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Saturday, September 25, 2004

Don't Read This Unless You Can Afford to Get Sick 

Oodles of useful links, as always, at Public Health Press:

1) You may recall that, before the passage of the Bush Medicare bill, a top Medicare actuary was intimidated by his bosses at HHS into withholding information about the program's true cost from Congress. Now it turns out that the FDA has been using the same kind of strongarm tactics to cover Big Pharma's capacious ass:
A Food and Drug Administration medical officer was told by top agency officials to delete material on the risks of antidepressant drugs from records he was submitting to Congress and then to conceal the deletions, according to documents released yesterday at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

A bipartisan House panel said the FDA also repeatedly prevented Andrew D. Mosholder from disclosing his conclusions that the medications increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior among children, potentially delaying the issuance of a public warning. During the day-long hearing, legislators repeatedly accused the agency of obfuscating the risks, slowing action and subjecting Mosholder to harassment.
2.) A Wall Street Journal article reported that uninsured patients, who can least afford exorbitant healthcare costs, often wind up paying vastly more, for the same (or worse) treatment, than patients who have either public or private insurance:
His bill for all the services involved turned out to be nearly $40,000 for services provided over a two day period. The hospital stay for Shipman was $29,500, double what would have been charged to Medicare and nearly five times as much charged to Medicaid. The doctor charge was eight times higher for Shipman than it would be for Medicare and more than six times higher than for Medicaid. The ambulance ride, stent and balloon were also from two to four times higher for the uninsured patient.
3.) According to Families USA:
States could lose $1.1 Billion in funding for health insurance for low income children if George Bush and Bill Frist don't reverse their current stance on funding of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program and pass legislation before September 30, 2004. That's enough money to cover nearly 750,000 children.
The funds evaporate this coming Thursday, and this is one case where a letter to Congress could really make a difference. Visit the Families USA link above for more information.

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