The Hearst-Owned Times Union has declared that it now supports Single Payer health care, apparently a stunning reversal of their Corporatist ideology. That reversal actually doesn’t mean a damn thing now that the Radical Re-pub Party in control of the country, and after the Hearst Rag did everything it could to help put their hero and role model Donald Pussygrabber Trump into the White House.
The Observation Deck
A Single Health Solution By TU Editorial Board on November 28, 2016 at 3:00 AM
An American family that needs to keep EpiPens on hand because a member of the household is prone to severe allergic reactions to food or bee stings has little choice but to pay the more than $600 cost of a two-pack – unless they are fortunate enough to live near Canada. A quick drive over the border can save them a whopping $500. This year the Pennsylvania-based drug maker Mylan deservedly became synonymous with corporate greed for hiking the price of an EpiPen two-pack from $93.88 to $608.61. It is the only manufacturer of the product.
For our neighbors to the north, though, the cost never spiked. That’s because Canada regulates drug prices.
In the U.S., Mylan CEO Heather Bresch earned the scorn of Congress and the public in August as she attempted to convince a House panel why the 500 percent price increase for EpiPens was justified. News that her pay and benefits rose from $2.5 million in 2007 to almost $19 million in 2015 further fueled the outrage. So it’s no surprise Mylan has declined a request to testify this week before a U.S. Senate committee to discuss allegations it had been overcharging the federal Medicaid program for years. The Justice Department is in talks with the drug maker to settle the matter for $465 million.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who called for the company to appear before his committee, is critical of the proposed settlement, calling it too soft on Mylan. Mr. Grassley somehow blames the EpiPen situation on the Obama administration, when it’s he and other Republican leaders in Congress who are at fault.
Rather than consider reasonable alternatives that would help keep down the cost of drugs to consumers – such as a single-payer system or a publicly-managed option – these lawmakers bow to the powerful health care, pharmaceutical and insurance industry lobbies. Those giant industries spend upwards of $400 million annually lobbying Congress. That’s one of the reasons the Affordable Care Act lacked the fundamental changes needed to better control the rapid rise in medical costs. A single-payer system or a public option – most Western nations have one of those features or the other – would allow the government to negotiate prices for drugs and medical devices, but Congress has been steadfast in its opposition.
With Republicans slated to control both the White House and Congress next year, they are looking to finally “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act. It will achieve little, however, if they simply revert to a health care model that for years brought even more onerous increases than we’ve seen under Obamacare. The EpiPen saga is emblematic of a key challenge Republicans face – to stand up to a powerful industry and devise a system Americans can afford. Sending people over the border so they can afford life-saving drugs should no longer be seen as a practical solution.