Health, Medicine & Nutrition
HELP Committee Hears from Americans on Health Reform Benefits PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Monday, 31 January 2011 13:46

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 27, 2011 - At this morning’s hearing, Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and other members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) heard testimony from Americans who are already experiencing benefits of the Affordable Care Act.  One witness, a 21 year old named Emily Schlichting who suffers from a chronic auto-immune disease, told the Committee that her life has drastically changed for the better thanks to the new health reform law.        

“I believe that allowing young people to stay on their parent's insurance gives us new freedom to work toward our goals without going uncovered. But even more important than that is the fact that the Patient’s Bill of Rights makes it so that I can’t be denied insurance simply because I have a disease I can’t control,” Schlichting said in her testimony.    

“I’m one example of millions and millions of young Americans who have been helped by this bill, whether through the Dependent Care clause or the Patient’s Bill of Rights or the combination of the two, like me…Health care is something that is easy not to care about when you’re young and you’re healthy…Young people are the future of this country and we are the most affected by reform— we’re the generation that is the most uninsured.  We need the Affordable Care Act because it is literally an investment in the future of this country.”

Ms. Schlichting’s testimony was featured today in the Omaha World-Herald and her full remarks, along with the testimony of the rest of the witnesses and an archived webcast of the hearing, can be found at http://help.senate.gov

This is the first in a series of hearings that Chairman Harkin will convene to examine the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and how it is benefitting Americans.  In his opening remarks, Harkin said:

“We meet today for the first in a series of hearings this Committee will hold on the Affordable Care Act – hearings that will focus not on the politics of health care reform, nor on the rhetoric that surrounds it, but rather on the tangible, positive impact that reform is having on Americans’ lives.  I think we can all agree that what this debate needs is more light and less heat.”


Harkin’s full opening statement as prepared for delivery is below:

Statement by Senator Tom Harkin
Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions
Hearing on The Affordable Care Act:  The Impact of Health Insurance Reform on Health Care Consumers
January 27, 2011

"Good morning everyone.  We meet today for the first in a series of hearings this Committee will hold on the Affordable Care Act – hearings that will focus not on the politics of health care reform, nor on the rhetoric that surrounds it, but rather on the tangible, positive impact that reform is having on Americans’ lives.  I think we can all agree that what this debate needs is more light and less heat.

"To that end, today’s hearing will focus on the benefits of health reform that Americans are experiencing right now – specifically the bundle of significant consumer protections that went into effect in late September of last year, known as the Patient’s Bill of Rights.

"These protections are a historic, long-awaited improvement in the quality and scope of health coverage for all Americans.  Every American who pays a health insurance premium is now protected against some of the most egregious and abusive practices of the insurance industry.  Put another way, thanks to health reform, Americans now have protections that every Senator on this dais has had for years.

"Before the Affordable Care Act, nearly 102 million Americans were in health insurance policies with lifetime limits, and it was estimated that as many as 20,000 people annually could be denied coverage for care due to those limits.  Unsurprisingly, people in danger of hitting a lifetime limit are seriously ill, and their benefits run out just when they need them most.  The Affordable Care Act permanently eliminates all lifetime limits, and phases out annual limits by 2014, providing economic and health security for those who need coverage most.  One of those folks, Lisa Grasshoff, is here today and will talk a bit later about how the Act’s ban on lifetime limits has helped her care for her son and strengthened her family’s financial future.

"As I’m sure the Secretary will discuss in her testimony, last week the Department of Health and Human Services released an important report analyzing preexisting health conditions.  The report’s findings are striking – up to 129 million non-elderly Americans have a preexisting condition, and millions more are likely to develop such a condition over the next eight years.  Before the Affordable Care Act, these Americans faced denial of coverage, restriction of health benefits, or higher premiums as a result of their preexisting condition.  Their ability to take a new job, start their own business, or make other important life changes was limited – they were, in effect, locked in to their original insurance coverage.  

"Because of health reform, insurance companies are now prohibited from restricting or denying coverage to children under 19 because of a preexisting condition.  And in 2014, this protection will be extended to all Americans.  Between now and 2014, the law establishes an insurance plan in every state tailored specifically to adults with preexisting conditions who are currently “uninsurable,” offering coverage at standard market rates.  Thousands of people have enrolled and received coverage of live-saving services like chemotherapy.

"Another element of the Patient’s Bill of Rights is a requirement for every insurance plan to cover evidence-based preventive services that will head off many illnesses, addressing them in the nurses’ office rather than the emergency room.  The cost of preventable disease consumes 75% of health care spending annually, dollars that could be used to build roads, improve schools and create jobs.  The prevention investments in the law are down payments on the long-term project of transforming our current sick care system into a genuine health care system—and first-dollar coverage of preventive services like mammograms and immunizations are a vital part of that.

"Before the Affordable Care Act, millions of young adults went without health insurance because their jobs didn’t offer it, or because they were ineligible for coverage on their parents’ policy.  These young people -- starting a new job or a new business, folks who don’t have a lot of money – had to largely fend for themselves in a chaotic, unregulated market for individual coverage that charges high premiums for only modest benefits.  Now, health reform allows these young people – more than 2 million of them -- to stay on their parents’ policy until age 26.  This reform relieves young people of the burden of high health insurance costs – and for those who can’t afford coverage, the fear of financial ruin.  This reform is particularly important for young people with chronic illnesses, as we will learn from one of our witnesses today, Emily Schlichting, a University of Nebraska student.

"Finally, the Affordable Care Act puts an end to one of the most outrageous insurance company abuses – cancelling insurance coverage right when someone gets sick, based on a technical paperwork error.  These stories turn my stomach:

•a California insurer using computer programs and a dedicated department to cancel policies of pregnant women and the chronically ill, only because they submitted expensive claims;

•another insurance company which started a fraud investigation into anyone who submitted a claim reaching a certain cost level, looking for any reason to cancel the policy;

•insurance companies paying bonuses to employees based on how many policies they cancelled (and therefore how much money they saved). 

"Health reform puts an end to that sorry state of affairs.

"Today, we will hear from public officials at both the state and federal levels who are charged with implementing and overseeing the Affordable Care Act, as well as private citizens who will talk about how the Act’s consumer protections have affected them.  

"On our first panel, we welcome Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to her first hearing of this new Congress.  In addition to expertly implementing the private insurance market reforms we’ll focus on today, I want to applaud the Secretary for her relentless and effective work in eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid.  This week, the Department reported that it had recovered more than $4 billion from perpetrators of fraud last year – the highest annual recovery ever.  And the Department released new rules, authorized by the Affordable Care Act, giving it even more effective tools to detect and combat fraud.  

"Our second panel is comprised of Rhode Island Insurance Commissioner Chris Koller, and three non-government witnesses, Lisa Grasshoff, Joe Olivo, and Emily Schlichting.  

"As always, I am very pleased to be joined by our committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Mike Enzi."

 
Lowering Rx Drug Costs by Ending Sweetheart Deals Between Generics and Brand Name Drug Companies PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:33

KOHL, GRASSLEY: STOPPING “PAY-FOR-DELAY” DEALS ESSENTIAL TO LOWERING RX DRUG COSTS

Bipartisan effort to speed less expensive generic prescription drugs to market

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Herb Kohl and Chuck Grassley have reintroduced legislation limiting pay-for-delay settlements used to keep lower-cost generic drugs off pharmacy shelves.  Under these pay-off agreements, brand name drug companies settle patent disputes by paying the generic drug manufacturer in exchange for a promise that it will keep its generic version of the drug off the market. Kohl and Grassley’s “Preserve Access to Affordable Generics Act” will stop this anti-consumer practice by presuming these deals illegal, and giving the FTC the authority to stop them.

“Generic drugs save consumers and the federal government money, to the tune of billions of dollars a year. But in order to freeze out competition and delay entry of low cost generic drugs for consumers, brand-name drug companies pay-off generic manufactures to keep their products off the market.  It is past time to put an end to these backroom deals and pass this bipartisan legislation,” Kohl said.

“These agreements between generic and brand name pharmaceutical manufacturers are only serving to line the pockets of the companies.  When people across the country are having a hard time making ends meet, this wheeling and dealing simply delays the entry of lower priced medicines into the marketplace, leaving consumers on the short end of the stick,” Grassley said.

A compromise version of this legislation passed the Judiciary Committee in late 2009 and was included in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee last year. Final passage of the bill stalled when the House and Senate failed to agree on an Omnibus Appropriations package last month.

The Federal Trade Commission has estimated that stopping these types of settlement agreements would save consumers at least $35 billion over the next ten years, and provide significant cost savings in the amount of $12 billion over ten years for the federal government, which pays approximately one-third of all prescription drug costs. A recent CBO report estimates that the federal government could save $2.68 billion over ten years, should this bill become law

Despite the FTC’s opposition to pay-for-delay patent settlements, two 2005 appellate court decisions have permitted these payoffs.  In the two years after these two decisions, the FTC has found nearly half of all patent settlements involved payments from the brand name from the generic manufacturer in return for an agreement by the generic to keep its drug off the market.  According to a study by Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), health plans and consumers could save $26.4 billion over the next five years by using the generic versions of 14 popular drugs that are scheduled to lose their patent protections before 2010.

Brand-name drug companies and generic manufacturers routinely enter into settlement agreements to end drug patent litigation, but until 2005, none of them included pay-for-delay provisions. From 2000 to 2004, companies assumed such agreements violated antitrust law.  But in 2005, following three courts of appeals decisions that prevented the FTC from taking action on behalf of consumers, pay-for-delay settlements became commonplace. In the four years following these court decisions 63 out of 194 patent settlements had provisions in which the brand name drug company made payments to the generic manufacturer in exchange for the generic manufacturer agreeing to delay entry of generic competition.  In 2009, there were a record 19 pay-for-delay settlement agreements that kept generics off the market.

Last Congress, Kohl served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights. Grassley is the incoming Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee.

##

 
Harkin Presses For Comprehensive Wellness Initiative To Fight Chronic Disease, Obesity And Reduce Health Care Costs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Sen. Tom Harkin   
Thursday, 27 January 2011 09:08


WASHINGTON, D.C. — January 26, 2011 - Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today reintroduced major legislation to create a healthier future for America by giving our citizens access to better preventive care and consumer information to encourage healthier lifestyles.  The Healthier Lifestyles and Prevention America Act, also known as the HeLP America Act, provides all sectors of our society - child care centers, schools, workplaces, health care providers and communities - with the incentives and tools they need to reach the goal of making America a healthier place.

"Promoting healthy lifestyles and preventing chronic disease will not happen overnight.  While the prevention and wellness measures included in the new health reform law were an important step forward, much more needs to be done," said Harkin.

"We need to integrate health and wellness into all elements of American communities – from our schools and workplaces to our grocery store aisles and restaurants.  By providing people the information and resources they need to live longer, healthier lives, the HeLP America Act will empower people to take care of their health, boosting overall quality of life and lowering our spiraling health care costs."

Among other benefits, the HeLP America Act will:

•    Provide fresh fruits and vegetables to all low income elementary schools by expanding the Harkin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
•    Create a healthier workforce by providing tax credits to businesses that offer comprehensive workplace wellness programs to their employees and allowing employers to deduct the cost of employees’ athletic facility memberships
•    Reduce Americans’ sodium consumption by developing two-year targets for sodium reduction in packaged and restaurant foods
•    Help Americans make informed choices about their food by establishing uniform FDA guidelines for the use of “healthy” symbols on the front of food packages
•   Ensure Individuals with Disabilities have access to community sports by creating competitive grants for the implementation of community-based sports and athletic programs for people with disabilities, including youth with disabilities.  

Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are among the leading causes of death and disability in the United States, and the economic impact is staggering. More than seventy-five percent of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends on health care annually is due to chronic disease. Yet less than five percent of annual health care spending in the United States goes toward chronic disease prevention.

Harkin has promoted preventive healthcare initiatives throughout his career, including increased access to breast cancer screenings, the school fruit and vegetable pilot program, the Menu Education and Labeling Act (MEAL), and tobacco control.  Most recently, as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Harkin championed the prevention and wellness measures that are included in the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law last March.  The Prevention and Public Health title of health reform law creates incentives to prevent chronic disease and rein in costs across the full health care spectrum.  A full summary of the provisions is available here:  http://harkin.senate.gov/documents/pdf/4c2b8b9dc4e74.pdf

A full summary of the HeLP America Act is below:


Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention (HeLP) America Act of 2011


Healthier Kids & Schools
•    Nutrition and physical activity in child care quality improvement: Supports State efforts to provide resources to child care providers to help them meet high-quality physical activity and healthy eating standards.
•    Access to local foods and school gardens at preschools and child care centers: Enables child care providers to participate in the USDA’s farm-to-school initiatives.
•   Fruit and vegetable program:  Expands the Harkin Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program to all low income elementary schools nationwide.
•    Equal physical activity opportunities for students with disabilities: Directs the Department of Education to provide oversight, guidance, and technical assistance to ensure that schools provide equal opportunities for students with disabilities for PE and extracurricular athletics.

Healthier Communities
•   Joint use agreements: Directs the HHS, in coordination with Department of Education, to develop and disseminate guidelines and model joint use agreements to facilitate community access to spaces for physical activity.
•    Community Sports for Individuals with Disabilities: Competitive grants to public entities and nonprofit private entities to implement community-based sports and athletic programs for people with disabilities, including youth with disabilities.  
•    Community gardens: Grants from the USDA to establish, expand, or maintain community gardens.
•    Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Requires HHS to issue physical activity guidelines for preschool children and to update the guidelines for all ages every 5 years.
•    Tobacco Taxes Parity: Increases the excise tax on small cigarettes; equalizes excise taxes for pipe tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco, and smokeless tobacco; and clarifies the definition of small cigars.
•   Health in all policies: Requires HHS to conduct a health impact assessment of major non-health legislative proposals and to detail staff to other departments to assist them with consideration of health impacts of their activities.

A Healthier Workforce
•    Healthy Workforce:  Provides tax credits to businesses that offer comprehensive workplace wellness programs to their employees to improve health and wellbeing.
•    Workforce Health Improvement:  Allows employers to deduct the cost of athletic facility memberships for their employees and exempts this benefit as taxable income for employees.
•    Workplace Breastfeeding Taskforce: Establishes a federal taskforce for the promotion of breastfeeding among working mothers.
•    Healthy Federal Workplaces: Requires menu labeling in federal food facilities, the development of nutritional guidelines for food procurement and vending machines on federal property, the development of guidelines for stair placement and signage, and bicycle parking in federal properties.

Responsible Marketing and Consumer Awareness
•    Reducing Sodium Consumption: Directs the FDA to develop two year targets for sodium reduction in packaged and restaurant foods.
•   Improved food labeling: Removes nutrition labeling exemption for foods sold exclusively to restaurants.
•    Healthy Symbols: Instructs the FDA to develop uniform guidelines for the use of nutrient labeling symbols or systems on the front of food packages.
•    Protect Kids from Unfair Junk Food Advertising: Restores the rulemaking authority of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue restrictions on unfair advertising with respect to children, and gives the FTC Administrative Procedure Act rulemaking authority.
•    Health Literacy:  Strengthens federal initiatives to improve the health literacy of consumers by making health information more understandable and health care systems easier to navigate through continued research and dissemination of effective interventions.
•    Tobacco Marketing:  Eliminates tax deductibility of tobacco advertising, and funds counter-advertising.
•    Incentives to reduce youth tobacco use: Requires HHS to carry out an annual youth tobacco use survey and creates a penalty for tobacco manufacturers if youth use of their tobacco products does not decrease.

Expanded Coverage of Preventive Services
•    Preventive Services in Medicaid:  Requires coverage of preventive services recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the CDC without cost-sharing for Medicaid beneficiaries.
•    Preventive Services for Federal Employees:  Requires coverage of preventive services recommended by the USPSTF, CDC, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for children, and workplace wellness program in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) Program.
•   Health Professional Education on Health Eating:  Establishes a program administered by CDC and HRSA to train health professionals to better identify patients at-risk of and treat patients who are overweight, obese, or have an eating disorder.

Research and Surveillance
•    Grants for body mass index analysis: Provides grants to States to include BMI data in existing state-wide immunization databases.
•    National Assessment of Mental Health:  Requires the Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to build on existing or create new monitoring systems that assess mental and behavioral health status and risks.

 
AARP Employees' Health Care Costs Going Up, Despite AARP-Endorsed Health Care Overhaul PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Grassley Press   
Monday, 08 November 2010 15:41
Friday, November 05, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over key federal health care programs, made the following comment on a news report that health care costs will go up for AARP employees.

“AARP supported a partisan health care overhaul that cut Medicare by almost $500 billion. That will result in less choice, fewer benefits and decreased access to care for millions of its members. But now we hear that AARP’s members aren’t the only ones who will bear the brunt of the new health care law. Like companies across the country, AARP is shifting more costs onto employees in reaction to the health care overhaul. Despite their employer’s support, AARP employees are learning that the health care law is not going to address the top priority of making health care coverage less expensive.  Supporters of the law tend to have tunnel vision and focus on how it will affect narrow groups of people, rather than recognizing that most people will just end up paying more.  But the big picture is clear.  Employers and employees nationwide will pay more for health care because of the new law."

A news article from the Associated Press follows.

Citing health overhaul, AARP hikes employee costs

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press Ricardo Alonso-zaldivar, Associated Press 2 hrs 52 mins ago

WASHINGTON – AARP's endorsement helped secure passage of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Now the seniors' lobby is telling its employees their insurance costs will rise partly as a result of the law.

In an e-mail to employees, AARP says health care premiums will increase by 8 percent to 13 percent next year because of rapidly rising medical costs.

And AARP adds that it's changing copayments and deductibles to avoid a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans that takes effect in 2018 under the law. Aerospace giant Boeing also has cited the tax in asking its workers to pay more. Shifting costs to employees lowers the value of a health care plan and acts like an escape hatch from the tax.

"Most plan co-pays and deductibles have been modified," Jennifer Hodges, AARP's director of compensation and benefits, wrote employees in an Oct. 25 e-mail. "Plan value changes were necessary not only from a cost management standpoint but also to ensure that AARP's plans fall below the threshold for high-cost group plans under health care reform."

AARP officials said medical inflation is the main reason employee costs will be going up. The health care law is "a small part," said David Certner, legislative affairs director.

Although the tax on so-called "Cadillac" health care plans doesn't take effect for years, employers are already beginning to assess their potential exposure because it is hefty: at 40 percent of the value above $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for a family plan. The tax is intended as a savings measure, to prod employers and workers into more cost-efficient plans.

Certner said AARP's plans are currently under the threshold for the tax. "We intend to stay below those thresholds," he said. "It's not in anybody's interest to move above those thresholds, not the employees' nor the employer's."

AARP officials say the organization's public policy recommendations are made independently of other considerations, including its range of business ventures, from travel, to insurance, to publishing.

The 40 million-strong AARP represents people 50 and older, including retirees on Medicare and Social Security. Its endorsement of health care overhaul came at a critical time last year, days before a close vote on the House floor.

"The impact on AARP employees is not a factor at all in our policy making, which is directed at the impact on our membership and on all older Americans," said Certner.

About 4,500 people are covered by AARP's plans, including employees, dependents and retirees.

"We supported the (health care) package because it contained incredibly important protections for our younger members, who often have problems getting access to care," said spokesman Jim Dau. "And because it helps our older members in Medicare with important new benefits."

Starting in 2014, the overhaul law prohibits insurance companies from turning down people with medical problems, and limits what they can charge older customers. It gradually closes the coverage gap in the Medicare prescription benefit, and improves coverage for preventive care.

The Obama administration says changes required by the law so far have only had a minimal, single-digit impact on premiums. Many benefits experts agree with that assessment but point out that the increases come on top of untamed health care inflation.

AARP warned its employees that more cost-shifting could be in store. "AARP intends to make similar changes, as necessary, in the future to avoid the (health plan) tax," said Hodges' e-mail.

Current forecasts are that the overhaul will only have a small impact on job-based coverage, slightly reducing the number of people who would otherwise be covered by employer plans. Those workers would have access to taxpayer-subsidized coverage through new insurance markets.

 

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"Waiting to Inhale" Medical Marijuana Forum - June 20 @ 3 pm - Bettendorf PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Health, Medicine & Nutrition
Written by Jimmy Morrison   
Tuesday, 16 June 2009 07:28

Free Medical Marijuana Documentary and Forum at Bettendorf Public Library this Saturday at 3 pm

The Marijuana Policy Project will be showing the award winning documentary, "Waiting to Inhale", this Saturday at the Bettendorf Public Library.  The film will be shown at 3:00 pm and will be followed by patient testimonies.  A legal expert and medical cannabis lobbyist will lead a forum where the general public can ask questions about the legislation, which will be debated by our state legislature next spring.

Bettendorf, Iowa, June 16
- On Saturday, June 20 at 3:00 p.m., a free screening of the award-winning medical marijuana documentary "Waiting to Inhale" will be held at the Bettendorf Public Library in the Quad Cities.  The screening will be followed by a discussion with patients and advocates involved in this year's efforts to make Iowa the 14th state to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest.

Ray Lakers, a Multiple Sclerosis patient, served time in jail for possession of less than one gram of marijuana.  Jeff Elton, a Diabetic Neuropathic Gastroparesis patient, claims marijuana to be the only medicine that stops his nausea.  Lisa Jackson will explain what it's like to live with Fibromyalgia and how medical marijuana saved her from overdosing on her old medications.  Also speaking will be Jacob Orr, a severe chronic pain patient who replaced highly addictive and dangerous opiates with medical marijuana.

The event is being led by Jimmy Morrison, a grassroots organizer for the largest medical marijuana lobbyist organization in the country.  Carl Olsen will explain the progress his lawsuit has made in finally addressing the medical marijuana legislation already passed in this state in 1979.  They hope to answer the many questions Iowans may have about the bill S.F. 293, which Senator Joe Bolkcom (D-Iowa City) introduced to be debated in the spring of 2010.  There are currently 13 states who have legalized medical marijuana, the most recent being Michigan where a ballot initiative was passed with 63% of the vote.  None of these states have found an increase in teen drug use since passing legislation.

The federal government started the Investigational New Drug Program decades ago, which grows and provides medical marijuana for free to fifteen patients.  Although the program has been shut down and only four patients are still alive, George McMahon and Barbara Douglass, both Iowa residents, continue to receive legal medical marijuana every month.  George McMahon suffers from Nail-Patella Syndrome and Barbara Douglass has Multiple Sclerosis.

In 1988, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled marijuana to be "in its natural form, one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man."  In 1999, the White House commissioned the Institute of Medicine to review all medical literature on marijuana.  This review found "Nausea, appetite loss, pain, and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting and can be mitigated by marijuana.  Although some medications are more effective than marijuana for these problems, they are not equally effective in all patients."  Since February of 2007, three studies have shown marijuana relieves neuropathic pain, commonly associated with AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, and other illnesses.

Marijuana is Schedule I in Iowa, which means it has no accepted medical value.  This schedule includes such drugs as LSD and pure heroine; however, marijuana is also Schedule II in Iowa, which means it has accepted medical value.  Schedule II includes such drugs as cocaine, morpheine, oxycodone, other opiates, and methamphetamine.  In 1979, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy Examiners, a bureacracy, was supposed to study and decide if there is accepted medical value in the United States.  They recently disobeyed a court order to address the issue.

The documentary to be shown, "Waiting to Inhale", was produced and directed by Jed Riffe and was partially funded by the Marijuana Policy Project's grants program.  The film examines the medical marijuana debate up close by taking you inside the lives of patients, doctors, and activists, while seeking to understand why opponents support the continued criminalization of our sick and dying.  "Waiting to Inhale" has already played to critical acclaim, having won the 2005 CINE Golden Eagle Award, the Gold Special Jury Remi Award at the 38th Annual WorldFest-Houston, and the 2005 Best Documentary Film/Video at the New Jersey International Film Festival.

 
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