Archive for Health Care
A doctor’s letter to the editor:
I had the pleasure of taking care of a North Carolina constituent recently. She is in her early 60s with severe heart failure acquired as a genetic abnormality. She works in a small diner here and makes $9,000 a year. She needs a defibrillator, which costs from $50,000 to $80,000.
She does not have health insurance since she cannot afford to buy on the open market. She tried the Affordable Care Act. The cutoff is above her pay so she is not eligible. Since Republican lawmakers are fiscally responsible, she understands why they rejected money that was coming from Washington to expand Medicaid. After all, they have to do what is best for the people in other states that expanded Medicaid or what is best for their friends in the insurance and pharmaceutical industry.
She fully supports GOP policies because, after all, what is one life worth? She also understands that the general Republican thought that Medicaid expansion is a Democratic socialist ploy had nothing to do with why they did not adopt it.
I regret to inform you that she died a few days ago. I am pretty sure she and her family are thankful to Republicans for saving all this money. She totally understands the position that the cheapest patient is a dead patient.
PRADEEP ARUMUGHAM, M.D.
The letter might have been written in any of the 19 states that have refused Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Count her as “died quickly.”
(Cross-posted from Hullabloo.)
The notion that “we’re all in this together” became popular during World War II as Americans on the home front sacrificed for the war effort. That snippet of information drifted in over the mental transom the other day, perhaps in reference to a video for students produced at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. “We’re All in This Together!” debuted last month. It focuses on how American families and kids “scrapped” and saved dimes to buy war bonds.
As it turns out, there is a recent Monopoly edition based on the theme. Monopoly: America’s WWII: We’re All in This Together features key corner spaces common to all Monopoly versions: Jail, free parking, collect $200 and go to jail, McClatchy reported:
Most of the rest, though, has a WWII theme. The game pieces are an airplane, combat boots, helmet, radio, ship and Sherman tank. Spaces on the board and corresponding deed cards feature significant WWII events. Railroads are replaced with supply routes, and houses and hotels became camps and headquarters.
The “Chance” and “Community Chest” cards are replaced with cards for allies and home front.
Historian Stephen Ambrose described how the war changed the country:
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) December 16, 2015
While GOP presidential candidates screeched and pulled each other’s hair in last night’s debate over who would kill terrorists (and their families) longer, higher and deeper, the U.S. House managed to do something. It pulled together a budget deal:
Congressional negotiators have wrapped up a sprawling deal to keep the U.S. government operating through next September while setting new policies ranging from repealing a 40-year-old ban on oil exports to making many business tax breaks permanent, according to Republican lawmakers.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told GOP lawmakers late Tuesday, urging support for the legislation that delivers GOP wins but also includes many Democratic priorities. The deal would eliminate any possibility of government shutdowns until at least next October, according to lawmakers present.
Oops, wrong terror. Daesh sleeper agents hiding among refugees is the least of our worries:
Medicine’s final line of defence against deadly disease has been breached, raising the spectre of a global epidemic, scientists say, after finding bacteria resistant to last-resort antibiotics.
The discovery could herald a virtual return to the Dark Ages, with doctors unable to control common germs like E. Coli, rolling back centuries of medical progress.
We could be headed for a period when even the smallest infections could prove lethal, say reports:
… British scientists have discovered that pigs and meat sold in China are infected with bacteria carrying a new gene which makes them resistant to these rearguard antibiotics.
The MCR-1 gene is in a part of the DNA which can be easily copied and transferred between bacteria leading experts to conclude that ‘pandemic resistance is inevitable.’ The mutated forms were also found in 1322 hospitalised patients in China and is thought to have already spread to Laos and Malaysia.
British scientists and health experts described the discovery as ‘worrying,’ ‘disturbing’ and ‘alarming.’
It gets better:
If you ask a Canadian who’s sick if s/he has seen a doctor, they’ll know you’re an American. Of course they have. In America, this is considered “overuse.” Is it? Sara Robinson wrote about why a single-payer system is not just smart and cheaper, but strategic in 2008:
Our every-man-for-himself attitude toward health care is a security threat on a par with unsecured ports. In Canada, people go see the doctor if they’re sick for more than a day or two. It was this easy access to early treatment, along with the much tighter public health matrix that enables doctors to share information quickly, that allowed the country’s health care system to detect the 2003 SARS epidemics in Toronto and Vancouver while they were still very localized, act within hours to stop them before the disease spread any further, and track down and treat exposed people before they got too sick to be helped. In both cases, the system worked flawlessly. The epidemic was stopped within days and quashed entirely in under a month, potentially saving of millions of lives.
In the U.S., that same epidemic might easily have gone unnoticed for critical days and weeks. If the first people to get sick were among those 75 million without adequate insurance, they probably would have toughed it out a few extra days before finally dragging their half-dead carcasses into an ER somewhere. Not only would they be much farther along in the course of the disease — and thus at greater risk of death themselves — every one of them could have infected dozens or even hundreds of other people in the meantime, accelerating the spread of the epidemic.
Worse: America’s underfunded public health system might have taken several days to piece together the whole picture of an epidemic; and perhaps another week or two might have passed before the E. Coli conservatives in charge (having thrown out the science-based management plans thoughtfully developed by the bureaucracy) cooked up some kind of half-assed ideology-driven decision about how to proceed. (It would, of course, involve spectacular amounts of lying to the public.) By that point, tens of millions could have been infected, leading to a death toll that would make 9/11 and Katrina look like minor statistical blips.
As you get your premium notices in the next months, consider why your health is tied at the hip to the insurance industry.
In response to yesterday’s Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare … again … expect Republican leaders to prescribe another thousand cuts. They’ll eventually “cure” America of Obamacare the way medieval barbers used bloodletting and leeches to cure patients. They’re just folksy, that way.
But first they will pitch a patented right wing hissy fit. If T-Party cannot have Torquemada for Chief Justice, it will at least try to inflict the kind of pain that (it believes) would make him smile:
Rep. Brian Babin (R-Texas) said that his SCOTUScare Act would make all nine justices and their employees join the national healthcare law’s exchanges.
“As the Supreme Court continues to ignore the letter of the law, it’s important that these six individuals understand the full impact of their decisions on the American people,” he said.
“That’s why I introduced the SCOTUScare Act to require the Supreme Court and all of its employees to sign up for ObamaCare,” Babin said.
A Florida man set up a gun range in his front yard, but police said there’s not much they can do but keep an eye on him.
Other residents are livid that 21-year-old Joseph Carannate set up targets and plans to fire his 9mm handgun in his residential Saint Petersburg neighborhood, reported WFLA-TV.
“I don’t know if this idiot is going to start popping off rounds,” said resident Patrick Leary. “I’m furious.”
Yeah? Furious commie.
But since by law the Gunshine State prohibits local governments from restricting gun rights, freedom means fire at will. Freedom means telling the neighbors, hide in the basement with your young-uns if you don’t like it.
The recent fight over vaccines travels that same road, doesn’t it? The teaser headline on the front page of the Washington Post online grabbed me this morning. Gerson: Vaccines and our duty to our neighbors. Whaddya mean “duty to our neighbors,” commie? Free-DOM:
Resistance to vaccination on the left often reflects an obsession with purity. Vaccines are placed in the same mental category as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), DDT and gluten. But the problem with organic health care is that the “natural” rate of child mortality is unacceptably high. Organically raised children can get some very nasty diseases.
Opposition to vaccination on the right often reflects an obsession with liberty — in this case, freedom from intrusive state mandates. It has always struck me as odd that a parent would defend his or her children with a gun but leave them vulnerable to a microbe. Some conservatives get especially exercised when vaccination has anything to do with sex — as with the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine — on the questionable theory that teenagers are more likely to fornicate if they have a medical permission slip (or less likely to without it).
Whether you are blazing away in a suburban front yard, or putting neighbors’ children at risk by refusing to immunize yours, or publishing cartoons of Mohammed with intent to offend (France, I know), or strolling into the Burger King with your AR-15, or doing anything else arrogantly prick-ish, because freedom, maybe the radical individual thing has gotten out of hand. Doesn’t it seem, at long last, that our freedom fetish is turning us into a nation of jerks?
Michael Gerson dares use the phrase “common good”:
In all these matters, there is a balance between individual rights and the common good. This may sound commonplace. But some Americans seem to believe that the mere assertion of a right is sufficient to end a public argument. It is not, when the exercise of that right has unacceptable public consequences, or when the sum of likely choices is dangerous to a community.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Affordable Care Act opponents argue in King v. Burwell now before the U.S. Supreme Court that Congress intended to withhold subsidies from the states unless they established their own exchanges. If SCOTUS agrees, ACA opponents expect the ruling to effectively gut the federal exchanges operating in over half the states and to seriously undermine Obamacare.
Even as this argument seems to have fallen apart, should the court strike down the federal exchange subsidies, Republicans in Congress vow not to reinstate consumers’ health insurance tax credits.
Steve Benen writes:
Remember, as far as the public is concerned, a clear majority of Americans would expect the Republican Congress to protect consumers from hardship. Indeed, Greg Sargent this week flagged the latest report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would expect lawmakers to keep existing subsidies in place if the Supreme Court ruling goes the wrong way. Only a fourth of the country would expect Congress to do nothing.
The same report found that even most Republicans support states setting up exchange marketplaces so that families can continue to receive subsidized access to medical care. This is, of course, the exact opposite of what GOP policymakers have in mind.
Ezra Klein reframes that outcome, arguing that Republicans’ plan for Obamacare’s demise has become “a plan to rip themselves off.” Klein elaborates:
If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the subsidies will basically shut off in (mostly) red states. And congressional Republicans won’t do anything about it. That means Republicans in those states will be paying the taxes and bearing the spending cuts needed to fund Obamacare but getting none of the benefits.
Which is to say, the biggest fight in American politics in recent years began with Democrats creating a law that was a giant subsidy from blue states to red states and has evolved into Republicans working to turn the law into a giant subsidy from red states to blue states. It is very, very weird.
Not really. Republicans, especially in the 15 refusenik states Klein identifies, have a unremitting knack for cutting off their noses to spite their faces (and their children’s). They have principles and they stand
in on them.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)
Best wishes for a swift recovery, of course, to the two caregivers infected in Texas. Yet Ebola fever (the psychological kind) has so gripped the country that articles are popping up with titles like, Ebola hysteria is going viral. Don’t fall for these 5 myths. Fox News’ Shepard Smith went off script the other day and urged viewers, “Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and television or read the fear provoking words online.” Michael Hiltzik felt it necessary to write 6 ways to avoid being stupid about Ebola in this week’s L.A. Times. His number five is pithy:
5. Listening to Rush Limbaugh may be hazardous to your health. As a one-stop shop of Ebola misinformation, you can’t beat the guy. Limbaugh’s only purpose is to stir up fear, alarm and mistrust of government among his listeners. Inform them, not so much.
But informing listeners was never the point. Fear, mistrust, alarm, and misinformation is right-wing talk’s business model. It’s what listeners tune in for. It’s just not church in some circles — you haven’t been touched by the spirit — unless the preacher works up the congregation with a mind-numbing, shouted cant into a hair-standing-on-end, ecstatic state followed by emotional catharsis.
Perhaps right-wing talk works the same way. A kind of addictive drug, maybe it has begun to lose its zing (along with Limbaugh’s ratings). Perhaps over the years, the ginned-up, faux outrage peddled every day by Rush and his kin has lost its punch. Perhaps the fear-addicted (and fear peddlers) hungering for stronger stuff to give them that old rush again just found it in an ISIS and Ebola cocktail?
That and, as Digby pointed out yesterday, it’s crazy season.
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)