Most can afford minimal co-pay

I have been a registered nurse for 20 years this June. I recently read an article in NurseWeek that got my attention. I am an avid reader of The Herald, but must have missed the following. There has been much written over the course of the last year about co-pays, insurance costs and health coverage for everyone, but especially for those who truly have difficulty in paying for medications. The NurseWeek article states that “Gov. Gregoire signed into law Feb. 2 a measure designed to help seniors and other individuals afford prescription drugs.”

It appears that the federal Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 require those covered by Medicare and Medicaid to receive drug coverage under Medicare Part D which requires a co-pay of $1 to $5 on each prescription. Prior to this, the “dual” eligibles received prescriptions for no co-pay.

Now, as most of us who work for a living know, we have had to pay increasing amounts for medical coverage also. Co-pays for prescriptions and out-of-pocket expenses before the stop-loss coverage begins have risen. The article says the bill “allows the state Department of Social and Health Services to use ‘available funds’ to pay the co-pays for people enrolled in Medicare Part D. The legislation takes effect July 1.” I’m curious as to how many available funds there really are.

I’m writing to voice my disgust with this law. As a health care professional, I do see many people in need of this, but I also see many more people who could afford this incredibly minimal co-pay if they were to, say, cut out buying cigarettes that cost over $5 a pack.

I am not just targeting smokers. Obesity and smoking cost the health care system millions/billions of dollars a year. Is it really too much to ask for dual eligibles to pay such a minimal amount of money for such a valuable benefit?

Cheryl Henley


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