coleman nedState Sen. Eric Coleman introduces Ned Lamont. Christine Stuart photo.U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont heard a number of concerns from Hartford seniors Wednesday about the implications of Medicare Part D and the doughnut hole it leaves as of Sept. 22.One woman said she recently had a relative become ill because she didn’t have the money to pay for her medication. Another woman was upset she was forced to take generic medication for her diabetes instead of the name brand her doctor prescribed.These and other concerns will increase for Medicare Part D participants in September, Lamont said.

As of Sept. 22, Medicare Part D will not cover out-of-pocket prescription expenses between the annual amounts of $2,251 and $5,100, which means seniors could be paying upwards of $3,000 a year for their medications. Lamont said he would fight for a universal health care plan that allows the federal government to negotiate and obtain the best drug prices for Medicare Part D and all Americans, just as the Veterans’ Administration now is permitted to do. The U.S. could save billions of dollars in drug costs by helping to close the Medicare Part D donut hole, he said. Click here to read Lamont’s universal health care plan. However, some have wondered if his employer-based approach to universal health care would cover everyone? State Rep. Kenneth Green, D-Hartford, said he didn’t get a chance to ask Lamont how his plan would help 19 to 30-years-olds, a group that represents the largest number of uninsured. In a radio interview with WTIC’s Colin McEnroe following his appearance in Hartford Wednesday, Lamont admitted that his employer-based approach to universal health care is a start. Lamont said one person that he spoke to had equated it to “putting lipstick on a pig.“But he said his plan works without having to reinvent the wheel. He suggested a single-payer plan would be too complicated.  Lamont’s plan calls for protecting and expanding existing coverage with an employer mandate, paired with the ability of employers to purchase insurance from larger pools, including the one used by members of Congress. The plan would also create a sliding-scale system for people who can’t buy health insurance through their jobs, and reduce costs and improve the quality of health care, largely by lowering costs and substantially leveraging the government’s bulk purchasing and regulatory power.