Friday, December 14, 2007

Teetering on the edge...

...of the Medicare Abyss.

I just sent this letter to my Senators:

"I am one of the many older or disabled residents of Oregon for whom the 2008 Medicare D coverage changes will cause tremendous hardship.

I have Multiple Sclerosis. In 2001, I suffered a severe, and ultimately disabling, MS exacerbation that abruptly ended my working career. I intended to continue working as long as possible, to continue contributing to my 401(k), and thus be in a position to supplement my Social Security benefit when I retired. So much for plans...

Compared to many others, I’m one of the lucky ones. I had Long Term Disability insurance when I got sick, and my benefit continues for another five years. But now that I find myself facing the dreaded ‘donut hole’ in Medicare D (I’ve started calling it the ‘Medicare Abyss’ – donut hole is too nice a term), I worry that I won’t be able to pay for my medication without great difficulty.

Avonex, the medication that slows the progression of MS, will cost $1,600 a month once I fall into the Medicare Abyss (some time in the first quarter of 2008). I’ll need to come up with $4,090 out-of-pocket if I want to continue this treatment. When I see my neurologist in January, I’ll speak with him about the risks involved in stopping Avonex treatment. I don’t want to take that risk, but I may have no other choice.

I know I’m just one middle-class person, representing just one vote for you. But I’m joined by thousands and thousands of people, many of whom can barely afford to heat their homes in the winter, much less pay exorbitant prices for medication they desperately need.

Please support me and my fellow citizens and do something to fix Medicare D?"

I guess I should be glad that we bought the wheelchair and walker when I was still working and had decent health insurance (my used, portable wheelchair cost over $900 when we bought it in 2002!), and that David's mom gave me his dad's motorized scooter when his dad passed away. We need to get it repaired, since it got screwed up when we moved to Portland, and I'm hoping it's repairable, since those little machines cost several thousand dollars. The thing is, if I do stop Avonex therapy, I may well find myself needing all of those mobility-assistance tools a lot more than I do today.

This is one helluva sixtieth birthday present.


Revalani said...

Oh, sweetie. If only that letter got the attention, and the results, it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Hi Libbi: I know where you are coming from about the abyss. I last from January till April, then I'm in it until September.

Hopefully your letter will make a difference.

Happy Holidays,

Libbi said...

Sigh. At least neither one of us is there at the moment, Anne!

Happy Holidays to you, as well.