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 “Trump’s Drug Policy Is Destroying Lives”

Donald Trump’s Instincts on Drugs Are All Wrong

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)

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 “Donald Trump’s Instincts on Drugs Are All Wrong”

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 “Health Insurance Sticking Point in German Coalition Talks”

Both Left- and Right-Wing Critics of Britain’s NHS Have a Point

London England
London, England at night, February 14, 2012 (Warren Chrismas)

Crises in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) tend to 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 “Both Left- and Right-Wing Critics of Britain’s NHS Have a Point”

Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms

Amsterdam Netherlands
Bicycle traffic in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Unsplash/Noralí Nayla)

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 “Democrats Should Campaign for Dutch-Style Health Reforms”

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 “Why Americans Can’t Have European-Style Health Care”

Repression Is the Wrong Approach to America’s Opioid Epidemic

Donald Trump
Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015 (Joshua M. Hoover)

One of the few silver linings to last year’s presidential election in the United States was that candidates from both major parties recognized that opioid addiction should be treated as a public-health, rather than a law-enforcement, problem.

Which makes it all the more disheartening that Donald Trump is taking exactly the wrong approach to this crisis.

Politico reports that the new president believes in a “tough law-and-order approach” to arrest the rise in drug overdose deaths.

142 Americans die from opioid abuse every day. That is more than die in car accidents or from guns.

The crisis is concentrated in postindustrial states like Kentucky and West Virginia: the heart of Trumpland. Read more “Repression Is the Wrong Approach to America’s Opioid Epidemic”

Republican Attempt to Repeal Obamacare Descends into Farce

View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15
View of the United States Capitol in Washington DC in the early morning, January 15 (DoD/William Lockwood)

Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare have descended into farce.

Politico reports that Senate Republicans don’t even want their latest bill — which would repeal the 2010 health reforms without replacing them — to become law.

“The substance of this is not what’s relevant,” said Bob Corker of Tennessee. “This a pathway to conference. That’s the only purpose in this.”

But there is no guarantee the House of Representatives will agree to a conference, which is not designed to write laws to begin with. It’s a process to iron out differences between similar bills passed by both chambers.

The reason Senate Republicans must resort to this is that they haven’t been able to unify their own behind a health-care bill, let alone attract Democratic support. Read more “Republican Attempt to Repeal Obamacare Descends into Farce”

Senate Obamacare Replacement Isn’t Better Than House Version

The United States Capitol in Washington DC
The United States Capitol in Washington DC (Shutterstock/Orhan Cam)

After weeks of cloak and dagger, Senate Republicans have finally unveiled their plan to replace Obamacare and now we know why they worked on it in secret.

When Republicans in the House released their plan in March, I wrote here that they had managed to unite health-care commentators from the left and the right in consternation. Read more “Senate Obamacare Replacement Isn’t Better Than House Version”