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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

There's a dog named Derby. And a technology that can create prosthetics better, cheaper and faster. Put them together and you will shed a tear.

Derby was born with underdeveloped front limbs, and although he was otherwise a healthy dog, that one difference nearly caused him to be put down...

Fortunately, Derby soon met someone who was not only compassionate enough to save his life, but also equipped with the know-how to improve it too.

More of the story is here.

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

No, she wasn't poisoning pigeons.

An 81-year-old woman diagnosed with both Alzheimer's and dementia is being held in jail because she was allegedly feeding crows.

Mary Musselman was arrested on Monday for allegedly leaving bread outside her home in central Florida to feed the birds.

It's one thing to put food out for bears, as in lots of it. I can understand the safety problems with that, and can understand why the terms of her release ("Don't feed wild animals!") were what they were.

But we're talking about someone diagnosed with Alzheimer's and dementia. To what conceivable purpose can anyone imagine the act of locking her up again when she failed to obey the order - by scattering bread around for some crows?

I suppose it's merely a rhetorical question at this point, but do police really have absolutely no common sense left? No ability to discern when something is totally absurd?

And then there's the judge.

The judge ordered Musselman to be held in jail until a more complete mental evaluation can take place.
Perhaps he had no choice. Perhaps there is no one who can take responsibility for her. Jail is now the only place to put the mentally ill or unstable, yet jail likely contributes to mental illness and triggers mental problems. Jails were not created to help people; they are simply sets of cages to lock people up, either for punishment or because they are suspected of being a criminal.

A hundred years from now, I hope and dread that people will look back on what this country does to those most in need of help as barbaric, inhuman and unforgivable. None of us will likely be around for that, but perhaps some intrepid MultiSuper Googleplex user will discover this diary and will understand that not everyone was blind, even if we all were unwilling or incapable of doing anything about it.

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

One of the big draws of Obamacare was that at least - at the very least - expenses would be capped. No longer could someone run up a catastrophic $100,000 bill. As the President said

"We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick..."
Or so we thought. But that is not to be for some this year.
...some group health plans will not be required to impose any limit on a patient's out-of-pocket costs for drugs next year. If a drug plan does not currently have a limit on out-of-pocket costs, it will not have to impose one for 2014, federal officials said Monday.
In other words: Yet Another Exception For The Benefit Of The One Percent.

In other words, should you be so unfortunate to be one of the lucky ones to fall under "some group health plans" you can still go very, very broke, very very quickly...

The American Cancer Society... noted that some new cancer drugs cost $100,000 a year or more.
Multiple Sclerosis drugs are also exceedingly expensive:
Theodore M. Thompson, a vice president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said: "The promise of out-of-pocket limits was one of the main reasons we supported health care reform. So we are disappointed that some plans will be allowed to have multiple out-of-pocket limits in 2014."
If you're not quite so unlucky, your out-of-pocket expenses will only be double what the law is written to allow!
Under the policy, many group health plans will be able to maintain separate out-of-pocket limits for benefits in 2014. As a result, a consumer may be required to pay $6,350 for doctors' services and hospital care, and an additional $6,350 for prescription drugs under a plan administered by a pharmacy benefit manager.
And why did this insanity come about?
federal officials said that many insurers and employers needed more time to comply because they used separate companies to help administer major medical coverage and drug benefits, with separate limits on out-of-pocket costs.

In many cases, the companies have separate computer systems that cannot communicate with one another.

Oh, no!!!  Not that.  Separate computer systems?  Separate computer systems that health care providers have known need to talk to each other for almost FOUR FUCKING YEARS NOW?????

And this is just bullshit anyway. If the systems really can't talk to one another this year but will magically be able to do so next year, then why not demand at the very least that the two different insurers provide reimbursements at the end of the year, insisting that the two balances be reconciled?  Explain to me why people making $30,000 a year have to cough up a possible extra $6350 a year because the government is too stupid to figure out a way to deal and so gullible as to believe insurance companys which make $300,000,000 / yr. claims?

But the worst of the worst is those who will still be caught in hell - a total non-cap on out-of-pocket expenses. What in the name of the Affordable Care Act were they thinking?

Reposted from nyceve by joedemocrat

The right wing, led by the moral reprobates at Freedom Works are determined to sabotage enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.  They are targeting 18- 34 year olds, the cohort most critical to the success of the ACA.

Fox News, we are being told in an excellent diary by Jon Perr is, as usual, substituting lies and distortion for fact.

As President Obama said yesterday at his news conference, there are 53 days left before the Health Insurance Exchanges open on October 1st. I'm reminding today myself why progressives, that means you and I,  must organize to fight any effort to  defund, destroy or otherwise tamper with Obamacare. The ACA is light years away from perfection, but it's what we have--today. It will assist many good, hard working Americans who are in desperate need of help

Powerful unions like National Nurses United and other progressive organizations are going to beat the drum--loudly, and remind Americans that those politicians who seek to defund Obamacare are the people who give themselves the best healthcare.

If you listen to these videos which I made during my visits to Free Health Clinics in 2009 during the height of the healthcare fight, it seems to me, you come to only one conclusion, Obamacare is for the 99%.

The people here describe the barbaric depravity of American healthcare that we hope and expect will go away come January 1st. It is sobering to listen to these fine people describe the toxic waste dump of the pre-Obamacare U.S. healthcare system.

 Most of all, we hope that more people like Karen Black will not die because they don't have funds for treatment.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Animal Nuz by joedemocrat

From The Washington Post:

Maryland insurance officials approved final rates Friday for health plans to be sold in the online marketplace for individuals beginning Oct. 1. The rates offered by nine carriers are among the lowest of the 12 states that have proposed or approved rates for comparison and among the lowest in the D.C. area, according to an analysis by Maryland officials who will be operating the state’s marketplace.

The Maryland Insurance Administration approved premiums at levels as much as 33 percent below what had been requested. For a 21-year-old non-smoker, for example, options start as low as $93 a month.

“We are pleased that Maryland is among the lowest in the country,” said the state’s health secretary, Joshua Sharfstein. He said the approved rates were an important step for the fall launch of the online marketplace, the Maryland Health Connection.
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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

The Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, Andy Tobin, surrendered today, acceding to Governor Brewer's demand that the House vote on whether to accept Obamacare's Medicaid expansion for Arizona.

Previously, the Speaker had refused to allow the proposition to come to a vote. The Governor, despite being obsessed with headless corpses in the desert, had the sense to understand that anti-Obamacare obsession by Tea Party Arizona Republicans was no reason to refuse free money and at the same time keep people from receiving medical care. She, giving credit where credit is due, fought back against this obsession by threatening to veto all legislation until a vote on Medicaid expansion was called - and carried through on that threat by vetoing five bills that reached her desk.

It's a BFD:

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that expanding Medicaid would cut Arizona’s uninsurance by almost a third. That means that about 50,000 poor Arizonans would have access to basic and specialty health care, including diagnostic and clinical services, as well as care for the disabled and the mentally ill.
The Medicaid expansion passed the Arizona Senate last month, so the House vote is the only thing now standing in the way. There are 36 Republicans and 24 Democrats in the Arizona House. Assuming there are no insane Democrats that means Brewer requires seven non-insane Republicans in the House.
Republicans opposed to the measure admit that it’s likely to pass. "I don't know if we have the numbers to stop it. But we are going to continue to fight," said state Rep. Bob Thorpe (R).
Perhaps she could threaten to create some headless corpses along with a few conspicuously vacant seats in the House, thereby killing two loons with one stone.
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.'

For I was hungry and you gave Me food.

In March, James Kelly, a 44-year-old Navy veteran, was passing through Houston on his way to connect with family in California. Homeless, destitute, and hungry, he chose to check out the dining delicacies in a trash bin near City Hall. Spotted by police, Kelly was promptly charged with "disturbing the contents of a garbage can in the business district."

In 2012, city officials made it a crime for any group to hand out food to the needy in the downtown area without first getting a permit.

Common Dreams

I was a stranger and you took Me in.
Kelly Thomas was a homeless man diagnosed with schizophrenia who lived on the streets of Fullerton, California. He died five days after an altercation with members of the Fullerton Police Department on July 5, 2011...

...officers then repeatedly applied Tasers to Thomas, hit him with the butts of the Tasers and flashlights, and threw him onto the ground. A video of the event surfaced, and Thomas can be heard repeatedly screaming in pain.

Kelly Thomas, Wikipedia

I was sick and you visited Me.
The refusal by about half the states to expand Medicaid will leave millions of poor people ineligible for government-subsidized health insurance... even as many others with higher incomes receive federal subsidies to buy insurance...

...many of "the poorest of the poor" would fall into a gap in which no assistance is available...

"If only you had a little more money, you could get insurance subsidies, but because you are so poor, you cannot get anything."

New York Times

Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire...

It's too bad life isn't like a fairy Bible tale, isn't it? Can't you just picture the good burghers of Houston departing into everlasting fire, a morsel of food eternally just out of reach? Kelly's tormenters hearing "Protect and Serve!" reverberating oh so painfully in their heads forever? Republican legislators descending into the circle of hell labelled "Reserved: Legislators who denied Me health care."

Heading the other way, I hear the Pope just said that atheists might qualify for Heaven. Or at least they are capable of doing good (who knew?). I don't agree with the Pope on much, but he did nail it recently:

Pope Francis harshly criticized what he called "the cult of money" and condemned what he called the "dictatorship" of economies that are socially unjust and morally unfair...
"If investments in the banks fail, "Oh, it's a tragedy,"... But if people die of hunger or don't have food or health, nothing happens."
Almost, your Holiness. Nothing happens - that the rich and powerful don't want to have happen.
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

You can make guns with a 3D printer. You can also save a child's life.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have used a 3-D printer to create a custom-made, life-saving implant for a baby boy, they report today in a letter in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Or, if you prefer medical-technical jargon:
Tracheobronchomalacia in newborns, which manifests with dynamic airway collapse and respiratory insufficiency, is difficult to treat. In an infant with tracheobronchomalacia, we implanted a customized, bioresorbable tracheal splint, created with a computer-aided design based on a computed tomographic image of the patient's airway and fabricated with the use of laser-based three-dimensional printing, to treat this life-threatening condition.
How about my interpretation?

They used a 3D scanner to create the blueprint to feed to a 3D printer to create a device that, implanted into the child's throat, was able to keep his breathing tube open.

It's even cooler than that.

...they custom-built a tiny, flexible splint that will grow with Kaiba ((the child)). Researchers used a special material designed to be absorbed by Kaiba's body in about three years...

Like a vacuum-cleaner hose, the C-shaped splint is flexible enough to move when Kaiba breathes. But it's also firm enough to prevent his air tube from flopping shut...

The porous splint is made from the same material as dissolvable stitches... Just as a wisteria vine grows through a trellis, Kaiba's body will create new cells to permeate the scaffold. By the time the splint is completely absorbed, doctors hope that Kaiba's own tissue will be sturdy enough to keep his airway open.

This was an emergency creation. The FDA gave the doctors emergency clearance to create the device back last year. Now
Doctors are now planning a clinical trial in order to create additional splints for children whose condition isn't immediately life-threatening.
Some say 3D printing is just the latest fad. Some say it will revolutionize the world's economy.  The truth is probably somewhere in between. But if that means being able to inexpensively and quickly create life-saving and quality-of-life enabling devices, I'd be happy with splitting the difference.
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Hospitals are often deadly. To people. Who catch an infection in their weakened state. Which goes on to kill them.

A death-ray robot may do a lot to save those people's lives.

He looks a lot like R2D2, but his name is Frost and he's on a mission to kill superbugs at Stanford Hospital. The robot made by Xenex, emits pulsating ultra violet light that stops the DNA of microorganisms from replicating, effectively killing them. The special light can wipe out potentially deadly microorganisms such as C-DIFF and MRSA that often lurk in hospitals.
There are actually two of them in use at Stanford hospital, and for what seems like a pretty damned inexpensive $82,000 per robot. They seem to be working.
Stanford's tests indicate the robots are completing their mission. "We measured the bacterial loads in the operating rooms after the robot had been in more than 10 minutes and we could not find any bacteria, so they have proven to be very effective in the ORs," said Brad Igler, housekeeping department director at Stanford Hospital.
At the end of this video, it says that other hospitals who have used this technology have cut their infection rates by half.

(Sorry about the ad, it's only 15 seconds)

Unlike certain Martians, these invaders aren't suseptible to earthly microorganisms; rather, they exterminate them. If their benefit proves out as it seems to be, let's hope they take over our planet, hospital by hospital.


Mon Apr 08, 2013 at 08:18 AM PDT

Debtors' Prisons. They're Back.

by jpmassar

Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Not content to already incarcerate a far higher percentage of their populations than anywhere else on the globe, many states of these United States are once again throwing people in jail for their inability to pay debts, fines and court costs.

More than 5,000 debt collection arrest warrants have been signed by judges in the U.S. since January 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal. In some states, debt collection arrest warrants can be issued if a borrower ignores court order to settle a debt or fails to attend a hearing...
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Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

It's the sequester. And the sequester is good. Austerity for cancer patients. What could go wrong with that?

Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester budget cuts...

After an emergency meeting Tuesday, ((North Shore Hematology Oncology Associates)) clinics decided that they would no longer see one-third of their 16,000 Medicare patients.

((Jeff Vacirca, their chief executive, said))

"A lot of us are in disbelief that this is happening. It's a choice between seeing these patients and staying in business."

Oh, but it's just an unintended consequence of doing something really, really stupid. Who could have predicted?
Legislators meant to partially shield Medicare from the automatic budget cuts triggered by the sequester, limiting the program to a 2 percent reduction - a fraction of the cuts seen by other federal programs.

But oncologists say the cut is unexpectedly damaging for cancer patients because of the way those treatments are covered...

The federal government typically pays community oncologists for the average sales price of a chemotherapy drug, plus 6 percent to cover the cost of storing and administering the medication.

Since oncologists cannot change the drug prices, they argue that the entire 2 percent cut will have to come out of that 6 percent overhead. That would make it more akin to a double-digit pay cut.

In other words, if the price of the drug is 94% of the total charged, and the other 6% is used to pay for the clinic's costs associated with the administering a drug, then reducing reimbursement by 2% means the government is really reducing what the clinic gets to cover costs by 33%, while the drug company that supplies the drug isn't taking a hit at all.

Isn't that sweet? But hey, there's hope. Maybe their patients won't all just up and "Die quickly!"

Cancer patients turned away from local oncology clinics may seek care at hospitals, which also deliver chemotherapy treatments.
There's just one catch. Catch 6500.
The care will likely be more expensive: One study from actuarial firm Milliman found that chemotherapy delivered in a hospital setting costs the federal government an average of $6,500 more annually than care delivered in a community clinic.
Seems like some cancer clinic administrators believe the tooth fairy will solve the problem.
Some cancer clinics are counting on the federal government to provide relief, and continuing to see patients they expect to lose money on...

"We're hoping that something will change, as legislators see the impact of this," Ralph Boccia, director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Bethesda, Md., said.

What legislators would that be, I wonder? Ted "let's repeal Obamacare for the 36th time" Cruz? Paul "let's kill Medicare in your lifetime" Ryan?

I know for as certain as I could ever be that enough legislators do not exist to vote to make drug companies take a minor two percent hit in the amount they charge for cancer drugs. I suppose it is barely possible enough could be shamed to simply undo the cuts for drugs falling into this "gotcha."

But I wouldn't bet my clinic on it, Mr. Boccia.

Boccia estimates that 55 percent of his patients are covered by Medicare, making any changes to reimbursement rates difficult to weather.

"When I look at the numbers, they don't add up," he said. "Business 101 says we can't stay open if we don't cover our costs."

Not unless health care was treated like it is in every other industrialized country on Earth - as a right, not as a business.
Reposted from jpmassar by jpmassar

Today, Strike Debt, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street which organized the Rolling Jubilee to raise money for debt relief, announced it's first major purchase of and elimination of said debt.  Approximately $50,000 of the money they've raised was used to retire $1,000,000 in medical debt in their first major purchase on the 'open debt' market. (In December, 2012, they commenced to do a 'trial buy' of medical debt, using $5,000 to purchase $100,000 of unpaid medical debt.)

We are very happy to announce that we have completed our second purchase of medical debt. This time, we bought and abolished over $1 million in debt from emergency rooms in Kentucky and Indiana. The average debtor owed around $900 and we will be abolishing the debt of over 1,000 people! We are sending the letters to the debtors as we type this. We are very concerned with the privacy of debtors, but if any of them come forward and want to share their stories, we will make them public...
The Rolling Jubilee started, well, rolling, back in November, 2012, and went viral. Hoping to raise $50,000 to buy medical debt at pennies on the dollar, by the time they stopped asking for donations in January, 2013 they had raised more than $500,000, enough to buy up more than $11,000,000 in medical debt and burn it.

But the effort was not so much about any individual's debt which might be eradicated, rather to call attention to the whole, evil idea.

From the beginning of the project over six months ago we have been very clear about three things we want from this project: (1) to provide some real relief for those around the country who are struggling under the crushing burden of debt; (2) to change the conversation around debt and austerity; and (3) to help advance debt resistance as part of a larger movement capable of bringing about a profound transformation of our economic system...

When starting Rolling Jubilee we committed to buying medical debt first and foremost, wanting to call attention to the profound inhumanity and inequity of our for-profit healthcare system. We have spent a great deal of time learning about the medical debt market, and the healthcare industry at large. It is an industry designed to confuse, overwhelm, and exploit. Though one in three people have medical debt, very few know that their debts are for sale on the secondary market, nor do they realize that old medical bills can negatively impact their credit scores, often with disastrous consequences for their financial well being.

Medical debt. A concept that barely exists in civilized countries. Yet here in the United States we continue the barbarous practice of kicking people when they are most down and out. Can you imagine trying to recover from a major illness while worrying all the time about how you will ever pay for your treatment and being hounded by debt collectors to boot?
People are made to suffer twice, first from injury or illness and then financial extortion. We are all forced into debt while private insurance companies, banks and real estate moguls profit off of our misery. We refuse to accept this. We want to use the attention these buys will generate to have an impact on the struggle for real, free, accessible healthcare for the 99%. There are real solutions being proposed as alternatives to Obama's Affordable Care Act: a single-payer healthcare system would save the U.S. $400 billion dollars every year; even just expanding Medicare to all would save $68 billion by 2020. Creating a public alternative or single-payer system are some of the many ways to strike debt.
It's time to 'Just Say No!' to medical debt and our system of health care for profit.


Previous Rolling Jubilee Diaries:

'Tis the Season to StrikeDebt: Done! $100,000 in Medical Debt Goes Up in Smoke. Much More to Follow.

What Would You Do If You Owned (Not Owed!) $10,000,000 In Debt? Rolling Jubilee Will Burn It.

Rolling Jubilee Hits $8,000,000 in Medical Debt to be Retired Uncollected. MORE UPDATES!


Other Strike Debt Chapters:

Strike Debt Chicago

Strike Debt Bay Area

Strike Debt Boston

Join the growing resistance!


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