Local Seniors Say Medicare Bill Long Overdue

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A new AFL-CIO poll showed that 78 percent of seniors surveyed say the legislation doesn't do enough to protect retired Americans who are now covered by employer-provided prescription drug plans.

But I spoke with local seniors who say this medicare legislation has been a long time coming.

Says Roland Gruenewald: "Maybe there's things we don't like about the bill, but at least it's something. We've gotta start somewheres."

Another senior says: "Pay for the damn drugs!"

Seventy-eight-year-old Roland Gruenewald and 80-year-old Herman Martens can spend all afternoon at the Sparks Senior Center debating the problems they see with our healthcare system.

Martens is a retired federal employee who pays $100 a month for his supplemental health coverage, which covers about 90 percent of his prescription drug costs.

For Gruenewald . . .it's a different story. "I'm spending $9,200 a year just in health premiums, without getting any prescription, dental or eye coverage," he says.

Gruenewald says he spends about $300 a month on prescriptions alone. "And I'm not sick. I take Celebrex - my wife takes a cholesterol - it just adds up."

With prescription drug costs on the rise, both men agree a bill has to be passed to add prescription drug coverage to Medicare because many of their friends who live on Social Security can't afford to pay for prescriptions.

"I as a taxpayer am willing to pay for the additional taxes so that other people in this country can have that kind of supplemental health care coverage," Martens says.

In fact these seniors aren't just asking for the medicare coverage - they're demanding it.

"We've been promised for so many years, that if they don't do this bill, we've lost faith," Martens says.