Why is healthcare so hard for our elected officials to fix?
The answer is that it’s all about the money. To get an idea of the magnitude of the problem, people need to understand that Americans spend over $1000 per year, per person on pharmaceuticals and over 70% of the population is taking medication. This is more than any other nation.
Ironically, for all our spending, it hasn’t increased our life expectancy-- we are currently, 26th in the world.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates the pharmaceutical industry. There is a revolving door of people who review the industry and leave the FDA to go and work for the pharmaceutical industry. I’m certain there’s no collusion or conflict of interest. For example, Congressman, Billy Tauzin, a Republican from Louisiana, chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 2001-2004. This committee oversees the FDA. He received over 1 million dollars in campaign contributions and pushed the Medicare Modernization Act.
This act prevents Medicare from negotiating a lower price for medications. It also prevents drugs which are manufactured here and exported to Canada at a lower price from being re-imported because this could potentially drive prices down.
Interestingly, Tauzin left Congress to run a big pharma company called PhRMA and was paid $2 million a year. Not to worry, Democrats are in on the action as well. Senator Max Baucus helped draft Obamacare. In fact, he was in charge of the legislation. His assistant as Chief Health Counsel was Elizabeth Fowler, a VP of Public Policy at the insurance company, Wellpoint. After Obamacare had passed, she got a job at Johnson and Johnson as Chief of Global Health Policy. The buck keeps rolling.
Pharmaceutical companies spend $240 million a year on ghost written drug trials. They run their own tests on their own drugs and then publish the results under the names of top researchers of medical journals who never tested the drugs. They have ridiculously high success levels when compared with legitimate tests. Most western cultures call this fraud.
They pay doctors to participate in surveys of medications that they don't actually prescribe. $42 million dollars a year are spent to this end, (an average per doctor of $61k a year) to push certain drugs from the industry whether they work or not. Doctors who write the guidelines for conditions like high cholesterol and ADHD receive money from drug manufacturers as well.
The opioid epidemic that kills 52k Americans a year led by Oxycontin is also in on the fix. The non-profit American Pain Foundation received 90% of its budget from medical companies and many of their board members have extensive ties to drug companies that lobby against the limits of opioid use. So here we have yet another example of big industry influencing a major part of the government with lobbyists and corruption with the full knowledge and consent of our elected officials.
Is there any doubt as to why the repeal and replace bills are hitting so many roadblocks? One only has to follow the money to see the answer.