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AARP Endorses Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The proposed Medicare prescription drug plan got a big boost Monday when the


endorsed the Republican plan. Many democrats say seniors will lose out on the deal. Good or bad, about 40 million Americans will be affected by it.

Money versus medicine is a dilemma many seniors face. Felonese Anderson, 78, takes at least four prescriptions a month.

"I'm on two medications for my blood pressure," she said.

Add in one medication for cholesterol and another for gout and Anderson spends at least $100 every time she visits the pharmacy. And that is with her late husband's retirement drug plan.

"It's a lot of money I could use that money for something else," she said.

Anderson and other seniors are closely watching the Medicare drug plan unfold in Washington.

Under the proposal, Medicare would pay 75 percent of drug costs up to $2,200 a year. After that, seniors have to spend $3,600 out-of-pocket before Medicare kicks back in. There is also a $275 deductible and a $35 monthly premium.

"This is as close as we've been and we're very excited about the possibility," said bon Jackson, North Carolina AARP director.

On Monday, the AARP announced it supports the plan, but Jackson said it is far from perfect.He is most concerned about the gap in coverage after Medicare pays the initial $2,200.

"That's what they call the doughnut hole. There's a hole, a big gap that Medicare doesn't pay for, you pay for," Jackson said.

Other potential losers include Medicaid recipients who may lose benefits. Higher income seniors will pay higher premiums and co-pays. People who already have drug plans may be left out.

Anderson may have to choose between her current plan and Medicare's.

"I'm really undecided. I'll have to sit down and figure it out. I'm not sure," she said.

One thing is for sure. Anderson said she will find a way to pay for her medications.

"Oh, definitely. As long as I'm able to afford them," she said.

Republicans hope to push the bill through the House and Senate in the next several days. Under the proposal, premiums and deductibles would be waived for those earning less than $12,000 a year. Seniors would also have the option to receive private coverage under managed-care plans.


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