Big Pharma

Meant to get to this last week, but Time had a great article on how Big Pharma totally got their way in health care reform.  There's a reason they are willing to spend millions of dollars in ads in support of reform.  The details– well worth reading– are largely about how they won (bought) the rights to keep new biologics (drugs made from organic material) from facing generic competition for a dozen years.  My favorite part, though, is simply this litany of awe-inspiring statistics on their lobbying efforts:

It's understandable the drugmakers would want a roll-call accounting of
who their friends and enemies are, considering the size of the
investment they are making on Capitol Hill: in the first six months of
this year alone, drug and biotech companies and their trade
associations spent more than $110 million — that's about $609,000 a day
— to influence lawmakers, according to figures compiled by the
nonpartisan watchdog group Center for Responsive Politics. The drug
industry's legion of registered lobbyists numbers 1,228, or 2.3 for
every member of Congress. And its campaign contributions to current
members of Waxman's committee have totaled $2.6 million over the past
three years.

Is it any wonder they ended up getting the legislation they wanted regardless of whether it will be best for American consumers or our health care system as a whole? (Which, by the way, is worth your 3 minutes to read since I'm not going to summarize it).

Eat more veal!

Bet you didn't expect that from me.  Either did I.  Fascinating story in today's Post:

This is not that veal: the mostly flavorless meat from calves
raised in crates so small they can't turn around. Humanely raised veal
— sometimes called pasture-raised, sometimes called rose veal because
of its color — comes from calves that drank their mother's milk and
ate pasture grass. Its producers argue that if male calves, an
otherwise useless byproduct of the dairy industry, are not ethically
raised for meat, they are sold to less-humane veal producers or

And this paragraph really got to me:

Most important, dairy cows must give birth to provide milk. Their male
calves are unsuitable for beef production and too costly to keep on the
farm. "It's a resource that needs to be utilized," said Nancy
Pritchard, who raises calves at Smith Meadows Farm in Berryville, Va.
Or to put it more bluntly, as producer Sandy Miller of Painted Hand
Farm in Newburg, Pa., does: If you consume dairy, you should eat veal.

I've never knowingly had any veal, but I think I'm going to have to try and find the humane variety.

My health care company wants to limit my options

What a treat to get the following piece of mail from Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina:



(image courtesy TPM)


Who wants that?  I sure do.  I'm supposed to join with BCBS and send this to Kay Hagan, why?  Because I support BCBS NC's monopoly on the individual market for health insurance in North Carolina?  Because I support them as the only health insurance option for the thousands of teachers and public employees in this state?  Because next time I get in a fight with them over whether they want to cover Alex's therapy I should be glad I have no other options?  Right.

Even more maddening, BCBS is actually a non-profit.  Apparently, though, they can use up to 25% of their non-profit profits to spend on grassroots lobbying like this.  So glad to know that my premiums can be higher and that this year's copays for specialists doubled so that BCBS NC has the money to send out these mailers to everybody.

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