freedom of choice medical politics

My thoughts on health care reform

I have had several people say to me that I must be excited about the effort to reform the medical world what with my MS and all. Despite what some people would see as an advantage to me, I don’t really see much upside in my circumstance.

It probably doesn’t come as any surprise that I just don’t trust reform coming from DC that involves more federal activity. The political process is not conducive to doing that well. Even if they managed to set the ideal system up, how long would it last? Special interest groups will be rewarded for their contributions and we will get mission creep like all other federal programs. The bill in the house is a prime example. It is currently over 1000 pages long, it isn’t a stretch of the truth to say that nobody can understand the thing in its entirety. The most recent concession involves an ethanol program for a lawmaker in Illinois. Perhaps there should be a law stating that new laws can be a maximum of 5 pages long…

A bigger worry is that with more government involvement we will get far fewer innovations in the medical world. Say what you want about the US healthcare industry, but there’s no question that it is responsible for the vast majority of medical innovations in the world. This is especially true when it comes to drugs. It is the quest for profit that drives inventions like MRIs, laser scalpels, heart valves, etc. Of course those new treatments are one of the reasons that costs keep going up.

On a less grand scale, I also worry about people losing options that lay outside of the medical mainstream. MS is a case in point. The approved drugs are expensive, don’t have a great track record as far as effectiveness goes, and of course have various side effects. There are some other drugs that have been approved for other conditions that seem to help a lot of people with MS. They are much cheaper, have no significant side effects, and seem to have at least a similar amount of success as the approved drugs. Right now, I can get a doctor to prescribe these for me, but will I have that option if the feds are much more involved? Would I be able to get drugs that are not approved by the FDA for my condition?

So unless the lawmakers can get their act together and draft a law that anyone can read and figure out (If no one else reads it and understands it, at least they should be able to) I am firmly against this current legislation. It may have some good stuff in there, but how can anyone know?

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