Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Granny the Pusher

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. — Dottie Neeley, 87, was fingerprinted, photographed and thrown in jail, imprisoned as much by the tubing from her oxygen tank as by the concrete and steel around her.

The woman – who spent two days in jail after her arrest last December – is among a growing number of Kentucky senior citizens charged in a crackdown on a crime authorities say is rampant in Appalachia: Elderly people are reselling their painkillers and other medications to addicts.

“When a person is on Social Security, drawing $500 a month, and they can sell their pain pills for $10 apiece, they’ll take half of them for themselves and sell the other half to pay their electric bills or buy groceries,” Floyd County jailer Roger Webb said.


In a telephone interview, Neeley denied selling drugs. She said she suffers from emphysema and asthma and sometimes uses a wheelchair. She said she was shocked when police arrived to arrest her and made the 4-foot 8-inch, 120-pound woman walk from her house to a cruiser.

“I had to hold my hands up all the way,” she said. “They wouldn’t let me hold them down.”

Her lawyer declined to discuss specifics of the charges. But speaking generally, he said: “You’ve got a depressed economy. You’ve got an opportunity for these folks to make money. If you’re seeing a disproportionate number of elderly, it’s because they are the people who are going to be prescribed most of the drugs.”

Do you think that story has any connection with this one?

WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators made modest changes to a major spending bill that would freeze or cut back a wide variety of education and social programs in hopes of successfully capping a GOP drive to halt the growth of most domestic agencies’ budgets.

An earlier version of the measure, which would provide $602 billion for a broad spectrum of health, education and labor programs, was defeated on the House floor last month amid opposition from GOP moderates and rural lawmakers, among others. The rural lawmakers were unhappy with cuts to a variety of programs aimed at improving rural health care.

I’m sure that some RNC talking point will come up with some compassionately conservative logic for this turn of events. How about, “It’s good for the elderly to get out and become more involved with the community.”

HT to Rachel Maddow.