Patricia Liberti of Salem, MA is the Obama re-election campaign's Massachusetts' poster girl (see Note 1) for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Ms. Liberti is a former nurse who unfortunately allegedly (see Note 2) has been on Medicare since -- at age 48 near the end of the last century -- she became disabled, allegedly because of heart trouble that requires expensive medication. She went to Washington to argue for PPACA's passage in 2009 and has been featured on an Obama-re-election-campaign website with “her story” since 2011. Ms. Liberti is in an AARP-sponsored You-Tube video. She is often quoted in the left-wing press.
According to the Boston Globe on June 29, Ms. Liberti and her husband would have had to sell their Salem condominium if the Supreme Court had overturned PPACA. A small percentage of seniors and others on Medicare live on the edge financially; apparently the Libertis are such a couple given that a $100-$150 month change in their cash flow as compared to 2011 would cause such a drastic outcome.
That seemed odd to me however because that $100-$150 month was "found money" in 2011 and the Libertis apparently had not had to sell their condominium in the years prior to 2011. Ms. Liberti's alleged unfortunate plight made me relook at Medicare Part D numbers. The overall "Liberti story" is not totally clear (see Note 3), which is Ms. Liberti's right except that she put herself into the public domain with her dozens of press appearances and her rabid partisanship. (However I caution that you can't believe everything you read in the newspaper.)
So the best I can figure from “her story” is that:
- In 2005 and in previous years, before the Republicans implemented Part D, Ms. Liberti may have spent $9000 a year or more (see Note 4) on her medications (or at least that is what she would be spending in 2012 had the Republicans not passed Part D against the opposition of the Democrats).
- From 2006 to 2010, after the Republicans' Part D plan became law, Ms. Liberti’s annual spending on drugs dropped 50% or more to about $4500.
- In 2011, after the drug companies started giving their discount-in-the-donut-hole (as part of their 2009 deal with the Obama administration not to oppose PPACA in return for the Obama administration's agreement not to push for government purchasing of Medicare drugs), Ms. Liberti’s annual drug spending dropped to about $3000
So it appears the Libertis save about $4000-$5000 a year because Part D was implemented by the Republicans with the opposition of Ms. Liberti's party (see Note 5) and another $1200-$1800 a year (see Note 6) because the drug companies gave a discount in the donut hole based on a backroom deal with Ms. Liberti's party.
-- Dennis Byron
- In all fairness to the Obama re-election campaign, to find a 'poster person' for ObamaCare in Massachusetts you don't have much to work with because of our long-standing State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program -- which was set up in 2000 -- and WeldCare/CellucciCare/RomneyCare/Etc. -- which was first passed in the early 1990s and re-reformed in 1997, 2006, 2008 and 2010 and is again scheduled in 2012 for "re-re-reform."
- Everything above is sourced from reputable Internet sites such as washingtonpost.com, aarp.com, etc. In almost all cases, Ms. Liberti is quoted directly and seems to be a highly willing participant. Still I use words such as “allegedly” because I don’t personally know these facts to be true.
- It is unclear from her many press interviews and public appearances whether Ms. Liberti enters the "donut (Massachusetts spelling)/doughnut (U.S. spelling) hole" in April, May, July, August or September of the year. She is quoted in different articles saying all five months. This would make sense if the earlier months were mentioned in more recent press articles but that is not the case. I assumed the 'worst case,' April, in my estimates. If Ms. Liberti enters the donut hole later in the year, the calculations would change but not directionally.
- I am assuming -- because Ms. Liberti said in print in 2010 that her most expensive three medications “cost $457 a month" that that is a retail price tied to a particular Part D insurance plan formulary. I am further assuming -- based on the $457 number and often reported statements that Ms. Liberti takes from 12-18 medications a day (number varies and increases over time as you would expect) -- that Ms. Liberti has about $800 in total monthly retail drug costs. As with the donut hole issue -- see Note 3 -- if the prices are lower (or higher) the calculations would change but not directionally.
- I am assuming that Ms. Liberti has taken expensive medications since she became disabled in 1998 and subsequently went on Medicare. If this is not true, then she would have not experienced any particularly dramatic savings with the initial implementation of Part D in 2006. The thousands of dollars in savings as compared to pre-Part-D passage are there but she just does not know it. It is also not clear whether Ms. Liberti had some kind of private drug plan before Part D was implemented by the Republicans in 2006.
- These estimates also assume no effect from the Massachusetts State Pharmaceutical Assistance Program. I will provide a separate post on the program called Prescription Advantage -- or PA -- in the future. PA is very generous to those Massachusetts residents on Medicare Part D over the age of 65 but is not as generous to Medicare recipients under 65 receiving Medicare because of a disability. Ms. Liberti is allegedly 62. In order to get Part D, Ms. Liberti must be on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). But she is quoted saying she receives long-term disability insurance (LTDI) from her former employer. Perhaps both apply. The bad news is the LTDI probably ends when she turns 65 or 66. The good news is that she can get much more generous PA when she turns 65.