Keep The Feds Away From Fido

I love my doctor, but not as much as my veterinarian.

True, the doctor is a family-focused general practitioner with no focus other than treating the family. Also true is I can call to make an appointment and be seen within hours. He doesn’t accept Medicaid. I’m sure there’s no correlation between his efficiency and the fact that he doesn’t spend most of his time filling out paperwork.

But he’s still no veterinarian.

Our veterinarian is equally fast and efficient; so much so that I would consider asking him to treat me should my doctor retire. Much like my doctor, the vet doesn’t spend much time filling out paperwork. We can all agree he probably should, though. If there is one thing the veterinary industry is lacking, it’s more government regulation.

Don’t worry – distinguished senators Chuck Schumer and Richard Blumenthal have it on their radar, as evidenced by their attemptto require vets to offer prescriptions instead of just medications.

At a news conference in Greenwich Village, Schumer, D-N.Y., said pet owners are paying a 240 percent markup when they buy drugs from their veterinarian, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.

Schumer and Blumenthal, D-Conn, are sponsoring a bill that would require vets to give customers a prescription so they can shop competitively

Schumer and Blumenthal’s motivation is the claim that veterinarians purposely withhold prescriptions so that pet-owners are forced to buy from them, with markups as high as 200%.

“Pet owners would do almost anything for their furry, feathered, four-legged family members,” Schumer said.  “But to do so often breaks the bank and the reason again is because too often they don’t get prescriptions from their vets. The vets sell them the medicine directly and it’s much more expensive.”

As the owner of an epileptic dog and a dog with muscle degeneration, both of whom require daily medication, this is great news. Well, my veterinarian already writes me a prescription for Bindi’s phenobarbital, but I had to ask for it. Fuzzy’s vetprofen is canine-specific, but it’s only marginally cheaper online so I continue to get it directly from his office. Even the phenobarbital isn’t that expensive. The pharmacy is closer than the clinic, and you don’t play with seizures when your dog weighs 100 lbs.

I realize there are people dealing with more expensive medications, but I’m not sure where the federal government fits into the relationship between man and his best friend.

Some (well, this one guy who is probably a racist) wonder if this is an issue that should be left to the states (Dog whistle?): “But this seems like an issue that state governments could handle, freeing Congress for more serious stuff, such as creating jobs and preventing the highway fund from going broke.”

Given Congress’ track record, this line of reasoning is actually an argument in favor of making pet medication a federal issue. Much as Obama’s time is probably better spent playing golf, Congress’ time would best be spent naming post offices and thinking small.

Circling back to my doctor, I’m reminded that anything Schumer is involved with is going to bend the cost curve upwards. Maybe leaving the veterinarians alone and focusing on the highway fund is the better option.

Not all veterinarians were created equal and there are certainly grifters who provide substandard service and inflated prices. Did you know you can shop around? And unlike when shopping for your own physician, there is no such thing as an out of network veterinarian in Fido’s world.

At present, there is an elegant simplicity when taking your pet to the veterinarian. You pay fees for services, maybe dig deep and find the courage to ask for a prescription, and go about your day.

Contrast that with the current state of human health care – a mind-numbing web inside a conundrum inside a maze of regulations resting on turtles all the way down – and the argument for getting the federal government involved in any way, shape, or form reveals itself to be absolutely insane.

If you think that adding more regulations to your local veterinarian is going to save you money, you should probably think about getting a lower maintenance pet. Thisrock or this parrot are good places to start.