Healthcare benefits under attack again

Cold-hearted policies and actions of government toward its own people is no surprise to my regular readers. And neither will there be any shock at my continued opposition to such disgusting activities.


The Capitol, Washington DC, home of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Unfortunately, this is not limited to one country. The current Conservative-led government in the UK has a despicable record in relation to vulnerable people. Now, though, what’s happening in the US seems to be just as bad.

A healthcare reform proposal known as Graham-Cassidy, named after its main protagonists, is currently before the Senate. And, if passed, it will limit healthcare benefits to those Americans who need them the most.

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and several patient and healthcare groups oppose the proposal, led by Republicans Senators Lindsay Graham (South Carolina), and Bill Cassidy (Louisiana).

Benefits funding cuts proposed

In headline terms, the Graham-Cassidy proposal would:

  • reduce funding for Medicaid, a benefits program on which so many people with MS depend
  • remove the Obamacare requirement that insurance policies cover basic, essential medical services
  • remove Obamacare’s protection for people who have pre-existing conditions.

The Republican party, the majority in the Senate, has a fight to pass the reform proposal. That is because, if the Senate doesn’t vote it through on or before this Friday, September 30, it will need more votes to move the proposal forward.

Up to the end of this week, the supporters will require only 50 votes but after that, according to the voting procedure, they will need 60 votes to move to a vote on the bill.

So, what happens if the Republicans miss this Friday’s deadline? Well, the good news is that followers of Washington politics believe it’s highly unlikely that the Republicans could gather 60 votes.

The current state of the parties in the Senate, is Republican 52, Democrat 46, and Independents 2.

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Affiliate disclaimer: This affiliate disclosure details the affiliate relationships of MS, Health & Disability at with other companies and products. Read more.

* * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks, a Clinical Writer with Healthline, the fastest growing health information site. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

MS Patients in US and UK Face Very Different Treatment

healthcare costs

We may have international cooperation and worldwide this and that, but the fact remains that countries vary drastically from one another in all sorts of ways. Take healthcare as an example, and the costs of treatment.

Yes, we have the World Health Organization and there are various health-related initiatives from the United Nations, but that is about it on the international front.

Let’s have a brief look at healthcare provisions, including how they affect people with multiple sclerosis, in two Western countries said to be close allies and who enjoy what they term a “special relationship.” That’s the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

I was born, and lived my entire life until last year, in the U.K., which is supposedly a welfare state. I say “supposedly” because, at the rate at which David Cameron’s government was cutting the welfare budget, there can be no certainty this will continue.

Anyway, a key element of the founding of the welfare state, just after the Second World War, was the setting up of the National Health Service, which includes all GPs, hospitals, and ambulance services. It is a healthcare service that took good care of me when I lived there.

And everyone living in the U.K. is entitled to the treatment they need absolutely free of charge. Yes, you did read that right. The British do not need private medical insurance, have no co-pay to worry about. If they fall ill they just visit their family doctor, or go to a hospital if their condition’s more serious, where they know all tests, treatments and stay, if admitted, will not cost one penny.

World’s apart

The only expense they may incur is the small cost of prescriptions, and only in England. Charges for these, all of which go to the government, vary by country. Residents of England face a prescription charge of £8.40 (about $11.15) for each medicine or appliance dispensed. In each of the other constituent countries in the U.K., namely, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, all prescriptions are free. There are, however, charges for NHS dental and optician services.

It’s a far different story in the U.S., however. If you live outside that country, as I do, then let me assure you that what became known as Obamacare is far from NHS-style service. It still requires that hefty medical costs be paid.

Americans go to see their GP – they get a bill; they go to a hospital as an outpatient — they get a bill; they see a specialist – they get a bill; they are admitted to a hospital – they get a bill; they have an operation – they get a bill; they are taken to a hospital by ambulance – they get a bill.

The costs go on and on, and can really add up. Then there are prescription costs, which can be tremendous. A study published in May 2013 in the Journal of Medical Economics found that the total cost of healthcare for MS patients in the U.S. ranged from about $8,500 to more than $54,000 per year during the period studied (1999 to 2008), with prescription drugs accounting for a large percentage of those costs.

OK, medical insurance policies may cover most of these costs, but not all. Most policies in the U.S. come with co-pays, sometimes substantial ones. The precise level of a co-pay, or the portion of total health costs carried by patients, depends on the specific insurance policy. And then, again, patients still have to pay for their insurance, except for those whose employer pays or who qualify for help.

Clearly, even among special friends, we’re often worlds apart. And I, at least, find that sad.


This article, written by me, firs t appeared on Multiple Sclerosis News Today website.





Ian Franks

Ian Franks is Chief Patient Columnist with He has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media; during which he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain and uses his skills to write his own flourishing specialist Health & Disability blog at Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

Disabilities among party’s top priorities

Never missing a chance to secure more votes, the Republican Party is clearly seeking the support of people with disabilities by including a raft of pro-disability policies among its top priorities. Theoretically, that should be good for everyone with a disability, such as anyone like me who has multiple sclerosis, but what politicians promise before an election and what they actually do if elected are not always the same.

The website says: “We (the Republican Party) renew our commitment to the inclusion of Americans with disabilities in all aspects of our national life.

Voting-booth usa“In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society.

“Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the Ability One program, a major avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services.

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has opened up unprecedented opportunities for many students, and we reaffirm our support for its goal of minimizing the separation of children with disabilities from their peers. We urge preventive efforts in early childhood, especially assistance in gaining pre-reading skills, to help many students move beyond the need for IDEA’s protections.

“We endorse the program of Employment First, developed by major disability rights groups, to replace dependency with jobs in the mainstream of the American workforce.”

Interesting, no mention of support to maintain social security benefits for the disabled.


Here’s the full list of key policies in the Republican platform, as published on

Renewing American Values

Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage

Creating a Culture of Hope: Raising Families Beyond Poverty

Adoption and Foster Care

Making the Internet Family-Friendly

Advancing Americans with Disabilities

Repealing Obamacare

Our Prescription for American Healthcare: Improve Quality and Lower Costs

Ensuring Consumer Choice in Healthcare

Supporting Federal Healthcare Research and Development

Protecting Individual Conscience in Healthcare

Reforming the FDA

Reducing Costs through Tort Reform

Education: A Chance for Every Child

Attaining Academic Excellence for All

Consumer Choice in Education

Improving Our Nation’s Classrooms

Addressing Rising College Costs

Justice for All: Safe Neighborhoods and Prison Reform

On Tuesday November 8, the same day as the USA goes to the polls to elect a new president, voters will also make their selections for a total of 469 seats in the US Congress. Of these, just 34 are in the Senate. All 435 House of Representatives’ seats are up for election.



MSNT strapline copy