Saturday, June 26, 2004

It's Bingo Night at Your Local Pharmacy 

Sometimes, you just have to wonder where they get their ideas. Shirley Jackson? No -- in "The Lottery," only one guy dies. Pohl & Kornbluth, maybe? Nope -- their futuristic social satires were famously savage, but never this savage. Via Digby, an early candidate for Outrage of the Year, in an especially strong year:
Medicare is planning a lottery later this year for people with cancer, multiple sclerosis and several other diseases. For the 50,000 winners, the government will start helping pay for their medicine, but more than 450,000 others must wait until 2006.

Congress wrote the program into last year's Medicare prescription drug law to give a head start to people who take oral cancer drugs that can cost tens of thousands of dollars a year.

Treatments for MS, rheumatoid arthritis and six other illnesses that can be administered at home also will be covered, the Bush administration announced Thursday.

"This initiative will get these breakthrough oral medications into the hands of seniors fighting cancer so that they have the best opportunity possible to beat the disease," said Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, whose daughter died of cancer. She wrote the provision, along with Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

However, the law limits the new program to 50,000 people and $500 million, at least $200 million of which must be spent on cancer drugs. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Medicare recipients without prescription drug coverage are eligible.

"There'll be a lottery to be chosen as one of 50,000 lucky individuals," Thompson said.

Medicare will accept applications for the lottery from July 6 to Sept. 30, and will randomly select 25,000 cancer patients and 25,000 people with the other illnesses.
Quick exercise in arithmetic: $7 billion divided among 450,000 patients buys each and every one over $15 grand's worth of medication.

Why $7 billion? That's how much Vice President Go Fuck Yourself and I'm Glad I Said It slipped his Halliburton buddies in the famous no-bid contract for various services that included: A) putting out oil fires, B) shipping fuel into Iraq at grotesquely inflated prices, and C) defrauding the government whenever and wherever possible.

Of course, enrichment of the cronies of the party in power is the proper function of government. This healthcare stuff, on the other hand -- that's just socialism.

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