By October 10, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will decide whether to ban the toxic chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, from infant-formula containers. The agency is reviewing a petition to do so submitted by Democratic Rep. Ed Markey of Boston. In July, the FDA banned BPA in baby bottles based on a similar petition from the American Chemistry Council. Both petitions argue the market is no longer using BPA in baby bottles and infant-formula containers, so let’s go ahead and make it official that the chemical should not be used for these purposes.
Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the subsequent Supreme Court decision upholding its constitutionality, the public has been paying increased attention to the insurance industry. The announcement of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as Governor Mitt Romney’s running mate and the recent Democrat and Republican Conventions has brought the industry to the forefront of public discussion.
The issue of insurance has always been one of great economic importance. It is one of the largest segments of our economy. It is a multi-billion dollar industry that provides us with peace of mind and helps get us get back on our feet in times of crisis. It is also a source of solid, stable, career-track jobs: just walk down Main Street in any town in the nation, and you will see insurance offices of all sizes, providing jobs for thousands and thousands of Americans.
Now that the Supreme Court has issued its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, many are taking a closer look at how the law will be implemented, including at the new enforcement duties given to the IRS. The Government Accountability Office has said the IRS faces “a massive undertaking.” The National Taxpayer Advocate believes that “with proper planning and funding, the IRS is fully capable of implementing healthcare reform.” I am not so sure. And even if the IRS comes through on healthcare, will tax administration be damaged in the process? I know the service will do its level best to implement healthcare reform, but the IRS confronts a long list of challenges. Several concerns are particularly important.
The American medical community has arrived at a pivotal time in cancer research. Technological advancements, knowledge availability and human ambition have allowed us to make significant strides in treatment options, early diagnosis and improved survival rates. Research has resulted in medical improvements that have positively impacted many forms of cancer. In fact, during the past 40 years the five-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined has climbed from under 50 percent to over 65 percent.
As diabetes plagues our nation, countless seniors rely on diabetic testing supplies (DTS) from their local pharmacists in order to live with and manage their disease. Unfortunately, an expansion of Medicare’s Competitive Bidding Program could disrupt that relationship and make it harder for seniors to obtain their DTS. This cannot happen. The House Small Business subcommittee hearing today offers the opportunity to re-examine the critical issue of ensuring continuity in how our seniors access essential diabetes testing supplies and face-to-face counseling on their proper use.
The 2012 Democratic and Republican Party Platforms spell out what party leaders believe will address the needs of the American people. However, will they include a plank that acknowledges and addresses the fact that our nation spends more than all others on medical research and healthcare yet still has one of the highest infant mortality rates of developed nations? Which party will have a plank to improve America’s life expectancy that lags behind scores of other countries? Which has a plank to reverse the tsunamis of obesity-induced diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease? Unfortunately, our nation’s plan seems to be to have no plan. We invest billions in basic biomedical research and leave the development of medical products to the free market. Since our health insurance preferentially pays for treatment of illness, the commercial sector naturally develops new and more expensive illness-care that is often too late to help patients and at a cost that will soon approach 20% of GDP!
For most Americans, a sudden feeling of pain indicates that something could be wrong. If it persists, we typically visit a doctor or nurse for a diagnosis and treatment. But what if the pain never goes away? And what do you do if your medical professional can’t diagnose the cause, or even worse, what if there is no simple solution to make it go away? This is not a nightmare, but a reality that too many Americans – including me – face as they are forced to suffer and cope with chronic pain.
The prognosis for medical progress based on research and innovation is excellent right now, just not in this country. While China is increasing its investment in research and innovation by 26% and other Asian and European nations plan to ramp up their investments as well, here at home, current budget proposals and automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January could drastically slow the pace of scientific discovery and medical progress.
President Obama's healthcare reform is about to severely restrict drug treatment options for millions of America's most vulnerable patients.
This certainly wasn't the president's intention. But a new, preliminary regulatory ruling from the Department of Health and Human Services required by the 2010 healthcare reform law applies a one-size-fits-all approach to prescription medicines. And the result could be substantially fewer treatment options for Americans all across the country.
For most of my adult life, I was a public servant representing the interests of my neighbors in the Gulf coast region of Mississippi as a state senator, a highway commissioner and ultimately a member of the United States House of Representatives. Serving those years in public office was both an honor and a privilege.
Once I left Congress, like most Americans, I had to enter the private sector and continue to earn a living to support my family. To be honest, I had a lot of things to learn about running a business.