Good For Pelosi… Bad For Dems

In the same week that saw Representative Charlie Rangel convicted of ethics charges, we learn that the Democrats have elected Nancy Pelosi to lead them.  With about 78% of the vote, Democrats made the critical decision to stay the course with the former Speaker.

This is great news for Pelosi, Republicans, most Americans, and me!  First, for Ms. Pelosi, she is able to somehow save some face (what is left) by keeping a title, and control over some of the visibility and direction of her party.  The Republicans get a huge win as they successfully linked many vulnerable Democrats with Pelosi, causing the similar wave of disgust as happened when many Republicans were linked to George W. Bush.  Most Americans gain in this as this should spell the exit of more incumbent Democrats from office.

How do I win?  Well aside from the benefit I listed as most Americans will receive, I look at this as a possible splintering point for one of our major parties.  Like the Tea Party arose and heavily swayed the GOP with their popularity, I think you may see another Tea Party-like movement, or an outright fracture of the party.  I’ve long seen that our two-party system in the US is horribly flawed.  People have gone to thinking in an either/or mentality and usually voting for the lesser of the two evils.  The two evils.  Yes.  The two evils.

Now I don’t truly believe that either party is truly evil, although I’ve found members guilty of this.  These parties have colluded to drive down the quality, and drive up the price to the American public.  That I find destructive.  We need CONstructive, not DEstructive in our politicians.  In this, I am truly happy to see a business-as-usual politician get re-elected to serve the party that brought you the big lie known as “change”.  They re-elected the person who was going to “clean up the swamp”, yet assisted in ramming through a possibly unconstitutional bill of near-biblical proportions.  They re-elected this:

Who won’t they bribe to pass healthcare?

We hear talks of change, and ridding ourselves of corruption on the campaign trails for president and other offices.  We hear the word transparency.  We are told about the “culture of corruption” with the finger pointing to the Republicans.  Yet, it seems that since the presidential election, we have seen some of the largest kickbacks in history (to Nebraska and Louisiana on the healthcare bill), we’ve seen behind-closed-door deals, and legislation passed without congress (or the people) having a chance to read through it.  But just when you thought that they were down and dirty, not to be trusted, and really didn’t deserve re-election, oops they now effort to get more support for a bill by basically catering to the unions by increasing the ceiling for the “cadillac tax” on healthcare plans.  A concession that has been heralded as “helping middle-class Americans”.  Problem is, how many middle-class have healthcare plans valued at $23-24k? 

So what are we getting?  A pay-off to union members to ease passage of this bill through congress.  Ahh, but not just this.  Currently, there is a very important senate race in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  The two main candidates are Martha Coakley (D) and Scott Brown (R), with Brown leading now in recent polls.  So why would this affect anything?  Well, as we’ve seen on videos, many union members don’t support Coakley in the state due to her support of the “Cadillac” tax for healthcare.  With this deal, this increase union support, and turn the tide of support back in Coakley’s favor.  Coincedence?  With this White House?  I think not. 

This White House, not only has a majority in the House and Senate, and yet they are not content with this.  Why?  Because the American people are down-right frightened of the out-of-control spending.  The previous administration shattered deficit records, and is one reason why Americans voted for “Change” in November of 2008.  This administration has accelerated the spending beyond most people’s belief.  Additionally they have rammed through healthcare “reform” legislation that will add billions if not trillions to the deficit (and now another $60 billion due to lack of revenue from the “Cadillac” tax).  They absolutely need Coakley in the Senate to keep that going as it is quite clear that the Democrats will not get this change again for a long, long time. 

Now, I am not a partisan, and rarely to I back a major party candidate.  I believe in issues, and find that the major parties rarely support individual issues, unless they have massive price tags, or invade privacy.  However, in this case, I am formally throwing my support behind a candidate:  Scott Brown.  Issues-wise Brown runs pretty close to center.  He has legislative experience that his opponents don’t, AND — most importantly — his mere presence will force congress (or at  least the Senate) to have to discuss important issues.  Without discussion in congress, we are no better than one-party states like China… and we know how great those work when it comes to human rights, or individual prosperity.

If you live in Massachusetts, and are not quite sure who to vote for, please effort to look into Scott Brown as a candidate.  If you have already made up your mind that you support Coakley, please realize that a vote for her ends all rational debate for the next few years, and creates a far worse rubber-stamp congress than we’ve ever seen.  If you respect sensibility, fairness, and reason, vote for Scott Brown, not because he is so amazing, but because he is not the 60th Democratic vote.

Health Insurance Out of Control: Drug costs a major reason — by Will Brink (Crosspost)

By Will Brink, and (also posted on his blog).

Health care is of course a very hot issue right now. It’s a hot issue for me personally, as my own health insurance – which I purchase privately as a self employed person – just went up 28%.

That’s not a typo. It’s always gone up 4-6% per year, this year, 28%, not to mention an increase in the deductible and other costs, and now exceeds my car payment…

I’m in the state of MA, which passed a universal health care law that everyone had to have health insurance (they will literally fine you $900 per year if you don’t BTW), with the state offering plans at lower premiums for those who qualified, etc.

This was supposed to lower insurance costs by making the market more competitive, etc. The result for MA, a huge increase in insurance premiums, and an increased state deficit to boot…

I don’t know the details of the proposed national health care plan yet, but I do recall a speech by Pres Obama making reference to MA as some sort of success story…

If the national system has any relation to the MA system, we are going to be in big trouble real fast…

I’m not at all against universal health care as a concept, but without [U]major[/U] cost containment taking place, such as tort reforms, and other measures, in particular, drug costs, it’s a pipe dream.

Doctors are also being squeezed hard these days on many levels (for example, insurance costs for doctors is also off the charts these days…), and this only makes it more difficult for them to help their patients.

To that end, many are not aware just how much big pharma costs this country, how much power they have, and what a great job they have done of preventing true competition in the market while driving their profits up.

Marcia Angell, M.D. – former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) – one of the most respected med journal on the planet, in line with JAMA, Nature, etc – wrote one of many good books on the topic. Below, is a summery of some of the major issues by which drug companies fail American citizens, keep our costs up, and add greatly to insurance premiums.

From THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES:

How They Deceive Us, and What to About It

by Marcia Angell, M.D.

(Random House; August 31, 2004)

1. The pharmaceutical industry claims to be a high-risk business, but year after year drug companies have higher profits than any other industry – by a long shot. In 2002, the top ten American drug companies had a profit of 17 percent, compared with 3.1 percent for the other Fortune 500 industries. The biggest drug company, Pfizer, had a profit of 26 percent.

2. The industry claims to be innovative, but only a small fraction of its drugs are truly innovative. Of the 78 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002, only 17 contained new active ingredients, and only 7 were classified by the FDA as likely to be improvements over drugs already on the market. Most of the others were just minor variations of old drugs.

3. The most profitable drugs are variations of top-selling drugs already on the market – “me-too” drugs. There are whole families of me-too drugs, and no good reason to believe one is better than another at equivalent doses. They cash in on already-established, huge markets. The top-selling drug in the world, Pfizer’s Lipitor, is the fourth of six cholesterol-lowering drugs of the same type.

4. The industry’s most innovative drugs usually stem from research done at government or university labs. An internal National Institutes of Health (NIH) document showed that only 1 of the 17 key research papers that led to the five top-selling drugs in 1995 came from the company that sold the drug. Big drug companies license or otherwise acquire about a third of all their drugs from universities, the NIH, or smaller companies.

5. Contrary to popular belief, big drug companies spend less on research and development (R&D) than they keep in profits and far less than they spend on marketing. By their own figures, in 2002 (when profits were 17 percent of revenues), the top ten American drug companies spent only 14 percent of revenues on R&D and 31 percent on marketing and administration (of which the lion’s share was probably marketing). The industry claims to spend $802 million to bring each new drug to market, but independent analysis shows that the true figure is a small fraction of that amount.

6. The U. S. is the only advanced country that does not regulate drug costs in some way, and other countries spend only about half as much for the same drugs as Americans. Methods vary, but essentially governments in other countries take advantage of their bargaining power to negotiate prices. Still, drug companies do not sell at a loss in these countries.

7. The pharmaceutical industry has an iron grip on Congress and the White House. It has the largest lobby in Washington, with more lobbyists than elected representatives, and it contributes heavily to political campaigns. Over the past two decades, Congress has enacted a series of laws that practically ensure windfall profits to the pharmaceutical industry, at public expense. For example, the Medicare prescription drug benefit enacted in 2003 specifically prohibits Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices.

8. Drug companies promote diseases to fit drugs. To expand sales, they persuade people in affluent countries that they are suffering from conditions that need long-term treatment. Thus, millions of normal Americans come to believe that they have dubious or exaggerated ailments like “generalized anxiety disorder,” “erectile dysfunction,” “PMDD,” and “GERD.”

9. The part of the FDA that approves new drugs receives half its support from drug companies. The FDA reviews drugs for safety and effectiveness before they are allowed on the market, but drug companies pay large “user fees” in return for quick reviews. That means the agency is beholden to the industry it is supposed to regulate. .

10. New drugs are not required to be any better than old ones, and there is usually no way to know whether they are. Drugs have to be tested before the FDA will approve them, but they do not have to be compared with older drugs for the same condition, only with placebos.

That means we don’t know whether new drugs are better or worse than old ones. They just have to be reasonably safe and better than nothing — *a low standard indeed.

11. Drug companies have enormous influence over what doctor are taught about drugs and what they prescribe. The companies support most continuing medical education (CME) courses, medical conferences, and meetings of professional societies. They have armies of sales representatives to visit doctors and teaching hospitals to tout their wares, hand out free samples, and provide meals and other gifts.

There is ample evidence that this huge investment in medical “education” pays off in terms of the prescriptions doctors write.

12. Drug companies have a lot of control over clinical trials of their drugs, which makes drugs look better than they are. They support much of the drug research done in academic medical centers by faculty researchers. In return, they insist on designing studies that increase the likelihood of a favorable result. There is good reason to believe that much of the company-supported research on prescription drugs is biased as a result.

13. The pharmaceutical industry portrays itself as a model of American free enterprise, but it is anything but. Of the top ten companies in 2002, half are European. And while the industry is free to decide what drugs to develop and to price them as high as the traffic will bear, it is utterly dependent on government-funded research and government-granted monopolies in the form of patents and FDA*conferred exclusive marketing rights.

14. Even while the pharmaceutical industry turns out whole families of me-too drugs for relatively mild conditions in affluent people, it pays almost no attention to major scourges in poor people — like malaria. It also gives short shrift to less profitable drugs. There are shortages of some vaccines and life-saving drugs, such as antivenins for poisonous snakebites; because few companies want to make them.

Sincerely,

Author and industry consultant, Will Brink @ www.BrinkZone.com

Free articles, free ebook, and other stuff of interest to fitness enthusiasts, see my site at:

http://www.brinkzone.com

Remember, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” — Einstein

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