One Drug. Two Years. $500 million—paid by the taxpayer

Another stark example of a seriously broken healthcare system

MedicareA few weeks ago, I blogged about how the cost of healthcare is now compromising our national security (See link below). In it, I highlighted the four categories of “entitlement”  spending that simply must be addressed: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the interest being paid to keep all those programs intact. It turns out that those four items alone will exceed ALL revenue of the Federal government by 2035. And, guess what? It’s still getting worse.

Last week I noticed an article in the New York Times entitled Medicare Pricing Delay is Political Win for Drug Maker. The drug maker was Amgen and the pricing delay affected one of their products, Sensibar, used by kidney dialysis patients. Now this is where the $500 million comes into play; from the article:

The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period.

AmgenSo how do we let that happen? Well for starters, Amgen has an army of 74 lobbyists in Washington, and their role is to see that lots of “entitlement” revenue will help Amgen maximize revenue and profits—it has nothing whatsoever to do with promoting health. From the article:

Supporters of the delay, primarily leaders of the Senate Finance Committee who have long benefited from Amgen’s political largess, said it was necessary to allow regulators to prepare properly for the pricing change.

But critics, including several Congressional aides who were stunned to find the measure in the final bill, pointed out that Amgen had already won a previous two-year delay, and they depicted a second one as an unnecessary giveaway.

Amgen has deep financial and political ties to lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, and Senators Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana, and Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, who hold heavy sway over Medicare payment policy as the leaders of the Finance Committee.

Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell

So what can be done? As I’ve stated many times in this blog, the only way we can fix our healthcare mess is to fix the food. We’ve got to start telling our citizens the truth about our food choices when it comes to their health—and the cost of healthcare that is bankrupting our nation.

We need to start telling people that heart disease and type 2 diabetes are completely reversible in 95% of the cases. And we also need to start publicizing the astounding (yet now well-known) truths about what causes cancer and how it can be prevented—and sometimes reversed.

This should be required reading for all members of Congress.

This should be required reading for all members of Congress.

Astounding truths about cancer. I summarized these seven truths in a blog a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating—about a million times. From Chapters 1, 3 and 8 of The China Study, here are seven powerful lines:

1. Despite thirty years of the massively funded War on Cancer, we have made little progress. Contrary to what many believe, cancer is not a natural event.

2. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent the majority of cancers in the United States. Old age can and should be graceful and peaceful.

3. [C]asein (the protein in cow’s milk) and very likely all animal proteins, may be the most relevant cancer-causing substances that we consume.

4. There is enough evidence now that the U.S. government should be discussing the idea that the toxicity of our diet is the single biggest cause of cancer.

5. There is enough evidence now that doctors should be discussing the option of pursuing dietary change as a potential path to cancer prevention and treatment.

6. Our institutions and information providers are failing us. Even cancer organizations, at both the national and local level, are reluctant to discuss or even believe this evidence.

7. Food as a key to health represents a powerful challenge to conventional medicine, which is fundamentally built on drugs and surgery.

719The Bottom Line. Our toxic western diet is responsible for driving up to 80% of our healthcare dollars—now standing at $2.8 trillion. And those dollars are being shared by individuals, state governments, the U.S. government and corporations. By gradually urging our 315 million citizens to eat mostly whole plants, we can eventually save a cool two trillion dollars a year.

At the same time, we can do some wonderful things for the environment, world hunger, the suffering animals and the longterm sustainability of the human race. —My 719th consecutive daily blog—

Handy 4-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4Leaf page or some great recipes at Lisa’s 4Leaf Kitchen.

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Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
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3 Responses to One Drug. Two Years. $500 million—paid by the taxpayer

  1. CJ says:

    Right on, Jim, there’s no doubt that the whole Sick-care system is just plain disgustingly broken. I was on a plane tonight and the woman sitting next me worked for an organization which deals with employee healthcare benefit programs. She talked about how bad the new healthcare legislation is going to be for people, in terms of affordability, care, etc. Insurance co.’s are raising prices drastically and dropping benefits… sadly, she described a complete train wreck on the horizon. This is at the exact moment when the country’s population is fully in the grip of the trash food and disinformation pushers, and we are now more a “market” than a country. I mentioned that we should have pushed harder for a single payer system like the rest of the developed world (… and she replied that controlling healthcare prices has never been on anyone’s radar screen and likely won’t ever be. It sure is hard to stay positive with so much suffering coming down the pike, but thank goodness mindfulness is good for your health. : ) Take care.

  2. Craig Holman says:

    I agree fully with our solution is a whole foods plant based diet. Awareness of the great benefit of this style of living remains a barrier. I believe time and the efforts of many will eventually overcome this. Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later.

    Furthermore, I believe leadership in our country is a barrier. Without getting into a political rave I believe term limits would help. Too many lobbyists with too much influence over congressmen that have been at the trough for years. The goal often is only to get reelected, not do what is right for the American people.

    • Joanne Irwin says:

      I, too, support term limits. We have too many fat cats in Congress with deep pocket ties to Big Pharma. It’s disgusting and reprehensible. I can think of many more adjectives to describe the likes of Mitch McConnell and his cohorts, but I’ll keep them to myself.

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