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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/19/16

Does Bernie Sanders' Single-Payer/Medicare-for-all sound good now?

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What will it take for most Americans to see the light?It will likely take the death of close loved ones from middle-class Americans with insurance to slap some single-payer sense into Americans.

According to IMS, U.S. prescription drug spending will hit $400 billion a year by 2020. Reuters report the following.

U.S. annual spending on prescription medicines will increase 22 percent over the next five years, climbing as high as $400 billion in 2020, according to a report released by health care information company IMS Health Holdings Inc on Thursday. Those figures, which take into account anticipated discounts, rebates and other price concessions that have become common, represent an annual growth rate of 4 percent to 7 percent through 2020, according to the report.

Absorb the following. The inflation rate has averaged 1% over the last ten years. Drug prices have been growing at 4 to 7%. Pharmaceutical companies grow their revenues and profits not based on increased cost but on the desire to extract more profits irrespective of market conditions. According to WSJ

Demand for a drug called Avonex has declined every year for the past 10. Not a problem for its manufacturer. U.S. revenue from the drug has more than doubled in that time, to $2 billion last year. The key: repeated price increases. The multiple sclerosis drug's maker, Biogen Inc., raised its price an average of 16% a year throughout the decade--21 times in all. It is an example of drug companies' unusual ability to boost prices beyond the inflation rate to drive their revenue, even when demand for the drugs doesn't cooperate. A result of this pricing power is that across 30 top-selling drugs sold by pharmacies, U.S. revenue growth has far outpaced demand in the past five years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of corporate filings and industry data. Revenue growth averaged 61%, three times the increase in prescriptions.

Understand what all of this means. Americans are being fleeced. But it is deeper. It is a systemic problem. It is legal robbery based on a system that has allowed healthcare to be a profit center. Our health care system redistributes the wealth of the masses to the wealthy few that own most of the drug companies and our health care system. We all get sick and as such do not have many choices but to acquiesce to the extortion.

It is a lie that these high prices lead to better drugs. They result in richer people at the top. After all, the taxpayer invests in a substantial number of drug research and studies yet partake in none of the profits.

Major U.S. drug companies and their Washington, D.C. lobby group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), have carried out a misleading campaign to scare policy makers and the public. PhRMA's central claim is that the industry needs extraordinary profits to fund expensive, risky and innovative research and development (R&D) for new drugs. If anything is done to moderate prices or profits, R&D will suffer, and, as PhRMA's president recently claimed, "it's going to harm millions of Americans who have life-threatening conditions." But this R&D scare card -- or canard -- is built on myths, falsehoods and misunderstandings, all of which are made possible by the drug industry's staunch refusal to open its R&D records to congressional investigators or other independent auditors.

How does the drug company get away with this legalized theft? In addition to the lobbying Congress, they brainwash Americans into the false belief that they are receiving some benefit for an overpriced product. The astounding amount of money they invest in advertising and marketing is probative. Yet, Americans live no longer than most in the industrialized world.

Ultimately the only solution is a single-payer / Medicare-for-all system where drug companies are regulated stricter than utility companies. If they find that too restrictive, R&D can be relegated to solely to public Universities and manufacture to the lowest bidder.

Drug companies sole desire is to make a profit. Humanity plays no role. Why then should anyone believe they will perform any better than a University? Why not pay professors a high salary to develop products based solely on science without the worry of advertising cost, exploitative executives, and shareholders. Single-payer give Americans the power to demand.

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Egberto WilliesEgberto Willies is a political activist, author, political blogger, radio show host, business owner, software developer, web designer, and mechanical engineer in Kingwood, TX. Visit his podcast here. Egberto is an ardent Liberal that believes tolerance is essential. His favorite phrase is "political involvement should be a requirement for citizenship". He believes that we must get away from the current policies that reward those who simply move money/capital and produce nothing tangible for our society. If a change in policy does not occur, America will be no different than many (more...)
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