Price of medicine getting out of control

April 26, 2007 – Several weeks ago I caught part of a “60 Minutes” program that was comparing the prices the Veterans’ Administration pays for drugs at “negotiated” prices and the price the rest of us must pay because federal law prohibits Medicare from “negotiation.”


The VA prices were about one-tenth of what others have to pay.
In the “doughnut hole” of Medicare medicine coverage there is a small deductible and then after some $2,500, we have to pay full price for the next $3,600 or so costs.
It doesn’t take long to get out of the hole with some of today’s prices. One pill I take once a day costs $10 each.
A 60-day supply of a binder I have to take for phosphorus, which is not removed in the dialysis process, costs $780.
The “60 Minutes” piece also listed a dozen or so congressmen who had voted against letting Medicare negotiate prices, who later went to work for drug companies, one at a salary of $2-million a year.
•On a recent Sunday afternoon Jo Ann and daughter Deanna who lives in Tupelo, went to a bridal shower for granddaughter Abby Hillhouse, I went to a called meeting of the Calhoun County Historical Society to hear a discussion about the society assuming title to the Pittsboro United Methodist Church, which is set to close at the end of June.
The society has no clear plan for the building, but will probably make it available for use by appropriate groups, at least initially.
The society is now housed in the old Gov. Dennis Murphree house in Pittsboro, and plans to stay there.
Active membership in the church had dropped to six and they decided to call it quits.

•Looking out over the congregation on the Sunday morning after Easter, The Rev. Rex Wilburn of the Bruce United Methodist Church, expressed his appreciation to those present for not engaging in “low tide,” a term he said was used to describe what usually is the lowest attendance of the year.
It reminded me of a column in the Bruce First Baptist bulletin on the week before Easter. The Rev. Daniel Hathorne related the story of a minister who chided a member who seldom showed up for church. “You might like to try to be a little more regular,” the minister said.
“I’m here every Easter,” the man retorted.
•A Friday night ritual we now seem to be locked in on is catfish night at Tammy’s HomeTown Cafe in Bruce.
Located across Hwy. 32 from the Cavalier Shoppe and Connie’s Flowers, the café that was once on the square is now in a former quick stop building.
We usually share a plate, which includes four filets of fried catfish, a couple of hushpuppies, a baked potato, beans and slaw.
We split the potato and the fish and I usually get a bite or so of the slaw. I leave the beans, which are reputed to be very high in phosphorus, alone.
Separate drinks are usually pink lemonade or un-sweet tea.
One reason we like to go there on fish night is we get to see a lot of other folks doing the same thing.
•Dr. Jon Massey, Oxford nephrologist, who oversees my dialysis, recently told me about a home dialysis unit soon to be available, which would be done for two hours, five days a week.
The only down side, he said, is that I would have to stick myself each time, which I think I could do, but I told him I found it comforting to come to the center three days a week where there are folks who know a whole lot more about dialysis than I would ever learn, watching over me.
I promised him I would think about it.
Blood pressure continues to be a problem sometimes, but on a recent Saturday I started out at 97 and after almost four hours and almost nine pounds of fluid removed, my blood pressure was 120 over 60, standing, after a standard saline rinse-back.

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