So there was a post on Facebook recently, an article about a working mom having to pay almost twice what she did 30 years ago for child care. And I wanted to “like” this post, because it is in fact an issue that we should all care about — and I believe it to be true. Thirty years ago as a single mother of two small children, but with a good secretarial job and a little bit of child support coming in, I could afford (though just barely) two kids in full-time licensed day care. I’m pretty sure this would be impossible today.
But here’s why I couldn’t “like” this post.
I went through my “do I dare like this post” ritual — you know the one. Who in my FB feed is my “like” going to offend, or who is going to lecture me? We’re talking about a story about the high cost of child care here, not immigration, or the president — or God forbid, those Parkland kids — what could possibly be objectionable or controversial?
But here it is. I can’t “like” this post because I know someone — maybe even my own relatives — will say “if you can’t afford your children you shouldn’t have them.”
There is virtually nothing these days beyond the photo of a puppy that isn’t divisive anymore. And that puppy … you should really adopt an older rescue dog. What’s wrong with you!?
Jeanne Laqua, White Bear Lake
Sometimes, when needed, they’re nowhere to be found
People who know me are aware of my big mouth (respectful, though) on political things on Facebook. OK, this one’s different.
My niece was recently stopped at a stop sign on her way to work. She was suddenly hit from behind. I will not go into the damage to her car, other than that it was pushed across the street. She was injured — thank God nothing was broken.
I am talking at this time about my sense of total and complete dismay at the people who witnessed the accident, the people who saw her car being pushed across a street — and did not stop. Not one person stopped to see if she was hurt, or even to call 911. My niece had to do that herself. People just drove around her and the smashed vehicles and kept going.
Are we that far in our sensitivity, empathy, etc., that we don’t stop for another human in trouble on the road? What is wrong with people? I cannot understand that, but most of all, I am so very angry at those community members who did nothing for her. With all I see in the news, and my own views, is that people want a closer community, more kindness to one another. What the heck happened?
Rita A. Kahn, Maple Grove
Editor’s note: For another side of this issue, see “A Good Samaritan tale,” Readers Write, March 29.
Employers, wages are where monitoring is truly needed
Instead of attempting to punish Medical Assistance recipients with new rules (“It’s only fair: Work requirements are reasonable in exchange for free health care,” March 30), let’s identify employers who keep wages and/or hours so low that workers must rely on state programs. An appropriate employer assessment could help subsidize the program and save taxpayer money.
Betty Wentworth, Minnetonka
Hard to see pharmaceuticals as constituting an honest market
The April 1 Science & Health article about one child’s annual $21 million medicine highlighting states’ struggles to control Medicaid costs did not indicate the source of the problem. I believe blame can be placed with the pharmaceutical industry. The extremely overpriced drug market has made it impossible for families in need of medication to obtain it without the help of Medicaid — and thereby the taxpayers.
The blame should not be placed upon individual states (in this case, California) to work to reduce the rising coverage costs of Medicaid programs. It should be the federal government’s responsibility to impose restrictions on pharmaceutical companies and their astronomical pricing of medication. The young boy in the article was costing the state $21 million a year on a medication that he needs to live — which is simply outrageous.
Unfortunately, he is not the only one whose family is suffering from the rising cost of prescription medication. Thousands of Americans are in the situation of having to decide between medication or rent or a car payment. The fact that there are only 20,000 people with hemophilia in the U.S., while the hemophilia drug market is worth $4.6 billion, is quite telling.
Individual states should not be left to figure out how to manage the care and costs of their seriously ill citizens while prescription meds are costing so much. For many families, the decision to use pricey medications is literally the difference between life and death.
Darcy Steinhaus, Minneapolis
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I would wish that everyone would buy a copy of “An American Sickness,” by Elisabeth Rosenthal. In her book, she details the extreme profit-taking that has become the medical-industrial complex, but specifically she writes about the problem of hemophilia medications.
Before 1993, the factor VIII (a protein) needed for blood clotting required tens of thousands of units of blood to make a concentrate for a single dose. In 1993, the gene for factor VIII was sequenced, and using DNA technology rather than blood plasma made the medication cheaper and simpler to make.
Aha, one would think, great! Now the medication can be given more cheaply and in a timelier manner, as many hemophiliacs suffer joint damage from internal bleeding. Oh, no — the new products were priced higher, causing a ripple effect on the old way of factor VIII concentration, increasing that price also.
In 2007-08, the recombinant-DNA-manufactured factor VIII would lose patents, allowing generics to come online, but the DNA product was improved and so the generic market never materialized. However, Britain, Canada and Australia were able to cut the price of the medication in half in 2009. The improved version of the medication came out in 2014; two well-respected leaders in hemophilia research communities urged pharma companies to charge less, due to the fact that the development costs had been already paid for many times over, but the drug came out at twice the price of the older version.
The April 1 article did state that the drug companies profit handsomely, but did not explain how the current product is cheaper and easier to make. In this case, as in many, the medical system holds a gun to one’s head and says, “Your money or your life.” Such extreme profits on the backs of children, families and all Americans should not be allowed. Indeed, if we cannot regulate the cost of our medical system, like individual bankruptcies due to medical costs, our government will bankrupt itself to pay the cost.
Coral Bastien, Minneapolis
Meanwhile, bedside manner
I am a senior citizen. Nothing makes me feel more condescended to than when my doctor comes in the exam room and greets me with: “Well, hello, young lady!” It happens surprisingly often. I immediately feel like all my concerns will be discounted.
Sandra Wucher, Anoka