Never Know Unless You Ask
There’s an odd omission from Steve Peoples’s article about the new medicine copays for impoverished recipients of state aid. We get the policy’s numbers:
McCaffrey is among 14,000 impoverished Rhode Islanders on fee-for-service Medicaid who will be asked to shoulder a portion of their prescription drugs — $1 for generics and $3 for brand-name drugs — as of Oct. 1. The fees were enacted by the General Assembly in the state budget, part of a larger effort to close a massive budget deficit.
State officials say the copays will save state taxpayers nearly $600,000.
McCaffrey, who is disabled and receives $680 each month, estimates her monthly drug costs will grow to about $16.
We get the sad story:
McCaffrey, 47, needs medicine to function. The disabled Providence woman takes eight medications each day for a list of ailments that include major depression, asthma, diabetes and posttraumatic stress disorder.
We get the incensed calls for the government to spend money advertising a loophole:
“It’s outrageous, shameful really, that DHS made a deliberate decision … not to tell people that, under federal and state law, the drugstore has to fill their prescription if they are unable to afford the copay,” Mary Curtain, a paralegal with Rhode Island Legal Services, said at yesterday’s hearing.
We even get the Rhode-Island-suffers-in-a-national-comparison factoid:
In charging copays for this program, Rhode Island is not unique. More than 40 states already do, according to the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
But nobody in the story offers — nor does Mr. Peoples ask about — suggestions of familial or community charity. Apparently, nobody worth quoting for the story is able to come up with creative ideas for helping the most needy among us drum up sixteen bucks a month for medicine. How about a jar at the pharmacy counter? How about a community fundraiser? What if kids — under the heading of Civic Participation — volunteered for short bursts of work (either in pharmacies or elsewhere) and donated their pay to a copay fund?
Why, in this state, must it always be career advocates pushing the government to find ways of forcing one group of citizens to bankroll another? Sure, the extra government spending for this program, set apart from the rest, amounts to very little for the average taxpayer, but it is not set apart, and the very littles add up. As for the costs to the individual in dependency and to the community in apathy, those are incalculable.