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Organic soil

Better yield during drought conditions. (Of which we can expect a lot.)

Train wreck coming on Medicaid

I really don’t understand why more people aren’t raising a stink about this. In case you didn’t know, Medicaid is the insurer of last resort for the elderly. That means if your elderly parent has tapped out all their savings and needs to go into a nursing home, Medicaid is what pays for that. Think that has some implications for most people? Why are they all so quiet?

Some cash-strapped states have seized on a section of the Supreme Court’s health-law decision to pare their existing Medicaid programs, saying the ruling lifts the March 2010 law’s ban on such cuts.

The court, which upheld most of the law, struck down penalties for states choosing not to expand Medicaid. A few states are also trying to go farther, arguing that the ruling justifies cuts to their existing programs.

Within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 28, lawyers in the Maine attorney general’s office began preparing a legal argument to allow health officials to strike more than 20,000 Medicaid recipients from the state’s rolls—including 19- and 20-year-olds—beginning in October to save $10 million by next July.

“We think we’re on solid legal ground,” Attorney General William Schneider said in an interview. “We’re going to reduce eligibility back to the base levels in a couple of areas,” he said. Maine, like some other states eyeing cuts, earlier expanded its Medicaid program beyond national requirements.

Other states, including Wisconsin and Alabama, are expected to follow Maine’s lead, though there is disagreement over whether the high court gave the states such leeway. That could lead to battles between states and the federal government that could drag the health law back to the courts. New Jersey and Indiana also said they were evaluating the decision and did not rule out challenging the requirements.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services is still examining the court’s ruling and its implications for eligibility rules, an official said.

Sexy onesies

I’ve never been one of those people. I don’t believe in using children as billboards to make ironic statements – but that’s just me.

Oh goody

Global warming may also intensify disease!

TB coverup in Florida

See, this is why you simply can’t run government like a business. It’s not a business. You can’t just walk away from a non-profitable division when it’s your job to look out for the public’s health and well-being. I know that Republicans and their hard-core enablers like to tell themselves these fairy tales, but it just doesn’t work. (Are you listening, Gov. Scott?) Via Raw Story:

The state of Florida has been struggling for months with what the Centers for Disease Control describe as the worst tuberculosis outbreak in the United States in twenty years.

Although a CDC report went out to state health officials in April encouraging them to take concerted action, the warning went largely unnoticed and nothing has been done. The public did not even learn of the outbreak until June, after a man with an active case of TB was spotted in a Jacksonville soup kitchen.

The Palm Beach Post has managed to obtain records on the outbreak and the CDC report, though only after weeks of repeated requests. These documents should have been freely available under Florida’s Sunshine Law.

According to the Post, the coverup began as early as last February, “when Duval County Health Department officials felt so overwhelmed by the sudden spike in tuberculosis that they asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to become involved. Believing the outbreak affected only their underclass, the health officials made a conscious decision not to not tell the public, repeating a decision they had made in 2008, when the same strain had appeared in an assisted living home for people with schizophrenia.”

That decision now appears to have gone terribly awry, partly because the disease appears 0 but also because just nine days before the CDC warning was issued, Florida Governor Rick Scott had signed a bill downsizing the state’s Department of Health and closing the A.G. Holley State Hospital that had treated the most difficult tuberculosis cases for over 60 years.

With health officials preoccupied by the challenge of restructuring, the CDC report went unseen, and an order even went out for the hospital to be closed immediately, six months ahead of schedule.

According to the Post, by April the outbreak had been linked to thirteen deaths, with 99 individuals infected, including six children. Most of those affected were poor black men, ten of whom simply wasted away from the disease before getting treatment or were not treated in time to stop its progression.

Now it is estimated that as many as 3000 people may have been exposed to the strain over the past two years, mainly in Jacksonville’s homeless shelters, jails, and a mental health clinic. Only 253 of those have been found, of whom one-third have tested positive for TB exposure.

Too poor to pay teachers

And yet, Gov. Tom Corbett has $250K to spend on an ad campaign to whitewash his voter ID/suppression law.


As a group make up most of the 1%, and for that reason, they tend to be politically conservative. So this shouldn’t surprise anyone.


I’m at an outdoor music festival when a supersonic jet appears, flying very low. Everyone’s watching, presumably thinking “it’s not going to crash, is it?” But it does, and everyone gasps.

But then some kind of rescue aircraft appears, with a giant Monty Pythonesque hand operated by cranks and pulleys. It reaches down and plucks a woman from the wreck, and as we see her, we all cheer.

‘Already crossed the line’

Gee, ya think?

And the staff isn’t very happy about the new rules:

Abington Memorial Hospital, the only level-2 trauma center in Montgomery County, enjoys a sterling reputation for its more than 60 physicians in obstetrics and gynecology. The medical center is far larger and generates more than twice the revenue of Holy Redeemer.

Yet, in the announced merger of the two hospitals, one that is being widely decried by staff and patients, the Catholic medical facility appears to triumph in dictating reproductive health care policy to secular Abington, eliminating abortion services, while securing chairmanship of the board.

It’s a case of the marlin swallowing the whale.

For physicians and patients who make clear, conscious decisions about working at or patronizing a sectarian or independent medical facility, the merger is heresy.

“I am extremely, extremely upset about this,” says Abington obstetrician Sherry Blumenthal. “No one in our department was consulted. This decision reduces our commitment to health care for women.” Blumenthal is contemplating severing her 22-year relationship with Abington, and says she’s not alone. “I know of at least 10 physicians who are considering leaving.”

Abington performed 64 abortions last year, 69 in 2010, many of which were for women at high risk, where their pregnancy seriously compromised their health.

Independent clinics perform 95 percent of all abortions in the state, but hospitals with top women’s health departments like Abington are the safest choice for patients undergoing troubled pregnancies. The hospital is one of the three largest in the state for obstetrics, delivering 5,000 babies each year. Once the hospital merger is completed, possibly in spring 2013, Abington patients will have to go elsewhere for abortions in a state where conservative lawmakers are doing everything possible to restrict a woman’s access to a legal medical procedure.

Hospital officials – eager to announce the merger, less eager to address specifics – did not comment on whether selective reduction will continue at the hospital, home to a large in vitro fertilization practice. Catholic hospitals ban the IVF procedure.

“Abington Health will continue to provide contraceptive services and counseling, tubal ligations and vasectomies,” according to an official statement Friday, but these practices are also contrary to Catholic Church hospital practices.

Will Abington-Holy Redeemer – or whatever the name becomes – be a little bit Catholic?

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