By Katie Kieffer
Forget “fake news,” America’s epidemic is fake healthcare where cancer patients can’t obtain immunotherapy while taxpayers are forced to bankroll $8,000 drugs to treat minor conditions.
Welcome to life as a sick person seeking treatment—or a healthy person seeking catastrophic health insurance—in House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s America (a.k.a. Chocolate Factory).
Republicans have one chance to repeal fake healthcare (otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare). But, even as you read this column, Pelosi is hustling to market a new anti-healthcare reform campaign: “Make America Sick Again.”
Cry me a river. Democrats corrupted the American healthcare system even further; baited Millennials to bankroll their broken plan; and now they’re launching a campaign to blame Republicans for their mess—a mess for which not a single Republican voted.
If Republicans cower in fear as they are prone to do, Pelosi will corral the Democrats into destroying our healthcare system beyond repair. Here’s the urgent call-to-action that we need to send our congressional Republicans:
Nancy Pelosi’s Chocolate Factory
“I am addicted to chocolate,” Pelosi told the New York Times in 2006 when asked if she had “issues.” “Ice cream for breakfast,” she added, was part of her diet. Eight years later, in 2014, the Times reported: “Ms. Pelosi ate whole pints of chocolate ice cream, including for breakfast.” Actually, Pelosi has been eating chocolate and chocolate ice cream almost “constantly” since the age of five—by her own admission.
Eating pints of chocolate ice cream for breakfast for a quarter century takes its toll. Whatever the reason, Pelosi appears to be a bit ill. She almost looks like a weary, 76-year-old grandmother who should have retired from politics a decade ago. Oh. Wait…
Why should Pelosi tell young people in my Millennial generation—or even our parents, the Baby Boomers—how to be healthy when she never advanced beyond the age of five in terms of health-consciousness?
When we had a chance to “find out what is in it,” we learned Pelosi’s pet piece of legislation is really a Pandora’s box. Young people already facing high unemployment now face health insurance sticker shock—as premiums rise 50% on average and often closer to 179%. It’s no surprise that even Politico recently warned that Obamacare has a “Millennial problem.”
The GOP has one solid chance to stop this woman—who is the picture of nutritional dysfunction—from telling you and me how to be “healthy.”
Buy-and-Raise: $200 Drugs for $8,000
Wall Street has a name for a dirty business practice that escalated under the Obama administration wherein drug companies charge the American taxpayers fake, or inflated, prices for decades-old drugs that should retail, at most, for $200. The term is “buy-and-raise.”
Drug companies got everything they wanted in Obamacare thanks to slick negotiation from big Pharma lobbyist Billy Tauzin. Obama, congressional Democrats and Tauzin collaborated to ram the unconstitutional bill through congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote. (I encourage you to learn the full story of “Pimp Daddy Tauzin” and Obamacare.)
Unfortunately, drug companies gained at the price of patients. 300 doctors—whom I personally interviewed—say Obamacare will raise costs and lower the quality of healthcare for young Americans.
Buy-and-raise, the Los Angeles Times reported last month, is a practice that drug companies are utilizing to inflate prices by 1,000%.
Here’s how it works: drug companies offer patients “co-pay coupons” for common drugs like a simple skin cream called, Alcortin A and a basic pain reliever, Vimovo. The drugs retailed for $189 and $115 respectively less than two years ago. Today, they retail for $7,968 and $2,061 respectively. Patients and doctors rarely see the true sticker price as the drugs are covered by many insurance plans and drug companies give patients co-pay coupons that allow them to pay a negligible amount while, as the Los Angeles Times reports: “leaving America’s health system to pick up the rest of the price.”
Taxpayers like you are picking up a hefty price indeed. Researchers from UCLA, Harvard and Northwestern recently found that drug companies have been reimbursed “as much as $2.7 billion” more “over five years” than “if the coupons were not used,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
Profits from buy-and-raise tactics are padding the salaries of drug executives more often than saving patient lives. Horizon CEO Timothy Walbert’s compensation package increased by a factor of ten from 2014 to 2015 to $93.4 million. Drugs like Alcortin A and Vimovo cost drug companies little to make as they are based on ingredients discovered decades ago, but patients will not question five-figure costs that they never see.
Almost 14 million Americans have cancer. Many patients only find remission if they are lucky enough to participate in one of the small and selective immunotherapy trials taking place throughout the country. Consider that it typically costs $200,000 per person per year for an immunotherapy trial. Imagine how many more cancer patients we could help if we weren’t paying over $7,000 extra for a common rash cream.
Here’s what the GOP must do—right now.
Insurers Need Competition from Employers
If Republicans follow the lead of House Speaker Paul Ryan who passed a $1.15 trillion spending bill—outspending even Pelosi when she ran the House as a Democrat—they’ll try to “fix” Obamacare by dumping more taxpayer dollars at the problem.
Republicans lose elections when they cower in the corner and spend instead of shutting down defunct aspects of the government. So if Republicans do what some reports suggest—and issue a token repeal of Obamacare and then wait up to two years to implement a replacement for fear of angering those who are on Obamacare—history tells us that voters will not be kind to Republicans in the 2018 midterms.
There are many sustainable ways to offer affordable and high-quality healthcare coverage to some 30 million Americans who didn’t have healthcare coverage before they joined the Obamacare exchanges. One solution is to create competition for insurance companies and force them to raise their game. Employers could “compete” with insurance companies by offering health savings accounts (HSAs) to their employees instead of traditional health insurance.
HSAs would particularly benefit the portion of the population that contains a high number of uninsured individuals: Millennials. Why? Because an employee owns their own HSA, accrues funds toward their future healthcare costs while they are still healthy—and keeps their contributions if they switch employers (as Millennials often do).
“The HSA account is funded by pre-tax payroll deduction. Using 2016 contribution limits, this would amount to $128.85 deducted every 2 weeks ($3,350 per year) for an individual or $259.62 deducted every 2 weeks ($6,750 per year) for family coverage. …There are no insurance premiums to be paid, outrageous deductibles to be met, or endless co-pays at the doctor’s office. … This is an especially strong benefit for young healthy Millennials,” explains SustainableHealthcareReform.org.
Pelosi just ordered an “ethics probe” into president-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department—orthopedic surgeon Rep. Tom Price (R-GA). Unlike Paul Ryan, Price scares Pelosi because he has a clear plan to repeal and replace Obamacare that involves expanding HSAs, increasing tax credits and slashing “goodies” like the ability for young people to remain on their parents’ plan until they well into adulthood (26-years-old).
When you eat your dessert first, like Pelosi, you simply don’t have enough energy for the “meat and potatoes” work that Price proposes. Work that would actually reform healthcare.
Share this article with your loved ones—and tell one and all to tweet, Facebook and call their elected representatives with this message: we’re done with fake healthcare; we’re done with subsidizing Nancy Pelosi’s chocolate factory; we expect real reform.