Tag: health insurance
Oz Floats Bizarre Plan To Force Veterans Into Private Health Insurance

Oz Floats Bizarre Plan To Force Veterans Into Private Health Insurance

Mehmet Oz, the Republican nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania, gave a confusing response about veterans' health care during an interview with a Pittsburgh radio station last week.

The station 90.5 WESA asked Oz about the PACT Act, which expands health care coverage for veterans exposed to toxins in the course of their service. The interview took place a few hours before recalcitrant Senate Republicans finally agreed to support the legislation.

Oz called for the bill's passage and said he believed that veterans should be enrolled in the same insurance system that members of Congress receive from the Affordable Care Act's private health insurance exchanges.

"I actually think they should get the same insurance I get if I'm serving in the U.S. Senate," Oz said. "They've done everything you could ask an American to do, and they've already paid their fee and they're not getting what's deserved of them — in this case, health care access."

"These folks risked their lives," he added.

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Veterans Health Administration provides health care coverage to U.S. military veterans and provides free treatment for all service-related injuries — a benefit exclusive to veterans' health care.

By contrast, senators receive health care coverage through the private health insurance exchanges set up by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

While VA hospitals have come under fire in the past for long wait times, studies have found that the public health care system is superior or equal to privately run hospitals on measures of patient satisfaction and quality of care.

Oz's apparent confusion about how the VA works is particularly glaring because he trained to become a medical doctor at Philadelphia's own VA Medical Center.

And his support for Senate health insurance is particularly odd given the changing stances he's taken on Obamacare, which set up the exchanges that senators use to receive health care.

Although Oz endorsed Obamacare in a 2010 video he appeared in for the health care advocacy group The California Endowment, his campaign recently walked back his support for President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

Brittany Yanick, a spokesperson for the Oz campaign, told CNN that he "does not support a big government takeover of the health insurance industry" and "would not have voted for Obamacare."

In a 2016 interview with Fox Business, Oz called Obamacare "a very brave effort to include more Americans in the health care system" but said that "the problem with it though is that there was compromise required to get it passed, which limited its ability to address the quality of care and more importantly the cost of care."

The Oz campaign did not return a request for comment.

Oz, who moved back to Pennsylvania in 2020 after living in New Jersey for 30 years, has tried to mold his experience as a physician and reality television star into a compelling campaign message. He claims to have "scars" from taking on the pharmaceutical industry, and his campaign website lists health care as one of the core planks of his pitch to voters.

But Oz, whose net worth is north of $100 million, is heavily invested in Big Pharma companies, according to financial disclosure documents. Those companies include Johnson & Johnson, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and PanTheryx, a biotechnology company on whose board he sits.

His campaign also took $5,800 in donations from Nostrum Pharmaceuticals Founder and President Nirmal Mulye, who quadrupled the price of an essential antibiotic — a move which he described as a "moral imperative."

"I think it is a moral requirement to make money when you can ... to sell the product for the highest price," Mulye told the Financial Times in 2018.

Former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Oz during the Republican primary, also has a checkered history on veterans' health care. In 2018, Trump signed the VA MISSION Act, which some critics say has led to worse health outcomes and more expensive care for veterans.

Oz is running against Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, for the state's Senate seat left open by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA). A recent Fox News poll has Fetterman leading Oz 47% to 36% among registered voters.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Nearly Every House Republican Votes Against Cap On Insulin Pricing

Nearly Every House Republican Votes Against Cap On Insulin Pricing

Nearly all House Republicans on Thursday night voted against a bill that would dramatically lower the cost of insulin, the life-saving diabetes drug that has skyrocketed in price in recent years.

The House passed the Affordable Insulin Now Act by a vote of 232-193, with every Democrat and just 12 Republicans voting for the bill. If enacted, the bill would cap the price for a month supply of the drug at $35, or 25 percent of the negotiated insurance price.

According to the website GoodRx Health, the average price for insulin spiked by 54 percent between 2014 and 2019, an increase that's led to insulin rationing, a dangerous and sometimes deadly tactic in which diabetics use less insulin than needed in order to avoid depleting their supply of the expensive drug.

"Insulin prices are outrageous! Diabetics, like me, pay almost $100 for a unit that costs $12 in Canada. It causes some to ration or skip days to survive," Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ) tweeted. "Today, I voted for a bill to cap insulin prices at $35 per month. No one should have to choose between food or medicine!"

Republicans condemned the bill as government interference in health care.

"Today it's the government fixing the price of insulin. What's next?" Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) said during debate on the bill. "Gas? Food? History tells us that price-fixing doesn't work."

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), while calling the legislation "another big government bill that claims to serve the American people by subverting basic economic theory with the proposed codification of government price controls," blamed the rising cost of insulin on increased demand due to Americans getting fatter.

"The number of diabetes cases in the U.S. has nearly doubled. The demand for insulin has increased and the requisite price increase has followed suit. In other words, the price of insulin increases as waistlines increase," Gaetz tweeted.

However, polling finds that voters support capping the cost of the drug.

A Data for Progress survey in November 2021 found that 87 percent support capping the cost of insulin at $35 per month.

Provisions that would have lowered prescription drug prices were included in President Joe Biden's Build Back Better framework, which stalled in the Senate.

It's unclear whether the standalone insulin bill can pass in the Senate.

Democrats would need to convince 10 Republicans to allow the bill to come up for a vote to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to stop a filibuster of it.


’Trumpcare’ Doesn’t Exist, But Facebook And Google Profit From ‘Garbage’ Health Insurance

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

“Trumpcare" insurance will “finally fix healthcare," said an advertisement on Facebook.

A Google ad urged people to “Enroll in Trumpcare plans. Healthcare changes are coming."

The problem is, there's no such thing as “Trumpcare."

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Your Guide to the Difficulties of American Healthcare

Your Guide to the Difficulties of American Healthcare

The current United States healthcare system is a heavily debated topic as the 2020 election comes into full swing. Some are proclaiming a transition to Medicare for all and others are pushing for a public option that allows individuals to choose their plans, including government-provided options. To help you better understand the difficulties facing the healthcare system, as well as the challenges of navigating it, let’s explore in-depth just how the system works and what can be done to mitigate the stress of accessing care.

The Financial and Legal Challenges of Navigating Healthcare

Over 44 million Americans are uninsured with another 38 million having inadequate insurance. The lack of insurance or appropriate coverage is one of the biggest hurdles facing Americans when it comes to accessing healthcare services. Without necessary coverage, millions of Americans face crushing medical debt or the possibility of forgoing needed treatment to avoid debt they cannot pay.

These facts have been thrown to the forefront of the 2020 political debates, with each candidate putting forth their solutions to help lift this burden off the shoulders of the people. However, regardless of who enters into office, the difficulties facing Americans now and those already struggling with medical debt is something that must also be taken into consideration.

Already it costs over $250 billion to process the 30 billion healthcare transactions that occur every year. Adding to that are the 20,000 malpractice claims which are filed by patients and family members each year. The problem here comprises both how the medical industry is structured and how lower rates of coverage result in underinsured Americans receiving a lower standard of care. Studies indicate that uninsured or underinsured individuals are less likely to receive preventative care or services for both major health issues and chronic conditions that would otherwise be treatable.

Arguments against Medicare for all and healthcare reform insist that a higher influx of patients now able to seek affordable treatment will result in even higher rates of malpractice, though many counter-argue that adequate reform will reduce the number of claims due to more readily accessible superior care programs. To understand the truth, let’s look that the top reasons people file malpractice claims as reported in a study published in J Law Med Ethics.

  • 33 percent of respondents answered that they were advised to sue from someone outside of their immediate family, 56% of which were advised by someone in the medical field.
  • 24 percent of respondents said that they sued for malpractice because they needed money for long-term care.
  • Another 24 percent said that they were intentionally misled by a healthcare provider.
  • 20 percent of respondents said they sued because their child wouldn’t be able to have a future.
  • Another 20 percent said they filed a claim to get more information that they felt had been withheld from them.
  • 19 percent of respondents filed because they wanted to prevent future errors or get justice for their malpractice injury.

As this study shows, out of 127 families surveyed, a majority of malpractice cases were filed at the advice of a medical professional or because a family either needed money or felt they had been misled intentionally. Though the survey conducted was only on a small group, it shows that one of the top concerns facing Americans is the high cost of care which leads to legal entanglement in the hopes of mitigating the burden.

Power of Attorney

Another legal issue that many Americans face is obtaining acceptance as powers of attorney. About 63 percent of those surveyed by the Joint Editorial Board of Uniform Trust reported that they had occasional difficulty, with another 17 percent saying they had frequent difficulty. Having the power of attorney over healthcare is important if an individual is incapacitated and unable to make healthcare decisions for themselves. When family members have difficulty being accepted in this role, it can lead to unnecessary stress, especially if the problems are occurring in the middle of a medical emergency. If the power of attorney is rejected, it’s often up to the family to seek out a lawyer to help them get approval. These difficulties, coupled with the challenges of haggling with insurance companies or navigating healthcare costs upfront, contributes to the growing frustration and outright avoidance of medical intervention for potentially treatable issues and concerns.

The Debate in 2020

As we’ve discussed, healthcare is one of the foremost debate topics of the 2020 election, but voters need to understand the differences in the plans that are being put forth. Universal coverage, for instance, would attempt to provide insurance for all American residents. In other countries that have this system implemented, these services are paid for by either public or private programs, sometimes a combination of both. Alternatively, a single-payer healthcare system utilizes one entity — not necessarily the government — which pays for all healthcare services. Contrary to popular belief this is not a form of socialized medicine, which would instead consist of government ownership over all medical facilities, professionals, and payment plans.

That said, a majority of Americans are also split on how healthcare should be reformed, with most being concerned about the overall cost they are paying, as opposed to the system used to insure them. As of 2016, the United States has been spending twice as much as other Western nations on healthcare, with the U.S. spending 25 percent more than the second-highest spending nation, Switzerland. And a recent survey of voters in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire show that voters there are more concerned about out of pocket costs and not the insurance coverage itself.

Different Ideas

Both parties have various solutions on how to fix the rising costs of healthcare, though even along party lines there are not concrete agreed on solutions. Most in the Democratic party wish to see the government play a larger role in healthcare, while Republicans are rallying for less government interference and more free-market programs. Both solutions bear weight, though unless a solution can be agreed upon, healthcare will likely remain a hot debate topic for decades of elections to come.

In addition to access to care, there are also different ideas about types of care. Long-term care, mental health services, and addiction rehabilitation have also become hot button issues that hopeful candidates are talking about this election season. Once again at the heart of these problems lies the cost of care and accessibility. Mental health and addiction services, in particular, are areas in which the healthcare system is severely lacking. Even as though some candidates have put forth plans for reform in these areas, only a few have devised plans regarding Americans in rural areas and those living with disabilities.

What Can Be Done to Mitigate Difficulty in Accessing Care?

First and foremost the healthcare system needs to be reformed to match the current needs of American citizens and it needs to be done in a way that the common public can understand. This means removing unnecessary jargon and instead laying out healthcare plans in a way that doesn’t exclude individuals without a medical degree. Often families have the most difficulty when it comes to trying to understand exactly what their insurance plans cover and what all they are being charged for. This confusion can lead to people being overcharged for services and paying more simply because they cannot understand the ins and outs of the current medical system.

Furthermore, there needs to be a collective move to bring down the price of necessary treatments and drugs to ensure that they are both accessible and affordable for every American. Because cost is the number one concern of voters in this election, this issue is likely to be the one talked about and targeted the most. Until healthcare costs can be reigned in, we will likely continue to see the same aversion to care and the denial of treatment in fear of debt accumulation that we have seen for the past decade.

While these changes are likely to not be seen immediately, what we can do now is not hesitate to ask questions and demand answers to all of our healthcare concerns. If you don’t understand your current policy and feel that you are underinsured, speak to your insurance company and ask them to explain your policy in full.

If you’re currently without insurance and need care, you can call doctors, hospitals, and urgent care centers in your area and ask for prices. Often urgent care centers offer faster and more affordable care than hospitals or doctor’s offices. You can also ask your doctor to prescribe a generic version of a prescription you need or use a discount app to save on the cost.

The healthcare system is tricky at best to navigate, but if people continue to speak up about their difficulties, it’s likely that soon there will be a solution reached that can better benefit the American people.