It's nice to see the Democratic candidates are speaking out on an important issue. In this morning's issue of the Utica Observer Dispatch, a much-too-short article reports on the comments of Michael Arcuri and Les Roberts on the deadline for senior citizens to enroll in the labyrinthine Medicare Part D prescription drug program.
The two Republican candidates are not to be heard at all on the troubling program. That's sadly typical and in line with what seems to be a Republican agenda to make our lives harder with increasing government bureaucracy. Let's not forget that incumbent Republican Congressman Sherwood Boehlert actually voted for this albatross.
But what do Les Roberts and Mike Arcuri have to say about Medicare Part D? They both decry the brutality of the deadline for enrollment, but there are some differences important differences in their positions.
Arcuri says he thinks that the Medicare Part D prescription drug program is a good idea, but want there to be some changes to it. He wants the deadline for enrollment to be permanently eliminated, and believes that the government ought to have the power to negotiate prescription drug prices on behalf of Medicare recipients. Arcuri also wants there to be more flexibility in the plans offered by Medicare Part D.
Les Roberts, on the other hand, opposes the Medicare Part D program, and calls it a "fraud". Roberts says, "People have been led to believe that it represents a straightforward addition of prescription drug coverage to Medicare. Part D represents a privatizing of prescription drug coverage."
Roberts has issued a health care policy paper in which he calls for the expansion of federal government coverage, including prescription drug coverage, in a series of stages until all Americans have coverage. "I believe the most expedient way to ensure that uninsured Americans get coverage is to expand the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program. This program already provides coverage to all federal government employees by providing a wide range of health plans to buy into. The risk pool created by opening these plans to a great number of people may eventually reduce costs to everyone in the plans."
Arcuri has not issued any policy papers yet, but he does say, "We must ensure that all Americans have access to quality health care coverage." How Arcuri proposes to do so is not clear.