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Ralph Nader on Health Care

2008 Independent for for President; 2004 Reform nominee; 2000 Green nominee


For single-payer; all major candidates oppose it

All the candidates--McCain, Obama and Clinton--are against single payer health insurance, full Medicare for all. I’m for it, as well as millions of Americans and 59% of physicians in a forthcoming poll this April.
Source: Meet the Press: 2008 “Meet the Candidates” series , Feb 24, 2008

Billing fraud and abuse costs $200B

Corporations are ripping into the health-care dollar, over $200 billion of computerized billing fraud and abuse, according to the GAO. You have over $300 billion that can be saved by a full Medicare system in administrative expenses. You have too many operations. You have over-medication. These are the things that corporations are profiting from. In addition to medical malpractice and infectious hospital-induced infections.
Source: CNN Late Edition: 2008 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer , Feb 3, 2008

Single-payer health care plan over for-profit care

Q: Briefly describe Nader’s position on Universal Health Care.

A: Ralph Nader “supports a single-payer health care plan that replaces for-profit, investor-owned health care and removes the private health insurance industry. He favors replacing our fragmented, market-based system with a single-payer health plan--where the government finances health care, but keeps the delivery of health care to private nonprofits, and allows free choice of doctors and hospitals for patients.”

Source: Green Party 2008 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire , Feb 3, 2008

3.5% payroll tax to fund universal healthcare

[During the 2000 election, Nader] regularly recited a plan for funding universal healthcare-- aiding 45 million uninsured Americans--by means of a 3.5% payroll levy on employers combined with a tax on stock transactions that would generate $120 billion annually.
Source: Nader: Crusader, Spoiler, Icon, by Justin Martin, p.252 , Sep 1, 2002

Military development of cheap vaccines shows up Big Pharma

[I met with] naval researchers on global infectious diseases with Congressman Sherrod Brown and his colleagues. The government's only "drug company" is in the Department of Defense, where army and naval medical scientists with incredible efficiency have discovered and tested major anti-malarial drugs, along with other drugs and vaccines now used throughout the world. This remarkable story of amazing successes with first-class science on tiny budgets, extending over three decades, shows up the exorbitant major drug companies that have no interest in investing in malaria, TB, and other infectious disease research, because they don't see enough money in it for them.
Source: Crashing the Party, by Ralph Nader, p.108 , Jan 17, 2002

Enforce fair drug prices if sponsored by govt research

Since the early 1980s, the government has routinely given away the fruits of the research it sponsors, granting private companies exclusive, royalty-free rights to commercialize government-financed inventions while failing to include reasonable pricing requirements in the licenses.

In the critical area of pharmaceuticals, this research giveaway policy leads to superprofiteering by drug manufacturers, who charge unconscionably high prices for important medicines-costing consumers, and often resulting in the denial of treatment to consumers who are unable to pay high prices.

Where the government hands an annual billion-dollar revenue earner [like exclusive licenses to distribute government-researched medicines] to a private company for a pittance, is it too much to ask the relevant federal agency to enforce reasonable pricing requirements? This has resulted in a failure to avert preventable cancer deaths. Shame clearly will not work as a disciplinary force to limit corporate welfare abuses.

Source: Cutting Corporate Welfare, p. 57-58 & 62 , Oct 9, 2000

Medicare prescriptions covered under universal health care

Q: Would elderly people with low incomes get all the prescription drugs they need at no cost to them under your proposals?

A: Yes, under a system of universal health care. Price restraints should be placed on all drugs especially developed with taxpayer money, and multiple licenses should be issued for those drugs in order to stimulate competition and bring prices down. The Medicare authorities should negotiate lower drug prices, as the V.A. and the Pentagon are already doing.

Source: Associated Press , Sep 8, 2000

Price restraints on drugs; limit profiteering

The pharmaceutical industry is suffering from a malaise where corporate profits are more highly valued than people’s health. Price restraints should be placed on all drugs especially developed with taxpayer money, and multiple licenses should be issued for those drugs in order to stimulate competition and bring prices down. In addition, the government should react to corporate profiteering by developing needed drugs itself.
Source: Associated Press , Sep 8, 2000

Opposes assisted suicide laws for terminally ill

Ralph Nader strongly condemned Oregon’s first-in-the-nation assisted suicide law. He told reporters he thinks Oregon voters made a mistake by twice endorsing a law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to the terminally ill. “It’s cruel to people who would otherwise not want to die if they had adequate pain relief.” Nader said he was worried that the law targets terminally ill patients who suffer from depression or who worry about being an undue financial burden to their relatives.
Source: AP Story, NY Times , Aug 25, 2000

Cradle-to-grave health care better than Clinton’s plan

Q: What did you think of Clinton’s health care proposal?

A: It’s a jury-rigged health care proposal that makes the health care industry half happy and everyone else half happy. Why can’t the richest country have cradle-to-grave health care like Europe and Asia? We need universal health care which is accessible, affordable, with quality care, and relying on preventive health. We have waited long enough -- we don’t need a plan like Bush’s or itty-bitty steps like Gore’s.

Source: National Public Radio, “The Connection” , Jul 11, 2000

Use Canadian system as a model for US

And they’re telling us the Canadian system is no good.
Source: Horace Mann Middle School, San Francisco , May 3, 2000

Health care is a universal human right

These people up in Canada stumbled upon something 30 years ago. It’s called a universal human right: health care, and preventive health as well. If they can do it 30 years ago we can do it now.
Source: Horace Mann Middle School, San Francisco , May 3, 2000

Recast health care in a non-profit mode

I think we are in a real transitory period, which gives us a real opportunity to recast our health cares system in a nonprofit mode and implement universal health care.
Source: American Health Line, Campaign 2000 , Mar 21, 2000

Keep commercialism out of maternity wards

Noting that “these days, the business of birth starts early with the cutting of the umbilical cord,” consumer advocate Ralph Nader has asked the American Hospital Association to urge member hospitals to keep commercialism out of the maternity wards. Nader writes, “In hospitals across the country, mothers giving birth are likely to receive a gift bag overflowing with brand name goodies and promotions from businesses eager to have their companies’ names follow a child from birth to their own first purchases. Often unaware of exactly what they are distributing, hospital staff have become unwitting promoters of T-shirts, baby detergents, nursing pads, soup, commercial guides to infant growth, children’s medications and, most prominently, infant formula.“
Source: Press Release , Aug 27, 1999

Make medicines affordable in Third World

For years, consumer activists have asked Gore to reverse the US policy of punishing developing country governments that tried to make essential medicines more affordable for sick people. And Gore ignored the calls. Matters suddenly changed on June 16 when a AIDS activists began demonstrating. In late June, with pressure building, Gore told the Congressional Black Caucus that he supported South Africa’s right to use the controversial policies of compulsory licensing and parallel imports.
Source: In the Public Interest: “Gore: Do the Right Thing” , Jul 22, 1999

Challenge the monetization of HMOs

Unless reform addresses the imbalances of power & the business-as- usual, profits-before-patients approach of HMO corporations, the public will neither be safe nor satisfied. Patients, doctors, & nurses demand that reform genuinely challenge a monetized HMO establishment intent on undermining the health of patients and the professionalism of physicians and nurses. If civil society does not reassert itself over the arrogance of giant HMOs, the quality of our health care will continue to be compromised.
Source: Letter to the House of Representatives , Jul 15, 1999

HMO review procedures must be independent of HMOs

Independent review procedures only work well in conjunction with civil liability and when reviews are truly independent of the HMOs. Privatized third party review systems, such as those established by the GOP plan, permit bureaucratic maneuvers by HMOs that an ill patient has neither the time nor capability to defend against. The possibility of damages against an HMO, should that patient not get appropriate care, will compel the time-sensitive urgent treatment approval that can save a life.
Source: Letter to the House of Representatives , Jul 15, 1999

HMO plan: accountability, doctor-driven, independent review

These principles are the bare-bones beginning of reforms. They are the minimum patients deserve to even the balance of power between themselves and HMO corporations that are turning doctors’ offices and hospitals into commercially dominated domains.
Source: Letter to the House of Representatives , Jul 15, 1999

Stop shifting liability from HMOs to doctors

Broad compulsory arbitration clauses imposed by nonunionized employers on their employees also have been spreading in recent years. HMOs have explicit indemnification or "hold harmless" provision permitting the HMO to shift any liability resulting from a policy that withholds necessary care from a patient onto the physician. Attorneys for the HMOs draft joint-hold harmless rules that appear to the untutored eye like reciprocal agreements between physicians and HMOs. They are in reality very one-sided.
Source: No Contest, by Ralph Nader, p.364 , Dec 22, 1998

Stop firing doctors for pointing out bad conditions at HMOs

HMOs have a "gag rule" clause in contracts to curb a doctor's right of free speech. Of course, the attorneys do not call it a "gag rule" in the fine print. Here is how one health insurer phrases the shut-up: "Physicians shall agree not to take any action or make any communications which undermined or could undermine the confidence of enrollees, potential enrollees, their employees, their unions, or the public in [name of insurance company] or the quality of care which it provides." So, for example, if a patient complains about being undertreated, the physician would be barred by contract from telling him about financial incentives given to doctors to keep down treatments.

You can get fired for speaking about bad conditions or sleazy practices within your health insurer's domain.

Source: No Contest, by Ralph Nader, p.364 , Dec 22, 1998

Big Pharma blocks selling generic drugs to Third World

Earlier, in the sixties, [Clinton White House Counsel Lloyd] Cutler represented the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America’s (PMA) drive to block selling the government of Colombia lower-priced generic drugs--from 80% to 90% cheaper than the brand-name medicines for some important antibiotics. A Senate investigator believed that the effect of the PMA’s opposition to generic drug marketing would be to deny necessary medicines to large numbers of impoverished people in South America.

More than ten years later, Cutler was asked what had finally happened with respect to the proposed deal with Colombia. He replied, “I don’t know; you see, I was only outside counsel to PMA.” In Cutler’s long career and within his large firm of attorneys, this episode is only one of dozens that are handled in routine daily work, where a situational ethic of amorality is just part of being a “professional.”

Source: No Contest, by Ralph Nader & Wesley Smith, Chapter One , Dec 1, 1998

Criticizes “sweetheart deal” for big tobacco

There is an alternative -- take their cases to trial, or settle them on an individual basis. States doing this would get better deals, and the opportunity to build on what came before.
Source: Press Release , Nov 16, 1998


Ralph Nader on Tobacco

Council for Tobacco Research is for propaganda, not research

As lengthy pretrial proceedings in the tobacco case went forward, prosecutors began to examine the role of the Council for Tobacco Research (CTR), an organization created & funded by tobacco interests. CTR presented itself to the public as an independent research institute that objectively investigated the health impact of smoking. The prosecutors contended that, in fact, the CTR had only one goal: to cover up the truth about the harmful effects of tobacco use.

To substantiate their contention about th CTR, the prosecutors sought access to internal tobacco industry documents that they believed would reveal that the industry itself saw the CTR as a propaganda organization. Specifically, they contended that the documents would show that the CTR established a "special projects" section, directed by industry lawyers rather than scientists, where data considered to be harmful to tobacco interests would be placed and protected from public disclosure through claims of "attorney-client privilege."

Source: No Contest, by Ralph Nader, p. 18-19 , Dec 22, 1998

Tobacco industry hid truth via attorney-client privilege

In 1984, a suit filed suit in the US District Court charged that the tobacco industry had for many years engaged in fraudulent conduct by actively concealing known dangers associated with smoking. The tobacco industry lawyers, from several New Jersey corporate firms, waged a fierce fight, as tobacco lawyers have in suits brought by smokers all over the country. Conceding nothing, they fought particularly hard to avoid the disclosure of documents.

Data considered to be harmful to tobacco interests would be placed and protected from public disclosure through claims of "attorney-client privilege"--a legal doctrine that protects communications between a client and a lawyer from disclosure. Indeed, the tobacco industry lawyers argued strenuously that records concerning the "special projects" section were protected from disclosure by the privilege The two sides wrestled over the issue for more than a year, until 1991--seven years after the lawsuit had been filed.

Source: No Contest, by Ralph Nader, p. 18-19 , Dec 22, 1998

Let FDA regulate nicotine as an addictive drug

Q: How long have the tobacco companies worked with enhancing the addictive quality of their product?

A: At least as far back as the early ‘60’s. At the same time these tobacco companies were saying: tobacco doesn’t cause cancer, tobacco isn’t harmful, and all these 300 or 400 medical studies are nonsense.

Q: And the role of the federal government?

A: The FDA laid off tobacco for years because it was never classified as a drug. Therefore it had no jurisdiction to go after tobacco. Now they’ve held hearings in Congress, and there’s a rule in the making that classifies nicotine as drug. Pharmacologically it’s as an addictive drug as you’ll ever get. It’ll probably be about a year before the FDA issues a rule severely restricting the tobacco industry from marketing tobacco to children. They’ll still sell to adults. But they can’t start giving out free cigarettes, having cigarette machines where kids can access, & having advertisements like Joe Camel beaming to the kids, if this rule passes.

Source: Interview by Jerry Brown on “We The People” Radio , Mar 20, 1996

Tobacco is the world’s worst air pollutant

Q: You smoked a bit once, didn’t you?

A: Yes, at college and at law school. [But one day] I sat down and thought it through and I said, “Why am I smoking? This is foolish.” And I just went cold turkey. It was about 3 years before the surgeon general report.

Q: His recent report said that the smoking companies were trying to fight back, but with little effect?

A: I think so, because they’re running up against the right of people to breathe air without someone else’s smoke, and second, the social stigma. They cannot fight that kind of cultural tide. And I think they’re going to lose. That’s why they’re spending their time trying to hook millions of Chinese and Russian peoples with tobacco. That’s where their main expansion is. And fortunately, there’s a growing anti-smoking consumer movement worldwide.

Q: What about other air pollutants?

A: The worst pollutant still is tobacco. It kills over 400,000 people in the US, about two and a half million worldwide, and going up fast.

Source: David Frost interview , Oct 21, 1994

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Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

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Page last updated: Oct 09, 2013