By Hollaine Hopkins
Health care cost containment is a critical issue facing every participant in the health care system. Efforts to contain costs, however, appear to have given rise to dangerous financial arrangements between health insurers and pharmacists that may be jeopardizing the health of California patients.
A loophole in California law allows your health insurer to give a financial kickback to your pharmacist every time the pharmacist switches your medication to older, cheaper, non-chemically equivalent drugs from those originally prescribed by your doctor, even without your knowledge.
By Diane Lefer
“The way the health care delivery system developed in this country has been a global scandal,” said Michael Hiltzik, author and Los Angeles Times columnist, as he concluded the community program he moderated August 22 on the effects of the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking at the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles, expert panelists acknowledged the obvious limitations of the act, which was found constitutional (for the most part) by the Supreme Court at the end of June. They also cited new benefits flowing from the legislation. But what became very clear was that there are steps we in California can take to make reform more meaningful even without action on the federal level.
By Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH
In an earlier OpEd I pointed out that according to the U.S. Constitution, the Federal government has no legal right to impose criminal law on marijuana both grown and sold within the State of California (Medical Marijuana and States Rights) Representative Bob Filner called on President Obama to reclassify medical marijuana as a legitimate controlled substance for medicinal purposes.
By Linda Leu
Health Access California
New US Census data released Tuesday includes information on income, poverty, and health insurance collected in 2010. The data showed an increase in the number of people who were uninsured, the number of people with health insurance increased to 256.2 million in 2010 from 255.3 million in 2009.
Between 2009 and 2010, the percentage of people covered by private health insurance declined from 64.5 percent to 64.0 percent, and as a result more people turned to public programs, as evidenced by the growth in the percentage covered by government health insurance increasing from 30.6 percent to 31.0 percent. The percentage covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 56.1 percent to 55.3 percent.
This decline in coverage has been most impactful in California, home to 6.987 million uninsured. Over last three years, 18.9% of Californians uninsured; Over last two years, that number is 19.4%
By Beth Capell
Over the years we have written about many proposed health care cuts and the impacts, both human and economic. After a thorough hearing about the health cuts, we write to describe proposed cuts that will result directly and quickly in patient deaths as well as homelessness and institutionalization.
People will die
Ten doctor, clinic and outpatient visits per year.
By Katie Gjertson
Rather than addressing our stagnant economy or drafting legislation that would put people back to work, Republicans made their first move this week in the 112th Congress by voting to repeal health care reform. The Republicans’ (and a few Democrats’) position is clear: they support denying coverage to children born sick, they support insurance company practices that drop people when they get ill and deny coverage because of deadly pre-existing conditions (like acne), and they definitely support higher drug costs for seniors.
On the day of the vote in the House of Representatives, constituents of the third Congressional District (Dan Lungren – R), the Sacramento Central Labor Council and HCAN coalition partners held a press conference in front of Rep. Lungren’s Elk Grove district office to challenge the congressman’s position of siding with the insurance companies over the people in his district.
By Scott Martelle
Protect Consumer Justice
Patients have been complaining for years that AstraZeneca’s Seroquel drug, prescribed to help control schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had serious and unacknowledged side effects, such as causing diabetes. The London-based firm has settled more than half of the complaints, including this announcement Monday that it was paying $198 million to settle 17,500 of the remaining 26,100 claims.
The money really is just a drop in the bucket for AstraZeneca, which took in $3.6 billion in 2007 from American Seroquel sales. And it said the settlement wouldn’t affect its dividend payout, an announcement that strikes me as an inadvertent statement about its corporate priorities — profit over patients’ health.
By Jason Kletter
Bay Area Addiction Research and Treatment
The governor has proposed to eliminate all Medi-Cal funding for drug treatment. On a single day this fall, the governor’s proposal would cut off methadone treatment for 35,000 heroin and prescription drug addicts. Intended to save state funds, the proposal would end up costing much more than it would save. California would immediately lose $61 million in federal matching funds to save $53 million in state funds. California would risk losing another $100 million in federal Substance Abuse Prevention&Treatment block grant funds, due to our failure to “maintain effort.”
By David Dayen
We saw during the health care debate a moment where Congressional Dems needed a revenue-raiser at the very end of the process, and then – perhaps only then – they turned to the progressive student loan reform that saved the government lots of money. A similar dynamic may save the jobs bill, or at least the jobs of 300,000 teachers.
We know that the Senate jobs bill faltered Thursday night, after Republicans and a couple Democrats refused to deficit spend. They’ve already rejected one revenue-raiser that would have significantly closed the gap – Bernie Sanders’ cancellation of $35 billion in fossil fuel subsidies. With House leaders growing angry at the Senate’s inaction, they’re considering putting another deal on the table – reaping savings from allowing quicker generic drugs.
By Anthony Wright
After a disastrous final ruling last week by the Board of Pharmacy basically gutting an earlier law of hers, Senator Ellen Corbett announced new legislation to create consumer friendly, readable, prescription drug labels.
Senator Corbett has amended Senate Bill 1390 to require pharmacies to provide language assistance to patients who have limited English proficiency, and use labels printed in a minimum 12 point font size, the suggested standard by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
Medication errors are among the most common medical errors, harming at least 1.5 million people each year. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 46 percent of adults cannot understand the information listed on their prescription drug labels.