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I currently have a contract with my doctor where I get exactly, to the day, the number of pain meds I need to keep the chronic pain I feel at bay. Even then, it is really close, to the minute, whether I can maintain a reasonable level of comfort. If I were to miss one of my three daily doses, I'd begin to feel the unrelenting pain caused by having undiagnosed shingles three years ago. If for some reason I were unable to get my meds every eight hours, every day, I would be on the ground screaming. Unable to function on my own.
It seems worth mentioning that I have weaned off morphine to hydromorphone to hydrocodone plus acetaminophen.
Every day I worry about whether I will be able to continue to get my pain meds. It dominates my thoughts.
My concern is that my doctor will quit or get reassigned or who knows what so that I will have to re-prove that my pain is real all over again. Why do I fear that? Because I know that my doctor has to deal with short-staffing, overwork or just plain burnout from her job. I worry that the insurance company will make arbitrary changes at any moment. I have also had other doctors arbitrarily try to make changes to my medicine regimen.
I also have to worry about whether the CEO of my insurance company will get his $3 million-plus bonus every year.
Now I have to worry about new legislation that will add another fee to the cost of my medicine. Just reading the commentary "Opioid fee would hurt those already in pain" (Opinion Exchange, March 29) causes a knot in my stomach and instant depressing thoughts. Go get counseling, you say? At what additional cost? More instant depression, I say.
I am retired, driven out of my job three years ago as a machinist because I could no longer handle the responsibility and strenuous physical requirements of owning my own business.
Now I am retired on a fixed income. I worry about whether or not my Social Security will be taxed or underfunded in the future.
I don't need another fee added to the cost of my medicine.
David L. Nyseth, Plymouth
My son has cystic fibrosis, and since his diagnosis in 2000 I have fundraised, advocated and created awareness of this terrible disease and the toll it takes on patients. A few drugs have been developed to relieve the severity of CF, and access to them is critical. While I know that every patient with a chronic condition would welcome lower drug prices with open arms, I am not convinced establishing a prescription drug affordability board would provide significant savings for patients like my son ("Don't forget patients who have a rare disease," Opinion Exchange, March 29).
I fear that we will run the risk of limiting the types of medicines that Minnesotans can access by allowing unelected officials with no medical expertise to set arbitrary upper payment limits. If my son's physicians and pharmacy cannot access his medicines at or below the upper payment limit set in Minnesota, would they even be able to carry them? Would my son be able to get these lifesaving drugs? He is currently thriving with these breakthrough drugs and recently shared with me that he is able to entertain the idea of saving for retirement. In the past, CF patients did not live long enough to retire. Rare disease patients like my son need access to breakthrough drugs, and they need to be able to continue hoping for the next breakthrough drug.
I know the Legislature is pursuing a number of bills to help lower costs and improve access for patients, such as capping the amount that patients with chronic conditions would pay per month and removing pharmacy benefit managers from Minnesota's Medical Assistance program. For the sake of all rare disease patients, I would strongly urge our elected officials to focus on these bills and withdraw their support for a PDAB.
Pamela Mertz, St. Michael
How is there nothing to be done?
I want to ask some of our Republican legislators how they sleep at night. Do they think at all about the adults and children who have been shot to death on any particular day? Do they lovingly polish their AR-15 lapel pins before storing them away for the night?
I have no problem with responsible gun ownership. People who own guns for sport or other personal reasons and have met commonsense safety legislation are not a threat. I do have a problem with adults and children being killed because of the insane lack of commonsense gun-control laws.
Perhaps public service announcements similar to the graphic anti-smoking campaign or the startling pictures of drunken-driving outcomes will shock these legislators to action. At least it should bring a few tears to their shameful eyes.
Oh, and removing all the side doors from schools as a deterrent will not help. They are called fire exits.
Yes, I know about the Second Amendment, and how it can be interpreted based on various points of view. But I do believe the arms it is referring to are muskets.
Yes, absolutely we need mental health solutions in this country. So while we are figuring out how to implement better mental health care, let's keep the weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill. This can't be done without commonsense legislation. Inaction is killing our citizens. It is killing our precious children. Congress, do your duty.
Nancy Gunderson, Blaine
Congressional Republicans are saying mental illness is the main reason for gun violence in our nation. So let's deal with it. Is it too much to ask those who have worked so hard to provide nearly everyone with the freedom to possess a gun to take some responsibility? How about a tax on sales of all firearms and ammunition dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness? Please do something!
Tim Wirth, Lakeland
Better late than never
I served as a medic during the war in Vietnam. Years later I was furious when Robert McNamara publicly stated something like, "Gee, I'm sorry. We knew at the time we shouldn't be there." Current public admission of false premises for invading Iraq bring up the same rage ("Senate votes to repeal war authorizations," March 30). Only Congress can declare war, says the Constitution, and we swore to protect that when we enlisted or were drafted. My understanding is that the horror of war be dependent on intense congressional scrutiny over whether there is absolutely no other way to solve that problem. It's late, but I applaud the Senate for voting to repeal the 2003 authorization for the president to bypass Congress. May the House have the patriotism and courage to do the same.
Larry Johnson, Golden Valley
National Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29 got lost in bad and sad news lately.
Vietnam War veterans were the ones recruited to serve our country overseas and complied with their duties. When they returned, they were spat upon, kicked, ignored, cursed, isolated and embarrassed to mention they even served. They had no choice. They followed orders. They went. They served our nation.
National Vietnam Veterans Day should be acknowledged not just one day but every day to even begin to make up for bad treatment received returning. Thank a vet. Every vet. Every place of service. Every day. Thank you.
Barbara Nylen, Minneapolis