Not content with referring to the 200,000 Americans who have perished from Covid-19 as “virtual nobodies,” Donald Trump has a particularly damaging surprise in store for senior citizens. Trump’s category of “nobodies,” who he classed as “elderly people with heart problems and other problems,” are going to see costly rises in Medicare and Medigap costs in 2021. Once considered an essential component of Trump’s base, senior citizens are fleeing away in droves from Trump, particularly in key states with large numbers of retirees, including Florida, Arizona, and Texas.
After hinting to Social Security recipients that they may see little to no cost-of-living allowance (COLA) benefits increase next month, the Trump administration is raising Medicare Part B premiums, which are deducted from recipients’ Social Security monthly payments. Without a Social Security COLA increase, the extra funds deducted from Social Security payments will mean a net decrease in Social Security with a net increase in Medicare payments. Trump political ads running around the country are falsely stating that Trump will protect Social Security and Medicare, while suggesting that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will cut them. Nothing could be further from the truth and the Trump campaign can only rest on a bed of lies to confuse voters, including those receiving Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Trump’s usurious attack on seniors’ finances is also affecting the cost of Medigap or Medicare Supplemental policies that also cover Part D pharmaceutical costs. Medigap policy holders will see as much as a whopping $500 and even greater increase in annual out-of-pocket costs, including doctor, emergency services, in-patient hospital, outpatient surgery, and specialist co-pays but excluding prescription drugs co-pays, under Medicare Parts A and B coverage.
On September 13, Trump signed an Executive Order aimed at lowering the prices of Part B or Part D prescription drugs. As with every other Trump promise, the executive order, his second on “lowering” prescription drug costs, is not worth the paper it’s printed on.
Medicare and Medigap are going to see a major increase in prescription drug costs in 2021, particularly for those in Tiers 3, 4, and 5. Tier 3 includes albuterol sulfate for asthma, celecobix for arthritis, dyclomine for irritable bowel syndrome, haloperidol for Tourette’s syndrome, Januvia for Type 2 diabetes, nitroglycerine for coronary artery disease, prazosin for high blood pressure, and Symbicort for asthma. Tier 4 drugs seeing a sharper cost increase than Tier 3s include amiodarone for persistent ventricular fibrillation/tachycardia, Chantix to inhibit smoking, fentanyl for pain relief for cancer patients, lidocaine for skin irritation/pain relief, olopatidine eye drops for eye allergies, Pradaxa for blood thinning, and Vascepa for cardiovascular disease. The worst sticker shock is slated for Tier 5 drugs, such as Descovy, Genvoya, Triumeq, Tivicay, and Isentress for HIV; the chemotherapy drugs Purixan for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Zytiga for metastatic prostate cancer; Zavesca for Type I Gaucher disease; and Epogen for chronic kidney disease.
After including military retirees as “losers” and “suckers,” Trump is also increasing co-pay costs for the Tricare military retiree medical program. These include physician and drug co-pay costs. The Trump administration is also using the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic to reduce services for military veterans at Veterans hospitals across the country.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).