26 September 2009
Focus, Focus, Focus! Politicians Do Not Want Reform. . .
This is why it is so tough to change health care in America: no one who makes money in the present system will support any change. Ka-ching. It seems some senators wanted to revisit the $86 billion "deal" President Obama made with BigPharma to lower the cost of prescription pharmaceuticals to Medicare or to the public-option plan, I forget which. Such a deal. That's like asking BigPharma to take a 10 percent price cut for selling to the largest market it has. I presume that BigPharma decided that what it lost in pricing, it would make up in the increased volume when everyone would be forced to buy medical care insurance. I would conclude that BigPharma knows its game better than the Administration. The very idea that a government-funded program would negotiate the lowest prices available, why that's absurd! Why should taxpayers cheat private industry out of their profits?
You'll recall that Democratic senators backed an amendment to require bigger discounts on drugs for low-income folks on Medicare. Early estimates said it would have cost drugmakers $86 billion. Another provision would have closed the medicare doughnut hole, bringing the cost up to more than $100 billion over 10 years. Proponents, including Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Bill Nelson, said they weren't party to the $80 billion industry deal.
Opponents voted the measure down for a variety of reasons: Some Democrats said they wanted to stand by the promise made to PhRMA, saying "a deal's a deal." Republicans such as Sen. Charles Grassley called the mandatory rebates "price controls" and said they'd end up raising drug prices for private patients.
We wonder whether any of them thought about the millions and millions of dollars PhRMA has promised to spend on advertising in support of healthcare reform. They were certainly aware of the fact that drugmakers would be angry. Delaware Sen. Thomas Carper (D) said extracting more money from drugmakers would cause a backlash from the industry: "I know I would walk away" from supporting healthcare reform, he said.
What happened to the Democratic Party on the day it clinched its 60-member majority of the Senate that could allow this to happen. What "backlash" could come from the industry, one wonders. We, the American people, are the biggest customer BigPharma has. It is about time that Democrats acted like they control the Senate. Do it, dammit, and then make it work.
Pass legislation that provides a Medicare for All health care system, discontinue Medicaid, and get on with it. Geesh! Between 65 and 70 percent of the voters--who, by the way, elected you to your jobs, say they want a public option. What could be simpler than providing Medicare for All, negotiated prices that Medicare pays for medications as it has always negotiated prices for professional fees and inpatient care, and let the insurance industry adapt to its changed market mix.
Do it, Congress! Do it, Democrats!
21 September 2009
What's It All About, Barry, Really?
I always think about health care reform in America in terms of ways to improve the overall health of our citizens. Why are we not looking at ways to improve the survival of new born babies? How can we avoid or eradicate or cure most cancers, human immune virus contagion and influenza? Why do we tolerate hospitals and clinics where we are more at risk for an infection than not?
We need to reform the paradigm of societal expectations and norms regarding how we individually and in our community expect for living healthy lives, beginning with considering physicians, hospitals and clinics as working for us.
I have had to seek emergency assistance when I sliced deeply into one of my fingers while preparing a meal. I cannot stop it from bleeding. I do not need an admission process that requires my entire life health history. I want my wound treated, not to sign away my financial future or absolve the Emergency Room from liability for any mistakes or accidents.
Other developed countries think about health and health care and their national programs' primary purpose is to meet the expectations of the people who live there. That purpose comes first and, though different countries have different means to meet those expectations, the health of the populace, individuals drive the means and the resources of the governments, the health care professionals result from the legislative process and public participation.
What do we Americans want? Seventy percent of us, according to published polls, want a single-payer system as an entitlement of citizenship and resident non-citizens. We declared our nation's independence to enable us to pursue unalienable [sic.] rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. We should be healthier for this goal. We have failed as a nation to remain true to the attainment of those Rights.
19 September 2009
My Reasons for Wanting a National Health Service for All
12 September 2009
...hidden gardens, gardens inaccessible, but to which the craft leads us
ever back one day or another. Life may scatter us and keep us apart; it
may prevent us from thinking very often of one another; but we know
that our comrades are somewhere 'out there' ---where, one can hardly
say---silent, forgotten, but deeply faithful. And when our path crosses
theirs, they greet us with such manifest joy, shake us so gaily by the
shoulders! Indeed we are accustomed to waiting.
"Bit by bit, nevertheless, it comes over us that we shall never again
hear the laughter of our friend, that this one garden is forever locked
against us. And at that moment begins our true mourning, which,
though it may not be rending, is yet a little bitter. For nothing, in truth,
can replace that companion. Old friends cannot be created out of hand.
Nothing can match the treasure of common memories, of trials endured
together, of quarrels and reconciliations and generous emotions. It is
idle, having planted an acorn in the morning, to expect that afternoon to
sit in the shade of the oak.
"So life goes on. For years we plant the seed, we feel ourselves rich;
and then come other years when time does its work and our plantation is
made sparse and thin. One by one, our comrades slip away, deprive us
of their shade."
Antoine de Saint Éxupéry, Wind, Sand and Stars, 1943
11 September 2009
07 September 2009
National Health Service This Year!
Some Americans are quite content with the health care they receive from the current, disfunctional system. Representatives and lobbyists of these groups are hammering individuals and stakeholder groups in the White House and Congress with reasons for not messing with the current, disfunctional system because of their self-interests.
I fax these letters to their Washington offices in hopes that a human must look at them. I sometimes receive a polite, snail mail response with a thanks for writing. (My emails usually elicit nothing or an email response instructing me to go to the addressee's web site and use its form for providing input.) In these letters, which are one page, no big words, I remind them of the Declaration of Independence's declaration of our Rights as humans to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. I tell them that two of the three depend inextricably on health, so any national health plan for America must include a public option, of which I favor a single payer design.I write letters to Committee heads from both parties in both houses of Congress,I write letters to Special Counsel to the President Nancy-Anne DeParleI write letters to the President and the Vice PresidentI write letters to Speaker Nancy PelosiI write letters to my senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne FeinsteinI write letters to my Congressional representative, Darrell Issa, 49th Congressional DistrictI write letters to Barbara Lee, head of the House's Black Caucus and 9th Congressional DistrictI write letters to Henry WaxmanI write letters to other senators and representatives