I don't usually personalize stories this way, but this time, I will: My mom, a smart and sprightly senior citizen (she would never forgive me if I told you her age!), has not yet even inquired about whether she might be eligible for the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. I have asked her about it more than a few times and given her some suggestions about whose advice to get on it (her pharmacy, her doctor, her insurance person), and each and every time I get a response that says, "Yes, honey, I will do it." Only I get the feeling that she thinks it's waaay too complex and not that much of a benefit, anyway.
All of which leads me to this: This prescription drug plan is a good deal, particularly for seniors who are not wealthy. In this system, the poorest and sickest seniors pay the least, and then there's a sliding scale. But for some reasonprobably because of all of the alternatives offeredseniors aren't flocking to sign up, and that's a pity. People are confused, and that's a pity, too. The plan needs to be explained betterso folks will understand that it offers much-needed help.
The Democrats, of course, are now poised to pounce all over the plansaying it doesn't offer enough and that it's too confusing. I have an idea: Why don't the Dems join with the GOP-ers and do some ads just telling people how to learn about the plan? If it needs to be fixed, fine, do that later. But for now, why should folks who are eligible for the benefit be afraid of it?
If the Democrats truly want to help seniorsand the Republicans are afraid of losing their supportwhy not join together to at least tell seniors what is available to them? Then fight the other battles down the road. For now, some seniors could sure use this break.