HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Akron Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Michael Moore to Take on Health Care Industry

Some invovled in the health care business are bracing themselves as Michael Moore's newest venture appears to target their industry.  As the Detriot News Health reports,

"America's pharmaceutical industry is putting out an advisory about the latest potential threat to its health: Michael Moore.

Moore, the filmmaker whose targets have included General Motors ("Roger & Me"), the gun lobby (the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine") and President Bush ("Fahrenheit 9/11"), has now set his sights on the healthcare industry, including insurance companies, HMOs, the Food and Drug Administration -- and drug companies.

At least six of the nation's largest companies already have issued internal notices to their work forces, preparing them for potential ambushes."

Should be interesting . . . .

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Comments

It is an interesting mental exercise to see whether it is fair to compare the pharmaceutical industry with drug pushers.

Yes, at first it seems to be the ravings of a far left fanatic... an uneducated one at that.

No, they are not narcotics dealers trying to get you hooked, yet there is some connection in the role they both play

With many drugs, such as anti-rejection drugs for transplant receipients, the patient will die rapidly without the medication.

This does give the pharmeceutical industry great latitude in increasing the cost of the medications right up to, or exceeding, the patient's ability to pay.

The situation has worsened under the new Medicare law under which patients will lose the opportunity to go to Canada and bring back drugs 25 to 50 percent less costly than their American counterparts.

I went to a calculator I found a while back at Consumer Reports. It said that my $40,000 medication bill is expected to rise to $70,000 or so in just 18 months.

Now the recipient of a new heart, liver or lung does not have the ability to ween himself off of the medication, as a drug addicted person has. He has to pay whatever the medication costs, to the point of bleeding his family dry financially.

I don't think the pharmaceutical company wants their customers to die or become seriously ill. They do, however, have an incentive to price these lifesaving drugs as close to that point as they can without actually hurting anybody.

As they do, however, self-insured companies are having an increasing incentive to either drop prescription plans for their costliest employees - the disble and retired ones - or lead their working employees who take these costly drugs gradually out the back door.

I think it was a serious mistake for the EEOC to free companies who get rid of their costliest employees - again the disabled and retirees - from discrimination.

It leaves these people with very little recourse. They can use the Medicare prescription plan up to the point where they are no longer able to afford these medications.

A civilized society should not allow its insurance companies to offer insurance only to those people who pretty mich don't need the coverage, and then drop their employees' coverage when they need the coverage the most.

This nation is headed in a cruel direction that puts profit ahead of compassion.

I am sure Michael Moore will point out a legitimate problem in his upcoming adventure, and I think the pharmaceutical companies must have something to hide if they are reluctant to answer questions concerning this important area.

The healthcae issue must be addresed and so far the only only people I've seen addressing it are the ones calling on companies to cut their healthcare spending.

The say the employees should use tax-sheltered savings accounts to save up for the proverbial rainey day.

But these accounts will do nothing for, say, dialysis at $60,000 a year and then a resulting transplant at $100,000.

The president's Commission on Bioethics pretty much calls for the elimination of costly medical services that prolong the life of a patient who would otherwise die. It is too great a strain on the nation and its corporations.

But this means the rich live and the middle class and the poor die. Survival of the fittest.

No, I think the pharmaceutical indusry, large corporations and our representatives in Washington are obliged to enter into discussions in this area and answer questions the media ask.

And I can't see the reason why patients who cannot afford lifesaving medications in this country may be condemned to die because they are soon to be prohibited to travel to Canada, where such medications are less costly.

Like those who are addicted to narcotics, we are a captive audience. Canada, and possibly other countries who could provide competition to American pharmaceutical companies and lower domestic drug costs, will soon be thrown out of the game.

Our representatives, who are presumably dedicated to a capitalistic system are preventing international competition so the selected few American manufacturers can continue to charge unrealistically high prices.

Ironically, trade laws signed in recent years increasingly allow American jobs to be shipped to overseas where wage rates are less. So American workers are faced with competition that will push down saleries here.

So when it comes to drugs, we avoid competition that would reduce pharmaceutal corporate income. But American workers are faced with competition that lower their salaries and give employers a strong incentive to lower or eliminate health coverage.

Companies win. American citizens lose.

Posted by: Bernard Cullen | Dec 22, 2004 11:59:19 AM

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