Entries Tagged as 'Health'

When American big business is behind something…

I’ve been around the block a few times, and I tend to pay attention.

One thing that’s almost an invariant in the world is that if American big business is behind legislation it’s because it serves their own interest and greed — not the public interest.

The only thing American big business cares about the public for is finding new ways to milk money from them and insure that the public pay more than their share of taxes.

With very few exceptions American business (and the ultra-rich American’s that run those businesses) are self-serving, and only looking out for their interests and profits.  They are motivated by greed.

So when the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, large hospitals, and health care industry get behind a plan that doesn’t seem to improve anything for the American public it should be clear to everyone who they’re looking to improve things for.

The real problem in America is that special interest groups run the country; and almost all politicians who’ve been in office more than two terms (and most presidents) cater to their interests and don’t want to really change the status quo.

Those who are elected to serve the public interest actually serve no interests but their own!

– Caveat civis –

Originally posted 2010-03-13 02:00:48.

Debunking Canadian health care myths

The following is an except from a Denver Post opinion article by Rhonda Hackett (a clinical psychologist born in Canada, living in the US)

Myth: Taxes in Canada are extremely high, mostly because of national health care.

In actuality, taxes are nearly equal on both sides of the border. Overall, Canada’s taxes are slightly higher than those in the U.S. However, Canadians are afforded many benefits for their tax dollars, even beyond health care (e.g., tax credits, family allowance, cheaper higher education), so the end result is a wash. At the end of the day, the average after-tax income of Canadian workers is equal to about 82 percent of their gross pay. In the U.S., that average is 81.9 percent.

Myth: Canada’s health care system is a cumbersome bureaucracy.

The U.S. has the most bureaucratic health care system in the world. More than 31 percent of every dollar spent on health care in the U.S. goes to paperwork, overhead, CEO salaries, profits, etc. The provincial single-payer system in Canada operates with just a 1 percent overhead. Think about it. It is not necessary to spend a huge amount of money to decide who gets care and who doesn’t when everybody is covered.

Myth: The Canadian system is significantly more expensive than that of the U.S.Ten percent of Canada’s GDP is spent on health care for 100 percent of the population. The U.S. spends 17 percent of its GDP but 15 percent of its population has no coverage whatsoever and millions of others have inadequate coverage. In essence, the U.S. system is considerably more expensive than Canada’s. Part of the reason for this is uninsured and underinsured people in the U.S. still get sick and eventually seek care. People who cannot afford care wait until advanced stages of an illness to see a doctor and then do so through emergency rooms, which cost considerably more than primary care services.

What the American taxpayer may not realize is that such care costs about $45 billion per year, and someone has to pay it. This is why insurance premiums increase every year for insured patients while co-pays and deductibles also rise rapidly.

Myth: Canada’s government decides who gets health care and when they get it.While HMOs and other private medical insurers in the U.S. do indeed make such decisions, the only people in Canada to do so are physicians. In Canada, the government has absolutely no say in who gets care or how they get it. Medical decisions are left entirely up to doctors, as they should be.

There are no requirements for pre-authorization whatsoever. If your family doctor says you need an MRI, you get one. In the U.S., if an insurance administrator says you are not getting an MRI, you don’t get one no matter what your doctor thinks — unless, of course, you have the money to cover the cost.

Myth: There are long waits for care, which compromise access to care.There are no waits for urgent or primary care in Canada. There are reasonable waits for most specialists’ care, and much longer waits for elective surgery. Yes, there are those instances where a patient can wait up to a month for radiation therapy for breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example. However, the wait has nothing to do with money per se, but everything to do with the lack of radiation therapists. Despite such waits, however, it is noteworthy that Canada boasts lower incident and mortality rates than the U.S. for all cancers combined, according to the U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group and the Canadian Cancer Society. Moreover, fewer Canadians (11.3 percent) than Americans (14.4 percent) admit unmet health care needs.

Myth: Canadians are paying out of pocket to come to the U.S. for medical care.Most patients who come from Canada to the U.S. for health care are those whose costs are covered by the Canadian governments. If a Canadian goes outside of the country to get services that are deemed medically necessary, not experimental, and are not available at home for whatever reason (e.g., shortage or absence of high tech medical equipment; a longer wait for service than is medically prudent; or lack of physician expertise), the provincial government where you live fully funds your care. Those patients who do come to the U.S. for care and pay out of pocket are those who perceive their care to be more urgent than it likely is.

Myth: Canada is a socialized health care system in which the government runs hospitals and where doctors work for the government.Princeton University health economist Uwe Reinhardt says single-payer systems are not “socialized medicine” but “social insurance” systems because doctors work in the private sector while their pay comes from a public source. Most physicians in Canada are self-employed. They are not employees of the government nor are they accountable to the government. Doctors are accountable to their patients only. More than 90 percent of physicians in Canada are paid on a fee-for-service basis. Claims are submitted to a single provincial health care plan for reimbursement, whereas in the U.S., claims are submitted to a multitude of insurance providers. Moreover, Canadian hospitals are controlled by private boards and/or regional health authorities rather than being part of or run by the government.

Myth: There aren’t enough doctors in Canada.

From a purely statistical standpoint, there are enough physicians in Canada to meet the health care needs of its people. But most doctors practice in large urban areas, leaving rural areas with bona fide shortages. This situation is no different than that being experienced in the U.S. Simply training and employing more doctors is not likely to have any significant impact on this specific problem. Whatever issues there are with having an adequate number of doctors in any one geographical area, they have nothing to do with the single-payer system.

Originally posted 2010-03-10 02:00:43.

Health Insurer’s “Gift” For College Grads

United HealthCare announce this week that it would be voluntarily implementing one of the requirements of the new health care law early.

That is the requirement that allows young adults who are no longer full-time students to remain on their parents policies until they are 26.  [All insurance companies will have to comply with this requirement by September 1, United HealthCare is implementing it on June 1]

WOW… how generous.

Statistically the healthiest group of American’s will be offered insurance… a group that will most likely be [mostly] unemployed because of the economy [thus not having corporate health care coverage] — seems a little self serving to me; after all, they aren’t giving the insurance away.

Originally posted 2010-04-21 02:00:58.

Deep Throat

I watched a documentary called Inside Deep Throat — and I found it far more interesting than I think I ever found the movie.

The documentary talks about the changes occurring on the sexual landscape of America… while the sixties might have been referred to as the sexual revolution, it was really the early seventies where the battle of sexual expression was waged.

The movie was a landmark in many respects — but it’s success really had little to do with the quality of the movie, but rather the legal battles it caused — even though a presidential (appointed by Richard M Nixon) commission had already recommended that laws controlling pornography be repealed since they were largely unenforceable and that pornography caused no real risk to adults.

Watergate was only one of Nixon’s lies.

Sure the movie broke a great deal of new ground in film in general and porno specifically… but what it really broke was political and social stigma.

The trial in New York City (Judge Tyler ruled the file “obscene”) and an article in The New York Times catapulted the movie to the most profitable movie ever — $600 million US for a movie that originally cost only $25,000 to make.

The movie was eventually outlawed in 23 states; and the FBI harassed the director, producer, financiers, and theater owners.

Nixon’s four appointed Supreme Court Justices gave censorship a leg up; initially the feminist movement and the “protect our children” radicals supported the ban on expressive file; but steadily community standards changed possibly because of the VCR (and later DVD) and individuals began to demand their freedom of expression.

In most part of the country today individuals are free to choose; but believe me, there are still backward places that attempt to legislate morality — oppression controlled by the radical Christian right.


Below is a summary of court cases revolving around obscenity.

1957 Roth v. US – the Supreme Court defined obscene material is that which lacks any “redeeming social importance.”  The Supreme court combined the cases wof Roth v. US and Alberts v. California.

1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio – the Supreme Court reverses a state obscenity ruling, but issues four separate opinions laying the ground work for confusions.

1966 Memoirs v. Massachusetts – the Supreme Court attempts to better define the ruling in Roth v. US.  A work had to be proved by censors to: 1) appeal to prurient interest, 2) be patently offensive, and 3) have no redeeming social value.

1973 Miller v. California – the Supreme Court reinforces that obscenity was not protect by the First Amendment and established the Miller test but acknowledged “the inherent dangers of undertaking to regulate any form of expression,” and said that “State statutes designed to regulate obscene materials must be carefully limited.” 1) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards (not national standards, as some prior tests required), would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; 2) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law; and 3) “whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

1973 Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton – the Supreme Court upheld a state court’s injunction against the showing of obscene films in a movie theatre restricted to consenting adults; however, the Court differentiated the case from 1969 Stanley v. Georgia.

1990 FW/PBS v. City of Dallas – the Supreme Court ruled the city ordinance attempting to regulate “expressive businesses” as unconstitutional.

1999 Free Speech Coalition v. Reno – the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against section 2556(8) of the Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA)  stating 1) the statue is not content-neutral and aims to curb specific expression; 2) the statute was not in line with Supreme Court decisions which have held that states can only criminalize child pornography when the laws “limit the offense to works that visually depict explicit sexual conduct by children below a specified age” – something the CPPA failed to do; 3) no demonstrated link to harm to real children has been demonstrated; and 4) the language is too vague and over-broad, allowing for arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.

Originally posted 2010-09-21 02:00:41.

US Health Care Reform

Today US President Barrack Obama is supposed to deliver a revised plan to overhaul US Health care… but yesterday Warren Buffet hit the nail on the head while speaking on CNC he said the country’s out-of-control health care costs — at US $2.3 trillion a year and growing — are like “a tapeworm eating at our economic body.”

Mr Buffet underscored that he would support overhaul legislation proposed by the US Senate, but that he would prefer existing proposals be scrapped in favor of a new plan targeted at addressing costs.

“What we have now is untenable over time,” said Mr. Buffett, noting the U.S. health-care system eats up about 17% of the country’s economic output, compared with about 10% for Canada and many other countries. “I believe in insuring more people. But I don’t believe in insuring more people until you attack the cost aspect of this. And there is no reason for us to be spending 17% or thereabouts when many other developed countries are spending, we’ll say, 9 or 10%. They have more beds, they have more nurses, they have more doctors, they even have more consultations by far.”

The major obstacles to any real reform would be the power health care lobbyists (representing pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, doctors, and other health care related entities) as well as the American public.

Without reform, the cost of U.S. health care — already the most expensive in the world — is forecast to jump to around 25% of the US economic output by 2025.

My feeling is that since the Democrats couldn’t come up with a plan that they could all get behind when they had control of the House, Senate, and Presidency it’s extremely unlikely that they can build bi-partisan support for much of any real reform now.

American politics is always a shining example that change isn’t always progress.

Originally posted 2010-03-04 02:00:40.

Blow Smoke Up One’s Ass

In 18th Century Europe (1750~1810), the Tobacco Smoke Enema was used to infuse tobacco smoke into a patient’s rectum for various medical purposes; primarily the resuscitation of drowning victims.

The procedure involved a rectal tube being inserted into the anus that was connected to a fumigator and bellows that was used to force smoke into the rectum.

The warmth of the smoke was thought to promote respiration, but doubts about the credibility of tobacco enemas soon lead to the popularization of the phrase…

Blow Smoke Up One’s Ass

It seems to me, that the whole tobacco industry was blowing smoke up most everyone’s ass for years in trying to convince them that smoking didn’t cause any ill effects.

Tobacco Smoke Enema on Wikipedia

Tobacco Smoke Enema

Originally posted 2010-04-17 02:00:43.

Comparison of Canadian and American health care systems

There are a number of comparisons between the Canadian and US health care systems; and like with any complex issue you can make the comparison show almost anything you want depending on the metrics chosen for the comparison and the facts included (or omitted).

Often the Canadian and American systems are compared since until the 1960s they were extremely similar, and Canadian and Americans share a large common history and to some extent culture.

This comparison on Wikipedia appears to be an honest attempt to compare and contrast the two systems, it includes a number of citations.  I recommend reading it, and considering what it has to say in light of the the current state health care in the US.

Comparison of Canadian and American health care systems

Originally posted 2010-03-16 13:03:11.

Unhealthy lies and the truth about health care reform

On 18 August 2009 John Groom published an article on CreativeLoafing that might give you a little more perspective on the health care reform battle.  It’s dated, but still very relevant.

The article starts off…

For weeks, health insurance companies, Republican political operatives and politicians, and their media cheerleaders have thrown a thick blanket of lies over the national debate of health care reform. By now you’ve heard the one about how Obama is going to pull the plug on your granny. Maybe you also heard that illegal immigrants would soon be enjoying free health care on your dime. Or that new health care policies would be a bonanza for abortion clinics.

Most of the screamers we’ve seen at health care town hall meetings are obviously, at best, very uninformed about details of proposed reforms. What you may not know is that those uninformed views are largely the result of a deliberate, cynical campaign of outright, blatant dishonesty the likes of which this reporter hasn’t seen in nearly 40 years of following politics. Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein summed up the risk the GOP is taking with its current tactics: “By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.”

For the complete article see: Unhealthy lies and the truth about health care reform.

Remember, question everything.

Originally posted 2009-12-29 01:00:56.

Brink’s Pill Heist

On the 17th of March in what could well become the basis of the next Hollywood crime caper movie, $75 million worth of pharmaceuticals was stolen from a warehouse in Enfield, MA from Eli Lilly & Co.

The thieves disabled the alarm system, scaled an exterior brick wall, cut a hold in the roof, rappelled inside, loaded pallets of merchandise onto an awaiting vehicle, and left with a semi-truck full of stolen goods.

Prozac, Cymbalta, Zyprexa according to Eli Lilly no narcotics or painkillers were stored in this ware house.

Why worry about drugs from abroad when it seems the drug trade is very much alive right in our own back yard.

Originally posted 2010-03-19 02:00:13.

Does Canada’s Health Care System Need Fixing?

This is from an article on by Sarah Varney (KQED – San Francisco, CA, US – Public Media for Northern California) re-published on NPR.

Amid the debate about reforming heath care in the United States, it’s tough to turn on your television these days without hearing a political ad condemning the Canadian health care system.

One such ad from Americans for Prosperity features a woman talking of her experience with getting treatment for cancer.

“I survived a brain tumor, but if I’d relied on my government for health care, I’d be dead. I am a Canadian citizen. As my brain tumor got worse, my government health care system told me I had to wait six month to see a specialist,” the woman says.

The ads are provocative, but just how accurately do they portray Canada’s system?

At a small doctor’s office in the gritty working-class neighborhood of East Vancouver, Dr. Larry Barzelai meets with John and Bessie Riley, who have been his patients for more than 20 years.

John Riley was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Contrary to the woman in the TV ad, he says his experience getting in to see specialists has been “nothing but good” so far. “Everything’s gone bang, bang. I’ve had no waiting times for anything,” he says, adding that his only out-of-pocket expense has been the cost of getting to the doctor’s office.

Socialized Insurance, Not Socialized Medicine

Canada has a universal health care system that’s paid for through income taxes and sales tax. All Canadians are covered, and they can see any doctor they want anywhere in the country with no copays or deductibles. Some things aren’t covered: optometry, dentistry and outpatient prescription drugs. Many Canadians have private insurance to cover those services, though some struggle to pay for them out of pocket.

U.S. critics of Canadian health care like to call it socialized medicine, but it’s more like socialized insurance — meaning the risk is pooled together. And while the individual provinces and territories set their overall health budgets and administer the health plans, the delivery of medical care is private. Doctors run their own businesses and then bill the government.

Barzelai says physicians in Canada earn a good living and aren’t faced with the same administrative hassles that American doctors gripe about. “Medical costs here are half of what medical costs in the States are,” he says. “At the same time, our infant mortality is lower, our life expectancy is longer, our rates of obesity are a lot less. So there’s got to be some positive aspects of living in Canada and with the Canadian medical system.”

The Commonwealth Fund, a respected and nonpartisan U.S. health research organization, looked at deaths that could have been prevented with access to quality medical care in the leading 19 industrialized countries. In the latest survey, the United States ranked last and Canada came in sixth.

Professor Bob Evans, one of the grandfathers of the health economics field, has been studying the Canadian and U.S. systems since they were founded around the same time in the mid-1960s. He says that what many Americans hear about Canada — rationed care, long wait lists and a government bureaucrat who gets in between a patient and doctor — is “absolute nonsense.”

“Are there cases of people who wind up not getting the care they need at appropriate times? Yes, of course there are,” says Evans, who is with the Centre for Health Policy Research at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. “This is a huge system and it’s a very complicated one and things do go wrong. But as a general rule, what happens here is that when you need the care, you get it.” But that wasn’t always the case.

‘The Most Frustrating Moments In Our System’

When federal spending on Canadian health care declined during a recession in the 1990s, lines for non-urgent procedures — and some urgent ones — grew. A few years later, Canada’s Supreme Court found that some patients had in fact died as a result of waiting for medical services. Stories of the deaths and of residents traveling to the U.S. for medical care dominated Canadian news coverage.

In response, Canada’s government poured billions of dollars into reducing wait times in the five medical areas deemed most troublesome, including cancer care, cardiac care and joint replacement surgery. And wait times for these services has dropped: Most provinces now report those times on publicly available Web sites. Such data — and public accountability — don’t exist in the U.S.

But that’s not to say there still aren’t frustrations with waiting for medical care in Canada.

Jocelyn Thompkinson is a peppy 29-year-old who was born with a neural tube defect similar to spina bifida. “I haven’t been able to walk since I was 8, and I’ve had lots of surgeries, lots of medical interventions of various types,” she says at BC Children’s Hospital, in a leafy Vancouver neighborhood. “But beyond that, I hold a job, I have a pretty much normal life.”

She credits an army of Canadian doctors and physical therapists for giving her that normal life, though there have been roadblocks. “Of course there were some times when I had to wait for care, and those are always the most frustrating moments in our system,” Thompkinson says. Several years ago, when she was on a long waiting list for a pain clinic in Vancouver, she traveled to Seattle and then Texas to get care. The visits and tests cost her $1,800.

Few Canadians actually go south for medical care, though. Canadian researchers say it’s a bit like getting struck by lighting — it’s extremely rare, but when it happens, everyone talks about it.

Provincial governments do pay for Canadians to receive specialty care in the U.S. in some cases. For example, a shortage of neonatal beds means a small number of women with high-risk pregnancies are sent to U.S. hospitals to deliver their babies.

It doesn’t happen often, though, and public opinion polls continue to show strong support for publicly financed, universal health care in Canada.

NPR.com

Originally posted 2010-03-11 02:00:20.