Health: Take Two Aspirin and Read This Now

Is the new Medicare drug mess a bureaucratic hiccup or the sign of a cost-conscious future? TIME takes a look

A month ago, Tracy Patterson was simply a woman with more than her fair share of sickness. With multiple birth defects, chronic pain, asthma and bipolar disorder, Patterson, 35, struggled to get by on $832 a month in disability assistance. But at least one thing in her life was taken care of. California's Medicaid program paid for more than a dozen medications every month. "I always got my meds on time," she says. That changed on Jan. 1, when Medicare's prescription-drug benefit went into effect. Patterson was one of 6.2 million people automatically shifted into the program from Medicaid, and her story...

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