Without action, drug prices could rise

To the Daily:

I am writing to raise awareness on the issue of nominal drug pricing. As a concerned student and a Planned Parenthood volunteer, I think it is important that people understand nominal drug pricing and how it affects them. Because 98 percent of women will use contraceptives in their lifetime, according to a survey by the National Center for Health Statistics, access to contraceptives is an important issue.

In 2005, Congress attempted to close a loophole in the Medicaid drug rebate law to reduce the deficit. It also inadvertently eliminated access to discounted drugs for health care providers like Planned Parenthood and university health centers. The concern was that manufacturers were selling nominally priced drugs beyond the intended scope of a previous law. The purpose of the 2005 revision was to ensure that manufacturers can only sell drugs at nominal prices to charitable entities. Unfortunately, Congress forgot to include an exception for programs like Planned Parenthood and university health centers so low-income patients and students may not have access to contraceptives and other drugs that they may need. Currently, drug manufacturers are allowed, but are not required, to offer deeply discounted drugs to these groups.

Luckily, there is a way to fix this. In the short term, the University health system has stockpiled medications like birth control and won’t have to pass higher prices on to the students for about a year. In the long term, both parties have agreed on legislative language to be tacked on to a bill to provide a technical fix to this oversight. However, it is critical that this provision be added to the next passable bill. Many students have failed to get behind this issue, simply because they did not know about it. It is time for students to get involved – before the stockpiled medications run out at the pharmacy and their drug prices increase fivefold.

Katherine Murkowski

LSA junior

Smoking ban would trample on freedoms

To the Daily:

The photo on last Tuesday’s front page showing a group of students from the American Medical Student Association forming a human no-smoking sign to advocate a smoking ban in restaurants and bars has struck fear into my soul. It represents a dangerous trend I’ve noticed in society: people demanding that freedoms be taken away.

Everyone knows smoking is unhealthy. Countless studies show that for people not exposed to smoke, lung diseases drop dramatically. Yet we still encounter second-hand smoke in many restaurants. This is obviously a problem, and I share concerns with AMSA. However, we have to choose the right solution.

On one side, we have the lazy and thoughtless smoking ban, an Orwellian law that unnecessarily tramples on the freedom of millions. On the other side, we have a multitude of options that do the same thing but preserve freedom of choice. How about regulations to make non-smoking sections truly smoke-free using powerful ventilation systems? Surely, this isn’t beyond human capacity. How about petitioning restaurants to become smoke free, while leaving the option to have a smoker’s bar where anyone can smoke?

When I challenge advocates of the blanket smoking ban, they explain that people are stupid and that it’s society’s responsibility to protect them. This is not a good thought. It is extremely elitist and quite possibly evil. Taking power over people’s lives through government in the name of the common good has had devastating results several times in the previous century, as surely anyone can recall. We have a system that is specifically designed to prevent this. Let’s not allow it to be broken. Let’s fight for our freedom and for health at the same time with compatible means. It just takes a little extra effort and thought.

Nick Touran

Engineering graduate student

Sound study just a pro-skybox ploy

To the Daily:

When I read a headline last week about the sound studies at Michigan Stadium (A louder Big House, 11/01/2007), I was not surprised to notice that the skybox supporters had stooped to a new low. They want to find any way to bolster their arguments in any way possible. And what better way than to measure the sound levels in the stadium when it is half empty and nothing is happening on the field?

Of course the stadium was not loud when the audio test was taken. No one knew about the test and half the stadium was absent because it was taken in the middle of halftime after the band had played and when everyone was getting food or using the restroom. On top of that, no one knew what the sound recorder was. Was it measuring sound? Was it taking a 360-degree photo?

I refuse to believe that three people waving their arms up and down could possibly get 60,000 fans to cheer as loudly as a key play near the student section’s endzone or after the Wolverines score a touchdown. I don’t doubt the science of the experiment, but if results are to be representative, then let’s do it the right way: Put those guys out on the field during the game.

The University has gotten along fine for decades with the Big House as non-extravagant as it is. Thousands of alumni and fans have sat through hundreds of games through the cold, rain and intense heat, just like everyone else at the game. It’s part of being a Michigan football fan. So if you want to watch the game through a glass screen in a comfortable environment, don’t even bother with the trek to Ann Arbor. Watch the game at home.

Eric Portenga

LSA senior

The word ‘racism’ inappropriately used

To the Daily:

I am writing in response to the article about racist hazing in the Greek system (Racist hazing among Greeks?, 10/30/2007). Setting aside the issue that the male in the sombrero said he was pledging a fraternity, I am having trouble understanding how these actions are so racist.

Was this insensitive? Yes. Offensive? I can see it. But use of the word racist implies something that I just didn’t see in this story. There is quite a difference between poking fun at people from another country and hatred of these people because they look different.

If people are trying to implement change in the Greek system, it benefits them to use a word like racism to get their story in the newspaper. But if the word is used in instances like this one, it weakens the case of people in the future who actually have legitimate claims of racism.

Halloween was Wednesday. This should be seen by students as a great opportunity to educate people about the racist nature of their costumes. By the standard set in the case of the guy in the sombrero, every Irish person dressed as a club-going Italian, white person going out as Gandhi and black person dressed as a Jewish woman should be informed that their costume choice makes them a racist.

Chris Vessels

LSA senior

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