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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

2018 Midterms update: House of Blues

National news outlets report Tuesday evening that the Democrats have regained majority control of the House of Representatives. GOP plans to eviscerate / "welfare-ize" (i.e. stigmatize) national health care and retirement policies will have to await another time.

Gonna be interesting going forward. Based on Trump's acrimonious Nov 7th White House Presser, expect the combative divisiveness to continue at the national level.
BREAKING: Nov 7th, President Trump has fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Democrats took the House. Here’s what it means for health and medicine
By LEV FACHER @levfacher and ANDREW JOSEPH @DrewQJoseph NOVEMBER 6, 2018

ASHINGTON — Democrats rode a wave of health care messaging into a majority of the House of Representatives, projections showed Tuesday, propelled by vows to protect Americans with pre-existing health conditions and dramatically lower prescription drug costs.

Some of the winning Democrats highlighted their own health struggles. Others lambasted their Republican opponents for taking money from drug companies and health insurers. The GOP’s steadfast effort to roll back the Affordable Care Act dominated congressional campaigns around the country, and on Election Day, exit polls showed health care was the top concern for voters.

The victory puts Democrats in a far better position to test the far-reaching health care agenda they have campaigned on for well over a year, though their ambitions will almost certainly be curtailed by a Republican-held Senate and President Trump’s White House…
See also
8 burning questions for pharma, as Washington braces for a health policy shakeup
By NICHOLAS FLORKO @NicholasFlorko NOVEMBER 8, 2018
What the new Democratic House majority might actually pass on health care
House Democrats have a lot to figure out on their signature issue.
By Dylan Updated Nov 7, 2018, 10:10am EST

Health care carried House Democrats to victory on Election Day. But what now?

In interviews this fall with half a dozen senior House Democratic aides, health care lobbyists, and progressive wonks, it became clear the party is only in the nascent stages of figuring out its next steps on health care.

The new House Democratic majority knows what it opposes. They want to stop any further efforts by Republicans or the Trump administration to roll back and undermine the Affordable Care Act or overhaul Medicaid and Medicare.

But Democrats are less certain about an affirmative health care agenda. Most Democrats campaigned on protecting preexisting conditions, but the ACA has already done that. Medicare-for-all is energizing the party’s left wing, but nobody expects a single-payer bill to start moving through the House. Drug prices offer the rare opportunity for bipartisan work with Senate Republicans and the Trump White House, but it is also a difficult problem with few easy policy solutions — certainly not any silver bullet that Democrats could pull out of the box and pass on day one, or even month one, of the next Congress…
Yeah. As I've said, I've been following these issues for a long time. See my prior post and links therein.


Props to the Naked Capitalism blog.

OK, that led me to this:
Top Democrats are taking health care industry cash then opposing candidates who support “Medicare for all”
By Michael Corcoran

Seventy-five percent of Democrats support “Medicare for all.” But the American health care industry appears to have pushed Democratic leaders away from backing House candidates who would support universal public health insurance. This backhanded approach occurs as key lobbies for the industry have united in opposition to single-payer with the creation of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future.
A new Tarbell analysis shows the health care industry as a whole is giving generously to leaders of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The DCCC describes itself as “charged with recruiting, assisting, funding, and electing Democrats” to the House. The industry includes pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, hospitals, nursing homes and professional health associations…



Just finished this eye-opening, jaw-dropping new book by Beth Macy.

Elegantly written, exhaustively documented, crushingly sad personal stories, reads like a compelling novel. Totally five stars.
America’s approach to its opioid problem is to rely on Battle of Dunkirk strategies—leaving the fight to well-meaning citizens, in their fishing vessels and private boats—when what’s really needed to win the war is a full-on Normandy Invasion.

Rather than puritanical platitudes, we need a new New Deal for the Drug Addicted. But the recent response has been led not by visionaries but by campaigners spewing rally-style bunk about border walls and “Just Say No,” and the appointment of an attorney general who believes the failed War on Drugs should be amped up, not scaled back. Asked in August 2017 why he hadn’t taken his own commission’s recommendation to label the epidemic a national emergency, President Trump dodged the question. He said he believed the best way to keep people from getting addicted or overdosing was by “talking to youth and telling them: No good, really bad for you in every way.”…
To be fair, the crisis had been cruelly ignored by both sides of the political aisle. The Obama administration had also been slow to address the crisis and tepid when it did. Caroline Jean Acker, the historian who is also a harm-reduction activist, told me she was scolded during a 2014 NIDA meeting for championing needle exchange and naloxone distribution after a speaker attempted to separate “good” addicts, or people who became medically addicted, from the illicit, or “bad,” users—as if there were no fluidity between the two. “The worst thing for politicians, I was told, was for them to appear they were being soft on drugs. Even under Obama, federal [Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration] employees were told not to use the term ‘harm reduction,’”…

Macy, Beth. Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America (pp. 280-281). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.
An important read. I wrote my grad thesis 20 years ago on the topic of "The War on Drugs, and Suspicionless Drug Testing," so I tend to be reflexively skeptical with respect to politically motivated "illicit drug epidemic" hype, but this opioid abuse thing is exactly that. I have just gotten an intense, sobering education.

More to come...

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