Monday, May 23, 2005

Noted Healthcare Policy Expert...Robin Cook?

So Robin Cook, a novelist best known for medical thrillers in the beach-reading genre, wrote an op-ed in the Sunday NY Times on the implications of genetic testing. Coincidentally, his new book, a medical thriller about genetic testing, will be released soon.

And suddenly, non-healthcare people are asking me if I got a chance to read this "great" op-ed, and saying that it's the most persuasive argument they've heard in favor of universal health care. Others are quoting this piece and talking about the "inevitability" of universal health care. It's completely strange; "adverse selection is bad and universal pooling is the only way around it" is healthcare economics 101. Cook's piece displays no new insights and people in the field have written about the impact of genetic testing on the insurance industry a thousand times over the past 10 or 15 years.

Somehow, Robin Cook set out to promote his book but succeeded in making the pernicious effects of adverse selection obivious to the non-expert, and has even made universal healthcare more acceptable to the general public. Even more bizarrely, people seem to find it acceptable because he's argued that it's a solution to discrimination on the basis of genetic profiling--a problem that does not yet and may never exist!

So, universal healthcare to cure our current insurance crisis is bad. But to cure a problem that may or may not exist in 20 or 30 years? Good.

Next week, I'll be talking about how investing in electronic medical records will be especially useful during an alien invasion...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The Javits Theory of Terrorist Threats

I was reading Brad Plumer and thinking that if foreign fighters can get in and get out of Iraq, we have a problem. Jihadi summer camp turns pissed off extremists into pissed off extremists who know how to build bombs, manage far-flung communications networks, and organize and stage attacks against civilians and the American military.

Iraq. It's not flypaper. It's a goddam convention center. I can't see how this is a good thing, and it's yet another dangerous consequence of this administration's attachment to fairy tales of an easy victory blinding them to the critical need for postwar planning.

Well, at least we can take comfort in the fact that nobody thought we had any other choice. I mean, the Bush Administration really thought those WMDs were dangerous--more dangerous than any other country like Iran, North Koreal, Libya...oh, WAIT.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

AEI disses the market!

AEI slams the FDA for going direct to the consumer with drug warnings (via Kaiser Daily Health Report).

Sorry, aren't AEI the guys who think it's cool for drug companies to go direct to the consumer with drug advertising? Don't they want more "personal responsibility" in the healthcare system? By this logic, telling consumers about dangerous medications is bad because...?

Sadly, it would appear that AEI is not really committed to consumer empowerment as deeply as they're committed to preserving a healthcare system that systematically discriminates against the sick and the poor.

Weep together, people. It appears another great bastion of conservative intellectualism has been exposed as nothing more than a collection of schills, ideological pimps whoring out ideas for the powers that be.

Priorities: Kids or Frozen Embryos?

In Missouri, about 100,000 parents, disabled, and elderly are being kicked off Medicaid. In Tennessee, they're looking to eliminate 300,000 people from the program and to reduce benefits for 400,000 more. Texas, where one of every five kids is uninsured, has already cut thousands from its rolls and is looking to do more. New Hampshire is looking to charge hundreds of dollars in Medicaid premiums to people who have no income at all. And Mississippi, goddam--a little bit of brinksmanship as the governor hinted he'd let the program go bust, followed by...cuts. Nationwide, the cost of insurance continues to skyrocket and more folks are uninsured.

In Washington? $10 Billion in Medicaid cuts. And $1 million in new spending for this little project:

Public Awareness Campaign on Embryo Adoption

The increasing success of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) has resulted in a situation in which an infertile couple typically creates several embryos through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
During IVF treatments, couples may produce many embryos in an attempt to conceive with several being cryopreserved (frozen) for future use. If a couple conceives without using all of the stored embryos, they may choose to have the remaining unused embryos donated for adoption allowing other infertile couples the experience of pregnancy and birth. Embryo adoption is a relatively new process in which individuals who have extra frozen embryos agree to release the embryos for transfer to the uterus of another woman, either known or anonymous to the donor(s) for the purpose of the recipient(s) attempting to bear a child and be that child's parent.
Covering a kid on Medicaid costs about $1300 a year. A million dollars could have covered more than 750 poor kids. But apparently, the federal government thinks it's more important to spend taxpayer money on finding a good home for rich people's frozen embryos than on healthcare for kids. Sure hope those embryos never grow up into kids who need a vaccination or asthma medicine...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Just Asking...After Three and a Half Years,

So, has anyone else noticed that Pakistan is very good at capturing al-Quaeda who try to assasinate the Pakistani president, but not so good at capturing al-Quaeda who blow up lower Manhattan and kill 5,000?

Gosh, it's enough to make one think that they're not trying that hard. On the other hand, it's only been three and a half years and we should really cut Bush some slack...I mean, he's been so very busy eliminating that other guy who attacked the US had weapons of mass destruction was further along than his equally hostile neighbors in building a nuke posed a threat to the United states once tried to blow up his daddy in Kuwait.

Looks like we and our allies have definitely got our priorities straight.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Teron Buried

Teron Francis was disconnected from his ventilator Thursday and buried on Saturday.

The child had a toothache. And it killed him.

What are we going to do about it?

Maybe those Hillary-haters Have a Point

"It is unconscionable to balance the budget on the backs of our most vulnerable Americans, and that is exactly what the White House and congressional Republicans have decided to do,"

Girlfriend got it wrong. Here's the math:

Our current spending + $100 billion in tax cuts -
$40 billion in food stamps and Medicaid cuts =
$300 million in the red

We've got a leaky ship of state awash in a sea of red ink. What's the Bush Administration do? Throw two poor skinny bastards overboard, hoping we won't notice that it didn't do the job and we're still sinking!!

The Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans ASPIRE to a budget that is balanced on the backs of our most vulnerable Americans. Pathetically, they can't even get that right. Seriously, while I can see where ruthless incompetence is dashing, we've moved one giant step closer to a system with the worst of both worlds: fiscal ruin and moral indefensibility.

Can't wait to see what happens if he gets his hands on Social Security. Yeah, that'll end well.