Sunday, June 17, 2007


Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards wants to reduce the cost of U.S. health care by removing patents for breakthrough drugs and requiring health insurance companies to spend at least 85 percent of their premiums on patient care.The former North Carolina senator was expected to discuss details of a universal health care proposal he released in February during an appearance Thursday at the Riverside Health Center. Edwards’ plan would remove long-term patents for companies that develop breakthrough drugs and then reap large profits because of the monopolies those patents provide, according to a statement by Edwards obtained Wednesday evening. Edwards said offering cash incentives instead would allow multiple companies to produce those drugs and drive down prices.

More here

So where are the companies going to get the half-a billion dollars it costs to get a new drug approved? And where are they going to get the millions that lawyers regularly squezze out of them when a new drug is found to have side-effects (as all drugs do)? I guess the government will become the chief drug innovator! Heaven help us if that happens! The U.S. government can't even keep equipment up to its soldiers in Iraq and that is a task way simpler than deciding on the healing prospects of a molecule. How many of the drugs we use today were discovered and developed in Soviet Russia?

Australia: Major government hospital boss: We're in crisis

THE chief of one of Queensland's biggest hospitals has branded the facility "in crisis" and urged staff they must discharge patients quicker. In a damning leaked email, Princess Alexandra Hospital senior clinical chief executive officer David Theile warned staff that the hospital was not coping with demand. The admission by Dr Theile is a massive blow to the State Government's claim that Queensland's health system is "turning the corner" after a massive funding injection.

"The hospital is in a crisis situation with beds unavailable and emergency department access block," Dr Theile wrote in the email late last month. "Could all effort be applied to discharge all clinically suitable patients as rapidly as possible. Such effort is required now and needs to be sustained."

Meanwhile, the hospital's ability keep its two operating theatres open for urgent surgery is being compromised by Queensland's chronic shortage of radiographers. Another leaked email from director of medical imaging Wayne Nuss warned because the hospital needed 10 additional radiographers, only one would be rostered on outside business hours. There had been occasions outside normal working hours when two theatres that required radiographers were simultaneously requesting a radiographer, he said. "In most circumstances, unless considerable notice is provided and staff are available, we unfortunately will not be able to provide that level of coverage." Princess Alexandra staff said the hospital would now struggle to deal with multiple trauma cases needing X-rays.

Similar problems are occurring in other hospitals across Queensland with the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital having difficulty keeping its CT scanners functioning. Figures obtained by The Courier-Mail show the radiographer shortage is causing a big blowout in waiting times for cancer victims needing chemotherapy.

Dr Theile yesterday admitted the PA Hospital was "desperately short of beds" and the need to discharge patients quicker occurred "reasonably frequently". But he said there was "virtually no chance" of compromising patient care as doctors were required to speed up administrative rather than clinical work. The dire situation with radiographers had improved with five hirings but on weekends only one remained, Dr Theile said.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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