JSPAN Presents: "Fixing Medicare Part D" on October 26th

Last week, the average Medicare Part D beneficiary fell into the coverage gap, or "doughnut hole" of the prescription drug benefit. Nearly 7 million Americans will suddenly face the full share of their costs this year. A plethora of national advocacy organizations are calling for improvements in the Medicare Modernization Act which brought us Part D. On October 26 JSPAN will present a special program designed to enlighten us on the problems inherent in the present system and to help us find solutions. You have two opportunities to attend:
  • 11 AM at The Philadelphian (2401 Pennsylvania Ave, Philadelphia)
  • 8 PM at Congregation Adath Jeshurun (7763 Old York Road, Elkins Park)
Our speaker will be Thomas Snedden, the director of the Pennsylvania Pharmaceutical Assistance Contract for the Elderly, more commonly known as the PACE program. He has served in this position since 1985. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Snedden held a variety of program posts in the Pennsylvania Governor's Office, Office of Administration. The PACE program, enacted in 1984, is a state-funded prescription drug benefit for qualified older Pennsylvanians funded exclusively from state Lottery Fund proceeds. In 1996, a supplementary drug benefit was enacted and is known as the PACE Needs Enhancement Tier (PACENET). PACE/PACENET is the largest state program of its kind: serving 230,000 enrollees, reimbursing 9.4 million claims annually, at an aggregate annual benefit cost of $365 million. Last Friday, JSPAN Board member Brian Gralnick spoke on the Medicare Part D "Doughnut Hole" at a press conference at the Philadelphia Senior Center. Below are his remarks.
Good Morning, my name is Brian Gralnick. I am a Board member of JSPAN, the Jewish Social Policy Action Network. JSPAN's mission is to advance equality and opportunity for all women and men in our pluralistic democracy. To protect the Constitutional liberties and civil rights of Jews, other minorities and the weak in our society. To secure for society and ourselves the benefits of Jewish learning and culture. And to carry out the goal of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. I am also currently a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania School for Social Policy & Practice studying social policy, specifically aging policy. It's my previous position though as Special Assistant to the Pennsylvania Secretary of Aging, and member of a working group on Part D that gave me a first hand account of the quasi- Medicare Program. Medicare Part D is a half hearted attempted at healthcare. We need to put this legislation in perspective. Bob Novak did that in a January 10 th Pittsburgh Tribune-Review column when he wrote, the drug plan was Karl Roves audacious effort to co-opt the votes of low to middle income seniors who vote heavily Democrat and complain about he cost of prescription drugs. I ask the press assembled here today to find one member of Congress who actually read the 400 plus page bill when they voted on it in the wee hours of the morning. Medicare is a wonderful program that treats our older adults the same, no matter what race, or religion, or gender they are. Medicare desegregated hospitals in a time of tremendous racial tension. It's an amazing equalizer in a time of such disparities. The doughnut hole and Part D is not Medicare. That's why JSPAN is proud to call on Congress to fix this flawed legislation and pass Medicare Prescription Drug Savings and Choice Act, HR 752. That's real Medicare. I urge Congresswoman Schwartz, and Congressmen Fitzpatrick, Weldon, and Gerlach to become co-sponsors. Every American needs to contact their Congressperson ask them why HR 752 is not moving out of committee. Not all of the news today has to be negative. There's good news. Thanks to Governor Rendell and the passing of PACE Plus Medicare, people in Pennsylvania won't be hit so hard. Pennsylvania is number 1 in providing full coverage in the doughnut hole. Nearly 215,000 Pennsylvanians have full coverage. In PA, more have full coverage than partial or no coverage at all. That's remarkable and noteworthy. It's time for other state legislatures to step up and follow Pennsylvania 's model.