The Placebo Effect

Congress hopes you won't notice its prescription-drug plans are meant to help candidates, not patients

An exasperated man was laying out some dire math last week at a senior center in Rock Hill, S.C., as a morning crowd of silver heads nodded in empathy. The miracle drugs that keep his 94-year-old mother healthy, the man said, can cost $700 a month--far more than she can afford on her $42 pension check and $1,200 from Social Security. Those tiny bottles of glaucoma drops alone cost $95 every two weeks. She couldn't pay for them without the $400 he and his brother chip in every month. "If we were passing Medicare today," the man added, "we would never...

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