Cardinal George, the HHS Mandate and Prayer

I just can’t face writing about Christian persecution today, even though that’s my usual Friday practice. I’m going to delay it until tomorrow.

I want to talk about Cardinal George, instead.

Cardinal George’s cancer recurred late last summer. I read in February of this year that he had been given a clean bill of health and was cancer-free.

I have no idea why, but just out of the blue I’ve been getting this impulse to pray for him. It’s like a soft little dinging in the back of my mind.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with his health. All I can say is that I almost never think about Cardinal George. Because it’s so odd for me to suddenly feel that I should pray for him, I am assuming that for reasons I don’t know and may never know, he probably needs a little extra prayer.

I’m passing this along to the rest of you so that you can join me in saying a Hail Mary for the Cardinal now and again.

In the video below, he is discussing the HHS Mandate.

At one point he talks about the “definition” being so narrow. I believe that he is referring to the definition of religious institutions as it is used in the HHS Mandate, and not the First Amendment. Among other things, the Obama administration has been trying to narrow the meaning of “religious freedom” to only include the freedom to attend services in “places of worship” and behind the closed doors of our homes.

This should be anathema to any freedom-loving American, irrespective of their religious beliefs or lack of belief.

Here is Cardinal George:

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Cancer Drug Costs Could Skyrocket Under Obamacare

Cancer treatment

Containing health care costs is a little bit like trying to stuff an elephant into an old-fashioned telephone booth.

You push one part in, and another part comes busting back out. 

The Affordable Health Care Act was supposed to control health care costs and make health coverage available to all Americans. It was also supposed to provide conscience exemptions and to not fund abortions. 

So far, things are working out too well.

The HHS Mandate, which is a government regulation designed to implement the Affordable Health Care Act puts the promises of protecting conscience to the lie. Massive block grants for “sex education,” i.e., indoctrination in sexual disorders, to Planned Parenthood put the promises about not funding abortion to the lie. 

We’re down to the “affordable” part of the Affordable Health Care Act, and it’s not looking so good, either. 

Cancer Patients 0

The main problem, (surprise!) is profiteering by drug companies and how elected officials in the various states respond to this. 

Let me give you a hint: If the drug companies can buy the FDA and the United States Congress, do you seriously think they can’t also buy the various state legislatures?

If other legislatures are like the one here in Oklahoma, all they really need to flat-out buy is three people: The Speaker of the House, the Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Governor. They can then spread a little money around (in the form of legal campaign donations and dinners) to all the munchkin/puppet legislators sitting behind desks on the floor and the deal is done and done. 

They win. The people — or at least those who get cancer — are bankrupt. 

Radiation therapy cancer

Oklahoma is a state where the House leadership adjourned the legislative session for several days a couple of years ago, so the leadership and a few hand-picked legislators could go on a junket. Rumor has it that the Senate has done the same thing not so very long ago.

So …. you fill in the dots about where the people stand in all this. 

The Affordable Health Care Act may not turn out to be all that affordable for little guys who are trying to chug a serious illness. It has already proven to be a dreadnought that is blasting away at freedom of conscience with the full force of the federal government. As for not funding abortions, if Planned Parenthood was speaking candidly, all they would say is, ka-ching, ka-ching.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Cancer patients could face high costs for medications under President Barack Obama’s health care law, industry analysts and advocates warn. 
Where you live could make a huge difference in what you’ll pay. 
To try to keep premiums low, some states are allowing insurers to charge patients a hefty share of the cost for expensive medications used to treat cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and other life-altering chronic diseases. 
Such “specialty drugs” can cost thousands of dollars a month, and in California, patients would pay up to 30 percent of the cost. For one widely used cancer drug, Gleevec, the patient could pay more than $2,000 for a month’s supply, says the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 
New York is taking a different approach, setting flat dollar copayments for medications. The highest is $70, and it would apply to specialty drugs as well. 
Critics fear most states will follow California’s lead, and that could defeat the purpose of Obama’s overhaul, because some of the sickest patients may be unable to afford their prescriptions. 
“It’s important that the benefit design not discriminate against people with chronic illness, and high copays do that,” said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a data analysis firm catering to the health care industry and government. 
Avalere’s research shows that 1 in 4 cancer patients walks away from the pharmacy counter empty-handed when facing a copay of $500 or more for a newly prescribed drug. 
“You have to worry about a world where if you happen to contract cancer or multiple sclerosis, you are stuck with a really big bill,” Mendelson said. “It’s going to be very important for states to take a long, hard look at their benefit design.” 
Although the money for covering uninsured Americans is coming from Washington, the heath care law gives states broad leeway to tailor benefits, and the local approach can also allow disparities to emerge. 
A spokesman for Covered California said state officials are trying to balance between two conflicting priorities: comprehensive coverage and affordable premiums. 
“We are trying to keep the insurance affordable across the board,” said Dana Howard, the group’s spokesman. “This is just part of trying to manage the overall risk of the pool.” Covered California is one of the new state marketplaces where people who don’t get coverage on the job will be able to shop for private insurance starting this fall. Coverage takes effect Jan. 1. 
Insurers are forecasting double-digit premium increases for individual policies, as people with health problems flock to buy coverage previously denied them. The Obama administration says the industry warnings are overblown, and that for many consumers, premium increases will be offset by tax credits to help buy insurance. And officials say it’s important to realize that the law sets overall limits on patients’ liability, even if those seem high to some people. Still, a full picture of costs and benefits isn’t likely to come into focus until the fall. 
Howard said California officials are aware of the concerns about drug costs and are trying to make medications more affordable. 
Meanwhile, he said consumers will be protected because the law limits total out-of-pocket costs — the deductibles and copayments that policy holders are responsible for, apart from monthly premiums. In California, the annual out-of-pocket limit for an individual is $6,400, although it can be as low as $2,250 for low-income people. Once that limit is reached, insurance pays 100 percent. 
That’s still a lot of money, and such reassurances haven’t dispelled the concerns. (Read the rest here.)

Killing Them Softly: Bankrupting Your Constituents for Special Interests

MP900407008 Americans pay far too much for prescription drugs.  Health insurance does not cover enough to keep you out of bankruptcy if you become seriously ill.

A few years ago, one of the secretaries at the Oklahoma House got breast cancer. She went through the usual harrowing treatments, and by the grace of God and good medicine, she is still with us today. However, even though she had health insurance, she and her husband had to declare bankruptcy because of the medical bills. 

She was lucky in that she didn’t have to face bankruptcy under the revised bankruptcy laws that the Bush administration pushed through for the credit card companies. She didn’t have to worry about losing her house.

This is what government of the special interests, by the special interests and for the special interests gives us. Americans pay too much for prescription drugs because of the hammerlock the drug companies have on both our elected officials and the FDA. Other governments protect their citizens from drug overcharges. The drug companies make up their profits by charging Americans 200% or 300% more for the same drug as they do people in other parts of the world. Our government protects them in doing this.

I once authored a bill to allow drug reimportation in Oklahoma. What this means is that Oklahoma citizens would have been able to buy drugs in Canada legally. The bill included a web site which would verify that the Canadian pharmacy was legitimate. The name “drug reimportation” refers to the fact that what the bill did was allow citizens to buy American drugs outside our country and “reimport” them back — but at a fraction of the cost they would pay if they had bought them in Oklahoma.

The drug companies, with their hammerlock on the leadership, smashed the bill flat. The House leadership did this in such a way that everyone got to vote for the bill before they killed it in back rooms. The bill was backed by Oklahoma’s governor who was a Democrat. It was the Republican House leadership that killed it.

The Affordable Health Care Act, with all its faults, is the direct result of the control of our government by special interests. Many legislators who voted  for it saw this legislation as a moral imperative. Special interests and their toady legislators created that situation.

Three prominent physicians, Dr Hagap Kantarjian, chair of the leukemia department of MD Anderson, Dr Leonard Zwelling, professor of medicine in MD Anderson’s department of experimental therapeutics, and Tito Fojo, head of the experimental therapeutics section of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post discussing these issues.

“Medical bills have become a major cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States,” they say, “which is not surprising, giving the amounts that even well-insured patients have to pay for drugs … can command a quarter to a third of some household’s annual income.”

Every solution these physicians call for is a common-sense remedy that has been voted down repeatedly by politicians who are in the back pocket of drug companies.  Cancer patient

The irony, which is certainly not lost on me, is that many of the politicians who use the power of the people against the people in this way campaign for office based on their Christian faith. They make strong statements about how pro life they are.

What they really mean is that they are anti-abortion — and once they get elected, not so much even that. You can not be pro life and deliberately do things that cause people to die from cancer. You are not much of a Christian if you sell the power of your elected office to special interests.

There are all sorts of things you can call people who do this, but “follower of Christ” is not one of them.

From the Prophets to Revelations, “unjust judges” or public officials who use “unjust scales” and deny the human rights of the poor are condemned. When Jesus described Judgement Day, He made it clear that we will be judged on how we treat others, specifically, “the least of these.”

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Some of the politicians who flaunt their Christianity to get elected and then work for special interests need to remember that.

The Washington Post op-ed article by Doctors Kantarjian, Zwelling and Fojo says in part:

… The average monthly price of cancer drugs has doubled over the past 10 years, from about $5,000 to more than $10,000. Of the 12 new cancer drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year, 11 were priced above $100,000 annually. Yet only three were found to improve patient survival rates and, of these, two increased survival by less than two months.

All this shows little or no correlation between drug efficacy and “just price.” Medical bills have become the major cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States, which is not surprising, given the amounts that even well- insured patients have to pay for drugs. Those that cost more than $100,000 can command a quarter to a third of some households’ annual income.

… Is it fair that some U.S. drug prices are two to four times the price of the same product in other countries? U.S. drug manufacturers are also allowed to pay the makers of generic drugs to keep their cheaper versions off the market for some months. Known as “pay to delay,” this strategy greatly affects profits: Earlier introduction of generic drugs has reduced health-care spending by more than $1 trillion in the past 10 years, Ralph Neas, president of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, estimated last fall.

… And how do we reduce the price of cancer drugs? We can start by eliminating self-inflicted wounds: Medicare should be allowed to negotiate prices as the VA system does — and as Medicare was able to do before 2003 — and pay-for-delay strategies should be outlawed. Regulations on cancer research that add to costs without increasing patient safety should be curtailed. Regulators and investigators alike should demand that new drugs offer true clinical improvement over current drugs, measured by such standards as cost-efficacy ratios, prolonging of life in years or quality-adjusted life in years, not just efficacy, safety and other “me-too” criteria. (Read the rest here.) 


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