Donna Smith, American SiCKO, is executive director of the Health Care for All Colorado Foundation
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions that stand to further enrich and protect the huge pharmaceutical companies, and the Obama administration made it more difficult for patients to appeal insurance company denials of care. And almost no one noticed or put up a fight about it. America’s patients are at the less and less available mercies of a system becoming less just and less patient friendly.
In the case of the Supreme Court rulings, generic drug manufacturers will not have to fully disclose the possible risks and side effects of their products while the name brand, more costly meds will still more fully disclose these potential problems. This will mean that patients who purchase generic drugs or for whom insurance will only cover generics will have less protection from harm and less recourse for that harm should something go wrong with that generic medication.
Not to be outdone in terms of favored status treatment by the Supreme Court, the tobacco industry’s lawyers are poised to file their own suits to make sure cigarette manufacturers do not have to warn smokers about risks – and that they’ll have no legal or product liability related to not warning them.
The other high court decision overturned a Vermont law limiting the selling by pharmacies of lists of which doctors prescribe which medications and how much and often. Patient information is not disclosed, but the pharmaceutical companies use the information from the lists to target their pharmaceutical reps’ work and bump up sales of high profit drugs. Marketing to doctors is already a huge part of how the pharmaceutical companies boost profits, but the methods of courting and wooing the doctors’ favor in prescribing has come under scrutiny in many states – including Vermont. But the Court has ruled. Big Pharma has the right to market its wares using lists of doctors and what they prescribe sold to them by the pharmacies where patients buy their medications.
Here’s a news report: http://www.npr.org/2011/06/23/137376149/top-court-rules-in-favor-of-drug-companies-in-two-cases
Over in the Obama administrative wing, Health and Human Services officials have moved to make it more difficult for patients to appeal insurance denials and to make it restrictive enough in terms of time to file an appeal and the reasons why that insurance companies will be even more protected.
Here’s that news: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/obama-administration-narrows-rules-for-patient-health-care-appeals/2011/06/22/AGNciSgH_story.html
It’s a race to the corporate giants right now – a race they are winning to achieve more and higher profits and with little regard for the damage done to the patients. We’re just not players in this game.
These are the kinds of decisions that make a huge difference in the health outcomes of millions of people and yet no one really reports much about them. It’s a chipping away at the protections any of us have from the corporate interests that neither Republican nor Democrat or any other flavor of elected official has any will or power to confront.
I wonder sometimes even if more people knew how aggressively consumer and patient protections are being overthrown, what they would do and how they would work together to change the course before it truly is too late.
We hear it all the time that it is insanity to expect different results when repeating behaviors that led in the wrong direction. Yet we wait for someone else, something else to help us shift course. We look for external guidance rather than internal discomfort and our own sense of right and wrong to force us into action.
This week I was lucky enough to march with and stand with National Nurses United -- 170,000 registered nurses who have not only had enough but are moving forward to heal the spirits and passions of so many Americans who have experienced the subrogation of personal power and freedom at the hands of corporate interests. The nurses’ Main Street Contract campaign proposes not a generalized strategy for releasing the anger so many of us feel but a real plan of action for healing the nation and raising the revenue needed to do so by taxing the Wall Street interests that created the crisis. For more information on the protest this week: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tme5bc3cXwA
In a quieter way, more than 40 advocates of state-based, single-payer healthcare reform gathered in conference in Denver last weekend to discuss how to move forward in their individual states. These advocates want to bring not only better access to care to all but also fiscal accountability and sanity to healthcare costs now threatening to bankrupt states and communities as the corporate interests drive health costs ever higher from Maine to Hawaii. There was no great need for fanfare for this group, but its very existence and its seriousness provides great hope to those who hear of decisions like the Supreme Court’s or the administration’s and wonder if anyone is working on behalf of the rest of us.
The road ahead is a difficult one and not easy. For real people – not corporate profits and not only the wealthy interests -- to win this battle for our communities and our nation, it will take the dynamic and unwavering clarity of the nurses’ campaign and the diligent day-to-day advocacy of many, many of our neighbors and allies. Fortunately, they are out there, they are working – and we will win.
January 28th, 2014
In the State of the Union address tonight, President Obama is going to call for a national minimum wage of $10.10. Then in their response ...
January 21st, 2014
My New Year's Day op-ed in the New York Times seems to have kickstarted a discussion about how to make Obamacare better. I hope you ...
December 18th, 2013
This morning it was announced by the Library of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board that my first film, 'Roger & Me', has been ...
December 14th, 2013
[View the story "Michael Moore Tweets on Eve of Newtown Anniversay" on Storify]
November 9th, 2013
Click here for this week's full schedule for the State Theatre and Bijou by the Bay in Traverse City, Michigan. The day has arrived. For ...
September 10th, 2013
[View the story "John Kerry's Accidental Diplomacy" on Storify]
July 30th, 2013
Today Bradley Manning was convicted on 20 of 22 counts, including violating the Espionage Act, releasing classified information and disobeying orders. That's the bad news. ...
September 11th, 2010
OpenMike 9/11/10 Michael Moore's daily blog I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero. I want it built on ...
December 14th, 2010
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that ...
May 12th, 2011
"The Nazis killed tens of MILLIONS. They got a trial. Why? Because we're not like them. We're Americans. We roll different." – Michael Moore in ...
November 22nd, 2011
This past weekend I participated in a four-hour meeting of Occupy Wall Street activists whose job it is to come up with the vision and ...
September 22nd, 2011
I encourage everyone I know to never travel to Georgia, never buy anything made in Georgia, to never do business in Georgia. I will ask ...
December 16th, 2010
Dear Swedish Government: Hi there -- or as you all say, Hallå! You know, all of us here in the U.S. love your country. Your ...
November 2nd, 2010
This letter contains (almost) no criticisms of how the Democrats have brought this day of reckoning upon themselves. That -- and where to go from ...