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Medicare Part D sign-ups surpass all expectations
Providence Business News ^ | 05/13/2006 | Marion Davis

Posted on 05/15/2006 10:38:48 AM PDT by syriacus

When Mike Leavitt first came to Rhode Island last summer to promote the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit, the feeling across the country was that the new program was so complex, that millions of seniors would just avoid it. Flanked by local officials at a Warwick senior center, the Health and Human Services secretary tried to assuage everyone’s concerns in advance.

“If you’re a senior, don’t worry,” he said. “There will be plenty of people to help you.”

It turns out that despite all the confusion, and all the bad publicity at the beginning of the year when some enrollees’ coverage didn’t work, most seniors weren’t scared off at all. In a conference call on Wednesday, with just six days before the May 15 sign-up deadline, Leavitt announced that Medicare Part D enrollment hadn’t just surpassed early predictions of 28 million to 30 million: It had already passed 37 million and was still rising.

“With the help of so many, we’ve been able to make history,” Leavitt said, adding that, if all went well, 90 percent of eligible seniors could be enrolled by the deadline.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services did not release updated state-by-state figures, but as of April 18, 127,020 of Rhode Island’s 176,960 Medicare beneficiaries – 72 percent – had prescription coverage, according to the Medicare Rx Access Network of Rhode Island, an alliance that is promoting the program.

At that point, coverage nationwide was at 70 percent (as of May 8, when Leavitt’s numbers were tallied, it had surpassed 86 percent), so Brian Cresta, regional administrator for Medicare, said Rhode Island’s numbers likely have kept rising as well. “Nationally, we’ve been enrolling about 650,000 people a week,” Cresta said.

CMS figures as of April 27 show that about 44,500 Rhode Islanders had enrolled in stand-alone Part D plans, with the biggest share – 20.7 percent – going to UnitedHealthcare, which has marketed its plans through the AARP and produced a widely distributed Part D guide.

Humana Insurance Co., which offered the lowest-priced plan, for $7.32 a month, seized a 17.8-percent market share, while Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island had 13.5 percent. But Rhode Island is an unusual market, officials say, because Medicare Advantage plans are extra-popular here. As of April 27, 49,400 seniors in the state were in such plans, 70 percent of them with Blue Cross and 29.4 percent of them with United. (The balance of those covered, a CMS spokeswoman said, are getting prescription coverage from other sources.)

Cresta said the biggest help with enrollment has been “word-of-mouth” from seniors who’ve found the benefit works well for them. Not that CMS would rely on word-of-mouth alone: 46,000 outreach events have been held nationwide, 1,000 of them last week.

The Medicare Rx Access Network held its own educational and promotional event on Monday at the East Providence Senior Center, and Lt. Gov. Charles J. Fogarty, who is heavily involved in elderly affairs, co-hosted a meeting with legislative leaders at a senior center in Pawtucket on Wednesday, “This is a work in progress,” Fogarty said in an interview. “There are clearly some issues that still need to be worked out. … But we believe that a proper use of the program cannot only help keep people healthy, but can also save money – direct state dollars.”

At least some seniors are already saving money, Monday’s event showed. Beverly Gofton, of Warwick, who is diabetic said even after paying her premium, she’s saving $95 a month. “Last December, I paid $147 for my monthly supply of insulin,” she said. “In January, I went back with my card, and I only paid a $28 co-pay.”


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: happyseniors; medicare; medicared; medicarepartd; prescriptiondrugs
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I enrolled my mother last week. The medicare.gov website helped greatly in determining which plan she should join. If we are unhappy with the plan we can switch in about 6 months. It looks like she will be saving about $3000 a year.

I only wish I had not tried comparing plans on my own, but had gone directly to medicare.gov and entered her prescriptions there to see which plan in our area was best for her. If I had done that last January she would be $1000 richer

1 posted on 05/15/2006 10:38:54 AM PDT by syriacus
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To: syriacus
This is turning out to be a disaster for the Dem's. The seniors are happy with the program, the cost actuals are coming in lower than anticipated, and AARP is making a ton of money on it, so they are increasingly in the GOP pocket.

Unfortunately, just recently, Bush has been making some rumblings of screwing the whole thing up and moving to price controls.
2 posted on 05/15/2006 10:43:36 AM PDT by Daus
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To: Daus

This is turning out to be a disaster for the Dem's.....

***

Not according to the mainstream media. All weekend I heard how there were x number of seniors still not signed up.


3 posted on 05/15/2006 10:48:14 AM PDT by fatnotlazy
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To: marblehead17

ping


4 posted on 05/15/2006 10:48:20 AM PDT by marblehead17 (I love it when a plan comes together.)
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To: syriacus

And why wouldn't they sign up for welfare for seniors ? Payments courtesy of a taxpayer near you.


5 posted on 05/15/2006 10:48:28 AM PDT by cinives (On some planets what I do is considered normal.)
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To: Daus

We need wide open, pedal to the metal competition. That alone will reduce prices.


6 posted on 05/15/2006 10:48:54 AM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: Daus

right - the AARP is in the GOP's pocket just as long as the GOP provides more handouts to seniors.


7 posted on 05/15/2006 10:50:00 AM PDT by cinives (On some planets what I do is considered normal.)
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To: syriacus

Would you give me the exact link you used to compare plans and save money. I am not finding it at the moment. My wife is in the $53 a month Humana plan.


8 posted on 05/15/2006 10:52:20 AM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: syriacus
Medicare Part D sign-ups surpass all expectations

I certainly expected it to be a hit.

When you steal from one person and give the loot to someone else, the person receiving the stolen booty can be expected to sign up for it.

9 posted on 05/15/2006 10:53:30 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: fatnotlazy
All weekend I heard how there were x number of seniors still not signed up.

Me, too. This article says that, by last Wednesday, 37 million seniors were enrolled. Leavitt says he expects 90% of eligible seniors to be enrolled by the deadline.

From the bit of news I have heard today, I would have thought that only 10% of eligible seniors had enrolled and 90% were unenrolled.

10 posted on 05/15/2006 10:53:57 AM PDT by syriacus (WHERE has Geo. Clooney been for ALL the years that Franklin Graham has been helping the Sudanese?)
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To: Daus
Unfortunately, just recently, Bush has been making some rumblings of screwing the whole thing up and moving to price controls.

How can you screw up a screw up?

All wealth transfer schemes are screwed up by definition.

LBJ would be a Republican if he were still alive.

11 posted on 05/15/2006 10:57:06 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: cinives
And why wouldn't they sign up for welfare for seniors ?

"Welfare" is usually for poor people. This is a generational wealth transfer scheme.

It's government theft, courtesy of GWB and his Republican and Democratic cronies.

12 posted on 05/15/2006 10:59:14 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: Protagoras
How can you screw up a screw up?

Well, you can screw it up more.

I work in this industry and see what's going on first hand. I'm not a fan of this legislation, but there has been a delicate dance going on trying to find a way to avoid HillaryCare and complete price controls. Part-D was effective at staving that off, and then to hear Bush himself put it back on the table was disheartening.
13 posted on 05/15/2006 11:04:36 AM PDT by Daus
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To: Daus; cinives

"...AARP is making a ton of money on it, so they are increasingly in the GOP pocket."

Not a snowball's chance in hell. They're lib-dem trash, through and through. The GOPers have no place at their table.


14 posted on 05/15/2006 11:06:53 AM PDT by butternut_squash_bisque (.)
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To: fatnotlazy
Some more background on this...

Rx proposal ascending
15 posted on 05/15/2006 11:08:03 AM PDT by Daus
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To: syriacus
"If you’re an senior,ILLEGAL don’t worry,” he said. “There will be plenty of people to help you.”

There, it's fixed!

16 posted on 05/15/2006 11:09:26 AM PDT by unixfox (The 13th Amendment Abolished Slavery, The 16th Amendment Reinstated It !)
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To: Daus
I'm not a fan of this legislation,

I hope not. What would you be in favor of, if anything?

but there has been a delicate dance going on trying to find a way to avoid HillaryCare and complete price controls.

Two groups of socialists/fascists negotiating the sell out of Indivdual liberty and personal responsibility.

Part-D was effective at staving that off,

No it wasn't, it was a stepping stone.

and then to hear Bush himself put it back on the table was disheartening.

Only if you expected a different path.

17 posted on 05/15/2006 11:09:43 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: Daus

Thanks!

I believe this program will be a success, despite all the negative commentary from the liberal press. The trouble is that with the liberal machine constantly hammering seniors with the propaganda that George Bush and the Republicans are not their friends, I doubt this will translate into seniors voting Republican. Republicans will need to do a better job of reminding seniors (and the voters in general) of the good that has come from this administration, since voters will not get that information from the liberal press.


18 posted on 05/15/2006 11:13:19 AM PDT by fatnotlazy
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To: Protagoras
I hope not. What would you be in favor of, if anything?

The entire problem with the prescription drug business is the concept of 'rebates' and price controls. Large insurers or Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) negotiate 'rebates' (there are various other words for this type of arrangement, let your imagination run) and the government has the benefit of both Rebates (to the states) and 'Best Price' to the feds.

The rebates do nothing but pad the wallets of the PBMs and float the state agencies. This, in combination, with the price controls caused the 'cash' prices for drugs to be inflated. Previously, Medicare receiptients were the predominant cash customer taking the hit for all of the above. This made for glorious, "Poor Aunt Edna has to buy drugs from Canada" media stories to bash the GOP. Part-D got them in under the third party payor umbrella and they all now enjoy the benefit of the rebates.

So, given that short lecture, a vast majority of the problem would have been addressed by pushing off the medicare receipients into competitive third party coverage, but there was no real need for the government to pick up as much benefit as they did. Market rate insurance coverage, with some guaruntee of coverability would have been fine. But would have had a hard time getting past the Dems would wanted to give it all away.
19 posted on 05/15/2006 11:20:43 AM PDT by Daus
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To: fatnotlazy
I believe this program will be a success, despite all the negative commentary from the liberal press.

Sucess at what?

20 posted on 05/15/2006 11:22:31 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: butternut_squash_bisque
They're lib-dem trash, through and through. The GOPers have no place at their table.

Don't be too sure. Whores go where the money is. And nobody knows whoring like the AARP.
21 posted on 05/15/2006 11:23:38 AM PDT by Daus
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To: Daus

I have a better idea. How about NO government involvement in health care?


22 posted on 05/15/2006 11:23:42 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: Protagoras
How about NO government involvement in health care?

Wonderful. Good luck with that.
23 posted on 05/15/2006 11:25:46 AM PDT by Daus
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To: fatnotlazy
Republicans will need to do a better job of reminding seniors (and the voters in general) of the good that has come from this administration,

Maybe you start. What are some of the good things?

24 posted on 05/15/2006 11:26:37 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: sine_nomine
With the understanding that my mother's information will be different than your wife's (for example, your wife might already have some coverage through work) here is how to follow the steps I took

Go here first

enter your 1) zip code, 2) what kind of coverage you have, [ for my MoM--none of the above] 3) whether you got a letter saying you were eligible for extra help in paying premiums [my Mother did not].

Click on the "continue" button down lower.

At the next page, do not enter any information, just click the "Choose a Drug plan type" button

When you get to the next page, click the button in part C."Search for medicare Prescription Drug plans"

On the next page go to B. Enter your medications
Where it says: If your total monthly drug cost is more than 35 dollars, we strongly recommend that you personalize your search by entering your drugs as this will provide you with the most personalized plan information.
Click on Enter my medications

After you are through entering her medications, click on Continue with Selected Drugs

You will get to a web page that asks if you want to select a particular pharmacy or continue to the plan list. I selected Continue to Plan List

You will be presented with a table of plans considered most likely for your wife. The table can be sorted by total cost, by deductible, etc. by clicking on the links at the heads of the columns

The Plan Information columns for each plan (Pink heading) has a select box which lets you view the "cost details for the plan" and the "drug details" for the plan.

I knew what my mother's drug costs were per drug, per year so I was able to figure out her savings.

25 posted on 05/15/2006 11:33:58 AM PDT by syriacus (WHERE has Geo. Clooney been for ALL the years that Franklin Graham has been helping the Sudanese?)
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To: sine_nomine; syriacus
Would you give me the exact link you used to compare plans and save money.

syriacus, I'd also be interested in the link you used. Was it this one? https://www.medicare.gov/MPDPF/Public/Home.asp

26 posted on 05/15/2006 11:34:51 AM PDT by DumpsterDiver
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To: Daus

You're right on that point.


27 posted on 05/15/2006 11:46:00 AM PDT by butternut_squash_bisque (.)
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To: Daus
Wonderful. Good luck with that.

Thanks, we will need it with everyone rolling over for the socialists and fascists.

Once the Republican politicians signed on with the liberals and convinced the rank and file Republicans to embrace "compassionate conservatism", (aka socialistic transfer payments and entitlements,) the die was cast. One party of big government, welfare statists was born and is assured of power for the foreseeable future until a new generation of real Americans comes up.

28 posted on 05/15/2006 11:46:05 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: Daus

"This is turning out to be a disaster for the Dem's."

But at whose expense? If this had been a Dem Congress and Dem president putting this in place, conservatives would all be screaming about socialism and government healthcare. And so would the Republican Party.

This was nothing more than a taxpayer-financed vote-buying plan.


29 posted on 05/15/2006 11:51:14 AM PDT by Gone GF
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To: Protagoras

I stand by my statement. This abortion of a plan was passed because aawwwwww, seniors can't afford to buy medicine and food too dontcha know.


30 posted on 05/15/2006 11:57:29 AM PDT by cinives (On some planets what I do is considered normal.)
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To: cinives
This abortion of a plan

Too bad it wasn't aborted.

was passed because aawwwwww, seniors can't afford to buy medicine and food too dontcha know.

And pay their Country Club bills.

31 posted on 05/15/2006 11:59:57 AM PDT by Protagoras ("Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious".... George Orwell)
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To: cinives
I am so damn sick of this giveaway to seniors. SS is supposed to be a safety net, not the be-all and end-all for retirement! There are so many seniors on SS now that only paid pennies into it and are reaping the benefit for years (think white widows...).

The contributions only started going up since I was really starting to make some money and I've been paying the max for about 2.5 decades now. I'll be lucky if I see half of that and what my employers have put in it...

32 posted on 05/15/2006 12:02:43 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Daus
"Unfortunately, just recently, Bush has been making some rumblings of screwing the whole thing up and moving to price controls."

Where did you hear that? Can you point me to a source?

33 posted on 05/15/2006 12:09:08 PM PDT by Spunky ("Everyone has a freedom of choice, but not of consequences.")
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To: sine_nomine
"My wife is in the $53 a month Humana plan."

Do you have any idea how this plan was picked for her? It may be the very best one for her needs. Keep in mind that ALL the plans are based on the prescriptions a person takes. It may be that her prescriptions are so costly that she was put in the Humana $53 premium that covers the GAP. Humana is the only plan that has a tier that will cover that gap if you need it.

If I recall on the Medicare.gov site when you go through putting in all the Prescriptions including the dosage there is a link you can click on where it asks you how you want the various plans to come up. I think there is one that specifically asks if you want the cheapest (This does not necessarily mean premium wise) to come up first. Remember just because you pay $53 a month in Premium in the long run it could still be cheaper because that plan covers the GAP

34 posted on 05/15/2006 12:20:13 PM PDT by Spunky ("Everyone has a freedom of choice, but not of consequences.")
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To: DumpsterDiver

Thanks.


35 posted on 05/15/2006 12:20:48 PM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: Spunky

She has big costs.


36 posted on 05/15/2006 12:21:37 PM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: syriacus

Thank you. And that will probably help a lot of others, too.


37 posted on 05/15/2006 12:22:17 PM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: sine_nomine
Was the link I posted (https://www.medicare.gov/MPDPF/Public/Home.asp) the one you were looking for?

I'm looking for the one where you fill in the prescriptions you take and then it compares the plans for you.

38 posted on 05/15/2006 12:25:55 PM PDT by DumpsterDiver
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To: sine_nomine
"She has big costs."

Then the Humana $53 a month premium is probably the best for her.

The tricky words in all the plans is you pay a certain amount and the plan pays a certain amount until the two together equal $2500. Then there is the GAP until YOU HAVE PAID $3000 out of pocket. The Humana Plan is the only one who has a plan to cover this GAP. A lot of people don't need to be in this plan but a lot of people do.

39 posted on 05/15/2006 12:36:24 PM PDT by Spunky ("Everyone has a freedom of choice, but not of consequences.")
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To: DumpsterDiver
"I'm looking for the one where you fill in the prescriptions you take and then it compares the plans for you."

Medicare

Right at the beginning it says
Compare & Enroll in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Click here to compare plans, enroll in a plan, check your current enrollment.Click on the link

If you decide on Humana you can go to their site. Humana.com follow the links to their RX plan and enter in you RX there. It will then come up with THEIR 3 plans and then you can see which one of THEIR 3 is the best for you needs.

40 posted on 05/15/2006 12:43:58 PM PDT by Spunky ("Everyone has a freedom of choice, but not of consequences.")
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To: Spunky
Where did you hear that? Can you point me to a source?

Upon checking the facts, I may stand corrected on this point. One of my business partners was ranting to me about a transcript she had just read from the Whitehouse where it appeared the President was advocating less choice and, in effect, price controls. I have now gone back and read the transcript in detail, and it appears to be a confusing transcript, where they intertwine the President's response and the rambling opinions of the questioner. Search on 'major changes' in the release and you will see what I mean.

I need to go whack someone upside the head now. :)
41 posted on 05/15/2006 12:45:33 PM PDT by Daus
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To: syriacus

The media contributed once again to the consternation of many and the illumination of few.


42 posted on 05/15/2006 12:46:09 PM PDT by sono ("If Congressional brains were cargo, there'd be nothing to unload." - Rush Limbaugh)
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To: Spunky

We need the gap.


43 posted on 05/15/2006 12:49:22 PM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: DumpsterDiver

Yes.


44 posted on 05/15/2006 12:49:50 PM PDT by sine_nomine (No more RINO presidents. We need another Reagan.)
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To: Gone GF
This was nothing more than a taxpayer-financed vote-buying plan.

I disagree. The meds might keep some seniors healthy enough to stay out of nursing homes, which, in the end, are paid for by medicaid.

The plans can make it easy for seniors to keep up with their meds.

My mother's premiums will be deducted from her monthly direct-deposit social security check.

My mother might be able to have 90 days worth of medicine mailed to her (for an even bigger savings to her).

Seniors will not need to remember to mail a monthly premium check to the insurer and seniors might not even need to risk going outside their homes to get their meds.

My mother has worked hard, for 10 years, to stick to a diet and to keep up with medications that help her stay off of dialysis. I'll bet other seniors have similar stories.

45 posted on 05/15/2006 1:11:44 PM PDT by syriacus (WHERE has Geo. Clooney been for ALL the years that Franklin Graham has been helping the Sudanese?)
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To: Spunky

Thanks for providing the explanation, Spunky.


46 posted on 05/15/2006 1:13:19 PM PDT by syriacus (WHERE has Geo. Clooney been for ALL the years that Franklin Graham has been helping the Sudanese?)
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To: sono
The media contributed once again to the consternation of many and the illumination of few.

You put that very nicely.

47 posted on 05/15/2006 1:15:37 PM PDT by syriacus (WHERE has Geo. Clooney been for ALL the years that Franklin Graham has been helping the Sudanese?)
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To: Spunky

Thanks, Spunky. Luckily I have 3 more years to figure this out. There seems to be a lot of garbage to sort through.


48 posted on 05/15/2006 1:27:09 PM PDT by DumpsterDiver
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To: Protagoras

SHHH! You're making too much sense!


49 posted on 05/15/2006 1:29:17 PM PDT by Extremely Extreme Extremist (FR's most controversial FReeper)
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To: syriacus

Ouch... my aching wallet.


50 posted on 05/15/2006 1:30:55 PM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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