President Trump is known for bizarre tweets, but this one does Democrats a particularly big favor.
Polling data shows Americans clearly DON’T love private health insurance companies and prefer Medicare.
Only 8% of Medicare beneficiaries 65 or over rated their coverage “fair” or “poor,” the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund found.
By comparison, 20% of those with employer-based coverage gave their insurance plan low marks. And 33% of people who bought insurance on their own reported unhappiness with their coverage.
In fact, trust in private health insurance companies has reached an all-time low.
With premiums and deductibles “far too high” as President Trump said, who wouldn’t want to lose their private health insurance in favor of Medicare?
Indeed, 56 percent of Americans surveyed by the Kaiser Family Foundation would prefer to get their health insurance from the federal government…and government health care has become even more popular with the phrase “Medicare for All” — phrasing that Trump used in his tweet.
Republicans are terrified of the idea of Medicare for All because of the additional tax burden it would create, particularly for their wealthy donors and the damage to private insurance schemes.
But would that be such a big loss? Is Trump saying that the Democrats are threatening us with a good time?
It has been more than 20 years since Pfizer‘s blockbuster drug Viagra was approved by the Food and Drug Administration to introduce to the U.S. market and even longer since the original patent was granted, yet there are still no generic equivalents available for it.
The original U.S. patent was set to expire in 2012, but Pfizer added a “method-of-use” patent that extended its exclusivity on the drug through this year. (The Canadian government was not having it.)
This is one of many ways pharmaceutical companies game the system to keep generic competition off the market and keep their prices high. Another is with “citizen petitions,” which are, in theory, a way for citizens to raise concerns about pending drug approvals. In reality, 92 percent of citizen petitions are filed by corporations.
These aren’t mere unintended consequences. Rather, they are deliberate measures by the pharmaceutical industry and their extensive campaign finance and lobbying arms to control how the system works. These lobbying efforts are not partisan in nature — they take aim at whichever legislators are expected to assume power after the next election.
Yes, research and development for prescription drugs is very costly, and FDA approvals take years, but Pfizer alone brought in $53 billion in profits in 2018…so I think they are more than recouping their R&D costs.
Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) are in close re-election dogfights in red states, and Republicans recently filed a lawsuit that just might help them keep their jobs.
Manchin’s and Donnelly’s opponents (Patrick Morrisey and Mike Braun, respectively) have voiced their support for a lawsuit filed by 20 Republican state attorneys general seeking to void the entire Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The patient protections in the name include prohibiting health insurance companies from discriminating against patients with pre-existing health conditions.
Donnelly and Manchin are calling them out on it without explicitly mentioning PPACA: a law whose actual provisions are popular with voters even though its name and especially its nickname (Obamacare) are not.
The U.S. healthcare system is so broken and so unaffordable that Americans are turning to crowdsourcing campaigns on websites like GoFundMe to get help paying their medical bills.
GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon recently told Minnesota Public Radio that 1 out of 3 GoFundMe campaigns are started by people asking for help paying their medical bills and that those campaigns raise more money than any other type of campaign on GoFundMe.
The GOP’s “solution” to the high cost of health insurance is to make health insurance worthless.
Short-term plans can turn away people with preexisting conditions, including asthma and acne. They can charge older or sicker people prohibitively expensive premiums.
Or they can enroll such people at what looks like a bargain-basement price and then refuse to pay for any care related to preexisting illnesses — including illnesses that enrollees didn’t even know they had when they enrolled, such as cancer or heart disease. Some plans have dropped consumers as soon as they got an expensive diagnosis, sticking them with hundreds of thousands of dollars in unexpected medical bills.
Unlike Obamacare plans, short-term plans also are not required to cover any particular benefits, even for the relatively healthy.
A Kaiser Family Foundation review of short-term plans offered around the country found that most did not cover prescription drugs, and none covered maternity care. Preventive and mental-health care are also frequently excluded.
Catherine Rampell, The Washington Post, 8/3/2018
Worse yet, they can throw the markets for real health insurance into chaos.
This parallel system of insurance will siphon off healthier, younger, less expensive people from the exchanges. That will leave behind a pool of sicker, older, more expensive people, which will drive up premiums on the exchanges.
Between this and repealing the individual mandate, Republicans are actively sabotaging Obamacare to make it seem like a failure.
The vast majority of women in America give birth without incident. But each year, more than 50,000 are severely injured. About 700 mothers die. The best estimates say that half of these deaths could be prevented and half the injuries reduced or eliminated with better care.
Instead, the U.S. continues to watch other countries improve as it falls behind. Today, this is the most dangerous place in the developed world to give birth.
USA Today, 7/27/2018
The methods to prevent these deaths are not mysterious, complicated or expensive. They just aren’t being practiced.
A 2017 study by Reid, Rabideau, and Sood published in The American Journal of Managed Care found that, despite their promises to save on medical costs, high-deductible health plans (HDHPs; also known as consumer-directed health plans or CDHPs) have failed to curb spending on unnecessary or low-value health services.
“CDHPs in their current form may represent too blunt an instrument to specifically curtail low-value healthcare spending,” the researchers concluded.
This doesn’t surprise me all that much. Patients often lack reliable information to decide which health care services provide the most value and are at the mercy of their physicians to inform them. So, even if you give patients more skin in the game, without adequate information they can rely on, they will use health care in about the same way they always have.
Even though the researchers found that CDHPs did reduce overall health spending, we can only conclude that the reduction came in the form of foregoing high-value health services.
CDHPs were touted as empowering consumers, but they were really just excuses for employers to cut back on benefits and for wealthy people to get tax breaks by sheltering money in their health savings accounts.