Trump’s Drug Policy Is Destroying Lives

American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017
American president Donald Trump arrives in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 4, 2017 (ANG/Annie Edwards)

Politico reports that President Donald Trump’s crackdown on opioids is backfiring.

Hundreds of patients told the political news website they have been suddenly refused prescriptions for medications they relied on for years — sometimes just to get out of bed in the morning — and have been left to suffer untreated pain on top of withdrawal symptoms.

Many … described being tapered off narcotics too quickly or, worse, turned away by doctors and left to navigate on their own. Some said they coped by using medical marijuana or CBD oil, an extract from marijuana or hemp plants; others turned to illicit street drugs despite the fear of buying fentanyl-laced heroin linked to soaring overdose death numbers. A few … contemplated suicide.

Read more

Republicans Are Killing Market-Based Health Care in America

President Barack Obama speaks with Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin during a nationally televised bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform at Blair House in Washington DC, February 25, 2010
President Barack Obama speaks with Republican congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin during a nationally televised bipartisan meeting on health insurance reform at Blair House in Washington DC, February 25, 2010 (White House/Pete Souza)

Matthew Yglesias makes a convincing argument in Vox that, by resisting Obamacare at every turn, Republicans are making European-style universal health care more likely in the United States. Read more

Donald Trump’s Instincts on Drugs Are All Wrong

American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19, 2017
American president Donald Trump attends a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, January 19, 2017 (US Army/Alicia Brand)

Axios reports that President Donald Trump envies countries that execute drug dealers, tells confidants a softer approach to drug reform will never work and that America needs to teach its children they’ll die if they take drugs.

His administration is looking into triggering five-year mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, the threshold is forty grams.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be lethal in extremely small doses. Overdose deaths from fentanyl and other synthetic opioids have increased sixfold since 2013, outstripping those from every other drug.

But a crackdown won’t help. Read more

Health Insurance Sticking Point in German Coalition Talks

Windows of a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, July 17, 2014
Windows of a hospital in Erlangen, Germany, July 17, 2014 (Reinhard Kuchenbäcker)

One of the sticking points in attempts to form another grand coalition government in Germany is the country’s mixed public-private health insurance system.

The Social Democrats campaigned on merging the two. Their argument is that the one in ten Germans with private insurance (mostly people with yearly incomes over €50,000) get better care: shorter waiting lists, more services. Read more

Both Left- and Right-Wing Critics of the NHS Have a Point

A hospital in London, England, February 21, 2010
A hospital in London, England, February 21, 2010 (Lars Plougmann)

Crises in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) always provoke the same ideological debate: the right blames “socialized medicine”, the left calls for more money.

Neither side is completely wrong.

The Financial Times argues there are too many administrators and not enough frontline medical staff in English hospitals.

Repeated government reforms have spurred fragmentation and only added more layers of bureaucracy.

But “cuts” (really: restraint in the growth of health spending) haven’t helped, especially when the population is aging and requiring more services. Read more

Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms

Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014
Dutch girls cycling in Amsterdam, June 13, 2014 (Shirley de Jong)

The other day, I explained the reason Americans can’t get a European-style health care is not opposition from health insurers but the fears of 155 million Americans who currently get insurance through their employers. They worry that a single-payer system, like Britain’s, would mean higher taxes and lower-quality care.

Such fears — largely unfounded, but not entirely inaccurate; Britain’s National Health Service has a lot of problems — would undoubtedly be amplified by drug companies, health providers and insurance companies if the Democrats campaigned on “Medicare for all”.

So instead of having an abstract, and possibly pointless, debate about the merits of single-payer, why not see if its objectives can be met without eliminating private insurance? Read more

Why Americans Can’t Have European-Style Health Care

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016
Vermont senator Bernie Sanders takes part in a protest in Washington DC, November 17, 2016 (Lorie Shaull)

Sixteen Democratic senators, led by the 2016 presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders, have called for reforms that would make all Americans eligible for public health care.

Such a system — the Americans call it “single-payer” — would be uncontroversial in Europe, where most countries guarantee health care to their citizens.

But it seems impossible to get done in America. Why? Read more