March 18th, 2004
To the Editor,
Debate concerning Medicare costs is a mere red herring for two crucial reasons. First, the administration considers the costs irrelevant since the intent is to empty the treasury, thereby putting an end to entitlement programs – reformed or otherwise.
Secondly, health care costs, now 15% of the economy (1), are an artifact of pro-industry policies which harm the health of all Americans and is fast diminishing a productive, tax paying work-force. The census bureau tells us that 20% of all adults,(16-64) have a chronic health condition. This figure does not include developmentally disabled children, institutionalized adults and disabled military. The SSA projects three of ten new workers will become disabled before retirement. Add to that our ailing seniors and you get a staggering portrait of ill health in America.
The human genome has not suddenly become defective. Increased disability rates are undeniably related to toxic effects of pollution and an adulterated food supply. Then we have experts like Dr. Alan Roses, GlaxoSmithKlein VP (2), informing us that drugs are ineffective for many patients. Medicare needs to require the simple blood tests which tell doctors what drugs will be effective for the ailing. That alone should reduce the costs of adverse drug effects, in excess of 170 billion dollars for the year 2000 alone (3).
We need more toxicologists and fewer doctors and politicians to help us through the national health crisis, along with a preventive approach to illness. Purer food, cleaner water and improved indoor/outdoor air quality is the best reform we can bring to the crisis in health care insurance.
(1) NY Times article, “Health Spending Rises to Record 15% of Economy “, by R. Pear, January 9, 2004
(2) Independent.co.uk article, ““Glaxo chief: Our Drugs do Not Work on Most Patients” by S. Connor, December 8, 2003
(3) “Drug Related Morbidity and Mortality, Updating the Cost of Illness Model“, Ernst and Grizzle (J Am Pharm Assoc, 41 (2), 2001
Categories: Detroit Free Press