Tag Archives: healthcare

Big Pharma Hones in On Children as the New Profit Center

Not that we at Progressive Action want to make Big Pharma and their nefarious deeds the focus of this blog, it seems that lately a plethora of disturbing trends with Big Pharma have surfaced and caught the eye of many critics.  We’ve looked at the poor quality research, lack of controlled clinical trials in new drugs, including the well documented trend of pharmacutical companies to place drugs on the market long before anyone knows the effects of the drugs — remember Phen-Fen, the supposed magical weight-loss drug that caused sudden death in millions?  Remember the anti-arthritis drug —- pulled from the market after it was shown to cause fatal cardiac arrest in users?

We’ve also posted reports on the collusion of Big Pharma with physicians who have basically become salesman.  No law exists to mandate the doctors disclose to their patients the financial relationship they have with the company manufacturing the drugs they proscribe.

We also posted an article that dealt with one psychologists’ experience in the field of psychology and his run-ins with the use of psychology and psychiatry to keep soldiers in combat zones longer.  Many claim that un-checked corporate power poses no problem to our society and that conversely regulation causes an un-needed burden that hampers profits, which hurts the economic health of the nation.  But Big Pharma provides the strongest argument in real time against this idea.  With widely unchecked access to the non-professional public and doctors through endless advertising, with their high revenue streams, the pharmecutical industry has managed to convince lay people, patients and even doctors that the resolution to a problem of mood, excitement, anxiety; all once thought of as warnings of a dysfunctional living pattern or a need to change one’s environment or behavior, is encapsulated in a pill.

The profits of Big Pharma are outstanding; they are one of the most profitable industries in America today.  Private health insurance companies once played along to provide high priced financing to middle Americans to purchase drugs at whatever cost pharma wanted to pay.  But they have begun to resist and deny payments for most high ticket drugs, leaving patients often scrambling to find the funds to pay for drugs whose lives hang on the affordability of such medications.  One of the largest stickers in Obama’s efforts to put together a single payer plan was the resistance of the well financed and powerful drug companies.  So we are told.

Most disturbing is the power over people’s sense of reality and well being that drug companies seem to have developed through the pushing of psychiatric medications.  Troubling evidence shows, as one article we posted, that the field of psychiatry and that health officials in the government and military are fully aware of the power of psychiatric drugs to make people compliant, passive zombies.

In the article linked below by Alternet, the newer trend in starting children early as drug users has many disturbing implications — the long term effects of such drug use is unknown and could be irreversible and also not mentioned in the thorough report (because how many angles can one writer take without writing a book?), is the increasing problem with prescription drug abuse among children.  Is it any wonder that children have come to believe that their problems not only are unacceptable and not something to deal with as the trials of everyday life, but that the solution lies in a pill?

One of the most important drivers to social rebellion and civil disobedience is a firm belief that something in the system is wrong.  This usually comes from suffering personally or witnessing a community suffer, the effects of a system, culture or society gone on the wrong track.  Whether its going against our internal social drive to commune and not kill, or the tendency to wish to act out against something wrong; we all have an internal conscience that when disturbed can cause all sorts of negative physical and psychological reactions.  Do we want to stunt this internal driver in us all to recognize right from wrong and want to do something about it?  Who or what exists in our present system that benefits from the status quo; benefits enough to make sure that nothing changes?

Below, Alternet has published an article showing the disturbing trend of using children as the next profit-center for Big Pharma.  This is especially disturbing since as we stated previously and was stated in articles posted here and all over the net, drug companies have nearly all but abandoned the practice of controlled clinical trials prior to release of a drug.   The use of manipulating parents to allow Big Pharma and greedy psychiatrists unfettered access to their children’s minds and bodies puts the illustration of corporate greed to a new Mengelesque level of low.

How Kids Are Getting Hooked on Pills for Life

Young children were once expected to outgrow their issues; now they’re diagnosed with lifelong psychiatric problems.
October 18, 2012  |  

Where do parents and teachers get the idea there’s something wrong with kids that only an expensive drug can fix? From Big Pharma’s seamless web of ads, subsidized doctors, journals, medical courses and conferences, paid “patient” groups, phony public services messages and reporters willing to serve as stenographers.

Free stenography for Pharma from sympathetic media includes articles like “One in 40 Infants Experience Baby Blues, Doctors Say,” on ABC News and “Preschool Depression: The Importance of Early Detection of Depression in Young Children,” on Science Daily .

For many, the face of the drugs-not-hugs message is Harold Koplewicz, author of the pop bestseller It’s Nobody’s Fault , and former head of NYU’s prestigious Child Study Center. In a 1999 Salon article, Koplewicz reiterated his “no-fault” statement, assuring parents that psychiatric illness is not caused by bad parenting. “It is not that your mother got divorced, or that your father didn’t wipe you the right way,” he said. “It really is DNA roulette: You got blue eyes, blond hair, sometimes a musical ear, but sometimes you get the predisposition for depression.”

Many regard the NYU Child Study Center, which Koplewicz founded and led before leaving in 2009 to start his own facility, as helping to usher in the world of brave new pediatric medicine in which children, toddlers and infants, once expected to outgrow their problems, are now diagnosed with lifelong psychiatric problems. The Child Study Center is “a threat to the health and welfare of children,” and its doctors are “hustlers working to increase their ‘client’ population and their commercial value to psychotropic drug manufacturers,” charged Vera Sharav , president of the watchdog group, Alliance for Human Research Protection.

Read the rest on Alternet

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Don’t Have Insurance? Don’t Get Care! Says NH Congressman Guinta

Yes, he said it, but he didn’t just say that he believes hospitals should have the right to turn away patients, but he also re-frames the question by saying, ‘if you are 25 years old and you are choosing…” Yeah. choosing, because you know purchasing a health insurance policy is as easy as buying a pair of sneakers, amirite?

So typical of the Tea Bagger, wing-nut claim, people choose to be poor and choose to have low-wage jobs and choose to not purchase health insurance.  Sort of like the collection agent who calls and demands that you pay off that bill even if that means your lights get shut off and your car gets re-po’ed because, hey didn’t you choose to get sick or injured, didn’t you kid choose that fever?

Sure and didn’t you choose to live in a country where gigantic mega-companies can rule your life and decide whether you paid your fee to stay alive and healthy today? Well, did you?  Because if you didn’t, Guinta’s got news for you; get out and don’t let the revolving door slam you in your crippled, sickened ass, moocher! (and that means grandma too).

From ThinkProgress:

Republican Congressman Says Hospitals Should Be Allowed To Turn Away Patients Who Don’t Have Insurance

By Scott Keyes on Oct 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH)

CONWAY, New Hampshire — Finding bipartisan agreement on any policy is a rarity these days, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have supported treating people who show up in the hospital, regardless of their ability to pay. Now, one Tea Party congressman is taking issue with that requirement.

Giving literal meaning to his state’s “Live Free Or Die” motto, Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH) was asked at a debate Thursday about a hypothetical 25-year-old who needs treatment in the emergency room but doesn’t have health insurance. Guinta’s said he opposed the requirement that hospitals should have to treat people who come in without insurance. “If you are 25 years old and you are choosing not to purchase insurance with the expectation of trying to get it free from the ER at Memorial,” Guinta said, “that shouldn’t be the case”:

Continue reading at Think Progress where there is video as well.

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Should New Hampshire Expand Medicaid?

Medicaid could cover many working families that cannot afford private insurance.

The primary goal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)* is to reduce the number of people without health insurance. One strategy to reach that goal is an expansion of Medicaid, so that more people will qualify for the government program.

In its recent decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that Congress cannot force states to expand Medicaid because states will pick up some of the cost of the expansion.

Many New Hampshire Republicans, including gubernatorial candidates Ovide Lamontagne and Kevin Smith, and House Speaker William O’Brien, have lined up to oppose any expansion of Medicaid. If this becomes the law in New Hampshire, it will be the triumph of ideology over common sense, and New Hampshire will have lost an opportunity to improve the health of its citizens, lower the cost of private health insurance, and boost the state’s economy.  Our state budget would not work without money from Washington. Federal funds make up 30% of the budget, while state tax revenues make up 34%.  User fees, licenses, court fines, and other non-tax revenue make up the rest.

In the past, politicians from both sides of the aisle have worked to take full advantage of federal dollars when crafting the state budget. Federal money usually comes with strings attached—some state dollars have to be contributed in order to qualify for the federal funds. Typically, the state and federal dollars are in approximately equal proportions, but sometimes one state dollar can leverage two or more federal dollars.

Medicaid is a federal/state program to provide health insurance to the needy. The vast majority of those on Medicaid are children, the disabled, and the elderly, including elderly in nursing homes who are unable to afford the cost of their care. The uninsured in America are primarily the working poor who lack health insurance because their employers do not offer it, or because the cost is beyond their budget.

Obamacare The ACA calls for Medicaid eligibility to be expanded to 133% of the federal poverty level. This means a family of four with household income up to $30,657 would qualify. Under current New Hampshire law, a poor family is eligible for Medicaid only if its income is less than 68% of the federal poverty level ($15,674). The federal government will pay 100% of the cost of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, 95% in the next three years, and 90% in the following three years.

Medicaid expansion would have three major benefits for New Hampshire. First, it is estimated that 20,000 people would become insured. Studies have shown that people with health insurance incur less in healthcare costs because they seek care earlier, before a condition has become acute. Better access to health care means healthier citizens. A recent study that compared states that have already expanded Medicaid (Maine, New
York and Arizona) with neighboring states that have not expanded Medicaid (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada and New Mexico) found that deaths dropped over 6% among those who gained Medicaid coverage.

We also should consider the benefits to New Hampshire businesses. Healthier workers are more productive, and take less sick time. Second, the cost of private health insurance will decrease as cost shifting is reduced. Under current federal law, hospitals cannot turn
away the uninsured who seek care at emergency rooms. Caring for the uninsured is not free. Those costs are included in the cost structure of hospitals, and passed on to those with private health insurance. Third, tens of millions of dollars of new federal money will be pumped into New Hampshire’s economy. Currently, New Hampshire gets back only 68 cents of each dollar in federal taxes paid by New Hampshire citizens. Accepting the Medicaid expansion money will help change that number, particularly if some states don’t take the money (and it appears that the states most likely to refuse the Medicaid expansion money are some “red” Republican states that get far more in federal dollars than they pay in federal taxes.) The economic impact of the new Medicaid money will be equivalent to the opening of a major new employer, with the benefits spread throughout the state and its 26 hospitals.

The debate over Medicaid expansion come down to this: should New Hampshire spend about $10 million a year in order to receive $90 million in federal dollars, if the new money will decrease the number of uninsured, improve the health of New Hampshire citizens, reduce costs for employers, decrease the cost of private health insurance, and boost our state’s economy?

To ask the question, you know the answer is “yes.” And you wonder how Ovide Lamontagne, Kevin Smith, Speaker O’Brien could possible say “no.”

– Mark Fernald

[We removed the right-wing label “Obamacare” and replaced where necessary with the proper descriptor, Affordable Care Act or ACA.  We at Progressive Action NH, strongly encourage writers to not adopt right-wing labels and talking points and although Obama has been the president during the proposal of this program, he personally did not think up the ACA  — his staffers copied Republican plans.]

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Just Die to Save a Republican Idea

The New Hampshire legislature, under the tyranny of O’Brien, have made the predictable move to use poor people as their pawns to make a political point.

Apparently in New Hampshire if you are so unfortunate as to not have health insurance because you fall below federal the poverty line, the Affordable Care Act will do precious little save you.

Not because the Obama administration wanted it that way, but because O’Brien and his pack of baying coyotes have decided that poor folks exist as political pawns, not humans entitled to the most basic care.

Under the Affordable Care Act, those whose income falls under 133% of the federal poverty line who still don’t qualify for Medicaid under existing state guidelines would qualify for an improved insurance pool called an “exchange” or would be qualified for an expanded Medicaid program.  For an example of how difficult qualification for any public program is, just check out these guidelines and rules here.  For some reason, a lot of people who’ve never had to get on assistance of any kind think that applying and qualifying (two entirely different activities, one you do the other you wait for) can be worked between a burger and fries on a lunch break.

Unfortunately a lot of middle class people who suddenly get very ill or lower middle class folks who never could afford insurance and suddenly get very ill learn very quick that public assistance is no cake walk.

But its a cake walk for politicians eager to make political points by scribbling a few noxious lines on a piece of legislation that could put the health and welfare of thousands of people on the losing end.

Currently O’Brien and his cronies have decided, as Senator Jim Forsythe from Strafford told the Foster’s Daily Democrat on Friday, that they will use the their refusal to participate in the insurance exchanges on the state level or the Medicaid expansion “As a way to obstruct ObamaCare.”

Hear that New Hampshire?  Your health and welfare doesn’t matter, all that matters is that you suffer enough to hate Obama.  The Republicans are banking on millions of ill people who won’t qualify for Medicaid coverage because the state Republicans are refusing to expand the coverage or put together a workable exchange program.

Republicans in New Hampshire, like Republicans in other states such as Texas and Florida, banked on the Supreme Court going their way and as a result sat on their hands when the time came to prepare for the changes.

Here’s the crux of it all; O’Brien, Forsythe and others hope that when a citizen gets sick and gets turned away until they are left struggling to the emergency room in the last minute, waiting buckled over in pain, that instead of wondering if they’ll make it through the next minute or hour; instead of contemplating why they can’t get basic medical care when the rest of the civilized world cares for its own; they are hoping instead those people will instead blame Obama’s program that they denied.

Here’s hoping that the majority of New Hampshire’s citizens have far better ability to understand basic ethics than the Republicans do.

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