The Ohio presidential primary is about a month away and I’ve begun the process of trying to decide which candidate will get my vote. Since most Americans claim that healthcare is the most important issue for them, that’s where I began my study.
Healthcare is not an easy thing to understand for someone like me. I don’t consider myself a bean counter and I’m driven more by idealism than reality. For example, in my heart of hearts, I want a single-payer, universal system where healthcare is a human right and not a single American has to live without it. You have a sore toe and think it needs professional attention, you go to the doc, get it looked at, and it doesn’t cost you a penny.
Everyone should know that the costs of pharmaceutical medicines in America are out of control. I’ve used this example several times and it is nothing special, just what millions of Americans experience every time they go to the drug store. A friend found himself suddenly facing a needed life-altering drug that runs him over $1,900 a month.
While I don’t know any of the manufacturer’s arguments for that drug costing so much I can easily assume, and likely be correct, that a degree of excessive profiteering is somewhere in the formula.
Medicare for all is a hot topic with progressive Democrats pushing for it and conservative Republicans falsely referring to it as communism and claiming it will bankrupt the nation.
Well, back in the fight over Obamacare days I did some checking and read a book or two about comparative health care systems. While I don’t remember much of the details I do remember the general knowledge I acquired. Lesson learned number one is that lots of countries have far better systems than America. Number two is that withing America the most efficient systems are the VA and Medicare. Both of which, by the way, are socialists systems and extremely popular.
The Washington Post recently forced the Drug Enforcement Agency to open up its databases regarding the sale and distribution of prescription pain killers in America. The information can be broken down into states and individual counties and includes the drug manufacturers, distribution companies, and leading pharmacies.
In the State of Ohio during the period 2006 to 2012, there were 3,397,979,780 (billions) prescription pain pills supplied to Ohio’s pharmacies. Here’s a more detailed break down for Highland County and its neighbors. NOTE: Information from 2013 to 2019 is yet to be made public. Also, you may notice the name McKesson as being a major distributor. McKesson is the company who has a distribution center outside Washington Court House.
Highland: From 2006 to 2012 there were 7,388,100 prescription pain pills, enough for 57 pills per personper year, supplied to Highland County, Ohio.
Fayette: From 2006 to 2012 there were 10,553,020 prescription pain pills, enough for 52 pills per person per year, supplied to Fayette County, Ohio.
Clinton: From 2006 to 2012 there were 17,287,730 prescription pain pills, enough for58 pills per person per year, supplied to Clinton County, Ohio.
Ross: From 2006 to 2012 there were 35,275,018 prescription pain pills, enough for 65 pills per person per year, supplied to Ross County, Ohio.
Adams: From 2006 to 2012 there were 12,172,090 prescription pain pills, enough for61 pills per person per year, supplied to Adams County, Ohio
One aspect of American history that is pretty simple to understand is the history of government-sponsored health care. The short and long answers are the same, there hasn’t been much. There was an early program for seaman, another for impoverished former slaves, a little attention given to some mentally ill people, and that’s about it until Medicare and Medicaid were passed in 1965. There were earlier attempts and while progressive health care programs became realities elsewhere in the world the doctors of America, and their American Medical Association were vehemently opposed to what they saw as insidious socialism.
I’ve taken Ambien for years to help me go to sleep. Sleep was never a problem until a couple of back to back surgeries about ten years ago. As many of you know, Ambien has side effects that include sleep walking. We’ve talked about this before and many of you Ambien users have such stories to share.
Anyway, couple of months ago I decided to try something different and my doctor wrote me a script for Lunesta. While it did put me to sleep it left such a horrible aftertaste in my mouth that I just had to give it up and go back to Ambien. So here’s my latest Ambien story.
By whatever name they’re called there are 3,142 counties in the United States. Every single county in the U.S. registered an increase in drug-related mortality between 1980 and 2014. And that rise was statistically significant in 99.8 percent of counties.
The tragedy of these facts and figures is that the obvious failure of what has become known as the War on Drugs can be traced at least back to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The war got heated in 1971 under Nixon and again in the 1980s with Reagan.
RISING DRUG COSTS: Californians have been notified that the cost of generic glaucoma drugs will rise by 64% and one asthma med will increase 50% on May 1. How can such increases be justified and explained?
During the years I taught government another teacher and myself would invite state politicians to discuss our classes about the realities of being a politician. We had both a Democrat and a Republican and they always did a wonderful job.
One question always asked by students was some form of, “How’s come you guys don’t do thus and thus?” The standard answer was always, “OK, I’ll do that, just give me the money.” People want to believe government functions on air and politicians can just wave their hands and things happen. Of course, the reality is that everything takes money and the most common source of money for government is taxes.
I love it when ignorance comes home to bite people on the butt cheek. Such is becoming a frequent reality as the truth of the Trump campaign promises unfold. One example is that 35% of Americans don’t know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Obamacare are the exact same things. Same thing, different names. Ironically lots of those who supported the conservative right favored the ACA but were dead set opposed to Obamacare.
OPIOIDS: A truly ridiculous amount of prescription opiates have been sent to West Virginia from 2007 to 2012: 555,808,292 doses of hydrocodone and 224,260,980 doses of oxycodone. That’s 433 pills for every person in the state over that time span.
TOBACCO: 870 billion is the number of cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris annually. The company has invested $3 billion into tobacco vaporizers, already available in some overseas markets, and plans to have the product in 20 markets this year. BTW, PM has announced it may be planning on exiting the cigarette business.
Not that there is any less but, back in the early days of the Obama administration there was lots of controversy regarding America’s health care system. In trying to sort through all the claims and myths about how other nations approached it I read a book by a researcher who had been hired by some institution to visit certain countries and evaluate their systems.
I don’t recall many details but I do remember that Canada and Taiwan were near the top of the best ten list. Some of the other countries he investigated were Germany, England, France, and the US. At no surprise the US ranked at the bottom of the list. Not because of poor health services and facilities but because it was too expensive for too many Americans.