Archive | The Best Healthcare in the World

Dept. of Empty Threats

Damn, they’re so good at the cognitive dissonance, they can’t even tell when they sound like clowns. Gee, I wonder what a Congress where they were less cooperative would look like – Dresden?

At the same time, passing it has its risks too. While a bill-signing ceremony in the Rose Garden would provide at least a short-term boost to a beleaguered president, Republicans have made clear that the legislative procedure Democrats are using to avoid another filibuster would so anger them that they would not cooperate on other major initiatives this year.

“If they jam through health care,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, then Democrats will have “poisoned the well” on other issues. He was interviewed Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

An immigration proposal he has been working on with Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, would likely fall victim to the worsened environment, he said.

Good Luck With That Employer-Provided Health Insurance

It sure seems like, oh, I don’t know, a public non-profit healthcare plan would be a good idea, huh?

Most big employers plan to shift a larger share of health-care costs to their workers next year, according to a survey released Thursday.

Many say they may charge more to cover spouses, tighten eligibility standards for their health plans and dispense financial rewards or penalties based on the results of certain lab tests. At some companies, overweight employees could be excluded from the most desirable plans.

Meanwhile, employees at many companies can expect significantly higher premiums, deductibles and co-payments, according to the annual survey by the National Business Group on Health, a coalition of big employers, and Towers Watson, a consulting firm that advises companies on employee benefits.

“This shows that the constant, unrelenting increases in health-care costs are going to cost employees and their families more and more,” said Helen Darling, president of the business group. Faced with rapidly rising medical expenses, “employers are going to have to do something,” she said.

People who work for large corporations have some of the most stable and comprehensive medical coverage in the nation. They are insulated from insurance industry practices at the heart of the Washington health-care debate, such as having their policies rescinded after getting sick or being denied coverage based on preexisting conditions. However, the new survey is a reminder that even people who are satisfied with their insurance plans cannot count on a continuation of the status quo.

A Case Study in Liberal Media

It got a brief mention on some of the cable channels, but the only major TV network that carried live coverage of this healthcare reform rally in D.C. yesterday was Fox – and then, only to ridicule it:

The reason? AHIP, the health insurance lobbying organization, was meeting in (where else?) the Ritz-Carlton. A coalition of groups led by unions including SEIU, AFSCME, UFCW and Health Care for American Now declared the meeting site a “corporate crime scene” and attempted to make a citizens’ arrest:

In a reverse twist on the old protestors’ tactic of getting arrested to make a point, union leaders and other backers of President Obama’s healthcare plan issued “citizen’s arrest” warrants for health insurance executives Tuesday – accusing them of exploiting consumers.

The “warrants,” delivered to police during a demonstration outside an insurance industry meeting at a Washington hotel, were an attempt to dramatize protestors’ call for insurance reform – and to build public support for the Democrats’ healthcare legislation.

The demonstration, which drew several thousand protestors from as far away as Illinois and California, was organized by groups that for more than a year have pushed Congress to create a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers as part of national healthcare overhaul.

While that policy objective, known as the public option, is not part of the healthcare legislation pending in Congress, the groups are nonetheless mounting a multi-million dollar campaign to promote the bill. The effort will continue in coming weeks, with more demonstrations, paid advertising and other events, including a hearing to take place Wednesday on Capitol Hill.

Boy, there was a time when you couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing someone about Tea Party rallies. I guess the only way you can get on TV these days is to be on the side of the insurance companies.

Antibiotic Resistance

It’s kind of Zen, don’t you think? The response to being overpowered is… stop fighting!

OSLO, Norway — Aker University Hospital is a dingy place to heal. The floors are streaked and scratched. A light layer of dust coats the blood pressure monitors. A faint stench of urine and bleach wafts from a pile of soiled bedsheets dropped in a corner.

Look closer, however, at a microscopic level, and this place is pristine. There is no sign of a dangerous and contagious staph infection that killed tens of thousands of patients in the most sophisticated hospitals of Europe, North America and Asia last year, soaring virtually unchecked.

The reason: Norwegians stopped taking so many drugs.

Twenty-five years ago, Norwegians were also losing their lives to this bacteria. But Norway’s public health system fought back with an aggressive program that made it the most infection-free country in the world. A key part of that program was cutting back severely on the use of antibiotics.

Now a spate of new studies from around the world prove that Norway’s model can be replicated with extraordinary success, and public health experts are saying these deaths — 19,000 in the U.S. each year alone, more than from AIDS — are unnecessary.

“It’s a very sad situation that in some places so many are dying from this, because we have shown here in Norway that Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] can be controlled, and with not too much effort,” said Jan Hendrik-Binder, Oslo’s MRSA medical advisor. “But you have to take it seriously, you have to give it attention and you must not give up.”

The World Health Organization says antibiotic resistance is one of the leading public health threats on the planet. A six-month investigation by The Associated Press found overuse and misuse of medicines has led to mutations in once curable diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, making them harder and in some cases impossible to treat.

Liars

Lamar Alexander is lying to Elizabeth Vargas (he just said reconciliation is rarely used – “And never for anything of this size or complexity”) and Vargas isn’t saying a thing about it.

Of course not. She’s paid to simulate gravitas, not actually act from it.

Media Matters:

In a March 31 article on Democrats’ potential implementation of the budget reconciliation process, which would allow Congress to pass “policy changes in mandatory spending (entitlements) or revenue programs (tax laws)” by a simple majority in both Houses, The Hill reported: “GOP critics of the reconciliation process have said that it was never intended to ram through major legislation.” However, The Hill did not mention that Republicans used the budget reconciliation process to pass several major Bush initiatives, as The New York Times and the blog Think Progress have noted. These initiatives include the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005.

Major – and expensive – legislation, all. That was a trillion-dollar tax bill in 2001, one that drove up the deficit. We didn’t hear Republicans calling for “pay as you go” there, did we?

Public Option

I wonder if he’s right:

The Senate has the 50 votes necessary to pass a public health insurance option using the budget reconciliation process, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Thursday.

Sanders, a self-described “democratic socialist” who supports the government-run plan, urged President Barack Obama to push for the public option even though the possibility of passing it appeared to die this week.

“I think we do have 50 votes in the Senate for a public option and frankly I don’t know why the president has not put it in and I hope that we can inject it,” Sanders said on MSNBC. “I think it’s a very important part of healthcare reform.”

It’s not clear if Sanders’s remarks will encourage leaders to take up the public option, but they will surely give hope to his liberal supporters who have put pressure on Congress to pass a public plan.

The White House and Democratic leaders on Tuesday threw cold water on the possibility of pushing the proposal through, saying that there is not enough support in Congress to do so.

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