Thursday, January 8, 2015

Quotes from America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and The Fight to Fix Our Broken Health System.

Steven Brill’s new book, America’s Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System, 512 pp. Random House. $28, is all about one man’s rage about America’s health system. The book is about lobbyists for hospitals, drug companies, medical device manufacturers, insurance companies, and other special interests have conspired to make America’s health costs higher than any other country by a factor of 40% to 60%. It is about how and why patients have little leverage and little knowledge to change the system. It is based on Brill’s October 2013 article by the same name n Time magazine and on his own personal experiences after undergoing a $200,000 open heart operation. . In essence, Brill maintains our entire system is a giant rip-off without any power of patients and without any incentives for health care stakeholders to change.

Here are quotes by Grill, a lawyer and health care journalists, about his impressions of the system.

“Depending on one’s view, this secret deal (the health care law) between Obama political operatives, PhRMA, staffers from the Senate Finance Committee who had just brokered a multibillion-dollar deal with ¬PhRMA, major unions and other liberal groups was proof that Washington was finally buckling down, coming together and getting the people’s business done; or it was Washington at its worst: liberal groups selling out to big business to accommodate all the groups’ special interests.”

“There I was: a reporter who had made hospital presidents and hospital executives and health care executives and insurance executives sweat because I asked them all kinds of questions about their salaries and about their profit margins. And now I was lying on a gurney in a hospital in real fear of my life."

"At that moment I wasn't worried about costs; I wasn't worried about a cost benefit analysis of this drug or this medical device; I wasn't worried about health care policy.”

“It drove home to me the reality that in addition to being a tough political issue because of all the money involved, health care is a toxic political issue because of all the fear and the emotion involved."

"A patient in the American health care system has very little leverage, has very little knowledge, has very little power.”

“ I exhausted the deductible on the policy that my wife and I had. Once I paid the $12,000, I was indifferent to all the costs because I was paying zero.”

“We're paying a lot more for everything because we have this naive assumption that healthcare can be a marketplace when everyone of us sitting here knows that when we're sick, we're not a savvy consumer of healthcare."

“We have no idea what we are buying, we have no idea what the cost is going to be, we have no control over those costs, and the only thing we know is, we're scared and we want to get better."

"It's because of the legislation. There's nothing in the legislation that brings down the cost of healthcare."

"At every turn, when they (Obama and Democrats) tried to do something substantive to bring the cost down, such as control the price of drugs, deal with exorbitant non-profit hospitals' high profits, they were stopped by the lobbyists.”

"And the best test of all this is, the only way that a bill this big will pass in Washington is that the powers that be decide that it should pass. So the drug companies are making more money, the hospitals are making more money, the medical device makers are making more money, and everybody's happy except the tax payer."

"It can only get better when people decide, that as healthcare consumers and taxpayers, they're not going to let the lobbyists in Washington for the hospital industry, for the drug industry, for the medical device industry, have their way. And that's a difficult thing."

"What I learned was that I didn't care about the costs at the moment I was lying on the gurney. And nobody would. You will beg, borrow and steal, whatever you have to to get the money, to get yourself healthy or to get your loved one healthy.”

“My experiences before and after surgery were emblematic of just how screwed up the system is."

"He (The CEO of UnitedHealth) looked at it, and he looked at it (my bill) , and he said, 'I could sit here all day and I couldn't explain that to you. I don't know why they sent that to you.' And I said, 'Well, aren't you 'they'?'"

" This book uses the largest and most screwed up industry in the country to illustrate that we can't do the nation's business in Washington. It shows how the country doesn’t work at its core.”

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