When The Federal Government Gets Involved In Medicine

Townhall posted an article today about the lack of logic in the current move to put more restrictions on opioids but decrease restrictions on marijuana use.

The article reminds us that marijuana is very loosely regulated in some states:

For example, in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal, users can purchase up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks. This is enough to be stoned every day. Once you have a prescription, you can refill it for an entire year without going back to renew the prescription. It’s easy to get a prescription in most states that have legalized medical marijuana, just inform a doctor you have pain. And if you live in a state like California that has legalized recreational marijuana, there aren’t even any limits on how much you can buy (just how much you can have on hand).

Opioids are another story:

By October of this year, 33 states had passed laws limiting opioid prescriptions. They limit the supply a doctor may prescribe to seven days or less. This exponentially increases problems with timely refilling prescriptions. One chronic pain sufferer complained, “The insurance companies are lying to their own subscribers in the Prior Auth Dept, ignoring, transferring to dead lines, long appeals that go nowhere, on & on….” It also means more co-pays. Some states are now requiring doctors and pharmacists to take a course on opioids. 

Many states have limited the maximum dose as well. Federal opioid prescribing guidelines recommend doctors use caution in prescribing above 50 MME/day. But many patients need 90 MME/day or higher. In Arizona, patients are limited to 90 MME/day. There are exceptions for some types of illnesses — but not chronic pain. For those sufferers, they can only receive a higher dose if their doctor consults with a board-certified pain specialist. 

The article concludes:

The reality, according to the National Pain Report, is “America’s so-called ‘opioid epidemic’ is caused by street drugs (some of them diverted prescription drugs)  rather than by prescriptions made by doctors to chronic pain patients.” More people die from illegal opioids than prescription opioids. Opioid prescriptions were already decreasing before the crackdown started. In Arizona, prescriptions decreased every year since 2013, a 10 percent decrease total.  

And just because a few doctors overprescribed opioids does not mean everyone should be treated like a dangerous addict at risk of overdosing. One size does not fit all. Someone who has been taking a higher dosage of prescription opioids for years without incident should be allowed to continue.  

Over 11 percent of the population suffers from chronic pain. It is cruel and bad medical science to prevent this segment from the population from getting the only relief that works for many of them. The laws need to be changed to allow those legitimately suffering to access adequate amounts of prescription opioids, without risk to their doctor or pharmacist. It makes no sense as we’re relaxing the laws prohibiting marijuana.    

Marijuana has somehow achieved something of a protected status. At the same time we have all but eliminated any positive image of tobacco smoking from our culture, we are promoting the idea of legalizing marijuana all over the country. It truly defies logic.

Score One For Consumers

On Wednesday The Western Journal posted an article with the following heading, “Trump Signs Law To Lower Drug Prices, Ends Gag Orders Against Pharmacists.”

The article reports:

Currently, insurers and pharmacy benefit managers use the gag clauses to “forbid pharmacists from proactively telling consumers if their prescription would cost less if they paid for it out-of-pocket rather than using their insurance plan,” according to a press release from Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the bill’s sponsor.

Trump also signed Democratic Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s Know the Lowest Price Act, which “prohibits Medicare drug plans from putting a gag clause on a pharmacy in their contracts,” according to CNN.

The Patients’ Right To Know Drug Prices Act would lead to “a slight decrease in federal revenues,” according to the Congressional Budget Office.

That decrease could be offset by another provision in the bill, reported Politico.

Collins’s bill also targets “pay-for-delay,” a tactic where a brand drug company pays a generic manufacturer to withhold a product that would compete with the brand drug for market share.

Closing this loophole could save consumers and taxpayers money, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

“Who would think that using your debit card to buy your [prescription] drugs could be less expensive than using your insurance card? It’s counterintuitive. Americans have the right to know which payment method provides the most savings when purchasing their prescription drugs,” Collins tweeted Wednesday after Trump signed the bill.

If consumers pay for drugs out of their pockets because it is cheaper rather than relying on the insurance companies to pay for these drugs, eventually the insurance companies will be able to charge less for their drug policies, saving consumers money.

I can give you a personal example of this. When living in another state, I was prescribed a maintenance drug that my husband’s medical insurance covered at the time. My co-pay was $50 a month. When I moved to North Carolina, my health insurance did not cover the drug. My out-of-pocket cost was $50. Hmmm.

We need across-the-board reform in the area of medical insurance. The first thing to do might be to get the government as far away from that area of the economy as possible. There are fairly simple ways to make sure that everyone has access to healthcare (everyone has access by law to emergency rooms regardless of their ability to pay). It is time to tell the government to find something else to do.

Not Really A Surprise

The American Spectator posted an article today that tells us everything we already knew about ObamaCare. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has just released a report about uninsured Americans.

The article reports:

Anyone with the intestinal fortitude to subject themselves to the legacy media will have seen countless “news” stories about the devastation wrought by President Trump’s “sabotage” of Obamacare. A typical headline appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Washington Post: “Americans are starting to suffer from Trump’s health-care sabotage.” This work of fiction claimed that the number of working-ageAmericans without health insurance had risen to 15.5 percent, a 3 point increase since 2016. But a report just released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says the real number is 12.8 percent — exactly what it was in 2015.

…NBC recently reported that the total number of uninsured Americans rose by a preposterous 3.2 million in 2017. According to the CDC, however, “There was no significant change from the 2016 uninsured rate.” The percentage is, like the working age statistic, precisely what it was in 2015. NBC, parroting the Post, based its uninsured propaganda on an unreliable source.

There are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating ObamaCare. The first is that is was never about health insurance–it was about giving government control of a major sector of the American economy and a major sector of people’s lives. We have seeen how well socialized medicine works in Britain when a child isn’t even given a chance to leave the country to receive alternative medical care that could possibly save his life. ObamaCare was a planned failure that would lead to socialized medicine in America during the presidency of Hillary Clinton. We have dodged that bullet (at least temporarily).

The major change that occurred to ObamaCare this year was the end of government subsidies to insurance companies and changing rules for insurance pools to make it easier for people to get health insurance in various groups. The real answer to health insurance is the free market–let companies compete without being over-regulated and let people know how much they are actually paying for healthcare services. It would also help to end ObamaCare completely. In order to end ObamaCare completely, the Republicans would have to learn how to get their message out over the din of the mainstream media. They would also have to develop a spine.

The article concludes:

A multi-year study dubbed the “Oregon Health Experiment,” whose results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May of 2014, has demonstrated that health outcomes for Medicaid patients are no better than those enjoyed by the uninsured. Scott Gottlieb, the current Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, summarized various Medicaid studies in the Wall Street Journal and also concluded that being covered by Medicaid is demonstrably worse for your health than having no coverage at all.

The CDC report doesn’t weigh in on this issue, of course. It just attempts to show us where the uninsured rate was and where it is now. But that is damning enough. It not only shows that the projections originally touted for Obamacare were wildly off the mark — it was supposed to have brought the non-elderly uninsured rate down to 7.6 percent by 2016 — it demonstrates that the Democrats and their media co-conspirators have been lying about what the real uninsured numbers are as well as President Trump’s role in their mythical increase. Not that this is new. The Democrats and the media have been lying about Obamacare from day one.

As more Americans realize that the media has been lying to them from the beginning, we may have a chance to get rid of ObamaCare. Until then, we are stuck with it.

Effectively Using The Power Of The Purse

Theoretically, the House of Representatives can limit executive power by using its control of the purse strings. According to the U.S. Constitution, the government cannot spend money unless that spending is authorized by the House of Representatives. We haven’t seen the House of Representatives use that power as much as I would have liked under the Obama Administration, but the power is there. In fact, there was one recent incident where the House of Representatives successfully used that power.

In October I posted a story about the Obama Administration attempting to spend money that was not allocated by Congress. At issue were payments to insurance companies to alleviate their losses under Obama.

As reported by the Daily Signal in October:

In January, Sessions’ committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee had identified that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lacked an appropriation for bailing out insurance companies through the risk corridors. They asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the matter. That September, the GAO issued its legal opinion: the administration would need an appropriation from Congress to make outgoing payments.

Today The Los Angeles Times reported:

A federal judge ruled for House Republicans on Thursday in their suit against President Obama and declared his administration is unconstitutionally spending money to reimburse health insurers without obtaining an appropriation from Congress.

The judge’s ruling, though a setback for the administration, was put on hold immediately and stands a good chance of being overturned on appeal.

The ruling upholds the Constitution, why would it be overturned on appeal?

The article at The Los Angeles Times reports:

The Constitution says “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” said Judge Rosemary Collyer, yet the administration has continued to pay billions to insurers for their extra cost of providing coverage for low-income Americans.

“Paying out Sec. 1402 reimbursements without an appropriation thus violates the Constitution,” she wrote. “Congress is the only source for such an appropriation, and no public money can be spent without one.”

Stay tuned to see if the Constitution will be upheld.