Sixteenth Century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne expresses an acute awareness of the fallacies within individual human nature, and yet his sentiment can also be used to evaluate long-standing U.S. organizations.
An independent, nonprofit consumer group turned the spotlight on various members of Congress, who collectively received $5.5 million during the last two election cycles. Consumer Watchdog questioned the motivations of such senators as Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who has become a leading congressional advocate for healthcare reform, because he received more campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries than any other current member of the House or Senate.
In this report, the consumer group breaks down the amount that each member of the House and the Senate received from either the payors or the pharmaceutical industry. With Congress questioning the links between physician payment and industry over the past year, the reversed scrutiny may have been slightly uncomfortable.
Interestingly, the report was released during the same week as the White House Summit on Health Care Reform, where American College of Cardiology (ACC) President Dr. Douglas Weaver welcomed the additional scrutiny on healthcare.
"For too long our healthcare system has rewarded poor performance and inefficiency by continuing to fund the status quo," Weaver said. "And it's become too expensive to pay for healthcare that isn't as good as it should be. Clearly cost should be the driver--not the barrier--to reform. I believe this administration is on the right track by offering a budget that recognizes the need to incentivize doctors to provide quality care...With over 43 percent of all Medicare dollars being spent on cardiovascular disease, the college is committed to reducing heart failure-related hospital re-admissions by 20 percent in one year."
However, pharmaceutical company Wyeth is rejecting the additional scrutiny and responsibility that accompanied a Supreme Court ruling, which held that pharmaceutical companies are liable for patient safety, despite FDA approvals and their warnings.
In Wyeth's opinion, the "medical and scientific experts at FDA are in the best position to weigh the benefits and risks of a medicine and to assess how those benefits and risks should be described in the product's label."
As the new presidential administration promises that healthcare reform will continue to remain in its sights, the spotlight of scrutiny will continue to be aimed in all directions, because as Montaigne suggests, fallibility is part of human nature.
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Justine Cadet, News Editor