Will Health Care In The U.S. Improve? Ever?
by DownWithTyranny, Thu Feb 16, 2006 at 08:57:29 PM EST
The day I first met Howard Dean I didn't know much about him. He hadn't broken into double digits in the polls yet but he had offered to make it real easy for me by coming to my house for breakfast. He understood why half a papaya with blueberries, pecans and flaxseeds were way better for him than pancakes and a slab of bacon. And he told me something that turned me into a Deaniac on the spot. He told me why he got into politics and what he wanted to accomplish in politics-- basically the same thing. As an M.D., Dean was more aware of the shortfalls in the American medical system and the medical insurance system than any politician I had ever spoken too and when he talked about fixing it he talked about what he knew. Now all moderates and even relatively reactionary politicians are giving at least lip service to his ideas. But Bush neither fits "moderate" nor "relatively" reactionary.
According to my doctor, almost 50% of Americans living today will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. The day that happens is a really scary one-- as bad as looking up and seeing a stewed and cockeyed Dick Cheney lunging at you with a 28-gage shotgun. Today I still had Dick "above-the-law" Cheney on the brain when I abandoned my computer and headed out into the world. Randi Rhodes wasn't on yet so I tuned in KCRW, the local NPR affiliate, and I heard a story worse than Dick Cheney's murderous shooting rampage.
Turns out Genentech, part of a multinational pharmaceutical behemoth, has a drug, Avastin, developed to treat colon cancer, that seems to work real well on other types of cancer, like breast cancer and lung cancer, two of the biggest killers in America-- like a gazillion times bigger than people dying from planes being flown into buildings. Kind of arbitrarily-- and they do have a monopoly on it-- Genentech has decided to charge $100,000 a year for the drug. While you absorb that, also absorb that it was developed with taxpayer dollars and that there's a law that says if a drug is developed with taxpayer dollars it has to be sold for a "reasonable price." Oh, and Big Pharma donates $30 million annually to politicians to make sure they get to define the word "reasonable."
Genentech already brings in over a billion dollars a year from Avastin but they'd like to bring in $7 billion. And that's what friends are for. The corporations get taken care of and wealthy cancer patients are OK and the politicians get their cut-- mostly, but not exclusively, Republicans-- and... middle and working class cancer patients... well, they can just go die. They should have worked harder and prayed to Jesus harder. And besides, some of them are insured. Of course with annual co-pays of between $10,000 and $20,000 a year, that's still a stiff one to swallow... if you're not a Bush or a Cheney.
And it doesn't actually cure anything; it just prolongs your life. If you can't pay for it, well you'd die sooner or later anyway. What's a few extra months or years if you're poor anyway?
CROSS-POSTED FROM DOWN WITH TYRANNY