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  • WSJ:

    President Barack Obama's budget carves out $879 billion for health and human services spending, a 7.7% increase that includes more money for items such as cancer research and food-safety inspectors.

    The budget includes about $600 billion over a decade that would help pay for the president's ambitious health-care overhaul, in line with estimates released earlier this year. That's expected to account for roughly half of the total cost of the expansion.

  • From the Daily Kos diaries:

    It looks like imprisoned Iranian American journalist Roxana Saberi will have her day in court next week.  When will other imprisoned Iranian human rights advocates get theirs? Drs Kamiar and Arash Alaei developed innovative HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programs that have saved thousands of lives in Iran.  They collaborated with the international scientific community to share their knowledge and expertise with other countries.  Instead of being rewarded for their diplomacy, they have been convicted of fomenting revolution.

  • Kathleen Sebelius on public options:

    The Obama administration's senior healthcare official Wednesday flatly rejected the idea of taking over the nation's medical insurance system, saying the federal government did not want to assume management of healthcare coverage.

    Kathleen Sebelius, in her first appearance before Congress since being confirmed as the secretary of Health and Human Services, said the administration wanted a "public plan option" to encourage competition. It does not want to create a monopoly.

  • David M. Drucker:

    As the framework for health care reform legislation takes shape in the Senate, the issue of whether to include a government-run insurance option has emerged as the main area of disagreement between Democratic and Republican negotiators.

  • Nature:

    Complacency, not overreaction, is the greatest danger posed by the flu pandemic. That's a message scientists would do well to help get across.

  • NY Times:

    Dr. Anne Moscona, a flu specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College, said she had been called by a reporter for a women’s magazine “asking if mothers should hold swine flu parties, like chicken pox parties.”

    “I think it’s totally nuts,” Dr. Moscona said. “I can’t believe people are really thinking of doing it. I understand the thinking, but I just fear we don’t know enough about how this virus would react in every individual. This is like the Middle Ages, when people deliberately infected themselves with smallpox. It’s vigilante vaccination — you know, taking immunity into your own hands.”

    Flu is a nasty bug that can harm even otherwise healthy people. This doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

  • By the way, there's data  from Pew on how the public looks at pandemic flu coverage:

  • WHO:

    Up to 2 billion people could be infected by swine flu if the current outbreak turns into a pandemic lasting two years, the World Health Organization said Thursday.

    WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda said the historical record of flu pandemics indicates one-third of the world's population gets infected in such outbreaks. Independent experts agreed that the estimate was possible but pointed out that many would not show any symptoms.

    That's "if", but it does explain some of the caution, and puts "mild" flu into some perspective. As the article notes, not everyone would be ill. But with that many people affected, some would be bound to have severe illness. In any case, it's a pandmeic potential virus, and the story is just beginning.

    Early data on the H1N1 (swine) flu suggest it has the "potential for efficient, rapid spread among countries," the CDC said.

    And when a lot of people are sick, some will get very sick, including previously healthy people (hospital stats focus on sicker patients, and early data may be skewed).

    Sufficient information on 22 hospitalized patients showed that 12, or about half, had underlying medical conditions that might have increased risk, but half did not, that is, they were previously healthy individuals, many of them young. There were 11 cases of pneumonia among the hospitalized. 8 wound up in intensive care, 4 had respiratory failure and 2 died.

    More perspective from senior virologist Robert Webster:

    Webster said underestimating the swine flu virus would be a huge mistake. "This H1N1 hasn't been overblown. It's a puppy, it's an infant, and it's growing," he said. "This virus has got the whole human population in the world to breed in -- it's just happened. What we have to do is to watch it, and it may become a wimp and disappear, or it may become nasty."

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:52 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Health Care Series: Thoughts on Cost Control from (10+ / 0-)

    Health Care Series: Thoughts on Cost Control from the Life of a Family Doc

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Fri May 08, 2009 at 03:20:32 AM PDT

  •  another good health diary (8+ / 0-)

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Fri May 08, 2009 at 03:31:59 AM PDT

  •  Up to 2 billion could be infected (0+ / 0-)

    In other words, somebody divided 6 billion by 3.  I can divide it by 2, or 10, or whatever number I want.  A total crock.  Nobody has any reason to think that the rate of infection from this particular strain of flu will be any particular number. This is just blowing smoke.

    And the problem of overreaction did not concern the public health authorities, it concerned the news media -- including Daily Kos.  You are still talking about this too damn much.  See my new diary.

    •  That's only because saying "two million" doesn't (0+ / 0-)

      get the attention from the viewing public that it used to.

      Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

      by darthstar on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:59:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  guesstimes of a 30% attack rate in a pandemic (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maudlin, leonard145b, Snowy Owl

        are where Keiji Fukuda got the number. Sometimes it;'s more, sometimes less. But that doesn't mean 30% ill simultaneously. many would be only seroconverted, not ill.

        Even with the caveats, it's a lot of people.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:08:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  good morning cervantes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      have some coffee.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:03:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Also there's a race for Governor of VA this year. (0+ / 0-)

    Who knew?

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:55:47 AM PDT

  •  Growing Evidence Medical Marijuana (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy

    actually may end up as a real cure to some Cancers. Imagine that your gov. shutdown all studies during the Ford admin. just as the proof was coming in. How many Americans have died needlessly because of fear and prejudice ? Studies are now showing that Marijuana cuts of the flow of oxygen to cancer cells, killing them off while not effecting the healthy cells. This appears to be very effective with Brain, Breast and Lungs cancers. Because the gov. has total control of who can legally grow and use Marijuana for research that research has been stifled for yrs. Cases are working their way thru the courts to try and change the way researchers can obtain legal samples for their studies.

    This is yet another example of Federal meddling having a adverse effect on our health. Just this week the Mayor of Portland Oregon declared it Medical Marijuana Awareness Month. At the same time the DEA and the Sheriff in Bakerfield Ca. busted another Medical Marijuana Dispensary contrary to State Law and the new yet so far secret new policy of the Obama Admin.

    Grow Marijuana go to Prison, Torture a Detainee to Death and earn a Medal. No wonder people get high.

    by SmileySam on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:55:51 AM PDT

  •  Time to call Congress and demand a public option (4+ / 0-)

    and single payer / universal health care that Obama wanted during the campaign. Email the WH and Sebelius as well.

    People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of their character. Ralph Waldo Emerson

    by SallyCat on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:56:42 AM PDT

  •  Star Trek on torture (5+ / 0-)

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:58:07 AM PDT

  •  What I learned about Swine Flu from Cable News: (5+ / 0-)
    1. Pharmacy A in San Diego/Houston/Duluth/Wherever sold out of surgical masks in ten minutes.
    1. Some schools closed, more were expected.
    1. A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died! A baby died!
    1. This is just like the Anthrax Attacks that bush was so valiant in stopping.  What will Obama do?

    Of course the internet is a better source of information than television.  People who WANT to be informed can find as much information as they need if they're willing to look for it...unless they're TV reporters, then they can only rely on Twitter or Facebook for their expert opinions.

    Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:58:54 AM PDT

    •  Outcome of being off-line last week (0+ / 0-)

      Wierd Computer Problems last week, I ended up calling it Novel H1N1 Computer Muck -- and considered calling an Exorcist.  

      Anyhow, an opportunity to seriously survey what the Cable plus NPR had on offer.  NPR interviewed everyone using local interviewers -- Michael Osterholm at least six times.  Many call in programs with very practical questions asked and answered.  Cable, very weak on responsive experts, and likewise, not tied to practical problems people wanted raised.  At least they (MSNBC & CNN) covered most of the formal briefings from WHO and CDC and from the HHS and HLS Secretaries.  

      What was missing?  Cable would be the best venue for producing a decent science documentary that explains what is known and not known about how a virus causes the flu, how viruses mutate -- and then all the external variables that determine variations. That information is in the interviews, but it isn't logically organized and focused.  

      Similarly there are many non-science questions that are raised over and over again -- and not really answered.  For instance, what does Social Distancing mean? It is not a term in common usage, and is very much misunderstood.  In fact it is probably the wrong term -- you really mean physical distancing.  No one will get the flu staying home if exposed, and spending the day doing IM's, but no one is making the clear point that when school is closed by Health Authorities, it is not a good idea for large gangs of teens to swarm the malls. No one is saying that clearly.

      Likewise no one seems to have pushed specific planning for appropriate child care when schools are closed, and parent or parents work, particularly if the closed school is in a bedroom community, an hour's commute from workplaces.  As of today we know Mexico is estimating a 4% plus overall loss in economic activity from their 6 day closure.  No one seems to be considering this kind of impact on hourly service workers one or two paychecks away from bankruptcy. Calls about planning and economics tended to be fudged on the call in programs, be they NPR or commercial radio. It seems to me if you want to avoid serious social disorganization and break-down in social institutions, you would advise in advance on overall policy, so people could figure how to accomodate their own needs within that framework.  Looked at without on-line distractions, it seems to me last week was something of a limited dry run, and should be carefully analyzed.  



  •  i don't understand what the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    whole Public Option thing is and what the yelling is about in the recent/rec list.

    (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

    by terrypinder on Fri May 08, 2009 at 06:59:19 AM PDT

    •  It's S O C I A L I S M Terry...or something (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

      by darthstar on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:02:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  well, I don't have a problem with socialism (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Abra Crabcakeya

        I'm just not understanding the screaming or why I should call my representative (who's a Blue Dog and wouldn't vote for something that'd cost too much in his mind anyway.)

        (0.12, -3.33) disagreement does not automatically render one a shill. duh.

        by terrypinder on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:09:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Its the concept that healthcare is inherently (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Maudlin, Brooke In Seattle, peteri2, wa ma

          over priced in this country as its a for profit industry with excessive profit margins and high costs.

          A public plan could drive down the price of the insurers as they would need to compete on cost.

          Also, a proper public plan could buy medications in bulk and gain bulk prescription discounts.  

          Of course, none of this would come to pass.  Profit is King remember.  F the people.

          Government for the people, by the people

          by axel000 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:19:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The idea of the public option (4+ / 0-)

      is that citizens would be able to buy into something like Medicare rather than having to buy a plan from a private insurance company.

      Medicare has a very standardized set of payments, is already used by a large percentage of the population with satisfactory results, and has an overhead cost of around 3% versus the private companies that are closer to 20%.

      It's basically a "let the market decide" option between a single-payer type system and a 'everyone is obligated to buy private insurance' system.

      The private insurance companies are fighting it now because they think that the public option will out-compete them. Amazingly, several officials against the public option have explicitly said that.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Fri May 08, 2009 at 08:10:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have no idea what implication Sebelius is (6+ / 0-)

    attempting to make by strictly offering that the government wants to "encourage competition" when it comes to health insurance (i.e., not even health care - just insurance).

    I usually don't curse, but what the fuck is her point?  That private profit must be an assumed factor when it comes to providing healthcare coverage for all people in this country?  That healthcare at the personal level should be left to the vagueries of open market forces?  Still?

    As if that has worked out so well up through now?

    Such limited thinking, it seems to me.  They have other models to study, but apparently the word "monopoly" is far too scary and significant insurance + chemical/pharma + medical supply + . . . business interests must be softly coddled, rather than steered, when it comes to private health needs and public costs.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:10:38 AM PDT

    •  She's Obama's surrogate (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, leonard145b, MPociask

      She's saying whatever the WH tells her to say. In spite of her state level experience, she knows very little about health care reform.  No doubt that's why she was chosen.

      Obama is coddling the private insurance companies in the same manner he's coddled the banks and unregulated financial sector.

      Sebelius' words speak volumes and its not good news for health care reform.  It sounds remarkably similar to Schumer's proposed "changes" to the public option so its likely they're all working from the same playbook - drafted by Zeke Emanuel.

      They appear to want a plan like Massachusetts - corporate welfare for insurance companies - while ignoring the fact that its been a costly failure.

      A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. FDR

      by Betty Pinson on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:36:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We need a public option (3+ / 0-)

    I dont CARE how they justify it - everything can be fixed later we need the option in there.  Once its in there we can change it over time to do what we want.

  •  1918 Influenza Benchmark (6+ / 0-)

    Pretty much every human population on the planet had a chance to catch the flu


    of which somewhere between 55 and 60 percent were infected to some extent


    of which 1 in 10 perished, though mileage varied greatly (into the mid-20%s on some South Pacific islands)


    So being concerned is, well, healthy.

    Important! Advantages we have they did not 90 years ago!

    1. a globe-spanning early warning system
    2. means to synthesize vaccines
    3. means to vaccinate populations, albeit some less quickly than others
    4. we know what we are up against and have no illusions about the consequences of failure - Assured. Epic. Fail.

    If we do this right, keep doing it right, we might see no more than a slight rise in annual flu fatalities worldwide. Yes, that's cold, talking about several tens or several hundreds of thousands of additional deaths like that.

    If we fumble early yet recover the ball, we might be talking additional flu deaths in the millions.

    If we do as the Republicans have suggested and let private enterprise and charitise take the lead in caring of such things... like it did so well in 1918... then we will see ratios like the ones above, only appled to a world population of 6.8 billion, one that is much more interconnected than the people of four generations ago.

    And we know so far that this H1N1 is at least as lethal as 1918, more so if you control for available technology...and so far fatalities remain concentrated in one industrialized and one newly-industrializing country.

    All snark about Mexican health conditions aside, most of the planet is in much worse shape, including many parts of the Asian economic miracle.

    We are on borrowed time. If this evil genie gets out and runs ahead of efforts to identify, contain and vaccinate, we could be looking at fatalities in the hundreds of millions. A true population dieback.

    But so far so good, and that's a spooky scary scenario.

    Let's not explore that one in real life, how about it?

    The Victorian novel is right. Possessiveness, controlling others and not listening to your own heart always goes badly. - MKKendrick

    by cskendrick on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:15:15 AM PDT

    •  So let's re-create the 1918 virus, that would be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      SO COOL!

      And am I reading this wrong, or is that just what some of the Brave New World biology tinkerers have just done?

      CRANE: "Now that the coding for the hemagglutinin gene is known, it should be possible to reengineer a strain of influenza virus which expresses the 1918 surface protein. By adding genes one by one, it is also possible to imagine recreating the original strain by the time the sequencing effort is completed. Can you foresee the day when that might literally be accomplished?
          Science derives a large measure of its power through the sharing of data and open debate. But in a case like this--where a killer virus is involved--it would be hard to imagine you didn't have some reservations about publishing all your work. What are your thoughts on this issue, speaking either as a scientist or from a personal point of view (if they aren't in complete accord with each other)?"

      TAUBENBERGER: "It is certainly possible to make recombinant influenza viruses containing partial or complete 1918 sequences. While it does concern us somewhat, we feel that the positive aspects of the work--finding out where the 1918 strain came from, and why it was so lethal--far outweigh any concerns. Now that the complete hemagglutinin sequence is known, a protective vaccine can (and will) be made. Making such recombinant viruses may be necessary in controlled lab settings to understand the behaviour of the 1918 virus."

      Add the following, and what do you get? Bibbity-bobbity-BOO!

      Follow up:

      When this interview was first published in 1998, work had already begun on the reconstruction of the 1918 Spanish Flu virus by Dr. Jeffery Taubenberger and his team at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. In October of 2005 it was reported that the virus had been finally reconstructed after 10 years of work. When I interviewed him I had forseen the day when this would happen. You can read about the announcement in the PBS article entitled .

      1918 Spanish Flu Offers Clues About Pandemic Viruses

      Oh heck, who cares?

      "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

      by jm214 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 09:44:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Surprising New Numbers From Ohio (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy

    In a just released poll of Buckeyes is a number that may shock Ohio politicians.
    "Allowing Ohio doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes to treat their patients: 73 percent."
    and yet....
    " Making marijuana use legal in Ohio: 37 percent."
    If my memory is correct even this number is up from past yrs and polls.

    Grow Marijuana go to Prison, Torture a Detainee to Death and earn a Medal. No wonder people get high.

    by SmileySam on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:15:21 AM PDT

  •  As a friend said, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "I said that when America elected a black president with a muslim name, pigs would fly. 100 days after he's sworn in, swine flu."

    Fear is the mind-killer - Frank Herbert, Dune

    by p gorden lippy on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:16:20 AM PDT

  •  Stealth Care (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    p gorden lippy

    may be a better designation of the reality.

    •  She's conflating public option w/ single payer (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, slinkerwink, jm214

      I'm sure the GOP is green with envy at her messaging skills.

      Sebelius is a huge disappointment.  She will continue her past record of being friendly to business.

      A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. FDR

      by Betty Pinson on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:24:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what I was thinking. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Betty Pinson

        Seemed like an unfortunate talking point.

      •  A public option will eventually lead to (3+ / 0-)

        single payer.  It will take years, but eventually companies will stop offering health care plans to their employees, allowing the employees to take advantage of the public option.  Those without insurance or for whom private insurance plans are too expensive will also sign up for the public option.  Insurance companies will be slow to change their business model, i.e., refusing care, requiring larger co-pays, covering less and enforcing lower lifetime maximums, which will drive even more people into the public option.

        Eventually this country will have a single payer system and the insurance companies will be relegated to offering only "supplemental insurance" to the public plan, and they'll spend most of their lobbying money trying to convince Congress to subsidize their supplemental plans, analogous to the way Medicare supplemental policies are subsidized now.

        That's what frightens the private insurance marketers the most - not that single payer will be passed today, but that a public option passed today will eventually lead to single payer.  

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:39:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not if its severly hobbled (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jm214, MPociask

          by restrictions in how it operates.  It appears the strategy, according to Schumer's proposal, is to stack the deck against a public plan by placing so many restrictions on how it operates and is funded, as well as leaving limits in place that prevent it from negotiating lower prices, that it cannot function properly and is therefore no longer a threat to private insurance.

          There's a lot of happy talk about how individuals choosing the public option will still receive government subsidies to purchase the plan and how it will be given the power to negotiate prices, but there's nothing in writing.  

          A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. FDR

          by Betty Pinson on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:46:08 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I know this isn't an open thread, but... (0+ / 0-)

    I need some help.  Think about it like HTML care.

    I'm trying to post a diary and I just keep getting this same error:

    Value (111111) for attribute src in tag img is not allowed

    What does that mean?

    "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." -Dr. King

    by proseandpromise on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:22:40 AM PDT

  •  Gov't doesn't want healthcare monopoly? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Jester, axel000, jm214

    OK, maybe they are not setting out to force a monopoly situation. But if a public healthcare plan captures huge market share by virtue of being a superior product... then a monopoly should be welcome.  Conversely, if the administration is planning on sabotaging the public option so it remains less attractive than private plans, then that is just fucking corrupt and dishonest.

    Make it the best it can be, and let the chips fall where they may (and we all know where they will fall in that circumstance).

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:41:27 AM PDT

  •  Not impressed with the sounds the WH is making (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    on healthcare, if the public option isn't going to compete aggressively on price how exactly does it lower healthcare costs, the whole frigg'n point of the exercise in the first place.

    Government for the people, by the people

    by axel000 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:50:22 AM PDT

  •  Obama managed to get health care 100% wrong. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    axel000, jm214, MPociask

    How they hell did that happen?

    Per the diary. WSJL President Barack Obama's budget carves out $879 billion for health and human services spending, a 7.7% increase that includes more money for items such as cancer research and food-safety inspectors.

    Making US health care system even MORE expensive as Obama is doing makes the problem worse not better.

    Obama is jacking up the cost of US health care from current 16% of GDP to 20% of GDP, adding $870B when he should be cutting $800B from health care spending.

    US problem is we spend too much and get too little not that we don't spend enough.

    Health care reform looks like Medicare for All, provides 100% coverage, pays MD, hospitals decent fees, cuts US health care costs from 16% of GDP (US) to 10% of GDP (every other developed nation).

    Truly disheartening to hear Sebelius came out against health care reform.

    •  Yep and I was reading in the NYT this morning (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ORRNurse, jm214, MPociask

      There is a growing caucus of Democratic Senators interested in taxing employer provided healthcare, the exact idea McCain was so derided for.

      Thats the solution to high costs - make them higher !!! Yipee !!!


      Government for the people, by the people

      by axel000 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:52:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  all the markings of another (4+ / 0-)

        health care fiasco in the making--rendering any attempt at reform dead on arrival for another generation.

        Either nothing will get done, or what will get done with be such a complete mess that any public option will be ruled out for a long time.

        I'm sad to say it, but I think only when the number of uninsured reaches something like 150 million will the right thing be done.

        "People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." --J.R.

        by michael1104 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 07:59:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  New strain of rabies? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mariachi mama

    This is alarming: a new strain of rabies in Arizona appears to be spreading via casual contact between skunks and foxes:

    Nor is it odd that rabid skunks and foxes are testing positive for a contagious rabies strain commonly associated with big brown bats.

    What is unusual is that the strain appears to have mutated so that foxes and skunks are now able to pass the virus on to their kin—not just through biting and scratching but through simple socializing, as humans might spread a flu.

    Usually the secondary species—in this case, a skunk or fox bitten by a bat—is a dead-end host. The infected animal may become disoriented and even die but is usually unable to spread the virus, except through violent attacks.

    Skunks have already been proven to be passively transmitting the strain to each other, as documented in a 2006 study in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Fri May 08, 2009 at 08:04:08 AM PDT

  •  Flu "parties" (0+ / 0-)

    Effect Measure has a nice piece up about that notion, subtitled "why we are party poopers"

    "People who have what they want are fond of telling people who haven't what they want that they really don't want it." Ogden Nash (on universal health care?)

    by Catte Nappe on Fri May 08, 2009 at 08:07:10 AM PDT

  •  At least it remains "MILD", H1N1 has only... (0+ / 0-)

    ... a less than 2% death rate, which would still be 20 million world wide if the WHO numbers are correct.

    But if H5N1 were to ever mutate to be equally transmissible, with its current (reported from Indonesia) death rate of 85% we would all be in very serious trouble. That's in the BILLIONS in dead worldwide.

    The moment H5N1 becomes transmissible, we will have to ground ALL aircraft and end all travel for any purpose until it is defeated. The modern world moves people and thier ailments 10 times faster than the world of 1918.

  •  Article on domestic partner health benefits (0+ / 0-)

    From today's NYT

    "It’s not easy being gay," said Mary Jo Hudson, director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. She wasn’t referring to political opposition and other obstacles, but the plight of same-sex couples who are trying to get and keep health insurance.

    In my opinion, the article contains much helpful advice.  I've heard Mary Jo speak -- she's a very thoughtful insurance commissioner.  Ohio residents are lucky to have her on the job.

  •  Is "Accidental medical tourism" in YOUR future? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Maybe this is old news for all you Websurfer dudes and dudettes, but I just ran across a "policy" piece in "PainMedicineNews," a monthly journal for pain treatment professionals that I read at work.

    I had heard of "medical tourism," a catchall for folks seeking various elective procedures in lovely resort settings, which has exapnded to people seeking cheaper (affordable) necessary care in less verdant locales. Not tourism any more, but a forced march to foreign lands if you want treatment.
    Remember that "socialized medicine" and "single-payer rationed government-controlled health care" and all those other spin-induced pejoratives are supposed to govern our thinking about how to keep on doing more of what we have been doing? Like the Administration’s plan? As the more "efficient" and "fair" way to provide care?

    Now, the bleep medical insurance companies, who go on and on about the vices of "socialized medicine" and "rationing" and "interference with the doctor-patient relationship" and "destruction of choice," have discovered that it’s cheaper to ship the wracked body of the insured to some "clinic" in "socialized" East Bucktoo, a "medical tour," it seems, for care that I guess for THIS purpose they deem equivalent to what you would get from the average-to-better practitioner and facility in this US of A. But cheaper, equals more profit. And as we have seen, all profit is good, right?

    Nothing quite like the amazing wonders of Tom Friedman’s "flat world–" the for-profit medical-industrial complex wants to ensure that we don' got no steenkin’ socialista seengle-payer seestem here, (to protect their grotesquely complex, wasteful, profitable, heartless business.) But as far as we are concerned, they say, it’s good enuff for you regular Americans who can pass our screen door and even get "coverage,", when it comes to the bottom line.

    Now the insurers will be shipping a projected 23 or 24 million of us by 2017 to Thailand or East Overshoe, where an inpatient hernia repair in 2008 averaged $1,819, versus $5,377 here in the States. (And why is that, again?)

    And they have the balls to call it "tourism," to ship you at great carbon-footprint expense to someplace that they tell our Congress is woefully backward and "socialist" when it comes to discussing the woefully backward status of the US "expensive disease diagnostic testing and random treatment," private-insurance-based system in the media and pundit-land and before our legislatures and executives Yet it is just fine to pretty much MAKE the patient agree to have "foreign surgeons and physicians" working under "socialized medicine" and "government control" and in the absence of the raw profit motive, do their magic.

    And when and if you get back to the States, will you be able to find a doctor or surgeon to do the necessary follow-up, and/or make good whatever them other folks over there might have goofed up, or treat any morbidities that might develop including infections that might be acquired en route, or even have a comprehendable record of what was done for a US practitioner trying to treat whatever is shipped home to work from?

    Iatrogenic: Medical misfortunes caused by the doctor.

    Nosocomial: stuff like VRSA and MRSA and other intractable miseries you get from being hospitalized stateside (or St. Elsewhere.)

    We need a new word, maybe "greedial," to cover the horrors of this perverse neologism, "medical tourism."
    Of course I may be a little too harsh, because if they ship us to Scandinavia or France or even Costa Rica, we’re likely to get better care from docs as skilled as you find here on average, and better nursing just because the ratio of patient to nursing staff is so much more favorable to the patient. Think those will be among the "destination resorts" for us "medical tourists?"

    And WellPoint, that just agreed to an $80 million fine for other kinds of misdeeds (likely a fraction of the profits on those same misdeed they get from rationing and minimizing care to Medicare citizens) is trying to force doctors here to "arrange" these "tours" and agree to be responsible for follow-up care for people who have been treated, good or ill, by medical personnel half a world away. I don’t care HOW flat the world is, that is simply wrong, and does nothing to incentivize the Slobbovian surgeon to make sure the correct body part is removed or stitched up.

    I include this link as one of thousands you find with a "medical tourism" search, since the PainMedicineNews one is not apparently on line. The old-fashioned cite is Pain Medicine News, volume 7, number 5, May 2009, at 31: "Medical Tourism Up, Posing Ethical Dilemmas for U.S. Docs," by Richard M. Kirkner.

    How interesting that "socialized single payer" is just fine for cost cutting and profit maximization  for the insurance companies that will continue to plague "health care" under the Administration's "tinker's dam" approach. Put 'em on a plane to Costa Rica or Moldavia, the carbon costs and unfortunate morbidity and mortality are just another externality that we can shove up the backsides of the idiot taxpayers and premium payers.

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Fri May 08, 2009 at 09:28:31 AM PDT

    •  Thomas Friedman is overrated. (0+ / 0-)

      He was wrong on Iraq, and the notion that the world is flat because we have to compete with other nations is nothing new.  Big business has always wanted to exploit cheap labor wherever they can find it and sell in U.S. dollars and prices.  Maybe Friedman should change his theme from the world being flat to greed continues to be good in corporate thinking, even if you have to do business with the devil himself.

      Thanks.  I had never heard of medical tourism.

  •  Shouldn't I be trying to get H1N1, seriously? (0+ / 0-)

    Richard Webster's statement that swine flu is in it's infancy and that it could turn really nasty makes me wonder if I shouldn't be trying to get the early version that's not so severe. The reason why the public health authorities are freaked out about the swine flu is because it's a whole different kind of flu than the ones previously being spread. Question: might having the early version of swine flu possibly help the body ward off a more serious version of it in the future?  I know that different strains of flu generally are still "catchable" even when I've already had other flus. But is it possible that have one strain of the basic swine flu type will help my body develop some immune response to other strains?  Anybody with knowledge know the answer to this question?

    •  yes, maybe (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      if you live. And hopefully you won't give it to the the diabetic, infant or asthmatic down the hall.

      While that's a deliberately snarky answer, it does illustrate why most health experts think it's a bad idea. You can't really control severity (half the hospitalized group has no risk factor, illustrating that flu is not always benign) or spread (even if it's mild for you, what about your inadvertent contacts?).

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Fri May 08, 2009 at 11:05:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  want expert advice? (0+ / 0-)

      People may be holding "swine flu parties," where individuals knowingly expose themselves to someone with the flu, in the belief that gaining some immunity now may offer greater protection next winter if the swine flu returns in a more virulent form. Besser dismissed the idea as a "big mistake."

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Fri May 08, 2009 at 11:07:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Take flu seriously (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DemFromCT, vcmvo2

    I'm not sorry if I'm repeating a comment, because it deserves to be repeated: flu is serious. It can have serious complications. It can knock you flat and leave you vulnerable for other serious diseases.

    Last January, I contracted a relatively mild flu, but in its wake I then contracted a respiratory infection that became pneumonia. I was running a 103 degree fever off and on, missed lots of work, all that good stuff. I'm fortunate to have good insurance and be young (I'm 37, I'm not old!) and healthy. I'd hate to think of what could have happened had any of these things not been the case. I may have ended up in the hospital...or worse.

    So flu parties...bad idea. Taking sensible precautions and not exposing you or your kids unnecessarily...good idea.

  •  Sebelius' statements seem contradictory. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If the final health care plan includes a public plan option, then how can the U.S. government not assume management of healthcare coverage in some form?  I happen to favor giving everyone a choice between a government health care plan and a private plan.  Private plans have higher overhead expenses and include profits, so a government plan will devote most of the cost to healthcare and not to the other expenses that are included in healthcare for profit.  If the government plan winds up being part of Medicare it will be good for everyone because including many more Americans of all ages will strengthen Medicare and insure that it's there for people when they are old enough to get it.  I guess we know why insurance companies don't seem to complain much about government control of health care for most of the elderly.  Of course, there will always be people who don't want a government plan because they're rolling in money, never want to be included with the "masses," and believe they deserve special treatment.

  •  harvard school of public health survey (0+ / 0-)

    Americans' Response

    Two-thirds (67%) report that they or someone in their household has washed their hands or used hand sanitizer more frequently in response to reports about H1N1 flu, while a majority (55%) say they have made preparations to stay at home if they or a family member is sick. About one in four report that they or a household member have avoided air travel (27%) or avoided public places where many people are gathered together (25%). About one-third (35%) of Americans say they personally have taken steps to avoid being near someone who has flu-like symptoms. In addition, 14 percent report that they personally have stopped shaking hands with people, and 12 percent say they have stopped hugging and kissing close friends or relatives.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Fri May 08, 2009 at 11:09:20 AM PDT

  •  not complacency but caution (0+ / 0-)

    I was thinking this H1N1 influenza A virus may be so mild now coz we didn't immdeiately start antivirals against it esplly indiscriminatingly. When microbes and humans coexist and find a level (the microbes being more powerful kill off a few), then all are better off than having an attitude of us v them. We are microbes and they are us, so its better to respect each other!

    Microbiologist Mom.

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