When The Government Overrides The Free Market

On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about the current controversy about the cost of an EpiPen. Anyone who understands free market economics has been scratching their head trying to figure out why there was no competition to manufacture this product (and thus a more reasonable price). Well, The Wall Street Journal article provides an explanation. For the moment, I am going to overlook the fact that the company involved made a large donation to the Clinton Foundation and that the person in charge of the company is the daughter of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

The article at The Wall Street Journal explains:

In a statement, the Democrat (Hillary Clinton) assailed the “outrageous” cost of EpiPen, an emergency treatment for allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis, and she demanded that drug maker Mylan “immediately reduce the price.” Federal and Senate investigations are pending into these spring-loaded syringes filled with epinephrine (adrenaline) used primarily by children with life-threatening sensitivities to food or insect stings.

Mylan has raised the price of EpiPen in semiannual 10% to 15% tranches so that a two-pack that cost about $100 in 2008 now runs $500 or more after insurance discounts and coupons. Outrage seems to be peaking now because more families are exposed to drug prices directly though insurance deductibles and co-pays, plus the political class has discovered another easy corporate villain.

Still, the steady Mylan rise is hard to read as anything other than inevitable when a billion-dollar market is cornered by one supplier. Epinephrine is a basic and super-cheap medicine, and the EpiPen auto-injector device has been around since the 1970s.

Thus EpiPen should be open to generic competition, which cuts prices dramatically for most other old medicines. Competitors have been trying for years to challenge Mylan’s EpiPen franchise with low-cost alternatives—only to become entangled in the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory afflatus.

Approving a generic copy that is biologically equivalent to a branded drug is simple, but the FDA maintains no clear and consistent principles for generic drug-delivery devices like auto injectors or asthma inhalers. How does a company prove that a generic device is the same as the original product if there are notional differences, even if the differences don’t matter to the end result? In this case, that means immediately injecting a kid in anaphylactic shock with epinephrine—which is not complex medical engineering.

But no company has been able to do so to the FDA’s satisfaction. Last year Sanofi withdrew an EpiPen rival called Auvi-Q that was introduced in 2013, after merely 26 cases in which the device malfunctioned and delivered an inaccurate dose. Though the recall was voluntary and the FDA process is not transparent, such extraordinary actions are never done without agency involvement. This suggests a regulatory motive other than patient safety.

The article concludes:

Mrs. Clinton claims the EpiPen price hikes show the need for price controls, and she says she’ll require drug makers to “prove that any additional costs are linked to additional patient benefits and better value.” Somebody in Congress should require the FDA to justify how its delays are advancing the same goals.

Price controls are not the answer–a government agency that cannot be corrupted by special interests is the answer. The FDA has been interfering with the free market, and the price of the EpiPen is exhibit A in the case against the FDA. I am all for safe drugs and clinical trials, but I am tired of federal agencies being used to pick winners and losers.

Numbers Don’t Lie

The numbers on ObamaCare are now starting to come out. They don’t look good. Power Line Blog posted an article yesterday about the latest statistics. National Public Radio collaborated with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to survey Americans’ recent experience with health care.

Here are two graphs from the article:

ObamaCareStatisticsWhen you look at the numbers, ObamaCare is not a success.

At Least It Was British Money–Not American Money

On Wednesday, CBN News posted an article entitled, “Study Finds Poor Health Leads to Early Death.” Somehow I don’t think this is rocket science.

The article reports:

The finding comes from a British study that looked at more than million people over a 50-year period. Researchers warn the problems get worse the earlier those unhealthy lifestyles begin.

A 40-year-old man who has dealt with diabetes, heart attack, and/or stroke could lose 23 years from his life. Someone in their 60s who has dealt with two of those problems could lose 12 years.

The worst problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, are preventable largely by eating right and staying active.

I would call this an example of spending money to study the obvious. I can’t believe they spent 50 years and a lot of money to figure this out. In most cases, this is something your mother told you when you were little.

Upside Down Logic At Work

On Wednesday Bill Bennett and Christopher Beach posted an article at Politico about the legalization of marijuana. The article points out the contradiction of a liberal philosophy that wants to legalize marijuana while banning large sodas, sugary foods, trans fat, smoking tobacco, etc.

The article points out:

In his recent New Yorker interview, President Obama remarked, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.” But then he added, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” Of the legalization in Colorado and Washington—never mind the unresolved conflict between state and federal law—he said, “it’s important for it to go forward.”

Got that? The same president who signed into law a tough federal anti-cigarette smoking bill in 2009 now supports marijuana legalization.

The article concludes:

What explains this obvious paradox? Do these liberals think that marijuana is somehow less harmful than a Big Gulp soda or a bucket of fried chicken? It’s hard to believe that’s the case, given the vast amount of social data and medical science on the dangers of marijuana.

Marijuana is destructive, particularly when used by teenagers. Does the people who want to make it legal believe teenagers will not be able to get it and smoke it? That hasn’t worked real well with either cigarettes or alcohol. Most of us probably know a teenager who used pot and paid a price later on–either in his ability to learn, moving on to other drugs, or side effects from some of the things added to the marijuana. Are we willing to make this drug easier for teenagers to obtain? This sounds like a bunch of 60’s hippies who are finally in control wanting to mainstream their counterculture. This is not good for our children, and it is not good for our society.

 

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If You Are Going To Set A Really Bad Example, At Least Get Your Facts Right

Today’s Washington Times posted a story about President Obama’s latest claims about marijuana. The President recently stated that marijuana is no worse than cigarettes or alcohol. His statement is in direct contradiction to statements by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The article reports:

And as reported by the government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, adolescent use of marijuana does something that alcohol does not; it causes permanent brain damage, including lowering of I.Q.

Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars warning about drugs, often about marijuana, but these efforts were dramatically undercut by the president’s comments.

As President, President Obama has a responsibility to set an example. After hearing his statement, one wonders how he would react if he caught his daughters smoking marijuana.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. There were a number of statements regarding marijuana in the interview President Obama gave to the New Yorker magazine that simply are not true. The misinformation in the article could prove to be damaging to America‘s youth. How many lives will be ruined by the belief that there is no danger in smoking marijuana?Enhanced by Zemanta

A Moment To Be Carefree

To be carefree is a wonderful thing. It’s one of the first things cancer patients give up when they are diagnosed with the disease.  The Mimi Foundation decided that it would change that for some cancer patients. Please read the article at the Business Insider to understand the whole story and to see some wonderful pictures.

Meanwhile, YouTube posted the video:

Enjoy.

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Elections And Laws Have Consequences

America was promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” Many Americans believed that and were told that the people who were saying it wasn’t true were fear mongering. Well, here we are, ObamaCare is about to be in force, and we have discovered that the warnings were true. There is now a website called MyCancellation.com that shows cancellation letters from health insurance providers to policy holders. In some cases insurance premiums of the people who have received these letters will increase 300 percent.

Meanwhile, many insurance executives have been intimidated to the point that they are afraid to speak up about the damage ObamaCare will do to healthcare in America. Yesterday National Review posted an article about some of the comments health-care consultant Larry Thompson is hearing from insurance company executives.

The article reports:

Thompson predicts that by the end of next year, two phenomena will begin to unfold: first, that insurance companies, taking losses, will begin to remove themselves from the federal exchanges, and second, that wait times for doctors will rise. He even suggests that some of the exchanges may close by 2015. 

The crux of the problem: “Expectations are high, and delivery is going to low. When those two things converge, the law is going to get a pretty bad rap.”

We are only beginning to see the negative impact of ObamaCare.

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How Much Does It Cost?

ObamaCare was supposed to allow everyone in America to get health insurance, and it was supposed to lower the cost of health insurance for everyone. So far that is not the case.

Yesterday RedState posted an article about the cost of insuring a family under ObamaCare. It’s not a pretty picture.

The article tells the story of one man’s search for healthcare on the website for ObamaCare:

First, I decided to look at the low-tier, catastrophic coverage, under ObamaCare.  This should typically be the cheapest plan per month.  Yet one option would have cost my family over $50,000 a year in premiums.

My first thought was maybe this was just a mistake, another technical “glitch” in the website.  So I kept looking.

Here are a few more of the plans I found, costing as much a $4,910 a MONTH in premiums.  That’s nearly $58,920 a year for a family of five.

When I looked at the chart, I thought it showed yearly premiums, in which case the numbers would be reasonable. However, the chart below shows MONTHLY insurance premiums for basic policies under ObamaCare.

Heathcare.gov

I’m hoping we can end ObamaCare before it bankrupts America and the American people. The best way to do that is to elect people who oppose it in the next election cycle. If we continue to elect people who support ObamaCare, we will be stuck with it.

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Some Sad News From The Entertainment World

ABC News is reporting today that Linda Ronstadt has Parkinson’s Disease and as a result has lost her ability to sing. Linda Ronstadt had a truly beautiful singing voice. She could do rock and roll, country, traditional songs and operetta. She provided part of the soundtrack of my early twenties, and later I thoroughly enjoyed her performance in Pirates of Penzance. I wish her the best and hope a cure for the disease is found soon. Her beautiful voice will be missed.

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When Reality Gets In The Way Of Promises

Remember the promise that ObamaCare would eventually make health care cheaper for everyone because universal coverage would make us all healthier? Well, it seems as if we tend to be as healthy as we want to be regardless of whether or not we have universal coverage.

On Friday the Daily Beast reported that a study on Oregon’s Medicaid expansion showed that the people who were now eligible for medical treatment had no improvement in their health (as measured by basic health indicators such as like blood pressure or cholesterol).

The article reports:

health insurance doesn’t actually improve access to necessary treatment that much.  If someone else covers the cost, it can help with the financial burden of health care.  But uninsured people will mostly find a way for the most important treatments, the ones we know improve health, from stitches to control bleeding, to antibiotics, to blood pressure medication.  It’s the expensive stuff on the frontier–the stuff that’s as likely to be useless, or harmful, as it is to help–that the uninsured mostly forego. 

When you consider the fact that hospitals are not permitted to turn away patients because of their inability to pay, this makes sense.

The article concludes:

…But I think it’s instructive that the political campaign for Obamacare leaned so heavily on claims about death and untreated suffering.  Whether or not we should provide that sort of insurance, I don’t think that Obamacare would have passed if its backers had said “The best study available shows that we’ll probably get a nice reduction in depression and catastrophic expenses, but no statistically significant improvement in diabetes, mortality, or cardiovascular health.”

That should give us pause.  We passed a big, complicated piece of legislation on the assumption that Medicaid expansions like Oregon would make us healthier–so much helathier that we’d obviously be able to measure it.  It just made gut sense, after all.  And that shouldn’t just make us pause and think about Obamacare. What other policies are we pulling out of our intestinal loops?

Frankly, I think the best thing the government could do for the health of Americans would be to get out of healthcare. Repeal ObamaCare, and set up a system that subsidizes low income people who need insurance and let the free market run healthcare. There would have to be some basic guidelines set up for pre-existing conditions, but the healthcare industry knows much more about healthcare than the government does. Let’s let them take care of America.

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Thumbs

Some recent observations about thumbs. I was recently forced to realize the usefulness of thumbs due to some surgery on my thumb. The surgery was on my left hand; and as I am right-handed, I didn’t think it would be any big deal. The surgery went well and my thumb is healing nicely. In that sense, it was no big deal. Now for the educational part of the experience.

People are born with two opposing thumbs. They don’t seem too important–after all, there are eight other fingers. However, there are some things that thumbs are very useful for–opening jars, buttoning buttons, tying shoelaces, etc. You get the picture. Thumbs (opposing thumbs) are useful.

When America was founded, three branches of government were established–the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature. The idea was that if one branch overreached its power, the other two would bring balance to whatever was happening. This was a really good plan, and it generally works. It means that Congress controls the debt ceiling so that there is some control over the amount of money the President can spend. It means that the President can veto a law that he feels is not good for the country and that law will not go into effect unless the Congress overrides his veto by a two-thirds margin. It means that the courts can rule when the other branches of government overstep their bounds. Just as opposing thumbs help us do useful tasks, opposing branches of government strive to keep us a representative republic.

Sometime today, take time to be grateful for things that oppose–thumbs, Congressmen and Congresswomen, Judges, and sometimes, Presidents.

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I Have Very Mixed Emotions On This

I don’t smoke. I have never smoked, but I grew up in a blue haze caused by two parents who were heavy smokers. I also lost those two parents to lung problems long before I was ready to give them up. That is why I have very mixed emotions on the story I am about the report.

CNS News reported this week that eighteen California cites and counties have banned smoking in multi-unit housing–condominiums, apartments, etc. So the city, state, or county is now telling you what you are permitted to do in your own home, which you may actually own. What about smokers’ rights as property owners?

The article reports:

Calling it “the next frontier in California’s ongoing efforts to protect its citizens from secondhand smoke,” the American Lung Association’s Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing compiled a 2011 report on smoke-free housing policies and provided an update that shows 18 cities and counties in the state have banned smoking in multi-unit housing, including apartments and condominiums.

I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but I really wonder if this isn’t going too far.

The article further reports:

Some other details in the report include a provision in the city of Belmont’s smoking ban: “For current tenants who smoke, there is a 14 month grace period during which time they are still allowed to smoke in their unit.”

If you have every watched anyone struggle to quit smoking, you know how difficult this will be for many of the current tenants.

Smoking is out of fashion right now. It has been moving in that direction for about twenty years. There was a time when smokers didn’t have to huddle in office or restaurant doorways in order to have a smoke. Again, I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but this is totally creeping government. If we sit by and watch this happen because we don’t smoke or don’t like the smell of smoke, what will the next target be?

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Some Good News From The Medical Profession

The U.K. Express is reporting today that a drug has been discovered to slow the amount of brain damage suffered by people who have multiple sclerosis (MS).

The article reports:

Data presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis congress, showed the drug cut the risk of an attack by up to 60 per cent and brain shrinkage by 35 to 39 per cent.

Gavin Giovannoni, Professor of Neurology at Barts and the London NHS Trust, said the “important” research should bring patients improved quality of life.

Please follow the link above to the article to see the specifics. This is fantastic news for people suffering from MS.

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I Haven’t Found This Story In Any Major Media Yet…Still Looking

The Lufkin News reported yesterday that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has been charged in an alleged billing scam. Charges were brought by Karen Reynolds, a former employee of a Lufkin clinic.

The article states:

The updated complaint, filed in October 2011, alleges that while Reynolds was employed as a health center assistant, she was instructed by the organization to maximize billing revenue when the government was fitting the bill through Medicaid and the Women’s Health Program.

She claims this was the procedure in all 12 Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast locations across Texas and Louisiana.

The suit alleges that, in addition to falsifying patient records, billing the government for unwarranted services and services not covered by Medicaid, Planned Parenthood tacked on services patient did not receive.

The case is set for trial in April 2013.

 

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It’s All Smoke And Mirrors

Katie Pavlich at Townhall.com posted an article this morning about the Obama Administration’s non-compromise on the latest healthcare directive from Health and Human Services. Yes, I said non-compromise.

The Obama Administration’s definition of a compromise is to still require religious institutions to provide insurance covereage for procedures that violate their religious principles.

The article reports:

…a “compromise” that allows religious employers to opt out of paying for providing birth control to women, but will still be required to provide contraception. What this means is, insurance companies will pick up the tab for contraception, but religious employers are still required to provide contraception through insurance plans to their employees, despite the move being against religious beliefs.

This is all smoke and mirrors. Under the compromise, religious institutions are still required to ignore their basic beliefs and provide coverage, they just don’t have to pay for it. That is not a compromise. Also, why is the federal government requiring a religious organization to ignore their religious beliefs in order to comply with any law?

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Medical Expenses Of The Elderly

Friday’s Wall Street Journal (I am not linking to the article because it is subscribers only) contained an article entitled, “Commonly Used Medicines Send Seniors to Hospitals.”  The article reports on a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that an estimated 99,628 hospitalizations every year of people 65 years and older are linked to adverse drug events such as allergies and unintentional overdoses. It further reports that nearly half of those hospitalized were age 80 or older. The drugs responsible were not high-risk medications–they were commonly used diabetes pills and blood thinners.

Maybe we need to rethink the way we handle medical care for seniors. Is there a way to make the commonly used drugs safer, for example bottles that somehow remind the person to take their medicine and let them know if they have already taken their dose for the day? I have no idea if that is possible or already in existence, but certainly drug safety might be one way to seriously cut medical expenses for everyone.

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A Wonderful Contrast To The 99 Percent

Yesterday Hot Air posted a story that should remind us what our real priorities should be. This is a picture from that article:

Boaz Reigstad, Down Syndrome, pro-life

The picture is of Boaz Reigstad, a five-year old who will shortly turn six. This picture has appeared on Facebook.

The article reminds us:

Reigstad also happens to have Down Syndrome. That, too, is visible in his picture — but it takes a back seat to the joy and warmth of his expression. Sadly, the apparently cheerful child is the exception to a startling rule: About 90 percent of pregnant mothers who learn their babies have Down Syndrome choose to abort. As The Blaze puts it, “That means [just] 10 percent of children are brought to term after the mother learns of the condition.”

Raising a child with a disability is an incredibly difficult job. Over the years I have known people who are raising children with serious problems. I have watched the struggles and the special love between these children and their parents. It is a sad commentary on our society that only 10 percent of children with Down Syndrome are allowed to live.

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