Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Al Gore Legislation That is Literally Killing People

Top economic analyst Marc Joffe writes at The Fiscal Times:

Our country has a massive shortage of kidneys. As a result, many donation candidates endure years of dialysis, costing them quality of life and costing taxpayers billions.
According to government statistics, 460,675 Americans were on dialysis at the end of 2014. Two for-profit companies, Fresenius Medical Care and DaVita Healthcare Partners, Inc. dominate the market, serving 69 percent of dialysis patients. HBO’s John Oliver recently excoriated the companies for maximizing profits by providing inadequate patient service. Nationally, the cost of dialysis is over $40 billion annually, with three-quarters of the expenditures shouldered by Medicare. By law, the federal government pays for dialysis for patients whose private insurance does not cover it.
Dialysis patients suffer reduced quality of life and higher death rates. Patients receiving hemodialysis (the most common type of dialysis, using a manufactured membrane to filter the blood) require three sessions per week, each lasting four hours, which can be exhausting. They also face dietary restrictions. Those receiving the alternate therapy, peritoneal dialysis (using the lining of the stomach to filter the blood), have fewer dietary limitations but require daily treatments.
In 2014, 16.6 percent of dialysis patients died, compared to 3 percent of kidney transplant recipients. Although this is partially due to the higher average age of dialysis patients, the government reported that “Dialysis patients continue to have substantially higher mortality, and fewer expected remaining life years, compared to the general population and Medicare populations with cancer, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease.”
A better solution is to offer valuable incentives to encourage more live donors to part with one of their kidneys. With dialysis being so expensive, onerous and ultimately fatal, kidney patients and taxpayers would be better off with more donations. But in the United States, relatively few people step forward to donate one of their kidneys while alive. In 2014, a total of 17,914 patients received kidney transplants, but only 5,574 of these came from live donors, and all but 181 of these came from a friend or relative of the patient.
So why aren't there more live donors?

Blame the National Organ Transplant Act which was passed into law in 1984 and was co-sponsored by then-Representative Al Gore and Sen. Orrin Hatch. The Act outlawed the sale of human organs. You can only donate a kidney or other organ for free. How's that for hating free markets and creating a life-killing shortage?

Before the Act was passed, a person could buy a kidney for around $12,000. That market is now gone.

According to Joffe:
Although people can live normal, full lives with a single kidney, donating can be expected to cause discomfort, inconvenience and risk. The National Kidney Foundation says that donors usually remain in the hospital four to six days, experience tenderness and mild pain in the incision area and should take measures to protect their remaining kidney, such as avoiding contact sports. Each year, thousands of people decide that these are small sacrifices for the benefit of helping a friend, loved one or even a stranger. Unfortunately, not enough people feel this way. As a result, the waiting list of candidates for kidney donations has swelled to about 97,000 patients.
Thanks, Al Gore.


  1. Let's remember to thank Orrin Hatch (the senior Senator from my home state). He's just as evil as Al Gore is. Maybe more so, considering he touts himself as a "conservative" when he's up for election.

  2. The thinking is by preventing people from selling their organs you'll have situations like in China where people gets drugged and have their organs stolen.

  3. It's not just preventing the sale of kidneys that the government has done.

    What if there was an automated hemodialysis machine that would be in the patient's home and for an hour and half or so a day of treatment brought quality of life to normal? There was such a machine 15 years ago. But here's the problem, the 6-7 treatments a week cost the same as the three times a week at the clinics, but all the problems from which the money is made under the government's single payer rules go away. Need for drugs drops to near zero, hospitalizations drop to near zero. No profit. Government's single payer system squeezed all the profit out of the treatment itself. It has essentially frozen treatment in the 1960s.