Prescription for Chaos

By: Meredith Taylor
By: Meredith Taylor

January 16, 2006
The questions continue to pour in to pharmacists about Medicare’s new prescription drug program. As News 12 finds out, what is supposed to help cover drug costs is turning into a prescription for chaos.

“I’m just a broke down car, put it that way,” said Clara Curry.

Without her walker, Clara Curry can’t get around. She’s a diabetic, has high blood pressure and a muscle disease. That’s seven medicines a month.

“This one was $130-something and that new plan wasn’t paying but $20 of it and I just couldn’t get it, couldn’t get it,” Curry said.

Last year, Curry found out she was automatically assigned to a plan under Medicare’s new prescription drug plan. She used to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid and paid $3 for each medicine. Her new plan is only Medicare and she can only afford one medicine at $40.

“I’m gonna have to give up my apartment if I have to buy all that medication. I’m gonna have to give up my apartment,” Curry said.

Owner of Park’s Pharmacy in North Augusta, Steve McElmurry, says there are 57 types of plans within the program.

“Each plan may cover a different type of drug. Each plan may cover, if they are on multiple drugs, all of the drugs may not be covered by the same plans,” McElmurray said.

All of the options are confusing. Some states have ordered short-term emergency aid to help people get their medications, something yet to happen in South Carolina and Georgia.

And confusion about this plan is expected to stick around for the next several months. That’s because people have until May 15th to sign up.

“I can’t tell you what, but something needs to be done for the people that just have no clue what’s going on and that’s about 50% of the population,” McElmurray said.

For now, Curry is forced to pick which medicine she needs the most. And she’s hoping a switch to a new plan won’t put her health on the line for much longer.

The Bush administration has ordered health insurers to provide a 30-day supply of prescription drugs to any beneficiary who previously received them.

If you have any questions about this new program or need to switch your plan, call 1-800-MEDICARE.


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