITAS
One thing we know for sure: we don’t torture. That comes straight from the President’s mouth.
To those who believe we are being lied to from time to time, here’s the thing you need to understand: it’s okay. From the current issue of Rolling Stone:
. . . According to a secret Pentagon report personally approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003 and obtained by Rolling Stone, the Strategic Command is authorized to engage in “military deception” – defined as “presenting false information, images or statements.” The seventy-four-page document, titled “Information Operations Roadmap,” also calls for psychological operations to be launched over radio, television, cell phones and “emerging technologies” such as the Internet. In addition to being classified secret, the road map is also stamped noforn, meaning it cannot be shared even with our allies.
It’s a story you’ve got to read. In small part:
. . . Strapped to the [CIA] polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. For hours, as thin mechanical styluses traced black lines on rolling graph paper, al-Haideri laid out an explosive tale. Answering yes and no to a series of questions, he insisted repeatedly that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam’s men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The illegal arms, according to al-Haideri, were buried in subterranean wells, hidden in private villas, even stashed beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest medical facility in Baghdad. . . .
There was only one problem: It was all a lie. After a review of the sharp peaks and deep valleys on the polygraph chart, the intelligence officer concluded that al-Haideri had made up the entire story, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa.
The fabrication might have ended there, the tale of another political refugee trying to scheme his way to a better life. But just because the story wasn’t true didn’t mean it couldn’t be put to good use. Al-Haideri, in fact, was the product of a clandestine operation — part espionage, part PR campaign — that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. . . .
It seems that before long, Judith Miller had the story and it was on the front page of the New York Times: AN IRAQI DEFECTOR TELLS OF WORK ON AT LEAST 20 HIDDEN WEAPONS SITES.
Read the whole story and see whether you believe the Republican Administration shared all this with the Democratic senators who voted to give the President authority to go to war as a last resort . . . and whether it was being truthful with the public as it led the nation to war.