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Health Care Reform and Stents in the United States

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It is summer 2009 and the debate about health care reform is raging in the United States. We invite readers from around the globe to contribute their comments. We also urge readers to look at the "related topics" in the right-hand column.

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Current Postings on This Page (4):

• There is alot of misinformation circulated about healthcare let's hope for the best for Obama's Administration.
John P., Randolph, New Jersey, USA, May 5, 2010

• James from Kansas -- thanks for the query. The opthamologist you mentioned was Dr. Zane F. Pollard, an eye doctor in Atlanta, Georgia. His article, "Obamacare and Me" appeared in "The American Thinker", a conservative web site that has published many articles critical of Obama. Those on the left have characterized it as "one of those hard-edged, right-wing web sites that specializes in flinging filth (Huffington Post). But to set aside partisan politics and answer your question. Dr. Pollard writes of Obama's Health Reform Bill:

For those of you who are over 65, this bill in its present form might be lethal for you. People in England over 59 cannot receive stents for their coronary arteries. The government wants to mimic the British plan.

This and many other assertions about the British system have been emphatically denied by Britain's National Health Service in several places -- one in a letter written by Secretary Andy Burnham to Dr. Hisham Rana, whose blog reproduced the letter in full. Here's the part about stents:

Question 2: In England, anyone over 59 years of age can’t receive heart repairs, stents or bypass because it is not covered as being too expensive and not needed—an anonymously authored, but widely circulated, email, largely sent to older voters. The Department of Health can confirm that this statement is not true. Access to treatment should be offered on the basis of clinical need. You may be interested to know that a national audit report on cardiac surgery, which has just been published shows that, in the United Kingdom, 20% of all cardiac surgery patients are over 75 years old.

There has been much misinformation circulated about what health care under the Obama Plan would look like, for example, "death panels", etc. What the U.S. plan ultimately is going to be is an unknown at present, but if you look at some of the topics on this Forum, like "Financial Assistance for Plavix", you will see a number of U.S. citizens not being able to get a drug critical to keeping their stents open. On one hand the U.S. FDA recommends that patients with drug-eluting stents be given Plavix for at least a year, but how many patients who get a drug-eluting stent and get it paid for by private insurance are then denied the year of Plavix. They stop taking it and increase their risk of heart attack and death. Certainly this doesn't work either.
Angioplasty.Org Staff, Angioplasty.Org, August 17, 2009

• An American pediatric ophthalmologist has recently written a piece opposing government organized heath care in the U.S. Among his assertions is people over age 59 are denied implanting of stents. This seems unlikely to me and I would like to debunk it if it isn't true. Can anyone help? General policy would be best but hearing from individuals would be useful too.Many thanks.
James Guglielmino, Mission, Kansas, USA, August 16, 2009

• I returned home today after a six night stay in an ICU ward following a heart attack (I am 49, do not smoke or drink, am fit but have a family history of heart disease). I was transferred to a special heart unit in a larger urban hospital where I underwent an angiogram and received 4 stents in my heart. I was then returned back to my home town hospital where I was observed for a further night prior to my release. Because of my unusual circumstances I am now being transferred to the Cardiologist who performed the angioplasty for follow ups and recuperation. All the time I received excellent, prompt treatment from every party concerned in my care (Paramedics,ER staff, ICU staff, Cardio unit, etc)...and the cost to me.....nothing, you see I live in Canada where we have universal health care (granted, we pay $164 per month health contribution as a family) so I shake my head in dismay at the debate going on down south. Whenever we have needed the health system here at has been available (last year my wife was confirmed with breast cancer and her comprehensive treatment was fantastic) -- it's not perfect, but I would not wish to swap it for the for the US system.
Jeff, BC, Canada, August 12, 2009

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