|By all accounts, Robert Pear of the New York Times was one of the most relentlessly probing journalists on the health–care beat, enlightening readers and rankling partisans with the clarity of his reportage and his savantlike understanding of the federal government and its arcana. With a seemingly ever-present byline on Page One of the Times, Mr. Pear was a constant and authoritative presence in Washington for four decades. He died May 7 at 69 at a hospice center in Rockville, Md. The cause was complications from a severe stroke that he suffered April 29, said his brother, Doug Pear. [Robert was the quintessential journalist who was always fair and thorough. We will miss Robert’s kindness and his incredible devotion to informing the health reform debate. RIP.]
The GOP must narrow the Democratic health-care advantage. Too many people are too ready to believe that whatever Democrats offer on that front is better for the country. The GOP’s message for 2020 should emphasize the party’s strengths: taxes, jobs, regulatory relief, defense, energy and judges. But winning will also require Republicans to improve on health care. Unless Republicans make their case confidently and forcefully, the health-care issue could cost them victory in 2020.
Colin Rogers, 55, suffered a basilar artery occlusion on April 14, which he could have survived if he had undergone surgery which removes a blood clot from the brain. The University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff could have performed the procedure, but enough specialists staff were reportedly not available. Rogers died on April 18. His son Callum, 26, stated, “Although we don’t know what the outcome would have been, this potentially could have saved his life. My dad was denied the chance of survival as Wales does not have access to this treatment and doesn’t have any units. We were also told [by a stroke consultant] that if he fell ill on a weekday they would have had a chance to transfer him to a specialist unit in England. Because this was a Sunday it was impossible. To find this out is just gut-wrenching.”
A mother in Nova Scotia living with cancer is challenging Premier Stephen McNeil to meet with her after a years-long battle with the province’s health caresystem. In an emotional video posted to her Facebook page this week, Inez Rudderham said her cancer went undiagnosed for two years because she couldn’t access a family doctor to get a referral to an oncologist. By the time she was diagnosed, her cancer had progressed to its third stage. “I dare you to take a meeting with me, and explain to me, and look into my eyes and tell me that there is no health care crisis in my province of Nova Scotia,” said Rudderham, 33. Rudderham said she was turned away from emergency departments three times before her concerns were taken seriously.
Americans pay a lot for pharmaceuticals, and politicians of all stripes are offering prescription drug price-relief proposals to force prices downward. Top-down approaches, though, carry a high chance of failure. The astronomical price incorporates the massive up-front costs of testing and gaining FDA approval. The often erratic and unpredictable process can take 15 years and $1.5 billion. Most prospective drugs never make it to market. That’s much of what you’re paying for. Second, despite popular perception, drug manufacturers are only middle-of-the-road among American industries in terms of profitability. Employ blunt price controls, and you’ll likely cut industry profitability, drive investors away, and discourage development of new drugs.
Pharmacists and some health experts are opposing a legislative proposal to permit the wholesale bulk importation of drugs from Canada to Maine, arguing that it could result in unsafe drugs coming in to Maine and drug shortages in Canada. Kenneth McCall, past president of the Maine Pharmacy Association, said that trying to import Canadian price controls is a flawed model that would lead to drugs of dubious quality coming fromoverseas countries and unscrupulous sellers.
The Trump administration formally declared its opposition to the entire ACA on Wednesday, arguing in a federal appeals court filing that the signature Obama-era legislation was unconstitutional and should be struck down. The filing was made in a case challenging the law brought by Ken Paxton, the attorney general of Texas, and 17 other Republican-led states. In December, a federal judge from the Northern District of Texas, Reed O’Connor, ruled that the law was unconstitutional.
The Trump administration is making it a top priority to protect doctors, hospitals or other medical providers who object on a moral or religious basis to providing services like abortion, sterilization or assisted suicide. In a 440-page rule issued Thursday, the HHS Office of Civil Rights said it will use a broader array of tools to enforce more than two dozen “conscience protection” laws, some that have been on the books since the 1970s.
House Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a more moderate proposal for expanding health care coverage than M4All legislation supported by a number of the party’s 2020 presidential candidates. The Medicare for America Act, sponsored by Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), would not move the entire country into a single government-sponsored health plan. It would preserve employer-based coverage but allow Americans to enroll in an expanded Medicare plan, with caps on what people would have to pay in premiums.
The core appeal of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s Medicare for All proposals, whether it’s optional buy-ins floated by moderate Democrats or Sen. Bernie Sanders’s comprehensive single-payer reforms, is the notion that enormous savings could be generated by dispensing with private insurance. Advocates claim that that insurer profits, as well as costs associated with managing risk and advertising plans, could be dispensed with, and that hospital fees could be greatly reduced by imposing Medicare rates, which are 40% lower under the M4All plans.Yet, it is notable that no such savings ever have materialized—even under the most propitious of circumstances.