Longer Life Everywhere Except at Families USA

  • by: |
  • 04/20/2006

Yesterday the CDC reported that life expectancy rose faster and death rates declined faster last year than in the past 30 because of new medicines. This bodes well for those getting the Medicare drug benefit in record numbers. But meanwhile Families USA wants to shove seniors into a VA style plan that limits access to these new medicines. Limiting access to new drugs and keeping them off formulary is a form of rationing and way to keeping formulary closed, ,which itself is a bargaining tool for driving down drug costs. In fact a study by Columbia University’s Frank Lichtenberg shows that the VA drug lag has actually increased death rates and reduced life expectancy among seniors. This is what is going on in the UK by the way where breakthrough by breakthrough the government is finding ways to say no to drugs for cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS and diabetes that increase life expectancy and quality of wellbeing. The justification of the VA and UK are similarly and depressingly striking. Actually studies show that limiting access drives up total costs and makes seniors sicker. Why would Families USA want that? Perhaps their hatred of drug companies outweighs their concern for the lives of seniors. Ron “The Godfather” Pollack the Don of Families USA wants everyone to believe that the VA just hands the off formulary medicines like candy after a friendly sort of negotation. Not so. Even the non-formulary drugs have to be discounted by at least 40 percent or you can’t get them. Getting on the formulary costs even more. So if you are biotech company that makes no money what incentive do you have to even try? No wonder the VA drug lag is growing and seniors are suffering as a result. Imagine if this little drill was applied to Medicare as a whole just like the Godfather wants?


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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