Let’s Make Sure We Rigorously Uphold a Double Standard

Kamala Harris’ healthcare plan has dropped, and it’s basically Medicare-for-all in 10 years, paid for by taxes on those making more than $100K and Wall Street transactions. It also allows private insurers to offer plans.

It seems like a reasonable plan, as do most of the others on offer by the many different candidates. But, as far as I’m concerned, the best thing Harris has said about healthcare is her response when asked how Democrats would pay for it:

Where was that question when the Republicans and Donald Trump passed a tax bill that benefits the top one percent and the biggest corporations in this country?

As soon as a Democrat proposes a healthcare plan, the media expects them begin a thought experiment in which they transport themselves to a special place east of the sun, west of the moon, north of Endor and south of Narnia, where their plan is adopted verbatim. Then they’re supposed to have instant answers to technical questions, and take the heat for any possible bad outcomes.

When Trump opens his gaping maw to sputter out a lie about healthcare, the same media just fucking nods their heads.

Any response from a Democrat on healthcare has to start with pointing out that whatever their plan says, they won’t be trying to take insurance away from Americans, as the Republicans have tried to do, again and again, for the last decade.

In short, “we’re going to cover more Americans and make it more affordable – details to come” should be a good enough “healthcare plan” when the other side is making little or no effort to do anything but prop up an expensive system that doesn’t work for a whole lot of people. Yet we’re starting down a path where we’re going to get wrapped around the axle of the little details of what Biden wants versus what Bernie wants versus Mayor Pete, etc.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a damaging waste of time?








Open Thread: ‘KamalaCare’ (and Its Attackers)

I’m sure more knowledgeable commentors will have more to say about this proposal, but IMO, it’s not a bad starting point…

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76 Billion Pills

This is a stunning piece of reporting in the Washington Post:

America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control, according to previously undisclosed company data released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history.

The information comes from a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States — from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 through 2012.

Just six companies distributed 75 percent of the pills during this period: McKesson Corp., Walgreens, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS and Walmart, according to an analysis of the database by The Washington Post. Three companies manufactured 88 percent of the opioids: SpecGx, a subsidiary of Mallinckrodt; ­Actavis Pharma; and Par Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Endo Pharmaceuticals.

I’m assuming most people are like me, who have used pain pills like these, but mostly after a major incident or surgery. I have not been prescribed a pain pill since my shoulder accident and surgery, and that was in 2009-2010. Prior to that, I don’t remember anything for at least a decade. So over the course of a 20 year period, I was probably prescribed 100 pills, if that. And again, I am assuming that most people are like me or have had even fewer scripts. Then you have chronic pain sufferers, who obviously need the meds. But again, I would suspect that while there are probably more people you know who have consistent chronic pain, it is nowhere near accounting for this number of pills.

You also have to take into account how people deal with pain. My shoulder hurts every single day. At least 2-3 times every night I wake up with it locked in place, causing sharp stabbing feelings until I can slowly move it and loosen it up and fall back asleep. I’m eventually going to have another surgery to deal with it. But there are a number of reasons why I don’t ask for or take anything for it, not even otc stuff. I have an addictive personality, I am already an alcoholic, so I just don’t think it is wise for me to introduce a powerful narcotic into my daily life. Second, I don’t like how they make me feel. I feel groggy and cloudy (I remember brushing my teeth with soft soap a couple of times confusing it with toothpaste), I get a horrible histamine effect after a couple days and am itchy and sweaty, they make me constipated, and I found after surgery years ago they don’t actually make the pain go away so much as just get me stoned so that I am not focusing on it. Third, I don’t NEED to be pain free. I’m not digging ditches or lifting boxes for a living- were I exposing myself to that sort of labor every day, like, say, a coal miner with a bad back or an auto worker with bad knees, I might think differently. Fourth, I have found that other things help more- a hot shower, stretching, etc. Finally, and I guess this is just me, but life isn’t pain free. I’m almost 50. I’ve fallen off roofs, been through windshields twice, fallen off of tanks, slipped on ice, beaten up in street brawls, hit over the head with a bottle, played contact sports for two decades, etc. Some things are just going to fucking hurt no matter what I do.

Having said all that, I still find the number of pills to be MIND BOGGLING. The geographic distribution is interesting, too:

Again, that is pain pills PER YEAR. That can not all be explained away by manual labor and populations that have higher numbers of dangerous vocations. It appears (and I am just making shit up here- I have nothing to back this up) that pain pills were dumped in places in lieu of social policies. Again, just amazing.








Insulin Insanity

These stories are becoming more and more frequent:

As their minivan rolled north, they felt their nerves kick in — but they kept on driving.

At the wheel: Lija Greenseid, a rule-abiding Minnesota mom steering her Mazda5 on a cross-border drug run.

Her daughter, who is 13, has Type 1 diabetes and needs insulin. In the United States, it can cost hundreds of dollars per vial. In Canada, you can buy it without a prescription for a tenth of that price.

So, Greenseid led a small caravan last month to the town of Fort Frances, Ontario, where she and five other Americans paid about $1,200 for drugs that would have cost them $12,000 in the United States.

For profit medicine is a fucking disaster. The “profit” of a good medical system is a healthy and productive populace, a society where people can allocate their resources to productive things rather than being gouged for medicine and medical procedures, and where people are not miserable and stressed out about medical bills.

I am not god emperor, but if I were, the very first fucking thing I would do is mandate single payer, nationalize the production of critical drugs in which there is no research and development being done to improve the drugs but just straight up price gouging, and ban health insurance for anything but elective procedures. Because it’s been my experience that a large and vocal portion of the medical community are entitled whiny ass titty babies who think they deserve millions of dollars per year and will do anything to preserve their wealth and status, a belief in part created by the ridiculous costs of medical school and the absolutely insane practice of grueling residencies, I would nationalize medical school, too, and then cap salaries. I’d also expand the number of nurses and technicians who do the actual bulk of the work in the medical industry.

This will displace a bunch of people in the insurance industry and medical admistration and elsewhere, and that’s just fucking fine- we will need a robust regulatory community to keep an eye out for fraud and abuse. That should create a few jobs. And the flunky pretty boy douchebags and their cheerleader counterparts who flocked to pharmaceutical sales will just have to find honest work somewhere.

And don’t come at me bashing the VA saying this would be no better- veterans love the VA. A few fucking loudmouths don’t.

The end. There’s your fucking marching orders. Make it happen.








To the Repubs, Women Aren’t People

(Support the artist / get your swag here)

The only tiny sliver of consolation is that the GOP may have ham-fisted themselves firmly into ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ territory. Dahlia Lithwick, at Slate“SCOTUS was all teed up to quietly gut America’s abortion rights. Then Alabama happened”:

There are easy and near invisible ways for the high court to end Roe. That has always been, and remains, the logical trajectory. As Mark Joseph Stern has shown, when Brett Kavanaugh came onto the court, with his dog whistles and signaling around reproductive rights, it became clear that he would guide the court to simply allow states to erect more and more barriers to abortion access (dolphin-skin window coverings on every clinic!). The five justices in the majority would do it all while finding ways to say that such regulations were not an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose. The courts and state legislatures could continue their lilting love songs to the need for the states to protect maternal health and to help confused mommies make good choices, and nobody need dirty their hands by acknowledging that the three decades’ worth of cumbersome clinic regulations and admitting privileges laws were just pretexts for closing clinics and ending abortion altogether.

But the state of Alabama runs now to the Supreme Court with its mask of tender solicitude for women and their health askew. The briefest look at the debate as Alabama on Tuesday passed the cruelest and most punitive abortion regulation in modern American history shows exactly how much concern they have for the health of pregnant women or the suffering of future children…

Why, then, do I feel sorry for John Roberts? Because what keeps the Supreme Court in business is often the polite subterfuge of complex legal doctrine. We don’t so much suppress minority votes as protect the dignity of the states. We don’t so much enable dark money to corrupt elections as invite free speech. And we don’t so much punish women for bearing children as celebrate God and babies. This is all the kind of democracy-suppressive language the justices can get behind. It’s why Americans don’t riot on the streets…

Just as President Obama’s election exacerbated, and exposed, the ugliest racist undercurrents of modern America, Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote in 2016 unleashed the never-very-hidden misogyny and sexual terrors of entirely too many of our fellow citizens. Sunlight is not the swiftest disinfectant, but we can’t cure the rot until we can see how deeply it’s embedded.
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