D is for Death, Right?
Our infamous appointed president, George W. Bush, is systematically killing off the poorest of the poor, the sickest of the sick, and the most fragile of the frail. His Medicare Part D Drug Plan is a Trojan horse to 6 million of this country’s most vulnerable people. As of January 1, 2006, this group of people was automatically enrolled into the program, like it or not. This could have been a good thing if it had been done properly. However, holding true to form, it is another of Bush’s dismal failures. Or is it? I can almost hear that arrogant, spoiled brat “I-don’t-give-a-damn” smirk.
Pretend for a moment that you are 70 years old with high blood pressure and a bad heart. Your doctor says if you watch your diet, keep your stress level low, and stay on your medicine, you stand a very good chance of seeing your 80th birthday. You have everything set up with Medicaid, and you can relax knowing your needs are being met. Then January 1st rolls in with Bush’s Part D Plan dragging along behind it. No problem, the President said that this was a good deal for people like you, right? And you can believe President Bush, right?
January 3rd rolls around, and your SS check comes in the mail same as it does on the 3rd of every month. It’s only a little less than $600.00, but it pays all the bills, and there’s enough left to buy food for a month if you’re careful. You go through your regular routine of paying your monthly bills on time, and you’re proud of your good name.
When that’s all done, you go to your local pharmacy to get the drugs that are keeping you alive for your grandkids. As soon as you walk through the door, you know that something is terribly wrong. There are people lined up the length of the store, and you can hear angry voices coming from all directions. You are not stupid, and it takes only a few minutes for you to figure out that there is a big problem with the new Medicare Part D Drug Plan. However, you don’t need to worry because you did exactly what the Medicare counselor told you to do, and just yesterday you heard President Bush say how wonderful the plan was working, right?
When it’s finally your turn, you lean on the counter and flash a big smile at Oscar, the same druggist you’ve been doing business with for almost ten years. Only this time, Oscar doesn’t smile back. Instead, he says the same thing to you you’ve heard him say to most of the people that had been ahead of you.
“Sorry Willie, but the computers are down and I can’t help you.”
“But Oscar, you know me and you know what drugs I take. You don’t need a damn computer.”
“Yeah, Willie, I know you, and I know what you need, but I don’t know who will pay for it. Everything is different now. If you come back tomorrow, maybe they will have their computers up and running.”
You come back the next day and the next three days after, but you are told the same thing.
Up until now you had been able to take all of your medication as prescribed, but this morning you had taken the last pill that helps to regulate your heartbeat. You put on your coat and head for the pharmacy, the same as you have done the past four days, only today you have a since of urgency that wasn’t there before. Just the thought of what might happen if you fail to get your drugs makes your heart speed up slightly.
When you get to the pharmacy, Oscar greets you with a huge smile that tells you everything is okay. You can feel your heartbeat slow down as a wave of relief washes away the added stress.
“Good morning, Oscar. It’s good to see you looking happy again.”
“Good morning yourself. Give me your card before the stupid computers stop working again.”
“The drug plan card that you got in the mail from whatever company you’re with.”
“I never got a card or anything else from any company. I thought all you had to do is type my name into the computer.”
You watch as the smile fades away from Oscar’s face and is replaced with a look of hopeless helplessness. You’re both silent for a few moments, and you feel your heart speed up a little. Then you remember what President Bush said just yesterday about how all the problems were computer glitches, and they would all be fixed in a few days. You don’t know much about computers, but you figure if Bush is smart enough to become the president, he must be smart enough to understand computers, right?
A week goes by, and you are out of all your medications and have been for four days. You heard on the news that 26 states were paying for drugs until Medicare got their glitches fixed, but you don’t live in any of them. You are feeling really bad now and you know that your heart is pounding way too hard and way too fast. You are having crazy thoughts about Bush doing this on purpose because you are poor. Then you remember Katrina and think maybe you’re not crazy. After all, he did let all those poor sick people die, right?
The obituary in the local paper reads:
Willie Van Horn, 70, died Monday of natural causes.
ã John Braswell, 2006