Health Policy

Health Savings Accounts: 'Insurance' for the Very Healthy and Very Wealthy
Health Policy

Newsday: "As open enrollment season begins, many employers and employees alike are evaluating Health Savings Accounts for the first time. Critics worry that the accounts will benefit only those who are young, childless or very healthy, or those with higher incomes, and they say the plan moves more of the cost burden from employer to employee." Not only that, but consumers MUST participate in insurance plans with a $1,000-2,600 deductible! "They're a terrible idea," said Public Citizen's research director Sidney Wolf. "They run in the exact opposite direction that our health care system should be going ... You wind up discriminating against people who don't have the means." Consumers who are older or sick might not benefit as much either. "If you're sicker or older, a set amount of money won't go as far as if you're young and healthy," said Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy for Families USA.

Dennis Hastert Calls for Democrats to Stop Obstructing the Insurance Barons Efforts to Screw Americans
Health Policy

LOL!! Dennis J. ( Jowls?) Hastert today whined at Senate Democrats, accusing them of "obstructionism" because they refused to sell uninsured Americans down the river to the drug and insurance barons. The "Health Savings Account" that the Repugs in Congress are trying to pawn off on the country as "healthcare reform" is about as helpful to Americans as the "Medicare Reform" scheme. In short - it's an astounding, flagrant rip off that critics say will benefit only people who are young, childless, healthy and wealthy. Such a deal! And, the "tax free savings" are tied to high deductibel insurance schemes. Once again, who benefits? Only the banks and the insurance industries - who already own the top two "wealth spots" of all American "industries." For more on the Health Savings scam, see http://www.newsday.com/business/local/newyork/ny-bzheal263942470aug26,0,1228032.story?coll=ny-nybusiness-headlines

Tommy Thompson Declares Obesity a 'Disease' just as Scores of 'Anti-Obesity Drugs' Move Toward Market
Health Policy

The pharmaceutical industry just LOVES G.W. Bush. They've never had it so good! Look at the billions they've made off selective "scares" alone (Cipro to "prevent" anthrax, huge contracts to develop vaccines of questionable need and safety) not to mention being able to rush new drugs thru the pipeline without the need for pesky adequate safety assurances. Nowe they've really hit paydirt as Tommy Thompson declares obesity a disease and its "treatments" (i.e., drugs) therefore qualifying under Medicare and Medicaid. Although experts acknowledge that anti-obesity drugs fail in most cases to induce the loss of even 5-10% of a patient's initial weight (obesity = 30-40% of initial weight), the current market is $300 million per year and expected to explode soon, with 200 new drugs in the pipeline. And now, taxpayers dollars will be funneled to the drug barons for this "treatment." http://www.bio.org/features/20031113.asp

As Health Care Costs Soar, Bush's Prescription Would Make Things Worse
Health Policy

"Health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, with the latest accounts reporting that HMOs are looking to raise premiums for employer-based coverage by an average of 13.7% in 2005. That's after premiums went up by 13% in 2004 and 16.6% in 2003." A recent poll found that "health insurance remained the No. 1 concern of small-business owners." Similarly, big businesses are now labeling health care costs as a top concern, with General Motors CEO saying "the rising cost is leaving many millions of people without the proper care they need, and making U.S. businesses uncompetitive on a global basis." To address the problem, the White House has offered "Health Savings Accounts" -- a series of tax incentives for employers and HMOs that a major industry study notes, "could drive up the annual deductible paid by workers."

AMA Fights Back on Bush FDA's Politically-Motivated Rejection of 'Morning After Pill'
Health Policy

The pattern of FDA approvals and rejections makes it extremely clear that the agency's key motivation for most of its actions is pandering to A. the pharmaceutical industry and B. the religious right. Proof? The FDA, against the recommendations of many researchers, approved Pondimin, Redux,Seldane, Posicor, Duracht, Hismanal, Raxar, Rezulin, Propulsid, Lotronex, Raplon, and Baycol - ALL have been pulled from the market as dangerous. Yet Bush's FDA toady Steven Galson has rejected the over-the-counter use of the morning after pill. Despite a 23-4 recommendation by an expert panel. Despite being endorsed as safe by the AMA. Despite already being sold O-T-C in 33 countries. The New England Journal of Medicine has accused the FDA's rejection of the morning after pill as clearly a move to pander to the religious right in an election year. Now the AMA is fighting back against the Bush machine.

Bush Health Care 'Plan' is a Cynical, Anti-Low Income Scam that Will Change Nothing
Health Policy

This week, Bush outlined his pathetic excuse for a "health care plan," claiming it would help low income people access health care. But. writes Robert Kuttner, "His key proposals are dubious health policy, waste taxpayer dollars, and are unlikely to increase coverage." The Bush plan relies on tax credits, individual insurance plans (the most expensive of all), and private insurers and, worse, actually EASES some regulation of the insurance industry. The most a family making $25,000 per year could hope for is a $3,000 tax credit - knocking the average annual insurance cost down from an astronomical $9,000 to a still unaffordable $6,000. Big whoop. Kuttner says the only reason Bush's plans deserves any attention at all is because "they epitomize Bush's utterly cynical approach to governing."

Why Bush Never Intended Americans to Have the Patient's Bill of Rights He Promised
Health Policy

Common Dreams: "In a televised presidential debate on Oct. 17, 2000, candidate Bush said, 'If I'm the president, people will be able to take their HMO insurance company to court,' adding that while he was governor, 'We're one of the first states that said you can sue an HMO for denying you proper coverage.' But on Tuesday, the Bush administration argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that the same Texas law touted by candidate Bush is invalid because it is pre-empted by a federal law. Among Bush campaign Pioneers (bundlers of $100,000 or more in contributions) are seven former or current HMO executives: UnitedHealth Group, Health Net. Anthem Inc.; Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida; WellCare and AmeriGroup. See www.WhiteHouseForSale.org.)

Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Scholar Blasts Bush Health Insurance Scheme
Health Policy

Yogesh Rajkotia of the Johns's Hopkins School of Public Health writes, "Since 2000, health insurance premiums have risen by 40 percent, and 4 million Americans have lost their coverage. The number of uninsured now stands at a staggering 44 million." At present, about 18,000 Americans die each year due to lack of health insurance. Both Bush and Kerry have proposed solutions to the problem. However, says Rajkotia, "In the end, the Bush health plan would leave a whopping 91 percent of the uninsured without insurance, while giving the wealthy an $89 billion tax break. By contrast, Kerry's plan would subsidize 75% of all claims above $50,000.... If unhappy with private insurance, businesses and individuals could enroll in the Federal Employees health plan, where tax subsidies would ensure affordability for the lower and middle classes."

Bush's New Healthcare Proposal is Off to 'Slow, Sputtering Start'
Health Policy

"The NYT reports that a pilot version of the program has 'gotten off to a slow, sputtering start, despite energetic efforts by Bush administration.' Treasury Secretary John Snow predicted that more than 500,000 Americans would benefit from the pilot but, as of the end of December, 'only 8,374 workers were receiving tax credits for health insurance under the program.' The problem: 'Workers are still required to spend substantial amounts of money on insurance premiums before they can get the benefits of the tax credit,' which has proved to be an 'insurmountable hurdle for some workers.' Ruben J. King-Shaw Jr., former administrator of the program, said that '[w]e have demonstrated that the model works.' King-Shaw Jr. is now a board member for Denovis, a software company that recently 'partnered with IBM to land the biggest healthcare customer in the nation - Medicare.'"

Major Study Calls for Universal Health Insurance
Health Policy

"The federal Institute of Medicine called on Congress to strive for universal medical coverage by 2010, saying the social costs from millions going without health insurance more than justify the costs of creating a health system that would guarantee coverage for all. A branch of the non-partisan National Academy of Sciences, the institute said universal coverage should provide continuous, effective care that is affordable to individuals, families and society. While it described four possible models for achieving the goals, the institute did not recommend one over the others. Instead, yesterday's report was intended to spur political discussions that have already been fueled by recent rises in the number of people who are uninsured. Since the institute started its work three years ago, the number and rate of uninsured people in the US has risen to 20-year highs. The number of uninsured people under age 65 grew to 43.3 million in 2002, accounting for 17.2% of the general population."

Physicans Consortium Says Bush Administration's Defiance of Clinton Law Places Thousands of Women at Risk of Cancer
Health Policy

In 2000, Clinton signed Public Law 106-554, which calls for the CDC to develop effective strategies to combat the epidemic of cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV). The law also directs the FDA to make sure condoms bear a warning that they do not prevent HPV infection. Neither agency under Bush has complied. An estimated 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Most cases of cervical cancer are associated with HPV infection - over 4,000 women die of the disease every year in the US. Even after a 2001 report -- by the NIH, FDA, CDC and the U.S. Agency for International Development -- concluded that condom use does not reduce the risk of HPV, the CDC and FDA remain in violation of 106-544. The Physicians Consortium is demanding that the Bush administration do its job and start protecting the millions of Americans at risk of HPV and cervical cancer!

Listen to the CEO
Health Policy

From the Tom Paine blog: "The number of mainstream voices who say universal health care is a good idea is growing. We can't quite say it's a chorus yet, but it's gratifying to hear a CEO of large health insurance company say that a single-payer national health insurance program is the only practical solution he can see to skyrocketing costs. Highmark Inc.'s CEO, Dr. Kenneth Melani, predicts that - with health care costs now accounting for roughly 15 cents of every dollar of the nation's economic activity - voters are going to rebel. How about in 2004?"

Pledge to Keep Antibiotics Working
Health Policy

"The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is reducing the strength of these drugs to fight illness in people. Take the Keep Antibiotics Working Pledge and send a message to Resident Bush, Congress, restaurants, retailers, and meat and fish producers that you support phasing out the feeding of antibiotics to healthy farm animals and fish. By taking the pledge you agree to make every effort to purchase poultry, pork, beef, or fish produced without the routine use of antibiotics, such as those labeled 'certified organic,' 'raised without antibiotics,' or 'no antibiotics administered.'" Take the pledge!

Americans Strongly Support Health Care for All
Health Policy

AP: "The public's growing unease with the current health care system has built support for a new approach that would mean care for all Americans and changes in laws governing prescription drugs, a poll suggests. A sizable majority, 70%, said it should be legal for Americans to buy prescription drugs outside the US. One in eight respondents said they or someone in their home has done just that... More than half of Americans, 54%, are dissatisfied with the overall quality of health care in the United States while 44% are satisfied. That dissatisfaction is 10% points higher than in 2000... By almost a 2-1 margin in this poll, 62% to 32%, Americans said they preferred a universal system that would provide coverage to everyone under a government program, as opposed to the current employer-based system." Dennis Kucinich supports single-payer national health care that many developed countries enjoy - go Dennis!

Bush Cutting Low-Income Medicare Rx Drug Benefit
Health Policy

"The Bush administration is set to shut out 6 million seniors from the Medicare prescription drug benefit now being negotiated between the House and Senate. The bill included a flaw that would for the first time introduce unequal benefits based on income. The Bush-supported proposal would make low-income seniors ineligible for prescription drug benefits under Medicare and force them to rely on the patchwork system of Medicaid benefits. So, to recap, who do we have opposing this damaging and unfair policy? Forty-six Senate Democrats and Jim Jeffords; AARP, the powerhouse advocacy group representing 35m older Americans, who has said it 'will not hesitate to oppose' any bill that treats poorer seniors differently than all Medicare recipients; and all 50 of the nation's governors. Who supports it? Oh yeah, George W. Bush. [This all] comes on the heels of news that states are cutting back on Medicaid prescription drug benefits as a result of the [Bush-neglected] state fiscal crises."

Act Now! Bipartisan Legislation Will Ban Antibiotic Misuse
Health Policy

The Union of Concerned Scientists writes: "Antibiotics are being misused in meat production to accelerate animal growth and prevent diseases caused by overcrowded and unsanitary factory farm conditions, contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant diseases in humans. Fortunately, bi-partisan bills to end the overuse of medically important antibiotics in animal agriculture were recently introduced in the House and the Senate. Please urge your congressmembers to cosponsor these bills to preserve antibiotics for you and your family."

Four States Sue Bush EPA for Failing to Protect Kids from Pesticides
Health Policy

"Four state attorneys general filed suit against the U.S. EPA yesterday, charging that the agency is endangering kids by failing to carry out a 1996 law intended to protect children from the risks of eating pesticide-laden food. 'Parents reasonably expect that every effort has been made by the federal government to ensure that pesticide residues in the food they give their children are safe,' said New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who filed the suit along with his counterparts in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. 'This is not always the case.' Children are considered to be at greater risk from pesticides because their bodies are still developing and they consume more food for their size than do adults. The 1996 Food Quality Protection Act requires the government to set pesticide-residue levels that are safe for children; the lawsuit claims the EPA has failed to do so."

The Thimerosal Shield: Is Bush Also Protecting His Father, Who Sat on the Eli Lilly Board of Directors?
Health Policy

From Autism Help for You: "But, there are many more still that are worth noting. Mitchell Daniels of Eli Lilly now sits on the Homeland Security Council. George W. Bush Sr. was once on the Board of Directors for Eli Lilly. In shielding the pharmaceuticals from any vaccine injury liability [especially autism caused by thimerosal-containing vaccines], is George W. Bush, Jr. trying to somehow protect George Bush, Sr. for past wrongs? Since Bush Sr. sat on the Board of Directors for the first company to ever use thimerosal (mercury) in vaccines, in my opinion, he had to be privy to a great deal of information in terms of the safety of mercury in vaccinations. Who is really hiding behind the 'bushes'? In his efforts to protect the pharmaceuticals, is Resident George W. Bush, our current sitting Resident, protecting his father - the previous President Bush - Bush Sr.?" Also, see the linked article from the Oregonian about Bush Sr. and Eli Lilly.

Bush and Congress Drop Issue of Patients' Rights
Health Policy

WashPost reports: "As the opening question of the final 2000 presidential debate, barely three weeks before the election, a man in the St. Louis audience asked why the government did not hold HMOs accountable for their decisions. George W. Bush replied that, as president, he would work for a federal law to protect patients' rights. 'It's time for our nation to come together and do what's right for the people,' he said that October night. Nearly three years later, the government provides no federal safeguards for Americans in managed-care plans. Yet the crusade for patients' rights has faded from view -- both at the White House and in Congress. Apart from one sentence in his State of the Union address in January, Bush has not mentioned the topic all year. The father of the patients' rights movement in Congress, Rep. Charles Whitlow Norwood Jr. (R-Ga.), resurrected legislation in March so half-heartedly that he decided not to seek any co-sponsors."

New Study Shows that Bush's Push for Mass Smallpox Vaccinations Has No Grounds in Scientific Reality
Health Policy

"A controversial new report questions US government plans to stockpile and administer fresh rounds of smallpox vaccine," reports 'Nature' magazine. "Around half of the US population may already have sufficient immunity to save them from death, the report estimates, thanks to jabs given before 1978, when the world was rid of the disease. From a group of more than 300 people vaccinated between 1 and 75 years ago, 90-95% still carry antibodies." Quite a contrast from the Bush administration's stance - which claims everyone needs to be vaccinated, even those who had the jab as kids. Not surprisingly, the White House was pushing to allow pharmaceutical companies to unload warehouses full of 30-year-old vaccine.

Is the US Military Covering Up Effects of Vaccinations?
Health Policy

CBS News reports: "When Army Reservist Rachael Lacy got her military shots last spring, she became deathly ill in a matter of weeks. The coroner listed 'recent smallpox and anthrax vaccination(s)' as contributors to her death. Yet the military doesn't mention Lacy under 'Noteworthy Adverse Events' in an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association touting its smallpox vaccine success. It claims no deaths. It also makes no mention of a cluster of unexplained pneumonia cases that were beginning to surface. The military says it's investigating the pneumonia reports along with federal health officials.... In the medical world, illnesses and deaths after inoculations - even if they're not obviously related to the vaccines - are supposed to be reported so experts can look for new side effects nobody knew about. But there are questions as to whether the military is coming clean about all the adverse events."

Tell Your Senator to Oppose SB 2053: The Drug Company Shield from Thimerosal Lawsuits
Health Policy

From StopFristBill.org: "Senator, I believe that every citizen of this country has the right to a fair pursuit of justice when wronged. The drug companies are attempting to move Frist Bill SB2053 forward quickly. It is set for a hearing in front of Sen Kennedy's Health Committee. I am asking you to refuse SB2053 (the 'Frist Bill'). It is anti-child, pro-corporation and anti-justice. The Frist Bill addresses thimerosal and is specifically putting corporate welfare before that of our children. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that may have damaged thousands of children. These children and their families have the right to pursue this issue in court. The Frist Bill blocks that right unilaterally and in perpetuity in all venues. I ask you, Senator, as a protector of our nation to choose our children over the corporations in this matter and stop the Frist Bill from going forward." Copy and paste the text into an e-mail or newsletter to send to your Senator!

Tell Your Congresspersons to Support the Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act (S-1143)
Health Policy

"Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and Edward Kennedy [have] filed The Hepatitis C Epidemic Control and Prevention Act (S-1143), announced the National Hepatitis C Advocacy Council (NHCAC). This is the first federal response to the hepatitis C epidemic, the most common blood-borne viral infection in the United States. An estimated four million Americans are currently infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HCV yearly costs are already at an alarming $15 billion dollars. That figure is expected to skyrocket to $26 billion by 2021. Hepatitis C threatens the health of millions of Americans. NHCAC has worked to educate federal and state governments about the seriousness and magnitude of the hepatitis C epidemic... The annual death toll is expected to triple by 2010. There is currently no vaccine to prevent HCV infection." (For info on contacting Congress, see http://www.makethemaccountable.com/links.htm)

Smallpox Vaccine's Protection May Last Decades
Health Policy

WashPost reports: "Many of the 120 million Americans who were vaccinated against smallpox more than 30 years ago may still have enough immunity against the disease to protect them from fatal infection, should the virus ever be used as a biological weapon. That is the conclusion of a study, published yesterday, that examined the immune systems of more than 100 people immunized against smallpox before 1972, when that vaccination ceased being routine for U.S. children. The findings suggest the United States may be less vulnerable than previously believed to the worst-case bioterrorism scenario -- intentional release of the smallpox virus. However, they are not likely to change the federal government's current effort to vaccinate about 400,000 people who would be most likely to have initial contact with victims of a smallpox attack."

8,000 Doctors Call for National Health Plan
Health Policy

"Noting that 'the 'health care mess' is too real for anyone to ignore,' the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) gave the medical world a jolt by publishing a proposal for a national health-insurance system that has been endorsed by more than 8,000 doctors. Healthcare experts consider the move by the generally conservative journal to be one of the clearest signals yet that the US healthcare system is in need of an overhaul. While no one expects this particular US Congress to endorse a single-payer system, the JAMA decision does put the idea back on the map as a serious alternative. 'The thing is heating up, it really is,' Dr. Henry Simmons, president of the National Coalition on Health Care in Washington. '[Healthcare is] going to be the transcendent domestic issue in the next election.' The editors at JAMA made it clear they aren't necessarily endorsing the idea. But they consider the healthcare crisis so dire that all ideas have to be seriously explored."

Report Criticizes Bush Admin's Oversight of State Medicaid
Health Policy

NY Times reports: "Bush administration has allowed states to make vast changes in Medicaid but has not held them accountable for the quality of care they provide to poor elderly and disabled people, Congressional investigators said today. The administration often boasts that it has approved record numbers of Medicaid waivers, which exempt states from some federal regulations and give them broad discretion to decide who gets what services. But the investigators, from the General Accounting Office, said the secretary of health and human services, Tommy G. Thompson, had 'not fully complied with the statutory and regulatory requirements' to monitor the quality of care under such waivers."

Gov. John Balducci (D-ME) Wins Universal Health Insurance Program
Health Policy

"Maine lawmakers gave final approval to a bill to create one of the nation's most far-reaching health insurance plans. In the 151-member House, 105 members voted in favor. The Senate approved the measure 25-8, allowing the state to start organizing the program in 90 days. The plan is expected to go into effect next year. Gov. John Baldacci, a Democrat who campaigned on the promise of universal health care, was expected to sign the bill next week. The plan would create a quasi-public agency to help people secure medical coverage through private insurers. Under the plan, all 180,000 people in Maine who cannot otherwise afford health care coverage would have access to it by 2009. Participants would be charged subsidized premiums that would vary according to their ability to pay and the amount of coverage purchased. Funding would come from... a tax on insurance companies and $80 million the state expects to save each year by eliminating unreimbursed medical costs by uninsured people."

Court Reverses EPA Pesticide Data Policy
Health Policy

AP reports: "A federal appeals court overturned on Tuesday a decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to stop using industry data gathered from the testing of pesticides on humans. The EPA failed to follow proper notice and comment procedures in issuing the policy in December 2001, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled... Pesticide manufacturers challenged the agency's decision, arguing the EPA changed its rules without allowing them to present arguments against it. The court agreed and ordered the agency to resume its policy of considering third-party human studies on a case-by-case basis... 'We hope that the EPA bans the use of human studies by regulation,' said Richard Wiles, senior vice president of the watchdog organization Environment Working Group. 'It's completely unethical to directly dose humans with pesticides to see what the toxic effects are. We think that's self-evident.'"

How Bush and the Corporazis Are Hijacking American Scientific Research
Health Policy

Cheryl Seal Reports: "There has been an outcry by a growing number of researchers in a broad range of fields against Bush's science policies, from climate change to biodefense. The Bush response to dissent? A systematic blackballing of dissenters. Complain, or even appear likely to complain, and you are out of a job. A November 21, 2002 letter to the DHS by concerned scientists demanded to know why nominees being considered for posts at NIH are grilled in their interviews as to how they vote and how they feel about key rightwing points such as abortion and gun control. Those answering 'incorrectly', such as the University of New Mexico's William Miller, are dumped promptly from consideration for the job.. Much the same thing has happened at NASA - where politics first, competence second may have taken a deadly toll."

Bush Breaks the Law to Restrict Emergency Room Access
Health Policy

"In a reversal, the Bush administration has ruled that managed care organizations can limit and restrict coverage of emergency services for poor people on Medicaid. The new policy... appears to roll back standards established in a 1997 law and in rules issued by the Clinton administration in January 2001 and by the Bush administration itself in June 2002. Under the 1997 law, states can require Medicaid recipients to enroll in health maintenance organizations or other types of managed care. But certain safeguards for patients were built into that law. Congress, for example, stipulated that managed care organizations had to provide coverage for Medicaid patients in any situation that a 'prudent layperson' would regard as an emergency... Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) a principal author of the 1997 law, said... he did not understand how the administration could, by a letter, make such profound changes in a policy established by statute." Bush is breaking the law - Impeach Bush Now!

Smallpox in America: Into the Garden of Delights
Health Policy

Jennifer Van Bergen writes for Truthout: "We are told that there is new grave threat to our welfare. Smallpox. If we are indeed in danger of a smallpox outbreak (which is contradicted by medical testimony), the threat appears to be inflated. A far more grave threat, however, is the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MSEHPA, MEHPA, or EHPA), portions of which were incorporated into the Homeland Security Act (HSA). The EHPA provides for forced vaccinations and confiscation or destruction of personal property under the mere threat of a threat of an outbreak."

Cash-Strapped States Plan to Cut Medicaid
Health Policy

The LA Times reports: "Every state except Alabama has cut or plans to cut Medicaid health-care benefits for the poor this fiscal year as part of efforts to balance state budgets as revenue plummets. From limiting services at nursing homes to rejecting children who would have been accepted last year, the states are choosing a variety of ways to squeeze money out of the fast-growing program, the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured said in a report issued Monday."

Risks to Military and First Responders from Forced Smallpox Vaccinations 'Exceeds Any Perceived Benefit'
Health Policy

The smallpox inoculation is not "just another vaccine."There are defined risks and known contraindications that can lead to fatal consequences if they are not strictly adhered to. The risk of medical complications from this vaccine is not potential but real, and that risk exceeds any perceived benefit that may come from the inoculation have personally treated many patients, both children and adults, who have suffered from catastrophic brain and immune system damage after vaccination. The potential suffering that could be caused by this highly reactive vaccine cannot be measured in either human or economic terms." So writes Dr Sherri Terrypenny, National Vaccine Information Center.

Budget Deficits Prevent Health Care Coverage for Uninsured
Health Policy

"...41 million Americans who do not have health insurance today....the health care crisis is spreading up the income ladder and deep into the ranks of those with full-time jobs. According to recently released Census Bureau figures, 1.4 million Americans lost their health insurance last year, an increase largely attributed to the economic slowdown and resulting rise in unemployment. The largest group of the newly uninsured - some 800,000 people - had incomes in excess of $75,000. They either lost their jobs, or were priced out of the health care market by rapidly rising insurance premiums...Growing federal and state budget deficits will make it difficult to find money to subsidize coverage for the uninsured. [Bush] and members of both parties have promised prescription drug benefits to the elderly, who vote in large numbers, and fulfilling that commitment is a higher political priority for most lawmakers than addressing the problem of the uninsured."

While Bush Limits Responsibility of Care Providers, Medical Errors Ranks as Number Eight Killer of Americans
Health Policy

A recent study shows that medical errors rank number eight in cause of death in the U.S. Yet the Repugs would have us believe that the biggest impediment to good medical care is the "damaging effect" of malpractice suits. Alas, malpractice suits are the only way citizens have to drive a message home to caregivers - and despite high settlements, caregivers apparently still don't get the message: The study shows that not only do most doctors fail to recognize the growing problem of poor quality of care, they also fail to report a substantial percentage of medical errors. Yet now Bush wants to LIMIT caregiver accountability even MORE?

Rising Unemployment Jeopardizes Adequate Health Care
Health Policy

"Because health insurance...is so closely linked to employment, a rising level of unemployment directly leads to a rising number of uninsured adults, teenagers, and children. What difference does it make that more people do not have health insurance?" A committee of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found "some surprising misperceptions about the uninsured and revealed the strong link between adequate coverage and good health, including: More than 80% of the uninsured have jobs, or are members of working families; Adults who lack health insurance get less health care, suffer worse health, and are more likely to die prematurely than adults who are insured; Children of parents who lack health insurance are less likely to see a doctor and enjoy the benefits of regular health care, even if the child is eligible for coverage; When even one member of a family lacks health insurance, the entire family is put at financial risk in the event of a serious illness or injury."

GOP and Dem Senators Ask GAO to Investigate HHS Inspector General
Health Policy

Since August 2001, when a new inspector general was appointed at the Department of Health and Human Services, 19 senior-level staff members have been forced out of their jobs, including all 6 deputy inspector generals. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), John Breaux (D-LA), and Charles Grassley (R-IA) have asked the General Accounting Office to find out what's going on. According to Senator Grassley, it can't be "housecleaning" of an inefficient bureaucracy, because the inspector general's office has had a strong reputation for years. Investigators for the Senate Finance Committee are also looking at allegations of questionable travel, promotions and spending. Bush, incidentally, has been trying to replace HHS scientists with theocratic ideologues. And the new inspector general, incidentally, is Janet Rehnquist, daughter of the Chief Justice who voted with the other right-wingers on the Supreme Court to appoint Bush to the presidency.

Democratic Senators Challenge Thompson's Reversal on Children's Health Insurance Program
Health Policy

Democratic Senators responded to Secretary Tommy Thompson's multiple dubious rationalizations for discarding legislation to provide health care coverage to pregnant women through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Democratic Senators joined together to question the outcomes from Thompson's position change: reservations based on formerly acknowledged service gaps evaporated. Under Thompson's new position, services for epidurals, hemorrhage, infection, episiotomy repair, C-section repair, family planning counseling, treatment of complications after delivery (including life-saving surgery), and postpartum depression, would be denied. The US ranks 21st in infant mortality, and Thompson's approach doesn't cover many of its primary causes! Is that good enough for our future, our children?

Bush Undercuts Support for Pregnancy Bill
Health Policy

Laura Meckler of Newsday.com reports: "The Bush administration says it no longer supports legislation adding pregnant women to a government health care program. It's no longer needed, administration officials say, because they've accomplished the same thing by providing health coverage directly to the fetus. Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services ruled that 'unborn children,' from the moment of conception, are eligible for health care under the State Children's Health Insurance Program....HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson has said repeatedly that he supports that effort....But when proponents tried this month to move their legislation through the Senate, Thompson sent word that he had changed his mind....'It certainly signals the administration's real agenda here," said Suzanne Martinez of Planned Parenthood. "It's not to provide health care to pregnant women and to enhance children's health, but to pursue this right wing agenda of giving the fetus rights.'"

Number of Americans Without Health Insurance Rises, More Go On Medicaid
Health Policy

Tony Pugh writes: "The number of Americans who lack health insurance rose to 41.2 million in 2001, due mainly to a recession-fueled decrease in the number of workers with coverage from employers... Combined with rising medical and prescription drug costs and state government spending cuts, the trend of eroding personal healthcare likely will worsen before it improves, experts say.... 'There is a crisis,' said Leighton Ku, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington think tank. 'The economy is stumbling, unemployment rose sharply in late 2001, healthcare costs are soaring and it's making it hard for companies to offer coverage to employees, and it's making it harder for employees to pay their premiums, which are also rising... Many adults who lost private coverage because of layoffs and job losses enrolled in Medicaid... enrollment increased from 29.5 million people in 2000 to 31.6 million people in 2001.'' We demand National Health Care!

Toxic Jihad: Our Hidden Bombs
Health Policy

In these days of doublespeak war hysteria, it seems oddly appropriate that a parallel universe has suddenly been discovered, a world of energy and annihilation hiding behind hydrogen's confrontation with its evil twin, antihydrogen...The impending war belies a mirror world of a different sort - one of destruction and annihilation concealed behind lies and omissions masquerading as truth. It's the tortured logic "President" Bush recently used to justify the unlimited war powers he craves: "If you want to keep the peace, you've got to have the authorization to use force." But as our leaders rally for another Persian Gulf blowout, they seem to have forgotten the unspoken world of toxicity our troops were exposed to in the 1991 Gulf War - and the increased dangers awaiting today's service members. While 147 US troops were killed in action in the Gulf War, almost 7,800 have since died and close to 200,000 (or a whopping 28%) have filed claims for medical and compensation benefits.

Tell Me Where It Hurts
Health Policy

A Canadian guy walks into his doctor's office. He says, "I've got a pain right here" and points to his hip. An American guy walks into his doctor's office. He says, "I've got a pain right here" and points to his hip pocket. Heard that one? Of course you haven't; I made it up about five minutes ago. But it sums up very simply what we in Canada have that Americans do not - the brains to have a decent publicly funded healthcare system. So this article is really an epistle to Americans in the hope you'll eventually see the light. (Hey, the Epistle of Paul ... I know I've heard that somewhere.) I'm writing this piece because I feel for a friend and colleague at YellowTimes.org who happens to live in the United States. She has no healthcare coverage of her own and had to sue her former partner to have him cover their children under his plan. Her situation is hardly unique since I understand some 30+ million Americans have no access to healthcare benefits...

With Bush AWOL, Senate Democrats Try to Prevent Health Care Crisis
Health Policy

Morton Kondracke (barf!) writes: "With health costs surging and the ranks of the uninsured swelling, Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Ma) and John Breaux (D-LA) are pushing for a new look at comprehensive health care reform... The two Democrats... are acting on the same assumption - that rocketing costs and collapsing coverage are putting the health care system into crisis... "accelerating growth of the uninsured, double-digit health care cost inflation, a new sense of insecurity even among Americans who have health insurance," Kennedy said... The latest survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that employers are facing insurance increases this year of 12.7%, the largest since 1990... The number of uninsured persons has once again risen above 40 million. Kaiser found that 11% of large employers plan to drop retiree insurance coverage over the next two years, that the employee share of premium costs has risen 27% and that small employers increasingly are dropping coverage."

Retired Steelworkers Protest Bush for Health Care Benefits
Health Policy

"A fence separated several hundred retired steel workers from [Bush's] motorcade yesterday as it pulled into Downtown Pittsburgh, but that didn't keep the older folks quiet. Hoping to get Bush's attention as he arrived…they waved protest signs and chanted slogans at the behest of young organizers from the United Steelworkers and other unions… They came from Ohio, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Aliquippa seeking government help in maintaining their health-care benefits and in propping up the import-battered industry for which they once worked… Calvin Anderson, 62, and his brother, George, 63, both LTV retirees, came from Cleveland to protest their loss of company-paid benefits. Calvin Anderson said he and his wife, Vicky, have been unable to buy replacement coverage since LTV's demise. Vicky has multiple sclerosis and the family must pay $975 a month for her medicine. 'This is very important to me," he said. 'We have no insurance -- nothing.'"

Tax Cut Favoring the Wealthy Endangers Seniors' Prescription Drug Bill
Health Policy

"The struggle over prescription drug coverage for the elderly is heading toward a showdown in the Senate today with no likelihood that either of two major bills will gather enough support to pass...The best of the Senate bills is the one sponsored by Senators Bob Graham, Edward Kennedy and Zell Miller and endorsed by the Democratic leadership. It provides the most complete coverage at the lowest cost to the beneficiaries...Republicans charge that the nation cannot afford it. If that is true, it's because of the huge tax cuts for the well-to-do that the Bush administration pushed through an acquiescent Congress last year. There seems little doubt that, if forced to choose, the public would prefer generous drug coverage rather than the tax cuts. One of the hidden virtues of the Democratic bill is that it would allow that choice to be confronted eight years from now. That is because both the tax cuts and the proposed drug coverage would expire at the same time."

Politicians on Drugs
Health Policy

Paul Krugman writes, "House Republicans announced their prescription drug plan for retirees. It was, of course, an election-year gesture. So, to be sure, was last week's rival announcement by Senate Democrats. Soon each side will be accusing the other of obstructionism. What's a voter to think? The short answer is that the Senate Democrats have a plan that can be criticized but is definitely workable. The House Republicans, by contrast, have a plan that would quickly turn into a fiasco -- but not, of course, until after the next election."

FDA Activities Funded by Pharmaceutical Industry Compromise Your Health
Health Policy

"With little public discussion and limited debate on Capitol Hill, Congress is moving to substantially expand the program through which companies pay large fees to the Food and Drug Administration to review their new drug applications -- making the agency increasingly dependent on the businesses that it regulates... The expanded FDA 'user fee' bill is speeding toward final approval after receiving unusually little public debate or scrutiny. The program was crafted in private meetings between the industry and the FDA, was never debated or voted on in either chamber before going to the negotiators…the user fees from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies would add almost 500 employees to the FDA centers that review proposed new drugs and other substances used to treat patients by 2007 -- bringing the FDA workforce funded by industry to at least 1,530. That would constitute more than 55 percent of the FDA staff involved in reviewing drug applications." Disapprove drug, lose your job?

Bowing to Big Pharma Pressure, Bush Scuttles FDA Nominee for 'Too Much Emphasis on Safety'
Health Policy

The drug therapy editor of the renowned New England Journal of Medicine, "Dr. Alastair Wood had every reason to believe he was about to be nominated by President [sic] Bush to one of the nation's most important health jobs: commissioner of the FDA. His medical credentials were unchallenged...If Wood became commissioner, one influential industry ally wrote in a conservative online magazine, the FDA's message to patients wanting life-saving drugs would be: 'Drop dead.' The article said Wood was obsessed with drug-safety review and...announced that he was 'a buddy of Senator Ted Kennedy' - even though Wood had never met or spoken to the Massachusetts Democrat. Within days, the White House dumped Wood. 'There was a great deal of concern that he put too much emphasis on the safety,' (Sen.) Frist said...bluntly explaining why his friend was jettisoned...Of the $10 million given by pharmaceutical companies to politicians in the 2002 cycle, 72% went to members of the GOP."

House Republicans Are at War with Themselves over Prescription Drug Plan
Health Policy

For the first time since Bush stole the Presidency, Republicans are facing fiscal reality - and it's UGLY. House Speaker Dennis Hastert wants to pay for a limited prescription drug benefit by cutting funds for hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors - who have already suffered deep cuts under Republican budgets. Rep. Jim Maloney (D-CT) says "They're robbing Peter to pay Paul," adding that Republicans created this predicament for themselves by voting for tax cuts that reduced the federal budget surplus. Republican backbenchers are in revolt, asking "Speaker J. Dennis Hastert why they were being forced to vote against their local hospitals in this election year." So reports the NY Times.

First Tokyo Rose, Now Harry and Louise! Shopworn Insurance Propagandists Rise Again to Push Cloning Research
Health Policy

When Bill and Hillary Clinton tried back in the 1993 to push the nation toward a more equitable health care system, the insurance industry - whose profits are second only to those enjoyed by the banking industry - launched a multi-multi-million-buck ad campaign. The stars of their touchy-feeling scam were a "concerned couple" named Harry and Louise. This Tokyo Rose approach worked all too well. Yep, and since derailing Clinton's efforts, the insurance industry has managed to jack up insurance rates while scaling down coverage every year since then. But somebody's now getting the last laugh. To the outrage of insurance lobbyists, Harry and Louise have made a comeback - this time pushing cloning research! LOL! Hey - maybe they could clone insurance lobbyists - we hear they are pretty simple organisms!

'If The Party Won't Even Stand Up For Our Mommas, Who'll Stand Up For The Party?'
Health Policy

Good question! And Jim Hightower is asking it. Seems like Jim's momma, Lillie, faced a 40% hike in drug costs over the last 2 years. And Jim, wanting to help save momma from those drug company price gougers, looked into it. And he's found that it doesn't have to be this way! Americans pay an average of 30% more than Canadians for the same drugs, while the drug industry racked up the highest profit margins of any industry, 17%! And with more registered lobbyists on its payroll than the number of members of Congress, what's Lillie to do? Chellie Pingree of Maine, Democratic US Senate candidate, successfully sponsored the Fairer Prescription Drug Prices Act in the Maine State Senate, and now wants to take the program national. It allows seniors to get prescriptions they need at government-negotiated discounted prices with drugmakers. Now, 23 other states are considering Maine's fair-pricing law. We all have bodies...isn't it about time we can all afford to care for them?

The Yellow Times: 'New Study Linking Air Pollution with Lung Cancer'
Health Policy

Writes Christopher Reilly: "Lindsey Tanner, a medical writer with the Associated Press, released a report highlighting the results of a new medical study that has found long-term exposure to air pollution 'significantly raises the risk of dying from lung cancer.' The study involved 500,000 adults who enrolled in a 1982 American Cancer Society survey on cancer prevention and have been monitored ever since…The research…found conclusive evidence that living in cities with high air pollution greatly increases the risk of dying from lung cancer. The researchers concluded that living in a large city puts individuals in the same situation as 'nonsmokers who live with smokers and are exposed long-term to secondhand cigarette smoke'…people living in large cities are 16 to 24 percent more likely to die from lung cancer. The study found the main causes of this dangerous air pollution in major cities are 'coal-burning power plants in the Midwest and East, and diesel trucks and buses in the West.'"

America Needs Single-Payer Health Care
Health Policy

Columnist Molly Ivins writes, "The most maddening thing about the sheer stupidity of America's health care system is that the far better alternative is perfectly clear. Every other industrialized nation manages to do this better than we do. The answer is universal health insurance, a single-payer system. Every time we start to get serious about reform, the right wing starts screaming, 'Socialized medicine, socialized medicine.' And then we're all supposed to run, screaming with horror. But if you want to see horror in action, try the emergency room of any large public hospital in this country. And for a truly hilarious experience, try to get emergency medical help on Christmas Eve... Conservatives reflexively start moaning about the cost of a 'big, new government program.' Actually, what's costly is the system we have now. Americans already spend 58 percent more than the weighted average of similar nations for health care."

Democrats.com Chat with NicksCrusade Founder Nick Dupree Reveals the Courage and Determination
Health Policy

Members of the Democrats.community welcomed guest speaker, Nick Dupree, in an online chat March 14. Nick is an exceptional young man who is fighting not only for his own life, but also for the lives of others, in trying to persuade the Alabama legislature to extend Medicaid's home health coverage past the age of 21. As a result of Nick's extraordinary efforts, the Nick Dupree Adult Care Act, SB113, has been introduced into the Alabama legislature. Nick has also joined the fight for passage of federal legislation, S1298 (also known as MiCASSA), which would make home health care mandatory for states, under federal guidelines. Members discussed the life and death struggles Nick and others in his situation face, and what can be done to help save lives, by getting these bills enacted into law.

In Bush's America, 40 Million Americans Have No Health Insurance
Health Policy

"At least two million people lost their health insurance in the last 13 months as unemployment rose and growing numbers of consumers decided they could not afford steeply rising costs. Health care economists said that at least 40.4 million Americans, based on conservative estimates, were uninsured by Jan. 31. Beyond the personal toll for people without coverage, the sharp increase in the number of uninsured Americans is a growing concern to employers, unions and providers of care. Some said they were worried that the trend would undermine the nation's employer-based health care system... Critics said the Bush proposal was inadequate. "A tax credit of $1,000 for an individual or up to $3,000 for a family is far too small," said Ron Pollock, executive director of Families USA, a consumer advocacy group that has joined the lobbying campaign. He said that even a healthy 25-year-old woman pays more than $4,700, on average, for a standard health plan." So reports the NY Times.

Bush Wants to Cut $9 Billion From Health Care for the Poor
Health Policy

According to the NY Times, "The president's [sic] budget, to be unveiled on Monday, assumes that the federal government will save the $9 billion by reducing Medicaid payments to public hospitals in at least 31 states. State officials said they would lose one-fourth to one-half of the special payments they now receive for public hospitals... Larry S. Gage, president of the National Association of Public Hospitals, said the higher payments were justified because public hospitals had higher costs. Many of their patients are uninsured, he said. Also, he noted, many public hospitals run costly special services like trauma care and burn units." Medicaid could be adequately funded if Bush's $1.35 TRILLION tax cut was repealed, but Bush says "over my dead body." Mr. Bush, how many poor Americans will die from your denial of adequate health care?

GOP Shuts Down Bill To Protect Teachers and Students from Pesticides
Health Policy

"A congressional committee has killed legislation seeking to protect public school children and staff from certain pesticides. The provision was backed by Democrats, the nation's largest teachers union and even a pesticide group, but it was opposed by Republicans and the National School Boards Association wary of jurisdictional disputes and the possibility of costly, and unfunded, mandates". Jay Feldman, head of the group Beyond Pesticides, said in a statement, 'Children, teachers and school staff deserve the basic health and safety protections that this right-to-know and pest management measure would provide'...the legislation would have required public schools to notify parents about the use of bug-killing chemicals and states to develop a school pest-management plan that considers alternatives to toxic sprays...All Democrats on the committee voted for the legislation, as did one Republican. But all House Republicans voted against the amendment, ensuring its defeat."

Nicholas Dupree, Age 19, is Fighting the Bureaucracy for His Life - and Needs Your Help
Health Policy

Nicholas Dupree is fighting for the lives of many people who will be literally put to death by stupid state laws that end up costing the taxpayers more, and provide far less for the money. MiCASSA Legislation will allow such people to receive home healthcare services at far less cost and with far more supervision than the current laws, which force them into nursing homes to die. Nick is a warrior, and he is fighting harder than any kid we've seen, because his life is on the line. Read about Nick's struggle, and if you can, take a moment to give him a helping hand.

Taking Cipro For No Reason Can Make You Very Sick - Or Kill You
Health Policy

"Cipro starts killing many different bacteria in your body, including the beneficial bugs that line your skin, mouth, throat and gut... The good bacteria are necessary for digestion, elimination and removal of excess oil on your skin... With good bacteria gone, bad bacteria can move in, such as the kind that can overtake your bowels and cause bloody diarrhea, [which is] 'painful and expensive . . . [and possibly] deadly.' Also, bacteria that cause bladder infections may already reside in low numbers in a healthy person. Taking Cipro for a few days may be long enough for some of these bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics... So, as a direct result of taking Cipro (or another antibiotic) when you didn't need it, you have now cultivated a urinary tract infection that cannot be cured by antibiotics."

Patients' Bill of Rights Was Derailed Because Trent Lott Can't Control the Runaway Legal System in His Own State
Health Policy

The man who led the fight against the Patients' Bill of Rights (the one written in a way that actually benefits patients) has let the legal system in his own state get so out of control that it is a national joke. Since Trent Lott was elected to represent it, Mississippi has become a mecca of for liability lawsuits - liability lawyering has, in fact become a growth industry. Why? Because Lott, the top political force in the state, has done nothing to stop it. In fact, his own brother-in-law, Richard F. Scruggs, is one of the top liability laywers in the state. Scruggs is currently leading a class-action suit against HMOs! We say, if the Patients' Bill of Rights makes a bad situation in Mississippi worse, then Trent Lott has only himself to blame. Maybe he ought to go home and clean up his own act before telling the rest of us what to do.

Compassionate Conservatism in Action: Bush Defers (i.e. Trashes) Safeguards for Medicaid Patients
Health Policy

It's tough for Medicaid patients to find ANY healthcare provider who will accept Medicaid (which pays just a fraction of actual costs). As a result, Medicaid represents a healthcare ghetto, where substandard care is more the rule than the exception (for ex., Medicaid patients get fewer diagnostic tests for the same symptoms than patients with even an average HMO). Sadder yet, most Medicaid patients are children under 18 and their mothers. Now our resident "good Christian" (no offense to those of you who are the REAL thing!) Bush wants to trash yet another Clinton regulation that would have insured that Medicaid patients receive at least a minimum standard of care. We suspect this is just a prelude to forcing folks onto the mercy of the nearest faith-based clinic.

Kennedy and Hatch Propose Funding Hike for Rare Disease Research, While Bush Pushes New Drug Co. Pork for Same
Health Policy

Although the percentage of Americans afflicted by any one rare disease is very small, the collective number of people afflicted is high - one in 10 Americans, in fact. Yet in 2001, Bush froze the budget for rare disease (RD) research and instead wanted to offer his cronies in the pharmaceutical industry a nice big new tax incentive written in such a way that they don't even have to actually complete RD drug development, just file the papers saying they intend to. Now Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch have introduced the Rare Diseases Act of 2001, which will double the money spent on rare disease research from $12 million to $24 million. When you consider that this works out to just about $1 dollar per rare disease patient, this is hardly too much to ask! For more on Bush's tax credit for drug companies, see http://www.rarediseases.org/cgi-bin/nord/new/taxcredit.htm

Ian's Life was Saved by Al Gore - Now his Family is Fighting the HMO's for a REAL Patients Bill of Rights
Health Policy

"Denial upheld." Families with loved ones who are ill hear these words more than you might think. Just such a denial was given by a big HMO to the parents of two year old Ian Malone. From birth, Ian required extensive care to survive. His family's policy clearly included unlimited home nursing care. But after one month at home, the family received a letter stating that Ian's care was no longer "medically necessary". The HMO refused to budge despite appeals from doctors. The local press intervened, but was only able to buy time. Desperate to save their son's life, Ian's parents turned to Al Gore. The VP brought Ian's story to the national media, and intervened on Ian's behalf with the HMO. Thanks to his help, the HMO agreed not to pull the plug on Ian's lifesaving care. Now Ian's parents are fighting for a REAL Patients Bill of Rights. Check out the video of Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) broken and tearful after selling America's families out to Bush and the HMO's.

Bush Already Clearing Path to Stem Cell Riches for Industry Cronies
Health Policy

Bush made sure that only 5 or 6 American stem cell lines were eligible for funding. One of those: a line created at the University of Wisconsin in Tommy Thompson's home state. Under Bush's new rules, the UW foundation that holds two key patents on stem cells can cash in big time on any useful treatment that comes out of research. To facilitate this crossover between "free market" and pure federal research, Bush has diluted strict ethics rules put in place by Clinton governing what stem cells should be eligible for research. According to many stem cell experts, the safety and viability of some of the cell lines Bush is putting up for grabs to federal researchers is highly questionable. Is he trying to sabotage federally-funded efforts in order to clear the field for the "free market" in the commercial field, thereby insuring stem cell treatments are little more than just another industry gold mine available to a few? See http://democrats.com/view.cfm?id=4051

How to Find a Decent Doctor: Make Sure they Don't Belong to the AAPS
Health Policy

Rightwing front groups are like toadstools - they are springing up under every rock. Worse, they are now infecting formerly legit groups with the "bug" (a resistant strain of greed). The Assoc. of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. (the "inc." says alot) is a coalition of "doctors" who apparently took the Hypocritic Oath, which doesn't include a clause about doing no harm. These folks are anti-gun control, anti-environmental, anti-patients' bill of rights, and anti-any kind of regulation, including those pertaining to patient privacy. They also urge doctors NOT to provide Medicare services. Right now, they're using typical GOP tactics: attack the good guys - and are going after the American Medical Assoc., a huge organization which takes their Hippocratic Oath" seriously. More appalling still - guess who AAPS's chief ally is? Trent "Let the Patient Be Damned" Lott.

Dick Gephardt's Impassioned Appeal Stirs Memories of What "By the People, For the People" Is All About
Health Policy

While Bush smugly smirked, having once more gotten his self-interested way and Charles Norwood (hereafter NoGood), chins quivering, blathered his excuses for selling out the American people and those legislators who trusted him, Dick Gephart rose above this quagmire and made an impassioned plea on behalf of the American people. Remember them? The people Congress is SUPPOSED to represent. "This is not a patients' bill of rights. This is an HMO and health insurance companies' bill of rights," said Gephardt. His voice rising and his face growing red with the strength of his emotion, he added, "In the name of God ... vote against this bill." Gephardt held the line, as did all but three Democrats: Traficant- OH, Ken Lucas, KY, and Colin C. Peterson, MN. Call these sellouts and tell them what you think!

Any Compromise on Patients' Rights Bill or Disastrous Energy Plan Is a Slap in America's Face
Health Policy

Congress compromised us into an administration now loaded with paranoid, pro-gun, anti-peace rightwingnuts, which has left everyone feeling less safe and sane. Now they want to compromise America out of a real patients' rights bill and an energy plan. If that line isn't drawn in the sand now, and maintained from here on out, the tide is going to wash it away forever. NO MORE COMPROMISE with this outrageous nonadministration. It's time for the Dems and responsible Republicans to come out swinging for the American people, who are counting on them. If every single nomination and compromise from here on out must be blocked, then block it. No action is one thousand times safer than taking a ride down a very dangerous road.

Something Smells Fishy in Sudden Yanking of Johns Hopkins Funding
Health Policy

Last week, Shrub conducted a schmooze of Johns Hopkins, which is a world center of stem cell research. We hear from a Baltimore source that Shrub put his usual blackmail deal on the table to key Hopkins officials: support my stance on healthcare and I might opt to back stem cell research. However, Hopkins' support couldn't be bought and the refusal to "play" was followed within the week by the usual spiteful Bush retaliation. During one of hundreds of medical trials conducted at Hopkins each year, a person died. These tragedies are rare and have happened elsewhere. As a result, the individual researchers may be punished , with their projects halted and defunded. But only Hopkins was "punished" with a complete retraction of human research funds - which amounts to $301 million annually. We expect that this may be an escalated form of blackmail to extort Hopkins' support of Shrub's health care stance.

Bush Cuts Family Planning Services for 43,000 Poor Women in Georgia
Health Policy

Kristy Fernandez is 21 year-old-old married Georgia mom with an infant son. She does not want another child yet. However, although she is not a "welfare mom," she and her husband cannot afford health insurance and must rely on Medicaid. Through Medicaid, she has conscientiously received regular Depo-Provera shots to prevent another pregnancy. Now, Bush has rejected a GA Department of Community Health request to extend family planning coverage for Medicaid families. Now Kristy must come up with the yearly cost of contraception, which on the $25,000 she and her husband make will be a hardship. What Bush is really saying here -- in keeping with his harping on abstinence as the only "real" contraception -- is that poor married couples can just do without sex. Afterall, he must reason, they're already doing without adequate health insurance, day care, training programs or decent pay - they can do without sex, too! (Of course Bush has never had to do without any of these things himself.)

Bush Offers Johns Hopkins Unspoken Deal: Back My Healthcare Policy and I Just Might Back Your Stem Cell Research
Health Policy

Bush sneaked into Baltimore today -- he knows he's very unpopular here, so came in the back door with little fanfare. He schmoozed his way around Johns Hopkins, checking out the Wilmer Eye Clinic and touting his Medicare reform plan. But the real reason he cruised JHU is transparently obvious. The institution is one of the world's leaders in stem cell research, and just this January launched a $58.5-million cell-engineering facility (see http://hopkins.med.jhu.edu/press/2001/JANUARY/010130.HTM). Bush was saying loud and clear in Baltimore: You fellows throw your weight behind my healthcare plans (JHU is a major force in the medical world) and I just might opt for stem cell research.

Americans Prefer Democratic Plan on HMO Lawsuits
Health Policy

According to an ABCNews.com poll, "The patients' rights plan in Congress that would grant patients a broader right to sue HMOs holds a 14-point advantage in public opinion, despite criticism that it could raise insurance premiums... 49 percent of Americans prefer the [Democratic] bill with a broader right to sue, which has passed the Senate. Just over a third prefer the Republican-backed alternative with a more limited right to sue. Seventeen percent are unsure."

Bush Haunts Hospitals Seeking Photo Ops that Will Create Illusion that He Gives a Damn (Humor - well, darkly)
Health Policy

Bush loves photo ops because they don't require thinking or real actionNow, in a bizarre effort to actually try to plug his anti-patient stance on the Patients' Bill of Rights, he is haunting hospital wards in search of photo ops. Here is one snapped in VA, in which we think the real cutline should read: BUSH: "I really do feel bad that your doctor amputated the wrong leg, but ya gotta understand - your leg don't mean near as much to me as the big donation I got last year from your HMO."

Bush Blasts Surgeon General for Encouraging Effective Birth Control and Tolerance of Gays and Lesbians
Health Policy

Bush believes the answer to the world's AIDS/STD/unwanted pregnancy epidemic is abstinence. Period. This is coming from a man who has never abstained from anything in his life - drugs, alcohol, partying, lying, reneging on promises, gambling with other people's money, etc. ad nauseum. But he's incensed at Surgeon General David Satcher for even suggesting that a more thorough approach to sex education than simply advising girls to keep their legs crossed is needed. Shrub also resents Satcher's suggestion that Americans should develop a more compassionate attitude toward lesbians and gays (apparently in Shrub's version of Christianity, compassion is earmarked only for rich white heterosexual males or minorities of both sexes who act like rich white heterosexual males). Bush is expected to sack Satcher when the latter's term expires next year. Sad loss. Hate to think what will replace him.

Bush's Claims Against The Strong Patient Rights Bill Are Belied By The Evidence In His Own Texas
Health Policy

Under "the Kennedy-Edwards-McCain bill, the president [sic] charges that insurance premiums will skyrocket and a blizzard of frivolous lawsuits will result. He's lying about both. And, to prove it, there's no better place to look than Texas. No thanks to George W. Bush, Texas has one of the strongest patients' bills of rights in the nation. As governor, he did nothing to bring it about. He only allowed it to become law in 1997 without his signature, after having vetoed the same measure two years earlier. How is it working? Pretty well, thanks. Last year, insurance premiums actually went down. And, since 1997, there have been a total of 10 malpractice lawsuits filed -- hardly enough to make trial lawyers rich. The threat of lawsuits has not hurt HMOs, but it has forced them to clean up their act and not be so quick to deny medical treatment to many patients. Make no mistake about it. The right to sue for damages is the heart of patient protection. Without it, there is no protection."

GOP Battles Lawsuit Clause in Patient's Rights Bill as Daschle Asserts 'Rights without Remedies Are No Rights at All'
Health Policy

The patient's bill of rights guarantees patients access to emergency care, direct access to obstetricians, gynecologists, and other specialists, overnight hospital stays for mastectomies and other "rights" which should have been in place from the start. But to protect their insurance industry benefactors, the GOP is fighting the bill, claiming the right to sue insurers who endanger patient welfare "only benefits trial lawyers." But public opinion is against them, and now anonymous sources say Dennis Hastert is leaning toward a compromise that would allow lawsuits against HMOs in state courts. The right to sue is essential, because it is the patient's only weapon for forcing accountability and constructive change. As Tom Daschle so eloquently put it: "Rights without remedies are no rights at all."

GOP Shows Total Indifference to Public Welfare By Stalling Patients' Bill of Rights
Health Policy

On C-SPAN radio this week, when caller input from both GOP and Dems was solicited on the topic of patient's rights/HMOs, the calls ran about 20 FOR reform to one against (one "against" we heard was in the insurance business). One caller spoke of sitting in an emergency room for 18 hours with a failing kidney, only to be told it wasn't an "emergency" according to her HMO. Yet Trent Lott (who recently threw a public tantrum because the new Senate Majority Leader Daschle was getting more press attention than him) is leading a GOP push to stall the patients' rights bill for "further study" (in GOP speak this is the same thing as "send into limbo"). The ultra-right GOP has obviously ceased to care even about its own more moderate constituency.

Christopher Reeve and Seven Scientists Sue Bush over Stem Cell Research
Health Policy

"Seven scientists and actor Christopher Reeve have filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Bush administration of illegally withholding funding for stem cell research. In the suit, they say the administration is doing 'irreparable harm' by delaying the creation of therapies they believe could save lives... The lawsuit makes bold claims that, by delaying stem cell research, the Bush administration is 'preventing or delaying the advent of a cure for paralysis, Parkinson's Disease, diabetes and other debilitating conditions.'"

Bush Backs Bill To Strip Away Patient Rights In Favor Of His Health Industry Benefactors
Health Policy

"Bush backed a patients' bill of rights on Tuesday that would allow patients to sue their health plans for misconduct but would set strict limits on court-awarded damages, drawing fire from Democrats and some Republicans, who said it stood little chance of being passed. The White House-backed bill...would require patients to exhaust an independent medical review process before seeking damages against health maintenance organizations and health insurers in federal court…civil penalties would be capped in certain cases at $100,000, and non-economic damages would be limited to $500,000… Sen. Edward Kennedy [D-MA]…has joined forces with Sen. John McCain [R-AZ] and Sen. John Edwards [D-NC] in pushing a further-reaching bill without such strict limits on damages" -- up to $5 million in federal courts and unlimited punitive damages under state law. To pimp the bill, Bush parroted Orwellian newspeak about "strong patient protections" and invoked the old "unnecessary litigation" straw man.

Bush Team Cancels Meeting On Stem Cell Research
Health Policy

"The National Institutes of Health has canceled next week's inaugural meeting of a committee that was to review the first applications from scientists seeking federal funds for human embryo cell research. It did so, agency officials said, after officials of the Department of Health and Human Services told them to cancel the meeting. The order, which was not announced publicly, is the most direct action yet by President Bush or his appointees in the scientific and ethical controversy over human embryonic stem cell research. The cells have the potential to grow into all kinds of human tissues and may someday prove invaluable in the treatment of many disorders, including diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal cord injuries. But they are controversial because they are retrieved from 'spare' human embryos slated for destruction at fertility clinics." In reality, the embryos that are used have only grown to a cluster of 200 cells that is called a blastocyst.

Chalk Up A Victory For Citizens! Bush Caves On Medical Privacy Rules -- At Least For Now
Health Policy

Although the Bush gang had said they would delay their implementation, "Bush announced today that sweeping rules to protect the privacy of medical records would take effect on Saturday. But he said the rules, issued by President Bill Clinton, could later be revised or clarified to address 'legitimate concerns' of the health care industry...The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed today's 'surprise decision,' but said it saw 'ominous signs' that the administration might weaken the rules." While we have won this battle (for the moment), we must keep fighting the Bush-Industry junta's campaign to strip away our Constitutional rights!

Bush Team To Diminish Medical Privacy Rules Authorized By Clinton
Health Policy

"The Bush administration has concluded that federal standards to protect the privacy of medical records, adopted with much fanfare by President Bill Clinton in his last month in office, are unworkable and must be revised, administration officials say...The administration's decision is a victory for the health care industry, which has lobbied against the rules...In December, President Clinton said the rules were required by 'an explosion in information technology,' which permits people to disseminate medical data, including genetic information, with the click of a computer mouse. Consumer advocates said the consent requirement gave patients more control and enhanced their trust in their doctors." Be wary of the bias of this article written by master propagandist Robert Pear, who subtly reinforces the Bush team's arguments.

Senate Passes Some Funding To Cover Uninsured -- Implementation Is Unclear
Health Policy

"The Senate took a small step toward reducing the number of people without health insurance this week when it called for spending an additional $28 billion over three years to cover adults with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid… there was no clear sense of how many people would be covered." Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) commented that "this funding will help. But we need to go further. We need quality care for all, which means universal health care coverage." Although Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) mentioned that these new funds could be used to support the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Bush Administration has been stalling new CHIP programs.

Incompetence Or Plausible Deniability? Veneman/Bush Reverse Themselves On Salmonella
Health Policy

"Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman has disavowed a departmental proposal to eliminate testing for salmonella in ground beef for the federal school lunch program. Saying today that she had never approved the change and only learned on Wednesday night that it had been officially published, Ms. Veneman said she was keeping the tests, which the Clinton administration began last year." The earlier announcement set off alarm bells among consumer advocates and concerned citizens, who flooded the White House and Capitol with e-mails and phone calls, as reported by Mike Malloy on his talk radio program (Listen on-line at "ieamericaradio.com" M-F 3 - 6 PM ET). Apparently, this caused the reversal. So is the Bush administration really so incompetent to make such a frightening announcement? Or did they decide to at least give it a try for the sake of their meat industry backers -- with Veneman and the Bush team knowing that they could always play the "plausible deniability" card the next day?

My Bacteria Has A First Name – It’s S-A-L-M-O-N-E-L-L-A
Health Policy

Kid-friendly Bush thinks it more important that his industry backers save bucks than for kids to eat uncontaminated lunches. "The Bush administration has proposed reversing a federal policy that required all ground beef used in government school lunch programs to be tested to ensure that it is free of salmonella…The Agriculture Department is moving to change the Clinton administration policy after concluding that less costly alternatives for protecting meat safety could be as effective...The possible change was hailed by the meat industry, which opposed the standard when it was implemented last summer and lobbied the new Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to reverse it...Said Carol Tucker Foreman of the Consumer Federation of America, '...Do we really want to take chances with that much contaminated meat being served to our children at lunch?'" Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) exclaimed: "First, it's arsenic in water. Now it's salmonella in school lunches. Where will this end?" Where indeed?

Bush To Slash Health Programs To Make Room For Tax Cut Giveaway To The Rich
Health Policy

"President Bush's budget will propose deep cuts in a variety of health programs for people without health insurance, administration officials said today...a White House spokesman said: 'We intend to phase out the community access program [that linked up doctors, hospitals and clinics caring for people without health insurance].'" Instead Bush plans on subsidizing the community health center industry. And he will leave children behind. "Earlier, administration officials acknowledged that the budget would include cuts in some programs for children and children's hospitals...But all of the net increase goes to the National Institutes of Health, for support of biomedical research, not for the direct care of patients...Mr. Bush's budget request, to be unveiled next Monday, would also cut federal spending for the training of doctors, dentists, nurses, pharmacists and other health professionals..." Also, AIDS funding would remain flat, without an adjustment for inflation.

Opponents Of Stem Cell Research Display Scientific Ignorance, Lack Of Perspective
Health Policy

"Under guidelines drawn up in the Clinton administration, the N.I.H. has accepted the first round of applications for research on the cells, but the Bush administration is reviewing the legal basis of the research and may act to halt federally financed researchers from using the cells... Biologists believe that both embryonic and adult stem cells hold enormous promise for repairing the body's tissues...Opponents of abortion object to the use of embryonic stem cells because they are obtained by destroying an embryo... The embryo, known at this stage as a blastocyst, is a microscopic hollow sphere holding a mass of about 200 cells...Dr. Thomas R. Cech, president of the Hughes Institute, said a decision by the Bush administration to block federally financed research 'would mean the people doing it openly would have to discontinue their work, whereas the people doing it secretly with no oversight and no public discussion would be able to continue.'"

Pro-Corporate Warrior John D. Graham Slated For Extremely Powerful Regulatory Position
Health Policy

One of the worst Bush nominees is John D. Graham, named to head the little-known Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which vets all significant or controversial regulations. Graham is founder of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, which is funded by more than 100 large corporations and trade groups, including Dow, 3M, Dupont, Monsanto, Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute. Greg Wetsone of the NRDC says "John Graham has a long history of opposing even the most broadly accepted public health protection measures, including the measure to reduce drinking water contamination. [Graham's nomination] is arguably the single sharpest stick in the eye of the public interest community yet." Graham solicited money from Philip Morris at a time when he was criticizing the EPA's conclusion that second-hand smoke was a carcinogen... Dr.Graham was ordered [by Harvard] to return the money. He later accepted an equivalent gift from Kraft, a Philip Morris subsidiary.

Congressional Dems Double Bush's Medicare Rx Amount
Health Policy

Democrats on the House Budget Committee have drafted an amendment providing $350 billion over 10 years for prescription drugs under Medicare. Studies confirm that Bush's $153 billion plan would significantly underfund Medicare drug coverage because of the massive inflation in drug prices caused by industry price gouging. The big battle will be whether Medicare can negotiate volume discounts, or whether Republicans force taxpayers to agree to the extortionate prices set by drug makers - even for drugs developed with federal research funds.

Heartless Bush Promises to Veto Patients Bill Of Rights
Health Policy

Bush told a convention of cardiologists that he will veto any bill that gives patients any power to sue insurance companies and HMO's for damages. Bush used the old propaganda line that a bill like that proposed by Senators McCain and Kennedy would promote "frivolous litigation and excessive awards." Hey George - judges already have the power to throw out frivolous suits - why make it that much easier for insurers to take advantage of people? Oh yeah, we forgot about your stealth fascist agenda to strip away individual rights in favor of corporate power. Reminiscent of Bush's ugly quip about David Letterman's heart surgery, Bush made a tasteless joke about Cheney not attending the conference since he has seen too many cardiologists lately. So much for Bush's "compassionate heart." We defy the entire audience of cardiologists to find it.

How Quickly Will Shrub Break his Medicare Promise?
Health Policy

"Bush claimed that the economy is to blame for his broken promise on the environment," Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said. "Now, Bush is vowing to protect Medicare from his tax-cutting zeal. But what happens when projected 10-year budget surpluses fail to materialize? Seniors in America may discover one day that the Medicare trust fund is as empty as a Bush promise."

AIDS Activists Win Big Victory on Generics for Africa
Health Policy

Under mounting pressure from AIDS activists in the U.S. and Africa, Bristol-Myers Squibb said it would no longer try to stop generic-drug makers from selling low-cost versions of one of its H.I.V. drugs in Africa, making it the second drug company in a week to greatly change its policies in the face of the AIDS epidemic. 25 million Africans are infected with H.I.V. but cannot possibly afford U.S. drug prices. Drug manufacturers in India can produce generic AIDS drugs for as low as $.05 per tablet.

Senate Republicans Pave Way For Bush's 'Medicare Euthanasia' Plan
Health Policy

"In a preview of what is likely to be a recurring budget battle this year, the Senate today blocked an attempt by Democrats to restrict Congress's use of surplus Medicare revenues for a tax cut or general government spending." Bush and the Republicans are not putting Medicare in a lock box - but rather a lunch box for the rich. Bush's "greed before need" tax cuts are that much closer to destroying Medicare - and keeping the national debt growing.

Bush's 'Medicare Euthanasia' Plan Would Kill Medicare by 2010
Health Policy

The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund would become insolvent in the year 2010 - 15 years sooner than currently projected - if Bush's proposed budget is enacted, according to a new report issued by the consumer health organization Families USA. The report indicates the President's proposed budget would divert $526 billion over the next 10 years out of the Trust Fund, and those funds would become available to the government's general fund. Additionally, because of this diversion, Families USA estimates the Trust Fund would lose approximately $172.5 billion in interest payments over the same period as the Trust Fund's reserves are depleted. That's why we're calling Bush's plan "Medicare Euthanasia."

Bush's 'Compassionate' Senior Drug Plan Is a Sham
Health Policy

No one spells it out like Jim Hightower. "So, he has now presented his own prescription drug plan, which makes him appear to be filled with compassion for the 37 million seniors needing medicine ... but the Bush proposal completely excludes 25 million of them! Sixty percent of these people have no insurance coverage at all for their medicines -- so they're totally left out in the cold. Worse, Bush leaves it to the states to bargain with the drug giants on prices. Even those states that have the will to undertake this face-off mostly don't have the clout, so there'll be little drop in prices and the companies will laugh all the way to the bank."

Greed-driven Republicans Block Medical Privacy Rules
Health Policy

House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) sent a letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson encouraging the White House to deep-six medical privacy protections that President Clinton ordered before leaving office. Thompson had already pushed back the effective day of these rules from Feb. 26 to April 14. These rules were "...aimed at giving patients greater control over their medical records and imposing stiff new penalties on health plans, Internet Web sites and others that distribute medical information without consent." Needless to say, the HMO's and insurers don't like them. Armey uses the familiar straw man argument of the "federal government." Now which do you want guarding your medical records - OUR government that is grounded by OUR Constitution to protect YOUR rights, which include your right to control your own medical records? Or would you feel safer having a lawless, greed-driven HMO or insurer deciding what happens to those records?

Bush Pushes 'Medicare Euthanasia'
Health Policy

Shrub is making a priority of his plan to destroy Medicare, which he's calling "modernization." What does Bush mean? He wants to force seniors into HMO's, where they can legally be neglected or mistreated - until they die. Bush's plan is designed both to speed the death of seniors and to speed the death of the Medicare program, which Republicans have always despised. We've realized that major policy battles are won or lost simply by the labels used to describe those battles, like "welfare reform" (who could possibly oppose "reform"?) and the "death tax" (who could possibly support a tax on dying?). So from now on, let's call Bush's Medicare plan "Medicare Euthanasia" - designed to kill both seniors and Medicare itself.

Bush Plans Destruction of Health Care in America
Health Policy

Bush has picked Thomas Scully, the president of the powerful and greedy for-profit hospital lobby, to run Medicare and Medicaid. Scully can be expected to turn Medicare over to the HMO's, which get rich by denying needed care - and cannot be sued because Republicans have blocked the Patients' Bill of Rights. He will prevent the government from purchasing prescription drugs in bulk, in order to protect the obscene profits of the drug industry. And he will have the full backing of the New York Times, which has assigned the media whore Robert Pear to cover this story. Pear is the reporter who single-handedly pushed the destruction of the welfare system through Congress with his grotesquely propagandistic reporting.

Look at What Bush Did to Paula Little's Mother - If You Can Stand It
Health Policy

In May of 1995, Texas Governor Bush signed H.B.1111 into law. Paula Little graphically describes the horrifying consequences for her elderly mother. "When we applied for state aid for home care, not knowing about this law, my mother was illegally (no due process) taken from her hospital room in secret into their custody. Instead of going home, as carefully planned, she was held prisoner, and forced into five shoddy nursing homes for over next four long years. Three of which were investigated for fraud and negligence. She died alone, isolated from her family and friends not allowed seeing or talking to anyone from the outside."

Thompson Quietly Bleeds Medical Privacy Protections
Health Policy

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson told HMO executives that he would delay Clinton's important medical privacy regulations until April 14. Thompson said that they required a "review" - the Bushies' favorite way of killing rules that impinge on corporate greed. Janlori Goldman, director of the Health Privacy Project at Georgetown University, said "The reopening of the comment period is unjustified and appears to signal an attempt to weaken and roll back the privacy regulations. It's a bad sign. It delays privacy protections for the public. People have been waiting for years for these rules." Peter P. Swire, chief counselor for privacy in the Clinton White House, commented that "if the rules don't go into effect, we will have the computerization of the health care industry without the privacy protections that were supposed to be included at the same time."

Tommy Thompson Stalls Programs To Benefit Low-Income Individuals and Children
Health Policy

Following Andy Card's illegal executive orders, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson has announced a 60 day delay of Clinton's new programs for Medicaid and SCHIP -- the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Stalling these plans will affect millions of low-income Americans. Medicaid covers 36 million people, and SCHIP covers those children whose parents don't qualify for Medicaid, but can't afford private insurance. (Read about Tommy Thompson's membership in the Council on National Policy at http://www.sit.wisc.edu/~lsfitzge/thomp4.htm. The CNP is a secret group of the Religious Right that includes Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Amway leaders, Republican politicians and even representatives for Bush benefactor Reverend Moon).

Bush's Senior Drug Plan is Dead On Arrival
Health Policy

In January, Bush sent Congress a $48 billion band-aid prescription drug plan targeted only to the poorest seniors. Congressional Republicans quickly rejected this plan because they realize it will take $400 billion to $500 billion over 10 years to keep Medicare from collapsing.

Bush is Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Health Policy

Don't expect drug prices to come down under the Bush administration. They invested $17 million in Republican campaigns to protect their 36% annual return on equity. While the industry claims such rapacious profits are justified by the high costs of developing new drugs, many new drugs are actually developed with federal research funds. The industry's biggest fear is for Medicare to start buying drugs in bulk, which would stop the industry from profiteering from the elderly. It's time for taxpayers to demand fair prices for drugs developed with our money.

McCain Challenges Bush on Patients' Bill of Rights
Health Policy

It looks like Sen John McCain (R-AZ) is planning to take on Bush on a wide range of issues, not just campaign finance reform. Recently, McCain joined forces with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Reps. John Dingell (D-MI) and Greg Ganske (R-IA) to sponsor a strong bill that allows patients to sue their HMO's. Bush is adamantly opposed, because it would force HMO's to focus on health care for patients rather than profits for owners. Bush and Karl Rove tried to undermine McCain's efforts, but they failed miserably. Advantage: McCain.

Feeding Antibiotics to Livestock Is Major Risk to Human Health
Health Policy

Familiar with antibiotics? Most of us are - it's what we demand for the child with the ear infection, the teenager with the severe acne problem and a host of other ailments and infectious diseases. But scientists know that chronic use of antibiotics is counterproductive and dangerous, because it breeds new strains of bacteria that are resistant to these antibiotics. The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued a major report documenting that livestock producers are pouring 25 million pounds of antibiotics into chicken, pigs, and cows each year - 70% of all of the antibiotics produced in the U.S. - for non-therapeutic purposes, just to fatten the animals. "Feeding antibiotics to animals from birth to slaughter may modestly improve meat industry profits, but it puts everyone's health at risk," said Dr. Charles Benbrook, co-author of the report.