Seems like in Allison Park, Pa., near Pittsburgh, the biggest threat to public security is 40 senior citizens carrying donuts. Yesterday, staff at Rep. Melissa Hart’s (R-Pa.) district office called for three armed police from nearby Hampton Township to disperse the group of seniors, all members of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans (PARA), who sought to deliver donuts to Hart’s office to protest the new Medicare law.
The AFL-CIO is urging members to call Hart’s office and tell her: Shame on you for treating your own constituents like criminals simply because they wanted to express their opinion. You can call Hart at her Allison Park office at 412-492-0161 or at her Ellwood City office at 724-752-0490.
Under the new Bush administration Medicare Part D rules passed by Congress in 2003, out-of-pocket prescription expenses between the annual amounts of $2,251 and $5,100 are not covered—a nearly $3,000 “donut hole.” Of the 11.8 million Medicare enrollees whose plans include a coverage gap, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates at least 6.9 million of them could hit the donut hole.
The badly crafted law means some 170,000 seniors in Pennsylvania must pay full price for their prescriptions while still paying their full monthly premiums. Hart backed provisions in the Medicare drug bill that prevent the government from negotiating lower prescription drug prices with pharmaceutical companies and she voted for the bill that created the donut hole.
PARA issued a report this month that finds Keystone State seniors who received their medications through Medicare Part D paid more in drug co-pays and monthly premiums, were subjected to significant coverage gaps and had more significant restrictions on covered medications than those in the other major categories.
Declaring that the donut hole is “no treat for seniors,” Jean Friday, president of PARA, says Hart would rather
listen to the big drug companies than to seniors in her district who are struggling to afford the prescription drugs they need.
Hart, who is running for re-election after representing Pennsylvania’s 4th Congressional District for six years in Congress, has accepted $127,167 in campaign donations from pharmaceutical companies. She’s had plenty of time to show she cares about seniors and working families, but, instead, she has voted against working family interests 85 percent of the time. In this Congress, she voted with George W. Bush 91.01 percent of the time.
The AFL-CIO has endorsed her opponent, health care executive Jason Altmire, who wrote worker-friendly health care legislation when he served as a congressional aide in the 1990s.
Altmire supports allowing the reimportation of prescription drugs from Canada and allowing Medicare to negotiate group discounts to lower costs and save billions
of dollars for the taxpayers.