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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dick Lugar's Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad Response.

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After the economic recession in our country comes to a conclusion, a high priority may be extension of health insurance coverage and reform of many health care practices. When such changes occur, they are likely to be expensive and Americans will need to debate, even then, their priority in comparison to many other national goals. One reason why health care is likely to remain expensive is that major advances in surgical procedures, prescription drugs, and other health care practices have prolonged the lives of tens of millions of Americans and improved the quality of those additional years. The Washington Post, in a front-page story on July 26, 2009, mentioned that "the fight against heart disease has been slow and incremental. It's also been extremely expensive and wildly successful." Americans should not take for granted all of the advances in health care that have enriched our lives, but we sometimes forget that we require and even pray for much more medical progress in years to come, which is likely to be expensive.

This came in a response from Sen. Lugar this week to my letter about health reform. While I see his point that Americans are extending their lives through medical advances, he is a bit off here. You see, people in this country are not extending their lives beyond other industrial nations' averages. It just isn't factual to say healthcare is expensive because we're saving lives.

According to, these are Sen. Lugar's top 5 contributors:

arnes & Thornburg$39,050

Eli Lilly & Co$34,850

Ice Miller$29,000

Cinergy Corp$24,250


Those numbers are not wholly representative as they are only individual contributions, but you get the point. Living in Indianapolis, I see the Lilly lobby machine at work. It makes government officials forget cogent facts like record-breaking profits that do NOT go back into research and development. In fact, even big pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are recognizing that they need to get on the bus or be left at the stop, so why would the senator make the above argument?

Why would any of them? Because of campaign finance, in my opinion. Our system has a glaring, gaping hole in it. By allowing any industry subject to government regulation to give funds for campaigns, we are basically putting the fox in the hen house. Of course, our representatives should have the guts to go with their beliefs, but they obviously don't. I say this in optimism, because I hope Sen. Lugar knows these things to be false but said them anyway. You can fix corruption, but there is no known cure for stupid.

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