Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, published a column today in the Wall Street Journal. The article, entitled “ObamaCare Isn’t Inevitable,” derides President Obama’s ideas of a public option for health insurance and blames the inability of Congress to put together health care reform on the American people.

Citing a Resurgent Republic (a group he calls a “nonprofit, right-of-center education organization” whose creation he assisted with) poll released Tuesday, Rove declares that “by a 60%-to-31% margin, Americans prefer getting their health coverage through private insurance rather than the federal government.”

Hold on, Mr. Rove. A New York Times/CBS News poll was released on Saturday, and its findings are a bit different:

The national telephone survey…found that 72 percent of those questioned supported a government-administered insurance plan — something like Medicare for those under 65 — that would compete for customers with private insurers…The proposal received broad bipartisan backing, with half of those who call themselves Republicans saying they would support a public plan, along with nearly three-fourths of independents and almost nine in 10 Democrats.

So if it has such broad support, why hasn’t health care reform made much progress since it began a little less than a month ago? The answer: lobbyists. Remember how the American Medical Association (AMA) told Congress it “does not believe creating a public health insurance option… is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs”? Well since the 2000 election cycle, its political action committee has contributed $9.8 million to Congressional candidates.

This weekend, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus is taking a break from health care reform to hold a fundraiser, where lobbyists can pay thousands to hang out with the senator. Our own Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s Legislative Representative, recently told CQ Politics:

It’s unseemly to be doing this just before the markup [of Baucus’ draft health care bill]…This kind of schmoozing of lawmakers clearly buys influence.

When the AMA, insurers and pharmaceutical companies get involved, they are going to look out for the best interests of those they represent, and that isn’t the American people.

health care use

We’ve said it again and again: Congress cannot exclude single-payer advocates from the debate on health care reform. At meetings and rallies around the country, Americans have demanded to know why Congress has not considered single-payer, the most popular health reform proposal around. On June 11, Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program testified before the full Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions – the first time all year someone advancing single-payer had been allowed to participate in the Senate discussion of health care reform.

At the time, we said Dr. Flowers’ testimony wasn’t enough. A great deal of misinformation was still floating out there about single-payer that Congress had not yet addressed. But today, our own Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research group and our acting president, was invited to testify in front of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce about the single-payer option.

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A few weeks ago, the Food and Drug Administration announced a new internal task force that would examine how the agency can become more transparent. The group would seek suggestions from employees, stakeholders and the public in an effort to reach the best conclusions about how the FDA could become more accessible. (For an overview of what the FDA does and does not regulate, see this Time article.)

Sure enough, the FDA has lived up to its promise. Today, Public Citizen’s own Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of our Health Research Group, is representing American consumers with testimony before the task force. While current FDA procedures favor secrecy so that drug companies can keep competitors in the dark about products being developed, Dr. Lurie will make three recommendations before the task force that will allow the FDA to become more open to the public.

First, Dr. Lurie will recommend that pre-approval documents should be made available to the public. This will prevent scientists from researching products similar to those that, unbeknownst to them, prior research has deemed unsafe, squandering time and money going down roads already proved to be dead ends. In addition, making this information public can save clinical trial participants from being put at needless risk by enrolling them in research likely to prove fruitless.

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Remember the report we issued on May 27 that outlined the failures of hospitals to report and discipline poor doctors? Well so do Charlie Gibson and ABC News because they covered our findings last night.

Watch the video here.

Our report found that nearly 50 percent of all hospitals in the United States failed to submit a single report to the National Practitioner Databank since its creation in 1990. The Databank was created to keep track of bad doctors by listing any practitioner who had their admitting privileges revoked or suspended for 31 days or more. That way, a hospital could easily check any doctor’s background before hiring him or her.

But this system has failed the very people it was trying to protect. Hospitals routinely exploit loopholes to avoid government requirements, such as the need to report to the Databank.

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