healthcare reform

02 Nov: Healthcare amendment would delay access to “generic” versions of drugs

Healthcare reform isn’t just about the public option and paying for doctor’s visits — it’s also about equal, affordable access to life-saving medications for all Americans. That’s why many Big Pharma watchdogs are so disappointed with a recent amendment slipped into healthcare legislation that proposes extending patent protection on biologic drugs, delaying for years the public’s access to affordable follow-on versions. What are biologics? They’re the next big wave in medicine — drugs made not from simple chemical formulations, but from biological components. They’re very expensive, and poised for enormous success: By 2014, the biggest-selling meds will be biologics, according to an analysis from Evaluate Pharma. Taking the place of Pfizer’s gargantuan drug Lipitor will be Roche’s Avastin, a cancer…

01 Jul: Q&A: Why we need a public option for health insurance

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, has written an excellent piece for Truthout that explains why a public option for health insurance is so vital to true healthcare reform. Here are some choice excerpts from Dean’s article, which I’ve organized in a Q&A format: Why is healthcare so expensive in the United States today? The basic story is simple. The insurance, pharmaceutical and medical supply industries, along with the hospitals and the American Medical Association, have rigged the deck so that they get rich at the public’s expense. They have structured our health care system so that we pay more than twice as much per person as people in other wealthy countries, even though we…

30 Jun: Politico bashes AARP for fighting to keep prescription drug costs low

If you follow political coverage, you’ve no doubt heard about the AARP lobby. The AARP’s opponents like to paint the organization’s lobby as one of the most powerful back-room forces in Washington. While this charge is open to question, it’s a narrative that many reporters have bought into — lock, stock and barrel. The most recent example of this narrative in action is this story by Politico’s Chris Frates, in which he says the AARP is “threatening” legislators on healthcare reform and quotes a pharmaceutical industry representative trashing the organization and saying its real motives are financial (even though it is a non-profit organization). What a bunch of nonsense. Yes, as lobbies of non-profit organizations representing real people go, the…

18 May: Healthy Workforce Act deserves our support

I read an op-ed in the Dallas Morning News last Thursday that really impressed me, giving me hope that true healthcare reform may be just around the corner. The piece was co-written by Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. Its purpose was to advocate the proposed Healthy Workforce Act, which the senators introduced last month with the White House’s endorsement. This bill is a perfect example of the kind of legislation that both parties can get behind. It gives substantial tax credits to businesses that offer a comprehensive wellness program to their employees, encompassing employee gyms, smoking-cessation support, nutrition programs, and other initiatives. Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Some excerpts from the…

01 Feb: In healthcare, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

This ad was used in 1994 to kill Hillary Clinton’s universal healthcare plan through scare tactics and misinformation: As Ezra Klein points out, Obama is taking a similar approach in bashing Hillary’s much watered-down plan of 2007 — just from the other direction: The only thing that’s changed in healthcare politics over the past 13 years, it seems, is that our ambitions have become smaller. The demagoguery that prevents us from solving real problems continues unabated.

14 Sep: San Francisco implements universal healthcare

Just as with prescription drug programs, municipal governments are taking matters into their own hands to deal with America’s failed healthcare system. From the WSJ Health Blog: Another local effort to deliver complete health care to everybody is emerging, this time from San Francisco. Later this year, the city will begin offering what it says will be a comprehensive care network for all city residents who have been uninsured for at least 90 days … Care will be free to those below the poverty line, with those who earn more paying quarterly fees between $60 and $675, depending on income … Officials hope the projected $200 million cost will be at least partly offset by getting more people in for…