New York’s local AARP chapter is urging U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer to close what the organization calls a “doughnut hole” in Medicare coverage for prescription drugs for seniors.
Randy Hoak, who directs the AARP’s efforts in the Rochester region, and Patrick Fox, who leads the organization’s Monroe County volunteers, dropped off over 8,000 signed petitions at Schumer’s Rochester office Friday afternoon.
When a person’s health costs were between about $4,000 and $5,000 in a year, Medicare’s contribution to their coverage dipped significantly.
This year’s federal budget deal mostly closed the doughnut hole, but Hoak said it’s vulnerable to intense lobbying from pharmaceutical companies.
Outside the federal office building, Hoak and Fox said the signatures reflect a growing concern among local Medicare recipients that corporate dollars are being put ahead of people’s health.
“These are New Yorkers. These are folks who are either on Medicare or anticipate being on Medicare someday,” Hoak said.
“People like me,” Fox said. “Those billions of dollars translate into someone on the streets of Rochester who has to make a decision about buying food or getting their drugs.”
Fox said most people, even those receiving Medicare, don’t realize the hole exists until they end up inside it. “They fall into it, and, for many people, it’s a shock when they first encounter it.”