I was sitting in my easy chair, enjoying the morning and thinking and — the more I think the angrier I get, so I decided to make you angry, too. I’m not normally given to using profanity but this really pisses me off and I hope it pisses you off, too. Warning, this is highly political, but it is not partisan. This is one of those issues you and I can do something about.
This is a perfect example of what Bernie used to talk about. Big business buys off politicians to screw the little guy…only in this case, it kills the little guy and that little guy could be you or someone you love.
This is so stupid it is beyond comprehension. First, a moment to establish my credentials. Ten years ago I had a heart transplant. I take medication every day to prevent my body from rejecting my heart. No medication and I die.
I was of Medicare age when I got my new heart so Medicare pays for the drugs for life. But…if you are not of Medicare age or disabled and need a kidney transplant they will still pay for the surgery, but they will only pay for the life-saving drugs for 36 months. The meds can cost up to $20,000 a year and at the end of 3 years you’d better have the money or you will go into rejection. That means your body will reject the donor kidney because it doesn’t recognize it as a natural part of your body and if that happens you will die.
Here’s where dumb meets dumberer. If you go into rejection Medicare will pay to stabilize you and they will pay for dialysis for the rest of your life. They will even pay for a second kidney transplant if you can get one, but they won’t pay past 36 months for the drugs.
Before you blame Medicare…it’s not their fault. It’s the politicians who are in bed with the dialysis industry. 80 percent of the 120,000 people on the organ waiting list need kidneys and you can’t get on the list unless doctors say you are dying and a transplant is your only hope.
22 people die every day because there aren’t enough organ donors. Are you one? If not, why not? Well, the fact is the organ demand far outstrips the supply.
Time and time again bills have been brought before congress to change this absurd, money wasting, life-threatening practice, but the congress always says, “No.” You know why? It’s because the dialysis industry bought them off with campaign contributions and heavy lobbying. The Representatives and Senators who vote against providing the medications are effectively saying, “My re-election is more important than your life.”They are in bed with the dialysis industry.
Policymakers (that’s congress) have chosen to provide kidney patients a lifetime of dialysis treatments instead of the drugs. Dialysis is three times more expensive than anti-rejection drugs and shortens your lifespan. In the meantime, the taxpayers get a $71,000 annual Medicare tab for each dialysis patient. And worse yet, often, because of the need for a second transplant, two of the precious, donated organs are expended instead of one.
One bill by Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois would pay for the drugs by taking about 1 percent — that’s one percent of the $8.6 billion annual outpatient dialysis budget to pay for anti-rejection meds. One Percent! But the Dialysis industry fights this as though it was 90 percent. They are effectively saying, “Our business is more important than your life.”
If this lunacy pisses you off as much as it does me, call your congressman or senator and tell him what you think.
The bottom line is that our politicians in Washington from both parties have been bought by the dialysis industry. It is costing lives…human lives…lives they are sworn to protect and they don’t care. On that basis alone, any lawmaker that has voted against legislation that would change this stupid practice should be thrown out of office because it tells you everything you need to know about his or her integrity.
Please consider contacting your Senators and House Member. To determine your Senators and House Member, go to http://www.congress.org and input your zip code under Get Involved.
And that’s the truth
Bob Aronson has worked as a journalist, talk show host, Governor’s Press Secretary and communications consultant. He had a heart transplant in 2007 and since then founded the Facebook support group Organ Transplant Initiative and a special blog on transplant/organ donation issues called Bob ‘s Newheart. It, too, is here on WordPress.