PhRMA Lobbying Power Topples the World
America provides the world’s highest-priced care with the lowest life expectancy of developed countries, with half of all bankruptcies related to healthcare costs, while one in seven Medicare beneficiaries is harmed while hospitalized, Dr. Douglas Walta told students last week.
With 18 percent of GDP spent on healthcare, less money is available for schools, roads or other public goods. “We are a parasite taking it from everybody,” Walta said.
Trends portend a bleaker future still. “PhRMA has the most powerful lobby in the world,” controlling drug prices that even the federal government cannot negotiate, Walda said. “Universities have to sell their souls to the drug companies” because federal grant funding is largely gone.
Drug makers can charge $100,000 a year for a prostrate drug that doesn’t increase life expectancy. Hepatitis C drugs do cure the disease but “might break Oregon’s bank,” considering the number of cases in the state.
Only one in seven workers in the US is within a normal weight range, and rising obesity brings a cascade of vascular disease, joint disease and renal failure, Walta said.
The students themselves were less pessimistic.
Laura Green, working on a masters in social work at PSU says she sees housing, education and anti-violence efforts as health policy. She hopes to see more attention given to childhood trauma as an indicator of future health.
Lance Cook, a junior working on a bachelor of science in nursing at OHSU and the vice president of the Oregon Student Nurses Association, said his own family had experience with medical bankruptcies. He hopes to see culture change as more nurses become involved in policy boards.
Walta cited Salt Lake City as a place where efforts to house the homeless proved that doing “something that wasn’t healthcare made healthcare costs come down.”
Students generally supported a single payer system similar to the measure proposed by Healthcare for All Oregonians.
Jan can be reached at [email protected]