The President used his radio address this week to urge seniors to sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit.
The problem is, that the plan, written by representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and delivered to Congress to put the finishing touches only on, and which is a sop to that industry, was written by people who seem to be used to writing a complex series of laws. Seniors in many states have to learn about multi-tier pricing, drug formularies, and then pick through the fine print of as many as thirty competing plans, all while being inundated with commercials, sales pitches and mail from people who want them to choose their particular plan (my mother is one such, and she at least is in full possession of her faculties and still has a sharp mind, which some seniors no longer have).
According to the Arizona Republic the day the President visited El Mirage to plug his plan (August 29, 2005, ironically the day the country was suffering the worst disaster within recent memory while he was at a country club in El Mirage, which he followed up the next day with a trip to a posh resort in San Diego, also to push the drug plan), he will be lucky if even half of eligible seniors even sign up for the plan (as opposed to the original assumption that nearly all would). The number one reason cited for people not signing up: the plan is too confusing.
If I was more conspiratorially minded, I would think that the confusion this is all causing was designed to obscure the fact from the seniors invovled that this is mostly a sop to the pharmaceutical companies, but in fact, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the people who wrote this were just writing it the same way as if they were writing it to an audience of industry specialists and corporate lawyers, like most of the stuff they write.
And the biggest irony: Some conservatives (notably Republic columnist Robert Robb) have touted the fact that the plan is now considered likely to come in under budget as a measure of its success. Sure. And if you cancelled it completely and no one at all signed up for it, just think of how much more under budget that would be. Only conservatives could take such a resounding failure and spin it into a success.
This bill was a turkey the day it was voted on (which is why Democrats opposed it), it is still a turkey today, and it will be a turkey once it is implemented.
There. Unlike the bill itself, I just described it in short, simple, concise language that leaves no room for confusion.