Total Lack of Recall

  • by: |
  • 08/23/2006

When Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to the silver screen, his first movie should be called Total Lack of Recall.

Last November, citing his support for the free market, the Governor campaigned against Proposition 79, a plan that would have placed price controls on prescription medicines. Prior to that, in his State of the State speech and in a widely discussed letter to Congress, Schwarzenegger pointed out that it is unfair and inappropriate that American consumers bear a disproportionate share of the cost of developing new medicines that benefit the whole world. He encouraged the Congress to demand an end to price controls in foreign countries and vigorously support those pharmaceutical and biotech companies who refuse to sell their products to countries imposing price controls.

Today he supports a plan almost identical in its folly to Proposition 79. Yep, in a strange rhetorical twist, he was against it before he was for it.

Total Lack of Recall. But that was then and this is, well — closer to the Governor’s battle for reelection.

“This (the Governor’s initiative) is a huge victory for the needy,” said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles). “This goes a long way toward correcting the wrong that was done at the ballot box in November.”

“Correcting the wrong?” What Speaker Nunez means is that it goes a long way to legislating something the citizens of California voted down only 10 months ago. So much for the will of the people.

Or, for that matter, the needs of the people — particularly the most needy.

Under the proposal, doctors who wanted to prescribe de-listed drugs would first have to obtain specific permission from Medi-Cal — a bureaucratic burden. Though they are supposed to receive such authorization within 24 hours under federal law, some doctors say the actual process is far more tortured.

“Docs in community mental health are besieged with clients. They’ll have hundreds of clients with severe psychiatric disabilities assigned to them,” said John Buck, chief executive of Turning Point Community Programs, a Sacramento-based mental health nonprofit. “There’s always somebody in a crisis, and you’re talking about filling out more paperwork?”

For that reason, according to an article in today’s LA Times, advocates for the poor object to the involvement of Medi-Cal.

Loretta Jones, executive director of Healthy African-American Families, a nonprofit group based in Los Angeles, called the plan “abominable.”

“We’re taking our poorest population — which are usually women and children — and you’re making decisions about their healthcare that you would not make for a Blue Shield or a Health Net” population, she said.

With California’s new program, the Governor’s new moniker could be “the Abominable No-Man.”

Actor Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall might have been a hit, but Governor Schwarzenegger’s Total Lack of Recall is a dangerous, shortsighted miss.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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