January 30, 2006

You have GOT to be kidding

From this morning's Washington Post.

More than a dozen states are considering new laws to protect health workers who do not want to provide care that conflicts with their personal beliefs, a surge of legislation that reflects the intensifying tension between asserting individual religious values and defending patients' rights.

About half of the proposals would shield pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for birth control and "morning-after" pills because they believe the drugs cause abortions. But many are far broader measures that would shelter a doctor, nurse, aide, technician or other employee who objects to any therapy. That might include in-vitro fertilization, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cells and perhaps even providing treatment to gays and lesbians.

So, where does this end? Does a nurse in a hospital get to pick and choose which patients he/she will take care of? What if the nurse is part of a religion that says that men and women are not to be in the same room with each other? Can the nurse refuse to take care of a patient of the opposite sex? Does a Christian Scientist get to refuse all treatment because they believe that disease isn't even real?

Does your EMT get to inquire as to your sexual preference before applying CPR? Is your Jehovah's Witness health care worker permitted to refuse you that needed blood transfusion because his religion forbids them?

Hospitals, doctor's offices, and pharmacies are not restaurants. The Hippocratic oath does not allow them to deny "service." Period.

And, reading further in the article...this really scared me. There are some bills that will allow insurance companies to deny treatment on the basis of religious belief. Whose religious belief? I didn't know a company could go to church!

Beyond that, what is an employee to do if their boss selects an insurance company based on HIS religious beliefs?

Finally, if a health care worker can refuse to offer life-giving care without punishment, based on their "conscience," why are soldiers court-martialed for refusing to kill for the same reason?

Oh yeah...they knew what the job entailed when they signed up.

Culture of life ... yeah, right.

Working families...listen closely

I received this in my email. I'm not a union member, but I am thankful for everything unions have made possible for me: Overtime pay, paid vacation, weekends, health insurance, job safety, just to name a few. Some points to ponder...

Tuesday night, President George W. Bush will lay out his 2006 agenda in his State of the Union speech, and working families will be listening closely. Time and again we have seen the president dress up anti-worker proposals with friendly sounding titles—but when his congressional allies adopt them, the results are disastrous for working families.
So when you’re listening to President Bush speak, think about what his previous proposals have really meant to working people like us:

  • When Bush talks about health insurance, remember the disastrous Medicare drug prescription scam his team in Congress pushed through. It has stranded tens of thousands of seniors without needed medications and forced some 20 states to declare public health emergencies because President Bush put the interest of drug companies ahead of the interests of seniors.
  • When the president talks about health care costs, remember that he and his allies in Congress refused to allow Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.
  • When Bush talks about taxes, remember the huge tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans he and congressional leaders already passed and the ever-growing debt they are leaving to our children and grandchildren.
  • When Bush talks about opportunity, remember how the income disparity is growing as wages fall and the cost of living rises for working families.
  • When Bush talks about education, remember that he and leaders in Congress have pushed higher education out of reach for many by cutting student loans.
  • When Bush talks about keeping America safe, remember his administration’s utter failure to rescue desperate victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The State of the Union address always dominates headlines the next day and generates plenty of water cooler conversations. When you’re talking to friends and family about President Bush’s 2006 agenda and the congressional leadership that will carry it forward, remind them how the agendas of the past five years have turned out for working families.

In Solidarity,
Working Families e-Activist Network, AFL-CIO

January 13, 2006

Chalk one up for sanity

Nice to see the Pharmacy Board put its stamp of approval on the Canadian Drug Plan passed in the last legislative session. Our seniors, especially, will benefit. No word on when this will all be ready to go, but it is a step in the right direction.

"We are elected to enact laws. We did it. The governor signed it. You can't just ignore the law," Buckley said.
The law requires the pharmacy board to inspect and license Canadian pharmacies to sell drugs on a state-run Web site. Because of price controls, Canadian pharmacies can sell the same medication at rates 30 percent to 50 percent lower than American pharmacies.
The savings has prompted thousands of Americans to turn to the Internet for cheap drugs that could be dangerous or come from disreputable pharmacies.
Eight states have created programs to help their residents buy prescriptions from reputable Canadian pharmacies in defiance of federal law. But Nevada is the first state to pass a law that requires state licensing and inspection of Canadian pharmacies.
None of the programs in other states have been halted by the FDA.
Worried about the safety of the drugs purchased in Canada, Nevada lawmakers inserted the "FDA-approved" requirement into the legislation. Technically, Canadian pharmacies do not sell FDA-approved medications because Canada has its own regulatory agency.
But many of the actual pills are the same that are being sold in the United States. They have the same formula as FDA-approved pills, have been manufactured in FDA-approved plants and are stored and shipped under FDA-approved conditions, according to lawmakers.