The front page of the Boston Globe is dismal today:
- With heart attack victim aboard, T train stops twice: “A man suffering a heart attack yesterday morning was kept aboard an MBTA commuter train that made two scheduled stops before reaching waiting paramedics at Back Bay Station in Boston as horrified passengers implored the crew to bypass the stations.” [Addendum: this link does not seem to be available anymore at the Boston Globe website.]
- The beached whales return to shore; many die despite rescuers’ futile efforts, to the horror of throngs of vacationing onlookers. [And to think I was jubilant yesterday…]
- Massachusetts is cutting reimbursement rates for “MassHealth” (Medicaid) prescriptions, prompting the three pharmacy chains that together account for the bulk of Massachusetts prescription fulfillment to threaten to stop filling MassHealth patients’ prescriptions. The Speaker of the House sneers that the “taxpayers” have had enough of subsidizing the poor in this way. Admittedly, MassHealth expenditures are growing at around 10% a year and are already the single largest expenditure line in the state budget, but if Medicaid recipients can’t fill their prescriptions in their neighborhoods, thousands will go without medications, literally consigning some to death.
Instead of squeezing Medicaid recipients between the rock and hard place of the “taxpayers” and the profit margin of the retail pharmacy chains, Massachusetts (which was one of the states that was most adamant about going after Big Tobacco when Scott Harshbarger was attorney general), ought to go to the source — this is largely a problem of the rapacity of the pharmaceutical manufacturers. Putting pharmacies out of business, gouging ‘bottomless’ entitlement programs, and using poor medication-dependent patients as life-and-death pawns are just business as usual, until pricing policy for Medicaid patients’ drugs is made an issue just as the pricing of AIDS drugs for Africa has been.