An open letter to AARP AZ state director

I am writing to you, Mr. Mitchell, about a problem that concerns all of the AARP members, actually everyone in the U.S. That is, the extremely high cost of health care. If something isn't done real soon, we are all going to be up a creek without a paddle, boat, etc.

Not too long ago, I read in my AARP Bulletin that Medicare is going to be almost bankrupt by 2018. That is 11 years away.

It is no wonder that Medicare will be almost bankrupt. Look at the prices that the medical profession charges. Medicare doesn't seem to question any of the charges. They just pay a certain amount. In June of 2006, my wife had her gallbladder removed. My wife isn't on Medicare yet. The surgery was done on Friday morning. She went home on Saturday morning. It was done by the scope. When we got the itemized bill of more than $8,100, I noticed that the pharmacy was $1,038. I asked my wife what did they give her. She said they gave her two shots for pain and four pills. I think that is outrageous.

When the medical profession can charge prices like that, it is no wonder that Medicare will be broke. My wife is one person. Look at the millions of other people in this country being gouged.

A few weeks ago, I heard on the "CBS Evening News" that Medicare was lowering what they pay on claims by 10 percent. Why can't the medical profession lower its fees 10 to 15 percent? The medical profession just keeps on raising prices. What is really sad is our elected officials in Washington just sit in their leather-upholstered chairs and don't try to do anything about it.

Our elected officials are not putting themselves in the average person's shoes. Any time they need to see a doctor, they go to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center or the Bethesda Naval Hospital and pay very little. I think there should be some ceilings up on some of the procedures. Medicare and the insurance companies only pay a certain amount. The patient gets dinged for the rest. I think AARP should try and do something. AARP has a lot of clout.

Another problem is the high cost of prescription drugs. About two or three years ago, I read in my AARP Bulletin about Glaxo-Smith-Klein, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the country. The article stated how they pay their CEO $21 million a year salary. Tell me, Mr. Mitchell, is there a person that is worth that kind of money? At the same time, there is a lot of people who have to decide between having food on the table or having their medicine. With the medical profession and the pharmaceutical companies, it boils down to one thing. That is greed.

Here in Arizona, there are a lot of people that go down to Algodones, Mexico, to get their medicine. We have some friends who go down there every three months. It is really something when people in the U.S. have to go to Mexico or Canada to get their medications because they can't afford them here. Look how many of our elected officials in Washington have tried to put a stop to getting drugs from Canada or Mexico. That shows you whose side they are on!

I hope you get my letter and not someone else. I also hope, as the state director for AARP in Arizona, that you can contact the right people in Washington and try and get something done about the high cost of health care and the high cost of prescription drugs in our country. As I have mentioned, if something isn't done, we are going to be in big trouble.

Ronney L. Case

Golden Valley