Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

By Will Neer and Anisha Sehgal

Imagine being diagnosed with a life threatening illness. The immediate reactions of shock and panic may also be mixed with relief once your doctor informs you that there is an effective treatment available. However, that relief can quickly disappear and instead be replaced with hesitation and fear once the hefty price tag associated with the treatment is revealed.  This unfair cycle of emotions is a process too many Americans and their families are forced to experience due to astronomical drug prices.

A type of drug commonly used to treat serious illnesses is a biologic. However, as prescription drug corporations often charge more than $100,000 annually for biologic treatments, many Americans are fighting insurer rationing or even turning to pill splitting.  A piece of bipartisan legislation, S. 0394 / H.R. 5573, titled the Price, Relief, Innovation and Competition for Essential Drugs (PRICED) Act aims to remedy this problem. The PRICED Act would amend U.S. law and shorten the time that prescription drug corporations have monopolies on biologic medicines – and how long they can charge monopoly prices, thereby making these treatments more readily accessible.

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Public Citizen’s own healthcare policy advocate Vijay Das co-wrote an Op-Ed for Univision with health insurance industry executive turned consumer advocate Wendell Potter about the need for Medicaid expansion for undocumented adults. Following the narrative of Isabel Sanches, a mother of three living in East Los Angeles, the piece demonstrates that while legislation that would expand the Affordable Care Act to allow undocumented adults to purchase plans on the marketplace does not help the nearly 1.4 million undocumented individuals that earn incomes to qualify for Medicaid in California alone. You can read more from the piece below.

Isabel Sanches and her husband moved from Michoacán, Mexico to East Los Angeles twenty years ago. They crossed the southern border in search for a better life, job, a good neighborhood to raise their three sons free of street violence and poverty. Like many 40 somethings, Isabel is starting to frequent the doctor more. Despite learning English and attending community college, she remains a heart attack, a slip, a fall away from financial ruin.

Isabel is among California’s 2.67 million undocumented residents, the largest share in the nation. She is banned from buying an Obamacare plan.

However unfair, that was written into the Affordable Care Act. Through My Health L.A., Isabel is lucky to live in a county that covers undocumented adults. But this program is overwhelmed with patients. It’s not meant to address her chronic health problems.

In California at least, things are improving.

You can read the rest of the article here.

By Anisha Sehgal

Pharma Part B infographicDuring election season, Americans across the country hear politicians make grand statements on how they will look out for the good, hard-working people of their state and push for progress that will benefit us all. As we watch them head off to Washington we expect or at least hope that they will deliver on their promises and act in a manner that looks out for our best interests.

However, a recent Public Citizen report on the role of corporate money in politics has revealed the strong influence donations can have on swaying lawmakers’ support on big issues. We are in the midst of a contentious debate regarding the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed Medicare Part B demonstration, a proposal strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. Public Citizen’s new study reveals that members of Congress who opposed or were critical of the reform on average received 82% more in campaign contributions for the 2016 election cycle from the pharmaceutical and health products industry than rank and file members who did not take a stance against the reform.

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On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed in to law a historic piece of legislation that will allow undocumented immigrants access health insurance plans through Covered California – the state Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.

California’s SB 10 requires the state to apply for a federal waiver under Section 1332 of the Affordable Care Act in order to expand health coverage through the state health care marketplace. The waiver will allow undocumented immigrants and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients to buy health insurance policies through the Covered California exchange for the first time.

Children and families that may have been here for their entire lives can obtain only emergency care under California’s current rules. But a lack of preventative care leads to a cycle of sickness for thousands of families.

In fiscal year 2014/15, California spent approximately $1.3 billion on emergency and maternity treatment for undocumented immigrants.

Though adult non-citizens would not qualify for financial assistance in paying their health care costs, as most Americans on ACA plans do, this expansion of the law would allow mixed-citizenship families to shop and apply for coverage in the same place at the same time.

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It’s hard to believe that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collects worker safety data with a system that is better suited for the Stone Age than the Information Age. Right now, OSHA relies on data sources that are too limited to allow the agency to effectively respond to hazardous workplace conditions. For example, data from the OSHA Data Initiative is typically two to three years old. That simply does not provide a clear picture of current threats to workers. To correct this problem, OSHA just released a rule that will require certain employers to submit workplace injury and illness records electronically on a quarterly basis, ensuring OSHA will have timely and systematic access to occupational hazard data. When the rule is implemented, workers and other members of the public will be able to access the information through a searchable database on OSHA’s website.

This rule is a big deal – it will significantly change the way OSHA monitors and responds to workplace hazards. Here are six reasons to celebrate this new rule:

  1. The rule helps government work more efficiently. With the most up-to-date injury and illness records, OSHA can use its resources to identify and target the hazards putting workers at the greatest risk.
  1. With greater efficiency in tracking injuries, we can expect to see improved results in preventing injuries. Once OSHA is able to analyze the greatest risks facing U.S. workers, it can take action to prevent and eliminate those hazards. Workers will inevitably reap the benefit of safer workplaces over time.
  1. Workers and the public can make informed decisions based on the information available. The more information, the better. Having access to injury and illness data on OSHA’s website will enable potential employees to make careful decisions about where to work. Likewise, customers and other members of the public can use this information to evaluate companies before doing business with them.

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