Weekend update

Congress remains in session this coming week on Capitol Hill.  On Wednesday, at 9:30 am, a Senate appropriations subcommittee will mark up the Senate financial services and general government appropriations bill that funds OPM and the FEHBP.  

Kaiser Health News, which supports the Affordable Care Act, had an interesting headline for a summary of ACA-related news article — “Even with the Health Law in Plan, Costs Keep Going Up. ” This FEHBlog has documented the fact that costs keep going up because of that law.  It’s worth noting that a House energy and commerce subcommittee held a hearing last Friday on several bills to fix the ACA’s marketplaces, a sensible idea.

As the FEHBlog was taking a low dose aspirin last night, he thought of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece discussing the use of a polypill that would treat several chronic health conditions that affect older people, e.g, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.

I tend to favor this sort of blunt, comprehensive approach to public health. Much as I like menacing cigarette-package warnings, urging personal responsibility, I like cigarette taxes more (despite their regressive impact). I love “Drive Carefully” signs, but I like seat belts better. And I like air bags best: No judgment, no decision, no defiant will. As for driving under the influence, breathalyzer tests and taking keys away beat the heck out of admonitions to be sober and find a designated driver. 

Human nature is not our ally in maintaining health. With heart disease and stroke, many millions of lives are at stake, and for me it comes down to this: Will popping a polypill work better than willpower? I suspect that the answer may turn out to be yes.

Assuming this makes sense, people would have to take the pill.  In the end, you can’t avoid the importance of personal responsibility.