I am on Medicare and Medicaid. Because I’m on Medicare, I qualify for Medicare Part D, which (begrudgingly) covers most of my medicine. The Medicaid pays some of the co-pay, but doesn’t usually impact what drugs I can and cannot take. That means that I am lucky. I am lucky that I am not one of those people who is reliant solely on Medicaid for medical care and prescription drugs.
Last week, I got a lovely little letter in the mail from the state Medicaid office saying that I can only get 4 brand name drugs per month under my insurance. The only drugs that wouldn’t be counted against the 4 are antipsychotics and antiretrovirals/other HIV medicines. (Antipsychotics can cost about $300 a month, but so can some other drugs.)
So, if a person were on any of the following drugs, then they would have to make sure that they were only getting four of the medicines per month:
- Lipitor – cholesterol medicine (won’t be generic for a few months)
- Nexium – acid reflux medicine
- Plavix – blood thinner (won’t be generic for a few months)
- Advair Diskus – asthma/COPD inhaler
- Singulair – asthma medicine
- Crestor – cholesterol medicine
- Actos – diabetes medicine
- Epogen – an injected medication, usually given to people on dialysis
Those eight drugs are on the top 10 best-selling drugs list from 2010. They are drugs that keep people alive. They are drugs that are clearly necessary for people to survive. They are also very expensive. One box of ten vials of Epogen is over $2700. The monthly cost for Nexium is at $100, if you have to pay out of pocket. Advair costs $150 per month. Plavix is $200 per month.
As you can see, these medicines cost a lot of money. And anyone on Medicaid in the state of Alabama has been determined to be below the poverty level, which means that they do not have the money to purchase drugs costing such high prices, yet they are being asked to do so. I don’t really get why exactly the State of Alabama expects people on Medicaid to be able to afford these drugs or why they want them to cover the cost.
Yes, Alabama is in need of money. I doubt that that would be the fault of the people using Medicaid, though. Maybe, they should blame the people who either received or gave out the $247 million in improperly awarded unemployment benefits. Or, maybe they should blame the various politicians and business people who decided to run scams (Enron), schemes (Madoff), wars (Bush and Cheney), tax cuts/refusal of tax increases (Boehner, Cantor, the Tea Party, etc.), and found other ways to screw the system out of the money. Now, it is easy to take away the medicines from the poor and sick, but that doesn’t mean it is right.
How many lives will be jeopardized because the State has decided that they don’t want to fork over money for medicines anymore? How many people could die because of this decision? Yeah, that may sound like some kind of kneejerk, anxiety-riddled idea, but it is a realistic issue when agencies decide to take this kind of cost-cutting measure. People will suffer because of this decision. People might die. This shit just got very, very real.