Category Archives: Health Care

GOP Debate Audience boos Birth Control Question

Debate Audience Boos Birth Control

Mitt Romney’s not ready to give up his status as frontrunner just yet. Romney denied that his health-care plan ever mandated contraception in a feisty exchange with Rick Santorum. Earlier, moderator John King raised the question of birth control—eliciting boos from the audience. Meanwhile, the candidates were frothing at the mouth. Newt Gingrich immediately lashed out at King, demanding why moderators never asked President Obama about his vote as an Illinois senator for “infanticide.” He then called Obama a baby killer and said he was more of an extremist than any of the GOP candidates. Romney chimed in to say there’s never been an administration in America more opposed to religious freedom. Santorum argued that teen sexuality should be a reason why contraception shouldn’t be free, and then shifted his focus to defunding Planned Parenthood and fractured families.

Seriously Newt – “infanticide”? Oooh, I know where he got that one. The question was about “birth control” – Don’t these clowns know that making contraception more readily available will result in less “infanticide” or as most rational folks say – abortions. Of course they know the facts but they are playing to the 27 percenters, otherwise known as the Republican “base”.

None of the candidates actually bothered to try and answer John King’s question and in fact used it as a basis for attacking the media (cheers from audience) and to kick off rants about “religious freedom” and the decline in moral values that they see as the reason for discontent in America.

Romney and the rest continue to rage on and on about Obama’s suppression of religious freedom. Doesn’t “religious freedom” include those who don’t hold to the same myths as the majority believe? Although some would think “religious freedom” means you can believe and worship and behave as you wish, as long as you cause no harm to others, there appears to be a large segment of the Republican base which sees it as them being allowed to impose their views on everyone else. When they can’t control society, they see it as “suppression” of their beliefs. When they don’t receive government support for their ideology (and xmas displays) they see an assault on religion.

Naturally, the theocrats have managed to reveal their true desires in a book promoted by Glenn Beck, who managed to drive the sales into best-seller numbers, The Five Thousand Year Leap. It is the arrogance engendered by their belief in the ‘rightness’ of their theology that is driving today’s assault not only on women but also on minority religious beliefs and atheists. Many, far too many, Americans believe stuff that just ain’t true and support those who promote such lies and fantasies. The end result of such twisted thinking was well described in the dystopias of Heinlein’s Revolt in 2100 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

more on the drive for xian control of America may be found in the books of Frank Schaeffer and Jeff Sharlet’s The Family

All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher. – Lucretius (94 BC – 49 BC)


Anti-abortion bills spark heated debate in Virginia

First saw this story on Rachel’s show last night, during which she had pics of reader-supplied vaginal probes, including this one:
Anti-abortion bills spark heated debate in Virginia

The Tuesday passage in Virginia of two of the strictest anti-abortion bills in the country has sparked fierce debate over abortion rights the battleground state, with Democrats decrying the acts as an unprecedented encroachment on women’s rights as Republicans push to move the legislation forward.

One bill, Republican Del. Bob Marshall’s House bill 1, would define personhood at conception and “provides that unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the Commonwealth.” The second bill requires that women be required to undergo an ultrasound procedure prior to having an abortion.

Now here’s fun part

there are more than 25,000 references to the word “person” in the Virginia legislative code, and that applying all of the laws pertaining to “persons” to all existing fertilized eggs would inevitably become complicated.

She pointed to an example in which a couple undergoing in vitro fertilization successfully becomes pregnant without using as many eggs as were fertilized in the procedure. Those additional eggs would thus be considered “persons,” and the couple could use exploit those “persons” to get additional tax breaks, she argued.

The other bill requiring ultrasound examination before a woman can have an abortion has a rather dangerous, and shall we “intrusive”, requirement that the woman is not allowed to protest – “its requirement that some women undergo a transvaginal ultrasound probe”

The FBI defines rape as “Penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object”

Virginian-Pilot editorial

Inserting something into the vagina of an unwilling woman is a violation in every sense of the word. But not to a majority of Virginia’s Senate.

This week, the Senate passed a bill, largely along party lines, that would require a woman seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound and wait as long as a day for the procedure.
This isn’t about whether abortion is right or wrong.

This is about the scope of government. Even those opposed to abortion should have qualms about the government mandating medical procedures and waiting periods.

Under any other circumstances, forcing an unwilling person to submit to a vaginal probing would be a violation beyond imagining. Requiring a doctor to commit such an act, especially when medically unnecessary, and to submit to an arbitrary waiting period, is to demand an abrogation of medical ethics, if not common decency.

Will those screaming about “government intrusion into our lives” when commenting on a silly mixup over a 4 year old’s lunch say the same thing about this Virginia LAW?

This is just one more example of the hypocrisy of so many on the right; a hypocrisy extending from the Tea Partiers shouting about socialised medicine while simultaneously screaming “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”, from Catholic bishops complaining about paying for often medically necessary procedures while denying for years that they were covering up even more morally offensive acts in their own churches and schools, from ‘small government‘ activists who claim the feds are after your guns when their is a push for gun registration laws while complaining about the high crime rates in urban neighbourhoods, from sexually conflicted pols and preachers decrying the “attack on marriage” while simultaneously hiring rentboys to “carry their luggage”, and now to this state legislature controlled by “small government” types mandating something far more intrusive than contraception insurance.

It does seem to me that “intrusive government” is often defined as one that does something I don’t like, otherwise – as long as it affects only those “others”, its all cool with me. Like I wrote – hypocrisy.


American Healthcare – best in the world?

You know how WordPress provides suggestions related to the ‘Tags’ used on your posts? One day, I clicked on one of those suggestions and found Kingjesters blog. Very rightwing political orientation and like many bloggers of that ilk, after a few comments by yours truly, the blogger banned me for being a ‘troll’. However I subscribed to his blog and get email updates, you know, just so I can track the various memes circulating on that other side of the spectrum.

Today’s entry was mostly a copy & paste of various news articles about “ObamaCare” heading for the SCOTUS after the Administration made the decision not to appeal a finding by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that said the Affordable Health Care Act was un-Constitutional.

KingsJester concludes his ‘analysis’ of the situation with the following:

They’d better do it quickly….while America still has the finest health care system in the world.

There are some who would disagree with that statement

New England Journal of Medicine

Despite the claim by many in the U.S. health policy community that international comparison is not useful because of the uniqueness of the United States, the rankings have figured prominently in many arenas. It is hard to ignore that in 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy.3 These facts have fueled a question now being discussed in academic circles, as well as by government and the public: Why do we spend so much to get so little?

Commonwealth Fund Report 2007

Despite having the most costly health system in the world, the United States consistently underperforms on most dimensions of performance, relative to other countries. This report—an update to two earlier editions—includes data from surveys of patients, as well as information from primary care physicians about their medical practices and views of their countries’ health systems. Compared with five other nations—Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom—the U.S. health care system ranks last or next-to-last on five dimensions of a high performance health system: quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives

My personal experiences with doctors with several nations has been positive on every occasion that I had to visit one due to a propensity for breaking parts of my body.

Update: Kingjester did post my comment, good for him.

Florida Gov. Scott prescribes ideology

from the “ultra-liberal” Palm Beach Post, an editorial

Scott prescribes ideology

To Gov. Scott and the Legislature, it makes sense to reject $50 million in federal money for proven programs and take $2.5 million for one proven a failure.

Since the state is suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Scott and his GOP colleagues have insisted on taking no money authorized by the law – except when it suits their ideology. That’s the only explanation for taking $2.5 million from the health care laws for an abstinence-only program that doesn’t prevent kids from having sex or help them avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Yet they rejected $50 million that would have paid for, among other things, one of the most successful child-abuse prevention programs in the country.

Gov. Scott and an aide to House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, have claimed that the abstinence-only money continues a long-standing program. Gov. Scott weasel-worded to Bloomberg News that he opposes “implementing any part of ObamaCare that didn’t already exist.”

Some of the rejected grant money, however, was for a highly rated program run by Healthy Families Florida since 1998. It sends nurses to work with young parents deemed at risk of abusing or neglecting their children. Since the Legislature cut Healthy Families’ budget by close to $10 million, it, too, is a long-standing program that predates “ObamaCare.”

Gov. Scott is a multimillionaire who gets taxpayer-subsidized health care on the state plan while opposing public money and programs that could help millions of Floridians. Does that make sense?

This past week Floridians found out that Gov Scott, a multi-millionaire, is using a special health plan available only to upper level state employees. His monthly cost? $30 a month for insurance that covers himself and his wife.

What to do about America’s “Dummy Belt”

Professor Beery at the beeryblog has some interesting facts and suggestions concerning America’s “Dummy Belt” – those states which are most like the Third World

America’s Dummy Belt

We are a land of many ‘belts’: the Bible Belt, the Rust Belt, the Sun Belt, to name a few.

But watching the near dissolution of our political institutions and our international reputation as a scientific, medical, and cultural leader at the hands of ideologically puritanical and intellectually useless base idiots, the time has come to name another of America’s ‘belts’: the DUMMY BELT.

This belt encompasses a swath of the United States that, were it drop-kicked from the Union, would instantly join the likes of Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau among the world’s most primitive societies. A grotesque mutation joining Iranian theocracy and Central African poverty would emerge, despoiling the planet and setting back global progress a dozen generations merely by existing.

But alas, God has cursed First-World states by saddling them with responsibility for the well-being of barbaric theocrats and tribalists. And our nation many years ago made the cataclysmic misstep of bestowing on these nether regions multifarious statehoods and representatives.

America’s Dummy Belt

The Dummy Belt

Cal Thomas is a blithering know-nothing

Why this gentleman still has a job when he writes such incredibly disjointed nonsense in his syndicated opinion columns is a question of some import as it relates to the level of public discourse in America — I think.

A recent Thomas column is a fine example of the man’s ignorance, or deliberate deceptiveness, as it attacks Britain’s NHS with some rather selective quoting of headlines found in British news media.

For several years, the British media have been full of horror stories about failures in the National Health Service (NHS). “Thousands of Elderly at Risk in Care Crisis” screamed the front-page headline in the Times of London last week. This is nothing new, because a headline in The Daily Telegraph nearly two years ago warned, “Cruel and Neglectful Care of One Million NHS Patients Exposed.” Is anyone listening?

Looks horrible doesn’t it? That socialised health care in Britain is a massive failure, right? Well not quite. The “Thousands at Risk” are patients and residents of England’s largest private care home company which is approaching bankruptcy.

Since the days when Margaret Thatcher lived in #10 Downing Street, the Brits have been trying that whole free-market approach to society’s problems which is so loudly advocated by American ‘conservatives’. One of the actions instigated during the Iron Lady’s time in office was shifting most elder care into corporately-owned nursing homes, because for-profit companies are always run more efficiently than anything a government employee can do (insert eye-roll here). Unfortunately for those who think privatisation will solve problems, a recent report by the Care Quality Commission in Britain found that those elder care homes run by town councils or charitable groups provided superior care to those run by corporations.

CQC also found that the quality of private-sector run care services is generally lower than those run by councils or voluntary organisations. In April 2010, services run directly by councils and those run by voluntary organisations had the highest proportion of services rated good and excellent (91%), however they have a smaller fraction of the market. Whereas privately run services had a significantly smaller proportion of good and excellent ratings (81%) than other sectors, although this was a significant improvement on May 2008.

Another Daily Mail article quoted by Mr Thomas states

Britain has fewer doctors per head of population than most countries in the Western World

but more than the United States.

If one bothers to read it, they will find that the conclusion of the OECD report referenced just might not fit Mr Thomas free-market ideology

The report concludes that the UK would have far better healthcare if it paid its doctors less but employed more of them.

It says the British health system is characterised by the ‘high relative income level of health professionals’ and that efficiency could be improved if contracts were rewritten to give doctors less money.

The “meltdown in the NHS”, when one digs past the headlines and selective quotes of Mr Thomas, appears to be far more the result of privatisation of services and lax regulation than the failings of socialised medicine.

The quid pro quo of privatisation was that private enterprise demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Too often it has failed to do so. Tighter safeguards are needed to protect the public and force the industry to put its house in order.

Health Insurers Making Record Profits

NYTimes 13 May, 2010

Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care

The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.
Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

The United States is the only developed nation where a person can be bankrupted by medical costs
America Journal of Medicine


Our 2001 study in 5 states found that medical problems contributed to at least 46.2% of all bankruptcies. Since then, health costs and the numbers of un- and underinsured have increased, and bankruptcy laws have tightened.

We surveyed a random national sample of 2314 bankruptcy filers in 2007, abstracted their court records, and interviewed 1032 of them. We designated bankruptcies as “medical” based on debtors’ stated reasons for filing, income loss due to illness, and the magnitude of their medical debts.

Using a conservative definition, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical; 92% of these medical debtors had medical debts over $5000, or 10% of pretax family income. The rest met criteria for medical bankruptcy because they had lost significant income due to illness or mortgaged a home to pay medical bills. Most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three quarters had health insurance. Using identical definitions in 2001 and 2007, the share of bankruptcies attributable to medical problems rose by 49.6%. In logistic regression analysis controlling for demographic factors, the odds that a bankruptcy had a medical cause was 2.38-fold higher in 2007 than in 2001.

Illness and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of US bankruptcies.

U.S. Medical Prices Highest In the World

…U.S. devotes almost 18% of its gross domestic product to health care spending, while other wealthy nations spend no more than 10% or 11%:

So what’s the ‘Free Market’ solution?