"Discount" drug cards total sham

By Geraldine Sealey

Published May 4, 2004 4:28PM (EDT)

Remember those prescription drug cards the Bush administration said would be such a great deal for seniors? Right. Well, it turns out that, according to a new congressional study, seniors will in fact pay more using these "discount" cards than if they just paid retail prices.

The study found that a one-month supply of the 10 top-selling name brand drugs cost more using Medicare drug cards -- examples ranged from $990 to $1,061 -- than if they bought the drugs at Drugstore.com, which cost $959. And forget about Canada. That bus trip across the border is still worth it under this bogus scheme -- the same drugs there cost just $596.

This raw deal for seniors is the subject of today's Daily Misleader.

And there's more to the Medicare sham, courtesy of the Progress Report. A CEO of one of the companies offering the cards, Advance PCS, is David Halbert, a close friend of President Bush and longtime contributor to his campaigns. Halbert helped craft the portion of the Medicare bill covering drug cards, which he stands to benefit from. Such access was a favor Halbert earned by inviting Bush to be an original investor in Advance PCS, which netted Bush more than $1 million. Halbert also helped bail Bush out of trouble with the SEC when Bush was director and consultant to Harken Oil, the Progress Report says. What's a little graft among friends?

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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