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Help me understand senior prescription drug problems

I've read the news stories about seniors having trouble getting hooked up with their prescription drugs through the new Medicare program.  I just read this story in the Indy Star about the problems that seniors are having there getting needed prescriptions.

Now if that was my parents getting turned away because of some bureaucratic mess-up, I'd probably be real steamed. 

My question:  How did these seniors afford drugs before this program.  How did they get them and still pay their rent and other bills?  If they made it work before, why can't they do it now?  Or are these new prescriptions?

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