In a country that prides itself on medical excellence, we also have one of the most dysfunctional healthcare delivery systems in the world. While politicians tiptoe around the problem, thousands of Americans live sicker and die younger because they don't have access to even basic care. According to the Institute of Medicine, some 18,000 people die prematurely every year as a result of being uninsured...As though this weren't dire enough, now even the future of our existing subsidized programs is in jeopardy. Nearly every state has announced plans to trim Medicaid, potentially leaving millions more without any coverage. -Julie Winokur San Francisco Chronicle, April 27, 2003In Oregon, human services have been devastated by the budget cuts of the last few years. According to the Census Bureau, the number of medically uninsured in the state rose by 16.6% in 2003 to a total of over 600,000. According to Families USA, over the last two years, 968,000 Oregonians have been uninsured and nearly one out of 3 (30.7% of) Oregonians under age 65 had no health insurance for all or part of the 2 year period from 2002-2003. People have already been dying from cuts to social services and with the failure of Measure 30 last February, the Oregon Department of Human Services is facing an additional $207 million budget cut. Massive budget cuts in the last few years have caused thousands of Oregonians to lose access to medical care. Healthcare in Oregon Coverage offered by the Oregon Heath Plan (OHP) has been reduced dramatically in the last few years. In 2003, because of budget cuts, 40,000 OHP clients lost all benefits for drug treatment and outpatient mental health services. According to Street Roots, April 1, 2004, 65% of these clients had incomes less than half of the federal poverty level ($521 per month for a family of two) and more than 18,000 had income of less than 10 percent of the federal poverty level. In February 2003, the Medically Needy Program was eliminated. This program covered about 9,000 people who had high medication expenses but did not qualify for OHP. It was partially reinstated one month later but only for organ transplant recipients and HIV/AIDS patients. When the Medically Needy Program was eliminated, 36 year old Douglas Schmidt lost his prescription drug benefit. Schmidt, who took medication to control his epilepsy, ran out of pills and soon had a massive seizure that left him in a coma. He never regained consciousness and died when he was removed from life support. Schmidt's monthly social security disability income of $642 made him ineligible for OHP.
"Now, to reduce the cost of the plan, we are going to stop re-enrolling people with incomes above 50 percent of the federal poverty level. Think about it. For a family of four, the poverty level today is about $18,500" -former governor John Kitzhaber, interviewed by Peter Wong, Jul 18, 2004 - Statesman JournalNow OHP is facing more cruel cuts. Applications are no longer being accepted for OHP Standard, the coverage that was available to low income people who don't qualify for Medicaid. The plan once covered about 130,000 people but as of August 2004 covered about 53,000. Now the number of people covered by OHP Standard will be reduced to 24,000. Medical options for Oregon's many low income and unemployed citizens are shrinking as OHP disappears and clinics shut down. For example, on July 29, 2004, Multnomah County's Southeast Health Center clinic which served low income patients closed. The clinic, which served about 8,500 patients, was closed because of budget cuts. Multnomah County Commissioner Lisa Naito was quoted in the Oregonian, "It's really heartbreaking to have to close this clinic...With all the cuts in the Oregon Health Plan, there are going to be thousands of people without the means to pay for healthcare". While sucking up more money than ever for pointless animal research, OHSU has been closing clinics and has threatened to close their poison control hotline for lack of funds. Social Services in Oregon
"We have a lack of bed space for mentally ill patients in the hospitals here in the Portland area. Sometimes if they're wandering the streets, the police have to put them in jail because there's nowhere else to take them. This is the richest country in the world - it is inexcusable that we have citizens here who can't get proper healthcare and medication."Many social service programs in Oregon have shut down and those agencies that remain are understaffed, underfunded, and struggling to survive. During the 2001-03 biennium, the Oregon Department of Human Services budget was cut by $273.4 million and the impact on social services was devastating. While mental health and addiction services where being cut for thousands of people on OHP, cuts were also made to county public health allocations which had been used to manage communicable diseases and provide prenatal and early childhood care. Cuts were also made in services for seniors and people with physical and developmental disabilities.
Kim Swennes, quoted by oregoniansforhealthsecurity.org 6/5/2004
Kim Swennes, quoted by oregoniansforhealthsecurity.org 6/5/2004
"Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare is one of the many healthcare providers in Portland that have been cut. Their first layoff was 1/3 of their staff, and now they have laid off more. The caseworkers went from 80 clients each to 150, and now they are considering getting rid of caseworkers all together. One county program is up to 650 families per caseworker. Many women cannot get services unless they are pregnant or have children. "Some services were restored temporarily to the most vocal. Transplant and HIV patients had their medications reinstated, but only until June. Others, including those with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and those being treated with methadone are overdosing, dying, and/or finding themselves in hospital emergency rooms. Doctors are having to advise their patients which drugs will cause the least trauma when they are forced to do without. These are difficult decisions for caregivers and their patients. "Annie [a social service worker who was laid off because of budget cuts] stated, "Since methadone was cut, the number of overdoses has skyrocketed. People cannot go to counseling and don't have caseworkers. Mental Health patients do not have the medications needed to keep them safe. People are not able to get test strips for diabetes. People are dying slowly and painfully. Suicides are increasing. The amount of pain people are feeling is terrible, it's so terrible."Local homeless and "at-risk" youth services have been hit hard by budget cuts, forcing the closure of programs, lay-offs, and reductions in employee benefits. Multnomah County's Youth Investment System, which has been providing support services for youth and their families, has largely been dismantled due to budget cuts. Drastic budget cuts have forced Janus Youth Services to close many of their programs including the Reese Lamb shelter, which had been open since 1976. Janus was also recently forced to close the Eastwind Community and Family Center. Proven services that provide social support to children are disappearing. Meanwhile, OHSU's Judy Cameron is getting public money to investigate in monkeys whether social support helps children avoid depression. Addiction Supposedly we don't have the funds to adequately help people struggling with drug addiction. Locally, tens of thousands of people have lost addiction treatment coverage because of budget cuts in the last few years. Meanwhile we are paying for hundreds of animal-based addiction experiments that at best continue to demonstrate what we already know. According to an audit done by Michael Budkie, in 2002 the NIH (with our money) simultaneously funded 109 projects studying cocaine in mice, 286 projects studying cocaine in rats, and 55 projects studying cocaine in macaque monkeys. At OHSU, Oline Ronnekleiv has been injecting pregnant monkeys with cocaine to study the damage done to their babies. This study alone has cost us $233,203. According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, 700,000 pregnant women use illegal drugs. Clearly there is no lack of data on the effects of human cocaine use. Not only is it obvious and well documented that maternal cocaine use is harmful, trying to learn about human addiction in another species is futile. Drug addiction and other human mental health problems are complex conditions involving cultural, psychological, and physiological factors that are unique to humans. While Ronnekleiv and others waste our money, those who are actually helping addicts are underfunded. According to Chaela Manning, a mentor/case manager for people with dual diagnoses (mental health/addiction disorders): "We don't have adequate resources to support our work at all. We're constantly scratching for resources for the clients, food, shelter...housing, medical, dental...A lot of my clients have serious need of psychiatric medication. They don't get it. There is nothing we can do to get it for them...As a result of not having their medication that they need, generally they continue to relapse. We've had a couple of suicides. That's always just devastating, knowing that there could have been something done."
Marianne Hall, April 14, 2003, Portland Survival
Marianne Hall, April 14, 2003, Portland Survival
"But perhaps the most ridiculous (animal) research is that of drug addiction. To take a nonhuman primate out of his natural environment, addict him to a substance he would never have otherwise come in contact with and expect to learn the psychological and physiological reasons why a human abuses crack is ludicrous. The Committee on Animals in Biomedical Research has stated "It is impossible to reproduce human cocaine abuse in the laboratory - nonhuman primate or human - because drug use reflects psychological factors that do not have laboratory correlates, such as drug cost, drug purity, drug availability, drug mixtures, the setting, users' physical health, and others." State University of New York scientist Diana Dow-Edwards states, "Of course, due to the complex nature of cocaine's pharmacology, there is no perfect animal model. It is virtually impossible to perfectly model human development in anything other than a human being...Within the animal literature, all in all, there is a low level of demonstrated reproducibility...no two studies have found the same effects." Perhaps we should take the dollars out of the laboratory and put them where they will do some good. Use them to study the all too many humans that are addicted. - www.curedisease.comAIDS Around the country we are continuing to fund monkey based AIDS research even though it has produced nothing of value and has actually delayed progress. Despite the fact that monkeys don't get the disease, AIDS vaccine research is conducted in monkeys at OHSU. (Even though OHSU has fancy looking pamphlets that say their monkey research is the way to find a vaccine for AIDS, there is no evidence to back up this claim). Meanwhile it is getting harder for people to get AIDS drugs in the U.S.
"As the growing epidemic slams up against state austerity measures, ADAP (AIDS Drug Assistance Program) has descended into crisis...As of early October, more than 600 people with HIV have been denied access to medication through the program. Three states have tightened income eligibility requirements; five have restricted the list of drugs they cover, hampering competent treatment; thirteen have capped their programs, leaving the sick to languish on waiting lists. ADAP has served as the payer of last resort since 1987, providing HIV medicines for hundreds of thousand of people with HIV who lack insurance, or whose prescription benefits don't come close to matching the drugs' exorbitant price tag...Study after study has confirmed that the program saves public-health dollars by preventing expensive hospitalizations - and save lives. But since February, two people have died while on the West Virginia waiting list, and five more just died on Kentucky's. There are no death tallies for those whose income puts them a few dollars above states' new restrictive income requirements...In Oregon, when the cash-strapped state temporarily eliminated some Medicaid prescription coverage, the ADAP waiting list ballooned; administrators responded by restricting covered drugs and instituting "cost sharing." -The Nation, November 3, 2003According to an estimate compiled from their website, the National Institutes of Health has been spending $8-8.5 billion per year on animal research. According to truemajority.org, $10 billion is enough to provide health insurance to all the uninsured children in the country. The money going into animal research has been steadily increasing nationally and at OHSU despite the lack of benefits to the public.
"Of the twenty-six industrialized nations, the United States ranks twenty-second in infant mortality. Although our nation spends more money per person on healthcare than any other country, only four developed nations have worse statistics than the United States. Moreover, the rate of premature births continues to increase here, while it decreases in other industrially developed nations. A major part of the reason for this is, as we shall see, that scientific resources go to animal studies here instead of human healthcare and education." - Drs. Ray and Jean Greek, Specious Science p. 172
"The animal researchers would have us look at a drowning child in the water. We are with a hundred dogs in a boat. They suggest we throw the dogs into the water so they can die with the child." - Dr. Neal Barnard on the futility of animal experimentation for children, quoted by Drs. Greek and Greek, Specious Science p. 201