Friday, October 23, 2009

Sen. Franken addresses Hudson Institute rep. over health care bankruptcies

It is pretty shocking. Switzerland, Germany, and France have roughly similar health care outcomes as the United States overall. The shocking part is that neither Switzerland, nor Germany, nor France have any cases of health care related bankruptcy. The United States has 140,000 EVERY YEAR (about 13% of the 1.1-Million that filed for bankruptcy indicate medical reasons).

Soon the robots will take over

This guy look like a cross between ED-209 from Robocop and Ultron from Marvel Comics.

But in reality the Titan 'robot' is actually more of a suit of armor that someone wears and performs in.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Republicans for Rape

I'm sure the Republicans are enjoying their new modus operandi after they decided to maintain that it wasn't their job to decide who the government contracts with for work...even if those contractors have legally binding rule saying that the employee can't take legal action if they are raped by another employee.

Monday, October 19, 2009

FoxNews isn't just bad -- it's un-American

The White House has chosen not to deal with FoxNews for the most part, and the reason should be clear: Fox doesn't deserve or need the attention. It won't help all the crazies that buy into Glenn Beck's world-o-conspiracies. It won't help with their delivering political talking-points to millions of Americans without ever actually explaining any issues to them. FoxNews is not a news station...they are an infotainment channel spouting conservative dogma. They really need to be ignored, as much as possible.

The O’Garbage Factor
Fox News isn't just bad. It's un-American.
Jacob Weisberg, Oct 17, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Canadian Doctor Assesses U.S. Health Care

A Canadian doctor diagnoses U.S. healthcare

The caricature of 'socialized medicine' is used by corporate interests to confuse Americans and maintain their bottom lines instead of patients' health.

By Michael M. Rachlis|August 03, 2009

Original article found at:
Please give this site a visit.

Universal health insurance is on the American policy agenda for the fifth time since World War II. In the 1960s, the U.S. chose public coverage for only the elderly and the very poor, while Canada opted for a universal program for hospitals and physicians' services. As a policy analyst, I know there are lessons to be learned from studying the effect of different approaches in similar jurisdictions. But, as a Canadian with lots of American friends and relatives, I am saddened that Americans seem incapable of learning them.

Our countries are joined at the hip. We peacefully share a continent, a British heritage of representative government and now ownership of GM. And, until 50 years ago, we had similar health systems, healthcare costs and vital statistics.

The U.S.' and Canada's different health insurance decisions make up the world's largest health policy experiment. And the results?

On coverage, all Canadians have insurance for hospital and physician services. There are no deductibles or co-pays. Most provinces also provide coverage for programs for home care, long-term care, pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment, although there are co-pays.

On the U.S. side, 46 million people have no insurance, millions are underinsured and healthcare bills bankrupt more than 1 million Americans every year.

Lesson No. 1: A single-payer system would eliminate most U.S. coverage problems.

On costs, Canada spends 10% of its economy on healthcare; the U.S. spends 16%. The extra 6% of GDP amounts to more than $800 billion per year. The spending gap between the two nations is almost entirely because of higher overhead. Canadians don't need thousands of actuaries to set premiums or thousands of lawyers to deny care. Even the U.S. Medicare program has 80% to 90% lower administrative costs than private Medicare Advantage policies. And providers and suppliers can't charge as much when they have to deal with a single payer.

Lessons No. 2 and 3: Single-payer systems reduce duplicative administrative costs and can negotiate lower prices.

Because most of the difference in spending is for non-patient care, Canadians actually get more of most services. We see the doctor more often and take more drugs. We even have more lung transplant surgery. We do get less heart surgery, but not so much less that we are any more likely to die of heart attacks. And we now live nearly three years longer, and our infant mortality is 20% lower.

Lesson No. 4: Single-payer plans can deliver the goods because their funding goes to services, not overhead.

The Canadian system does have its problems, and these also provide important lessons. Notwithstanding a few well-publicized and misleading cases, Canadians needing urgent care get immediate treatment. But we do wait too long for much elective care, including appointments with family doctors and specialists and selected surgical procedures. We also do a poor job managing chronic disease.

However, according to the New York-based Commonwealth Fund, both the American and the Canadian systems fare badly in these areas. In fact, an April U.S. Government Accountability Office report noted that U.S. emergency room wait times have increased, and patients who should be seen immediately are now waiting an average of 28 minutes. The GAO has also raised concerns about two- to four-month waiting times for mammograms.

On closer examination, most of these problems have little to do with public insurance or even overall resources. Despite the delays, the GAO said there is enough mammogram capacity.

These problems are largely caused by our shared politico-cultural barriers to quality of care. In 19th century North America, doctors waged a campaign against quacks and snake-oil salesmen and attained a legislative monopoly on medical practice. In return, they promised to set and enforce standards of practice. By and large, it didn't happen. And perverse incentives like fee-for-service make things even worse.

Using techniques like those championed by the Boston-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement, providers can eliminate most delays. In Hamilton, Ontario, 17 psychiatrists have linked up with 100 family doctors and 80 social workers to offer some of the world's best access to mental health services. And in Toronto, simple process improvements mean you can now get your hip assessed in one week and get a new one, if you need it, within a month.

Lesson No. 5: Canadian healthcare delivery problems have nothing to do with our single-payer system and can be fixed by re-engineering for quality.

U.S. health policy would be miles ahead if policymakers could learn these lessons. But they seem less interested in Canada's, or any other nation's, experience than ever. Why?

American democracy runs on money. Pharmaceutical and insurance companies have the fuel. Analysts see hundreds of billions of premiums wasted on overhead that could fund care for the uninsured. But industry executives and shareholders see bonuses and dividends.

Compounding the confusion is traditional American ignorance of what happens north of the border, which makes it easy to mislead people. Boilerplate anti-government rhetoric does the same. The U.S. media, legislators and even presidents have claimed that our "socialized" system doesn't let us choose our own doctors. In fact, Canadians have free choice of physicians. It's Americans these days who are restricted to "in-plan" doctors.

Unfortunately, many Americans won't get to hear the straight goods because vested interests are promoting a caricature of the Canadian experience.

Michael M. Rachlis is a physician, health policy analyst and author in Toronto.

Ólafur Arnalds - Ljósið

Ólafur Arnalds - Ljósið

You'll definitely want to see this one. Beautiful music and very interesting iTunes-ish video using digitally rendered smoke trails for the instrument's sounds.

Too attached to the Dark Knight costume

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Keith Olbermann On Health Care Reform

Special Comment: Keith Olbermann On Health Care Reform

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

Part 5:

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Libertarians and Conservatives Celebrate Loss of America's Olympic Bid

This is yet another spin by conservatives and libertarians to make America's bid for the Olympics to be in Chicago (thus in America) into something all about President Obama so they can direct their hatred of him at it.

As this video points out, President Bush also supported America and the city of Chicago in their bid for the 2016 Olympics. But now as President Obama went to Copenhagen to make their bid (as most country's leaders do) and Chicago received few votes, conservatives are framing this as being a rejection of Obama himself and celebrating the loss, which is really a loss for America.

This is yet another example of conservatives and libertarians showing their lack of concern for their fellow Americans and lack of desire for relief from the real problems in this country, and instead collectively mold themselves into a sick, nationalist version of Captain Ahab who will stop at nothing to get their whale (Obama), regardless of how obsessed, insane, or destructive they become.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Further Disappointment with Health Care Proposals

I was listening to the news this morning, and heard that the public option was defeated in the Senate Finance Committee, and discussion about insurance co-ops is the big deal now. This might seem encouraging to people at first...that there would still be an option to an expensive private insurance plan. But in reality there isn't and there won't be.

Insurance cooperatives have been around for years, and are in use by our elected officials as well. The big advantage of using them is that typically they present better quality of care options, and have a better satisfaction track-record than does the private insurance market. But cooperatives DO NOT lower the cost of insurance. In fact many are quite expensive.

This means that though rising costs of insurance and health care is THE biggest issue on the table, the legislation being presented does little or nothing to help this problem. Of course we'll still have to wait and see how the plans are reconciled together, but it seems to me that the things being discussed just barely meet President Obama's requirements and then will largely keep things exactly the same as they are today. Except, that should I have that pre-existing condition or lose my job, I can still get insurance I can't afford, and if I don't purchase the insurance I can't afford, I'll additionally be penalized for not getting it. Great, eh?

10 Myths About U.S. Health Care Reform Proposals

That article above discusses the myths being talked about with the health care proposals. They are really well addressed. The only one in question is #2: "The Public Plan is Dead; Long Live the Public Plan", as I think that co-op's possible effectiveness is being misrepresented, and ultimately people will be driven back to private plans (which the private insurers gotta love).

Sen. Conrad's Heath Insurance Co-Ops Won't Provide Affordable Care And Could Be Used By The Insurance Industry Against Americans, Says Consumer Watchdog