South Georgians react to Medicare reform - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgians react to Medicare reform

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June 18, 2003

ALBANY - Republicans and Democrats are squaring off in Washington over how much seniors should have to pay for health care coverage. President Bush wants to send seniors to private insurance for drug coverage while critics say Medicare needs to expand to handle prescriptions.

Here at home, South Georgia Medicare recipients just say something needs to be done to help them.

Anne Williamson is one who knows all too well about prescription medicine. She just returned from Atlanta after having a stint put in her heart. "The medicine I got today in the mail was $586 worth of medicine and it cost me $35." she said.

She is on Medicare but also carries insurance to pay for her prescription drugs. As a caretaker and volunteer for the Southwest Georgia Council on Aging, though, Willamson sees people who aren't as fortunate. 

"Since the government doesn't pay for prescription medicine at all, it puts a strain on a lot of people," Williamson said. 

For an example, Williamson recalled an elderly couple who simply couldn't afford all their medicine. "One month, one would take it," she said.  "The next month, the other one would take it. The month they didn't take it, usually one of them wound up in the hospital."

Henry Martin knows about cutting corners to afford prescription coverage. His wife, Becky, takes Zocor for her cholesterol.  "She gets double sized tablets, cuts it in half, which reduces the overall costs," Martin said.

He doesn't think the government should be responsible for prescription costs but thinks legislators should try to force drug makers to reduce their prices.

For now, he is taking actions into his own hands. "I'm very intrested in looking into Canada," he said. He may be able to get drugs from there off the internet much cheaper. And, others are sure to follow suit. But, until the government comes up with a solution, for some, it will be a tough pill to swallow.

Both Democrats and Republicans say a new plan is within reach. For now, no one knows what it may be or how much it will help those who need it the most.

posted at 11:02p.m. by mathew.palmer@walb.com