Out-of-touch laissez-faire ideologue Rep. Jeff Flake blindly believes the free market is the solution to everything.
So do his clueless friends in the middle-class- hating Goldwater Institute and among the Humvee-driving, Kobe-beef-devouring, Maker's-Mark-swilling Club for Growth fat cats who've sponsored Rep. Flake's political career and now have their eye on him for a higher office than our poor little Sixth Congressional District.
Memo to Jeff and his fancy-pants cronies: The free market fails. Often.
We've seen a lot of that lately, but here's just another example, taken from page one of today's New York Times. It deals with health care, which in every other advanced industrial society is a right and not a privilege -- specifically with the problem of medications:
The health insurance companies that bankroll the campaign coffers of right-wing ideologues like Rep. Jeff Flake (his PAC now has more than a million dollars!) are now asking patients to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for prescriptions that may save their lives.
With the new pricing system, insurers abandoned the traditional arrangement that has patients pay a fixed amount, like $10, $20 or $30 for a prescription, no matter what the drug’s actual cost. Instead, they are charging patients a percentage of the cost of certain high-priced drugs, usually 20 to 33 percent, which can amount to thousands of dollars a month.
The system means that the burden of expensive health care can now affect insured people, too.
No one knows how many patients are affected, but hundreds of drugs are priced this new way. They are used to treat diseases that may be fairly common, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hemophilia, hepatitis C and some cancers. There are no cheaper equivalents for these drugs, so patients are forced to pay the price or do without.
Rep. Jeff Flake is interested only in the macroeconomy, not the lives of struggling middle class families, but here's the story of one woman, Robin Steinwand, 53, who has multiple sclerosis:
In January, shortly after Ms. Steinwand renewed her insurance policy with Kaiser Permanente, she went to refill her prescription for Copaxone. She had been insured with Kaiser for 17 years through her husband, a federal employee, and had had no complaints about the coverage.
She had been taking Copaxone since multiple sclerosis was diagnosed in 2000, buying 30 days’ worth of the pills at a time. And even though the drug costs $1,900 a month, Kaiser required only a $20 co-payment.
Not this time. When Ms. Steinwand went to pick up her prescription at a pharmacy near her home in Silver Spring, Md., the pharmacist handed her a bill for $325.
There must be a mistake, Ms. Steinwand said. So the pharmacist checked with her supervisor. The new price was correct. Kaiser’s policy had changed. Now Kaiser was charging 25 percent of the cost of the drug up to a maximum of $325 per prescription. Her annual cost would be $3,900 and unless her insurance changed or the drug dropped in price, it would go on for the rest of her life.
“I charged it, then got into my car and burst into tears,” Ms. Steinwand said.
She needed the drug, she said, because it can slow the course of her disease. And she knew she would just have to pay for it, but it would not be easy.
“It’s a tough economic time for everyone,” she said. “My son will start college in a year and a half. We are asking ourselves, can we afford a vacation? Can we continue to save for retirement and college?”
These are the fears and concerns of middle-class voters that Rep. Jeff Flake's airy-fairy laissez-faire ideology can't deal with.
So he ignores them.
Jeff Flake's lack of concern for the problems of families in his district is stunning. He's more concerned with raking in the campaign contributions he's getting from the same insurance companies now making life difficult for everyday people.
And yet he's still a shoo-in for re-election.
What's wrong with this picture?
Maybe nothing's wrong with it and something's wrong with me.
If I weren't uninsured, I might go to a doctor to find out.