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Health Care

Bush ordered 75 million Doses of Anthrax vaccine and 2 Million of SARS - but NONE for Flu
13-Oct-04
Health Care

lain, ordinary but deadly flu kills 47,000 Americans, on average, each year. In late August, the Bush administration was warned of a flu vaccine shortage, yet did nothing. As a result across the nation, healthcare providers are scrambling frantically. Yet Bush DID order 75 MILLION doses of a vaccine for anthrax, which has killed just six people in the US, and in Sept - just a few weeks after learning of the flue vaccine shortage, ordered TWO MILLION doses of untested SARS vaccine. Why? Maybe these are preelection payoffs to the pharmaceutical industry, which scoops up far more cash for exotic vaccines than for ordinary flu vaccine. The hell with those 47,000 people who will die this year.

Bush's Faith-Based Health Care System
11-Oct-04
Health Care

"Having already spent more than $1 billion on faith based social programs, the Bush administration is exploring new frontiers. The Catholic health plan which combines a high deductible with a health savings plan and panders to customers on the basis of religion, while driving down the costs for the faithful. It's ominously original."

Bush and the GOP Congress Refused to Authorize Flu Vaccine Emergency Reserves After 2003 Warning
09-Oct-04
Health Care

In the winter of 2003, there was a severe flu vaccine shortage - even though people were dying by the hundreds weekly (47,000 die from flu each year). Yet now a year later, there's another shortage. Why? Because there are still no vaccine reserves. Why? Because Bush and the GOP Congress refused to authorize it. The Left Coaster asked in Dec. 2003: "How is it possible for the [drug cos] and the government to have so terribly underestimated the demand for vaccines this year at a time when the CDC was encouraging more vaccinations and had total responsibility for the purchasing and distribution of vaccines to state health depts? The CDC is buying an additional 250,000 vaccines, but that is not expected to be enough to meet the demand still remaining. You could ask why the gov. doesn't have reserve stocks of vaccine for just such an occurrence. Because gov health officials guessed terribly wrong this year, and because Congress doesn't allocate money for reserves."

Bush FDA Was Told of Flu Vaccine Shortage in AUGUST, But Covered it Up and did Nothing
09-Oct-04
Health Care

Even this Pentapost story is a coverup! The last paragraph states: "British officials said there had been regular communication with the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since AUGUST 26, when Chiron announced it would delay releasing supplies of the vaccine because about four million doses had been tainted." Yet now read this contradictory paragraph, which leads into the story: "British health officials said Friday their U.S. counterparts were informed in MID-SEPTEMBER that problems at a drug-manufacturing plant in the United Kingdom could disrupt influenza vaccine supplies to the United States." In short, the FDA knew since August that a vaccine shortage was likely - but the Blair government is trying to aid in the coverup by claiming the US didn't "officially" know until mid-September - as if waiting a month instead of two months makes it less outrageous.

US Employer Healthcare Insurance Costs Set to Jump another 8%
06-Oct-04
Health Care

Bloomberg: " U.S. health-insurance costs will rise 8 percent in 2005, lower than this year's increase, as employers boost fees for workers and monitor medical care for patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes, a study said. Use of disease-management programs and tougher negotiations with health insurers cut 2 points from premiums for some businesses, according to the survey by consulting firm Towers Perrin, and benefit cuts trimmed costs further. Companies are hoping for relief next year after rates climbed at least 10 percent for four years in a row, making it harder to grant raises or add jobs. Out-of-pocket costs for workers rose five times faster than wages in that period, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation said, as employees picked up more of the tab for prescription drugs and doctor visits. That may be cutting into costs, the new study said. "

The Myth of American Healthcare: The Lies that are Killing Us
06-Oct-04
Health Care

Cheryl Seal writes: "Need a good laugh? Here's a joke for you: America's standard of health care is the best in the world and therefore we should be willing to pay for it (as in high insurance premiums, high drug costs, high everything medical) so that we can continue to enjoy the best health in the world. In reality, the US has the highest rates of cancers for at least 10 cancer types and the highest infant mortality rate of all developed nations. The conservative politicians say socialized medicine is bad because you might have to wait your turn for some services...Yet 42.6 million Americans face an even longer wait than that for ALL services - as in forever - because they have no insurance. That's the highest percentage of people without access to medical care in the world. We also have the highest number of uninsured of any developed nation."

National Survey Shows Most Americans Favor Universal Health Care
06-Oct-04
Health Care

"Two-thirds of those surveyed by the Civil Society Institute, an independent Massachusetts think tank, favor a health care 'guarantee' akin to the Canadian or British systems, reports Newsday. In addition, 78% support government regulation of health care similar to the way utilities such as gas and water are regulated. Though 85% of the 1,020 adults surveyed have health insurance, nearly all reported that it has either been cut or their costs have risen. The survey's findings 'have been echoed by other experts and research groups,' such as the recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation that shows health care premiums rose by double digits in 2004 for the fourth year in a row." So guess what Dubya plans to do? Campaign on a platform AGAINST Universal health care! Guess that shows how in touch with the American people he is!

Michael J. Fox and National Nursing Leader Blast Bush on Heathcare
15-Sep-04
Health Care

Yahoo: "Actor Michael J. Fox, known for his advocacy on behalf of medical research, will hold a conference call today, September 15, at 2 PM ET/1 PM CT to criticize George W Bush's record on medical research. He will be joined by Minnesota Nurses Association Executive Director Erin Murphy who will also slam Bush for his wrong policies that are taking our country in the wrong direction."

Kerry Hammers Bush with FACTS: Healthcare Costs Now Rising at the Fastest Rate since 1978!
19-Aug-04
Health Care

While Bush whines about a mythical "improving economy" and smears Kerry with lies, Kerry and Edwards are dishing up COLD HARD FACTS. Like these: The total cost of family heath insurance premiums has climbed roughly $2,630, reaching a staggering $9.068 average annual cost. In 2003 alone, health care premiums increased 4 times faster than workers' earnings. EVERY YEAR Bush has been in office, premiums outpaced earnings. Under Bush, family health premiums paid by employees have gone up 49%t. Adjusted for inflation that is a 41% increase in three years - the largest increase since 1978. The Tyson-Reber study shows that when wages cannot adjust, rising health costs araise the cost of hiring a new worker - leading to job loss. And, in fact, the industries with the best health benefits have had the largest job losses. And when jobs are added, they are averaging about $9,000 less per year in pay to compensate for rising insurance costs.

NINE MILLION Americans Have Lost their Health Insurance Since Bush Took Office
08-Aug-04
Health Care

MSN Money: "The number of Americans with employer-paid health coverage fell dramatically from 2001 to 2003, with about 9 million people losing coverage, according to a national study released Aug. 2. The Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) said the proportion of Americans under 65 with employer coverage fell from 67% in 2001 to 63% in 2003. Public programs such as Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program took up the slack, preventing a big increase in the number of uninsured." And allowing Bush to conveniently hide just how critical the crisis is. Worse, this means that the "slack" was taken up by those who collectively paid the bulk of the US tax bill -- Americans making less than $100,000 per year. "Latinos were the least likely to have employer coverage and the most likely to be uninsured. Employer coverage for Latinos declined from 46.7% in 2001 to 39.7% in 2003."

US Wage Increases Canceled Out by Bloated Payoffs to the Insurance Industry
29-Jul-04
Health Care

Workers wages are not not climbing enough to keep pace with cost of living. Why? Because the cost of benefits (as in health insurance) has grown THREE TIMES faster than wage increases. This is money that is being sucked out of workers pockets like a giant vaccuum by the insurance industry - one of Bush's biggest donors. AP: " Over the past 12 months, wages rose by 2.5 percent, down from a 2.7 percent increase for the 12 months ending in June 2003 and far below the 4 percent rise for the 12 months ending in June 2000, when the country was still in the midst of a record 10-year economic expansion. However, benefit costs have risen much more rapidly, climbing by 7.2 percent for the 12 months ending in June, the biggest 12-month gain since early 1990. "Though wages remain under control, benefit costs are still soaring at an unacceptable pace," said Joel Naroff, head of a Holland, Pa., forecasting firm."

Medical Mistakes Are Now the Third Leading Cause of Death in US
27-Jul-04
Health Care

Boston.com reports on a new study shows that "medical mistakes [are] the third-leading cause of death in the country, behind heart disease and cancer. 'There is little evidence that patient safety has improved in the last five years,' said Dr. Samantha Collier, VP of medical affairs at HealthGrades. 'The equivalent of 390 jumbo jets full of people are dying each year due to likely preventable, in-hospital medical errors, making this one of the leading killers in the US.' The analysis is sure to be controversial, in part because the group used a broad definition of medical errors. This definition change -- counting cases in which hospital staff failed to respond quickly to signs of infection or other dangerous problems [ya mean they didn't count this as neglect before?!] -- accounts for almost the entire increase in the number of deaths."

Bush's 'Health Savings Accounts' Would Cost Patients More, Delivers Less, and Discriminate against Elderly
23-Jul-04
Health Care

After 1,300 days in office, Bush is suddenly touting what he calls a "new health care plan." But, says the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, not only is the plan NOT new, it doesn't help and it never has. Bush's proposed so-called ""health savngs accounts' have been offered by health insurers for years "but have been unpopular with consumers because they require individuals to pay more out of pocket but do not guarantee basic health care benefits," says the FTCR. "Instead of addressing bloated health insurer overhead costs and drug company profiteering that have resulted in a record number of Americans struggling to afford health insurance, Bush is pandering to his big campaign contributors. This plan -- which allows workers to set aside part of their pre-tax salaries to pay for health care expenses -- discriminates against older and sicker people, promotes high- deductible health plans, and would result in further destabilization of the health insurance market."

Hastert Acts as Snake Oil Salesman, Pushing Yet More Phony GOP Healthcare 'Reform'
13-May-04
Health Care

In response to John Kerry's bold proposals for REAL health care reform, the GOP has done what it does best: slap together a complicated, deceptive "package" difficult to understand and to administer that benefits only to the insurance and Pharmaceutical industries while ultimately costing most consumers more. This legislation is so similar in modus operandi to the Medicare Reform scam that we are surprised that the GOP would have the flagrant nerve to propose it, let alone tout it as a "breakthrough" as Dennis "Bush Says Jump and I ask How High' Hastert. Ted Kennedy has condemned the "package" as a sham - which is being tactful.

Health Care Better in Areas where Malpractice Lawsuits are Vigorously Prosecuted
12-May-04
Health Care

Malpractice suits are the only "quality control" weapon citizens have to use against doctors delivering shoddy care. Now a new study indicates that the weapon is an effective one. "The American Medical Association claims malpractice lawsuits are creating 'crisis' conditions in 19 states. Yet the Rand Institute gave its highest rating for health care quality to Seattle, located in one of those 'crisis' states. Overall, Rand found that the quality of health care was higher in cities in six AMA 'crisis' states that Rand studied than in two of the states the AMA says are 'doing OK' -- California and Indiana. In fact, the Rand report singled out Orange County, Calif., and Indianapolis, Ind., as delivering the lowest-quality cardiac care."

US Health Care System is Failing Americans Miserably
12-May-04
Health Care

Cheryl Seal writes "The US ranks number one in the cost of health care, but 24 in disability-adjusted life expectancy, 37 in the overall performance of its medical system and 40 in the level of satisfaction recipients express for their care. Nearly half of all people in the US with below-average incomes report that it is 'extremely, very, or somewhat difficult' to get medical care when they need it. At 772 infant deaths per 100,000 live births, the US leads the developed world in infant mortality. 29% of elderly Americans have a difficult time meeting their basic monthly expenses, while 32% of US elderly have no drug coverage, 36% of elderly pay over $50 out of pocket per month for prescriptions. The US also has the greatest disparity between the health of the poor and that of the wealthy, between black and white, of all industrialized nations. Black infants have a mortality rate that is more than twice that of white children."

Intimidated by Kerry, GOP Scrambles to Slap Together Sham Healthcare Package
12-May-04
Health Care

Until John Kerry began his outspoken push for real health care reform in the past few weeks, the GOP's only proposal had been the Medicare Reform scam, designed to rip off millions of elderly Americans and line drug baron pockets. Now suddenly the GOP is coming up with "a wide range of health proposals." But, in typical Repug style, most involve measly tax credits, turning health care over to religious charities and schemes that are exempt from any regulation (which of course guarantees that the costs over time would be MORE, not less). Ted Kennedy, "dismissed the Republican package as "a sham" and said it would do little to help the uninsured.

Kerry Blasts Bush for Ignoring Out of Control Healthcare Costs Burdening Americans
10-May-04
Health Care

US Newswire: "According to a new report out from Kerry's campaign today, premiums, out of pockets costs, co-payments and deductibles are spiraling out of control. Total family premiums have increased by $2,777 in the last four years, and Americans now pay more for health insurance than any other country. As costs have risen, U.S. employers have...responded by slowing hiring and shifting to more part-time and temporary workers. Kerry criticized the Bush administration today for not even trying to control costs and sitting idle while insurance companies made record profits and families faced record-high premiums. 'It's not acceptable to do nothing while these premiums are rising four times faster than workers' earnings. And it's not acceptable to do nothing while families lose their savings, workers lose their jobs, and businesses close their doors because of the high cost of health care.' "

Cost of Uninsured is $41 Billion/year - Just 4% Less than the Cost of Federally Funded Coverage
10-May-04
Health Care

US Newswire: "Uninsured Americans could incur nearly $41 billion in uncompensated health care treatment in 2004, with federal, state and local governments paying as much as 85% of the care, according to a new Kaiser Commission." Worse, the study shows that "people uninsured for the entire year can expect to receive about half as much care as people fully insured. Another major finding of the study is that if the country provided coverage to all the uninsured, the cost of additional medical care provided to the newly insured would be $48 billion-an increase of 0.4 percent in health spending's share of the gross domestic product. 'Leaving 44 million Americans uninsured exacts a substantial price on society as well as individuals, while covering the uninsured would improve their health care without generating large increases in overall health spending,' said Diane Rowland, executive director of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured."

Tenet Healthcare Says It Will Offer Discounted Healthcare for Uninsured - But with a Bushish 'Disclaimer'
02-Mar-04
Health Care

On the surface, the pledge by Tenet Healthcare to offer discounts to uninsured patients (outrageously, the uninsured are more likely to be charge MORE by many hospitals) looks good. But scroll to the end of the article and you will find a great big fat Bush-style "loophole" in "fine print": "Certain statements in this release may constitute forward-looking statements. They are based on management's current expectations and could be affected by numerous factors and are subject to various risks and uncertainties.... Do not rely on any forward-looking statement, as we cannot predict or control many of the factors that ultimately may affect our ability to achieve the results estimated."

White House Scrubbers Do a Job on Health Care Data
24-Dec-03
Health Care

The Wall Street Journal reports: "The Bush administration released a pair of much-awaited reports on the quality of American health care, after extensive revisions that made the findings more upbeat than some experts thought justified. The two studies, produced by a research arm of the Department of Health and Human Services, went through numerous drafts and were exhaustively reviewed within HHS, officials said. In several cases, language included in drafts prepared this summer was toned down, emphasizing improvements or challenges rather than problems that afflict the quality of care in public and private health systems in the U.S... Some outside health-care advocates suggested that the two studies were toned down and delayed until after the Medicare overhaul and prescription-drug bill passed Congress for fear Democrats might seize on the reports to press for greater funding for quality initiatives, possibly complicating Republican efforts to pass the bill."

Flu Epidemic Exposes Impact of American Health Care Crisis on Children
23-Dec-03
Health Care

Dr. Steve Berman of Colorado writes, "The second aspect of preparedness involves having a pediatric health-care delivery system that ensures that all children receive quality care in a timely manner from their primary care physician. Lack of health insurance is associated with not having a primary care physician and not receiving needed care. Delayed care increases a child's risk of more severe disease and death. Under normal circumstances relatively few children without a primary care physician become severely ill and require attention. But in an influenza outbreak of this magnitude the problems with our fragmented health-care system for children become more apparent....This influenza epidemic has demonstrated the human cost of being a laggard rather than a leader in immunizations and child health."

Hospitals are Sending Non-Paying Patients to JAIL
02-Nov-03
Health Care

In a shocking expose, Wall Street Journal reports, "Some hospitals now rank among America's most aggressive debt-collectors, as they put increasing pressure on poor and uninsured patients to pay their bills. Adding to the problem, as The Wall Street Journal has reported, hospitals generally charge uninsured patients far more than the discounted rates negotiated by health-maintenance organizations and other private insurers and government agencies. Some also use one of the harshest and least-known collections tactics of all: seeking the arrest of no-show debtors. A review of court records and interviews with hospital trade groups, collections attorneys and consumer advocates shows that hospitals in several states, including Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and Oklahoma, have secured the arrest and even jailing of patients who miss court hearings on their debts." Under Bush and the GOP, this situation will only get WORSE.

29.4-Percent of 18 to 24 yr-olds Uninsured; 1-in-4 Children on Medicaid
30-Sep-03
Health Care

Here is the real scoop on the state of healthcare coverage in America, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau. It would behoove Dems to read up, because there's all sorts of opportunity in these stats for Bush to spin and misrepresent the truth. For example, the rate of uninsured children has remained stable. Why? Because so many are now on Medicaid - 1 in 4, in fact. Here's a telling fact: Bush's legacy to Texas has been the worst healthcare coverage in the U.S.: a whopping 25% of all Texans are without any coverage, making it NUMBER ONE in the U.S. If Bush gets another term, we can look forward to the same sort of stats nationally!

Number of Children Eligible for Medicaid Increased Last Year, Giving Statistical Illusion of 'Progress' in Child Healthcare
30-Sep-03
Health Care

You watch! In an upcoming speech, Bush or some other top Repug will claim that they have made "progress" in children's health care because the number of uninsured children has not increased. But this will be pure spin and statistical lying. The truth is, the figures show no increase in uninsured simply because so many children are now on Medicaid due to the fact that their families have slipped into poverty. The same children who were covered by their parent's job related insurance are now covered by Medicaid because their parents now have no job . When Bush tries to pull this shell game, someone should ask: "If you are doing so much for kids healthcare, why are 34 states slashing Medicaid coverage?" and "Why does the average family insurance policy now cost a whopping $9,068 per year?"

Ranks of Uninsured Americans Skyrocketed by 2.4 Million Last Year; Premiums Jump 14-Percent
30-Sep-03
Health Care

"The ranks of the uninsured swelled by 2.4 million last year as insurance costs kept rising and more Americans lost their jobs and health care coverage. The number of people without health insurance the entire year rose to 43.6 million, a jump of almost 6 percent from 2001 and the second consecutive annual increase. The percentage of Americans without health coverage rose from 14.6 to 15.2. The bureau reported a survey last week that found more people fell into poverty and median income declined in 2002, even though the recession officially' ended in November 2001. A survey released this month from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research group, found that private health premiums increased 13.9 percent between 2002 and 2003. A family policy, on average, cost $9,068."

Buying Canadian Drugs for State Employees: Illinois Fires Major Salvo in Drug Price War
15-Sep-03
Health Care

"Facing budget-breaking increases in prescription drug bills, the governor of Illinois took the first step yesterday toward purchasing lower-cost medications from Canada, a move that puts him in direct conflict with federal regulators and signals a dramatic escalation in the civil war over U.S. drug prices. What began a decade ago with busloads of senior citizens trekking across the border in search of cheaper medicines has mushroomed into a nationwide rebellion. It has spread from small, nonprofit groups to the private sector, and now, to local and state officials who are defiantly ignoring warnings by the Bush administration and the pharmaceutical industry that drug reimportation is dangerous and illegal. Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, said he has directed the Illinois special advocate to draft a plan for buying inexpensive medications in Canada for as many as 240,000 state employees and retirees."

Health Care Costs Jump by Highest Amount Since 1990
10-Sep-03
Health Care

USA Today reports: "Health insurance premiums rose 13.9% this year, their fastest clip since 1990 - and twice as many Americans fear being unable to afford prescription drugs as worry about stock market losses or becoming unemployed. The rapid rise in premiums marks the third year of double-digit increases and comes despite a slight downward trend in underlying prices for medical services, according to an employer survey released Tuesday by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation.... From 2000 to 2003, the amount workers pay toward their premium for family coverage went up nearly 50%, to an average of $2,412 a year from $1,619. Workers' out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs rose between 46% and 71% in those same years, the survey found... The health insurance premium increases were fueled by higher prices for hospital care, drugs and other services, increased use of medical care and insurers' push for higher profits."

Governor Baldacci (D-ME) Pushes through Historic Healthcare Reform Bill
18-Jun-03
Health Care

The Portland Press Herald reports: "State lawmakers embraced one of the nation's most ambitious attempts at health-care reform Friday, passing a bill that promises affordable coverage to all Mainers within five years while controlling health-care spending statewide. The program would subsidize premium payments for income-eligible enrollees. Gov. John Baldacci - who introduced the bill May 5 and pushed for its passage this session despite protests from Republicans, the health care industry and members of the business community - said the legislation could become a national model. 'We send a message not only to our citizens but to others, that this is the way things should be done,' he said."

'Compassionate Conservatism'? Healthcare Reveals Real 'Conservative' Agenda - Drown Democracy in a Bathtub
27-Feb-03
Health Care

Thom Hartmann writes: "Indeed, in late February a 'senior administration official' presented The New York Times with a masterpiece of obfuscation and avoidance of responsibility. Speaking of the administration's plans to push users of Medicare and Medicaid into the hands of for-profit corporations, this 'official' said, 'We're looking at two programs that have worked, that have proven health coverage to people who need it, and we want to help them work better'." What he meant to say was, we see a big opportunity to made a large profit without oversight. Our health care and our lives will be for 'profit' for the few huge international corporations that support Bush and his cronies. What a political pay back! Worth billions. "Robin Toner and Robert Pear of The New York Times wrote in an understated tone that, 'The magnitude of the Bush proposals is only gradually dawning on members of Congress.'"

The Myth of American Health Care: The Lies That Are Killing Us
09-Dec-02
Health Care

Americans are constantly being told by the drug companies and the insurance industry - and their minions inside the Beltway - that America's healthcare system is the best in the world - a marvel that all should be grateful to pay a high price to access. But the reality is a deeply flawed system marred by fudged drug trials, media-pharmaceutical industry collusions, phony cancer cure claims and research foundations, and the worst cancer rates and infant mortality rates in the civilized world.

Smallpox Vaccine Side Effects Are Moderate to Severe
03-Dec-02
Health Care

The website of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University reads: "Smallpox vaccine causes more moderate-severe side effects than any vaccine in use today. That is the reason that it was stopped in 1972 after the risk of smallpox in the world had declined considerably (even though this was 5 years prior to the disease's eradication). If we were to embark on large-scale immunization of people in this country, there is no question that there would be many serious side effects and the public's - tolerance for such serious side effects has decreased appropriately in recent years due to a lack of known risk of exposure to this disease. There are some in the US military and in high levels of the current government who are actively pursuing a policy allowing everyone who wants the vaccine to receive it. The Institute for Vaccine Safety does not agree with this proposed strategy." -- Note: Article contains disturbing photos of the smallpox vaccine's possible side effects.

Silicon Valley Free Clinic Must Expand to Accommodate Flood of Unemployed Tech Workers without Medical Insurance
02-Dec-02
Health Care

The San Jose Mercury News reports: "Every layoff in Silicon Valley leaves not only one more unemployed worker but also one more unemployed worker without medical insurance. As the jobless ranks grow, one free health care clinic in Mountain View -- traditionally the medical refuge for the working poor -- is seeing white-collar workers filing into its waiting room. They come in for flu shots, cold medicine, or a prescription for high-blood pressure. As is true at all nine RotaCare clinics in the Bay Area, the visits are free. The Mountain View clinic, which operates on a shoestring budget of $250,000 aided by a cadre of volunteer doctors, nurses and translators, is looking for another, larger, facility to serve the uninsured population that grows every day."

States Cut Health Services as 46 of 50 States Scramble to Cover Budget Deficits
18-Nov-02
Health Care

Many states have reduced expenditures for health services at the very time that more people are losing medical benefits along with their jobs. Florida state officials expect increased Medicaid enrollment to raise the state's Medicaid costs by an estimated $400 million this fiscal year. In Idaho, state lawmakers voted to eliminate programs that provide dental services for low-income and disabled adults. Louisiana plans to limit funds for hospitals that provide care to low-income adults. In Massachusetts, the state has reduced by 50% the amount of flu vaccine available to groups that provide immunizations at no cost to seniors and the homeless. New Jersey has reduced eligibility for public health care programs that target the "working poor." In Wisconsin, the state sold bonds backed by $2.3 billion in tobacco settlement payments over the next 14 years for $1.4 billion.

Under Cover of W-ar, House Reduces Compensation to Injured Patients
27-Sep-02
Health Care

It will now be harder for consumers to obtain justice against both physicans and pharmaceutical companies thanks to the sneak-thru passage last week of HR 4600 - the deceptively-titled "Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Health Care (HEALTH) Act. While the nation is forced to focus on impending war, the Bush minions in Congress and their lobbyist supporters are getting everything on their wish list - including reducing the rights of patients even further. Here are two telling articles: the first is a gloating press release from the Physicans Insurers Association (http://www.thepiaa.org/press_releases/cbo_score.htm). The other is a description of what this anti-patient, anti-American bill is really all about. This bill will now move to the Senate - call and urge a NO vote!

HMO's Raise Rates for Seniors, Compounding Retirement Fund Losses
11-Sep-02
Health Care

Liz Kowalczyk writes: "For the third straight year, Massachusetts HMOs will charge senior citizens significantly more for health coverage starting Jan. 1, in some cases doubling their monthly premiums and in others hitting them with $100-per-day hospital surcharges. The nation's health maintenance organizations were required to tell the federal government by midnight yesterday whether they plan to continue providing health insurance to Medicare recipients next year, raise premiums, or reduce benefits... But all the plans, saying the federal government is failing to cover the cost of skyrocketing medical expenses, will shift more of that cost to their older members. The increases come at a particularly bad time for retirees, many of whom have lost thousands of dollars in the stock market."

The [Dick] Armey's New 'Catch-22' for Community Health Centers
06-Sep-02
Health Care

According to the KaiserNetwork's Daily Reproductive Health Report, House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) is refusing to schedule a vote on a bill authorizing funds for community health centers until Congress votes on an anti-abortion "conscience clause" bill. The catch? He hasn't scheduled a vote on that bill either. The "conscience clause" bill, HR 4691, would prevent federal, state and local governments from "discriminating" against hospitals, insurance plans and other "health care entities" that refuse to offer or cover abortion procedures, even those necessary to protect the life or health of the woman. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a community health bill in April, but if the legislation isn't passed by the House before the session ends, it must be reintroduced in the next Congress. Yet another reason to defeat ALL Republicans!

Religious Refusals Jeopardize Women's Access to Health Care, Says The ACLU
06-Sep-02
Health Care

"Access to reproductive health care is increasingly jeopardized by the imposition of religious beliefs in the health care context," says the ACLU in a press release accompanying its new report, "Religious Refusals and Reproductive Rights." In its analysis of religious refusals, the report notes that "it is often possible and appropriate to accommodate an individual health professional's refusal to provide a service, but only if the patient is ensured safe, timely, and feasible alternative access to treatment. An institution claiming a right to refuse, however, raises significantly greater concerns. According to the report, it is crucial to consider if an institution, like most religiously affiliated hospitals, is operating in the public world and serving and employing a religiously diverse population. If it is, then it ought to play by public rules." Sounds reasonable to us.

The 'Next' Health Care Debate: Helping the Uninsured
27-Aug-02
Health Care

Deja vu all over again! According to the New York Times, "employers and Congressional leaders say the next great health care debate will be over how to help the uninsured. Senator John B. Breaux of Louisiana, an influential moderate Democrat, and leaders of the nation's largest pension plans are trying to drum up support for universal health insurance, a proposal that has received little attention, except from labor unions and liberals, since the collapse of the Clintons' health plan. The House Republican leaders — Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Dick Armey, the majority leader, who is retiring — have been working on a package of less sweeping measures, including tax credits for the uninsured, in hopes of defusing the issue before the Congressional elections this fall." So, let's see, that means ... HILLARY WAS RIGHT, huh?

Bush Starting to Show True Colors on Health Care - And They Ain't a Pretty Sight
25-Jul-02
Health Care

After failing for more than ONE THIRD of his term to honor his campaign promise to help seniors with skyrocketing prescription costs - Bush is expected to show his colors even more. Tomorrow, he is to announce his support for restrictions on medical malpractice victims - no matter how outrageously bad the medical care or serious the injury that results. The bill in question, HR 4600, "Will deny innocent victims of medical negligence both adequate compensation and legal representation for legitimate claims," said Jamie Court of the Foundation for Taxpayers and Consumers' Rights. "It will confer substantial financial benefits only on malpractice insurance companies, not the average physician." Data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners proves that California insurers have profited immensely from the pain of wronged patients." For more evidence that insurers, not patients are the problem, see http://www.wvgazette.com/news/Practice/

Maryland Coalition Leads Fight to Guarantee Health Insurance for All Workers
07-Sep-01
Health Care

Activists in Maryland, a state rivaled only by Minnesota in its high ratio of Democrats to Republicans, are spearheading a movement to create a plan that would provide health insurance coverage for the state's 650,000 uninsured workers. In the past decade, while corporate profits have climbed to historic highs, the number of uninsured Americans has ballooned by nearly 10 million. Says coalition leader Dr. Peter L. Beilenson (who is Baltimore's health commissioner), "It's unconscionable that the richest country on the face of the Earth doesn't guarantee coverage for health care. It's clearly not going to happen at the national level, so it's got to happen at the state level." Needless to say, the coalition, which is made up of labor, religious, and civics groups, is already under seige by business lobbyists, eager to keep profits in a "safe" accessible only to a few.

Lawsuit Limits Ensure that Patient Lawsuits Remain an 'Acceptable Cost of Doing Business' for HMOs and Insurers
03-Aug-01
Health Care

The GOP lied to the American public knowingly on behalf of the insurance companies when they said giving patients the right to pursue large claims against HMOs and insurers would merely be a "trial lawyers dream," one that would drive up health costs. In the real world (i.e., one free of lobbyist/front group/paid aid spin), the only recourse patients have against shoddy caregivers is lawsuits, and unless the damages are high enough, the insurance industry, already the highest-revenue industry around, will brush it off like a mosquito. Take this case in Maryland, where an incompetent doctor was sued 18 times, yet continued to keep his license, with the blessing of his insurer. Why? A few hundred thousand dollars, or even a few million, here and there isn't a big deal to the insurance industry - its an expected write-off. Thus, there is no motivation to force bad apple caregivers out. So, thanks to Bush, Norwood, and the GOP, the industry can go on its merry way, business as usual.

Study Proves Bush Stance on Lawsuits in Patients' Bill of Rights is Pure Insurance Industry Bull
16-Jul-01
Health Care

Bush's key argument against the Patients' Bill of Rights is that lawsuits against medical caregivers is out of control, and would be made worse by allowing suits against HMOs. But a study done a few months back in West Virginia proves Shrub's claim is insurance industry BS. Insurance companies, including those based in West VA, claim most malpractice suits are frivolous, that half of all MDs are plagued by suits, and that suit frequency is skyrocketing. However, a computer analysis of actual statistics for WVA for the past decade shows a steady decline in the number of malpractice suits. In 2/3 of all suits, judges found sufficient merit to award claims. A mere 4% of all doctors were sued in a given year, and of these, many were the same people each time (suggesting true shoddy care). Btw - if insurance folks say their climbing costs are due to rising malpractice suit frequency and suits are actually declining....why have rates continued to climb? Aren't we owed a refund?

Bush Prescription Drug 'Discount Cards' Won't Be Worth Cheap Paper They'll be Printed On
12-Jul-01
Health Care

To make it appear that he is taking steps to fulfill his promise to address the high price paid for drugs by seniors, Bush has proposed handing out "discount drug cards." It is a scheme that appears to have been taken from a guide to boiler room telemarketing scams. Even Bush supporters are denouncing the plan as "unhelpful." Worse yet, when asked by a reporter if the plan would really save seniors money over existing plans already available through AARP and Merck-Medco, Bush himself wouldn't even answer. Know why? Because his cards wouldn't be worth the cheap tag board they'd be printed on.

Restaurant Industry, Notorious for Low Pay and No or Minimal Benefits Lobbying against Patients' Rights Bill
05-Jul-01
Health Care

The restaurant industry, which is not known for its concern for employee health benefits (just ask just about any waitress, waiter, hostess or barista), is exhorting Congress to vote against the patients' rights bill. We find this development a point very much in favor of the bill. Industries that want to slide by with bargain basement health plans for their workers are the ones most likely to want to block the bill, which will put pressure on employers to provide decent coverage. We suggest the restaurant industry's cash would be better spent on upping the quality of worker benefits than it is on lobbying against the bill!

Senate Passes Patient Rights Bill – Bush And The GOP Now Wear The Black Hats
30-Jun-01
Health Care

"Defying President [sic] Bush's veto threat, the Democrat-led Senate on Friday approved a landmark bill giving Americans sweeping new health care rights and the power to sue health insurance groups if treatment is denied. Approved 59-36 after nearly two weeks of heated debate that pitted big business against consumer groups, the Democrat-backed patients' bill of rights now goes to the Republican-controlled House of Representatives where it faces a protracted fight that may well reach into the 2002 congressional election...In the final hours of debate, Democrats agreed to Republican demands to limit class action lawsuits against HMOs, to cap lawyers' fees, and to force patients with disputes to wait at least a month before going to court. Senate Democrats also backed amendments to limit the liability of employers and to give states leeway in meeting the proposed federal standards." Wanna drag this one out DeLay and Bush? Go ahead -- make our (election) day!

Bush May Be Forced To Show True Colors In Having To Veto McCain-Edwards-Kennedy Patient Rights Bill
22-Jun-01
Health Care

"The Democrat-led U.S. Senate on Thursday beat back the first major challenge to a far-reaching patients' bill of rights, defeating [52-45] a Republican amendment giving tax breaks to the self-employed after Democrats warned it would scuttle managed care reforms…But conservative Republicans said their fight against the Democrat-backed bill was far from over, and the White House made it official that President [sic] Bush would 'veto the bill unless significant changes are made'...the Democratic bill, proposed by Democratic Sens. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina and Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, would [also] ensure that some 190 million Americans with group and individual health insurance coverage have access to emergency and specialized medical care."

Drug Company Slashes Inflated Prices in Face of Price-Fixing Investigation
15-Jun-01
Health Care

In what amounts to both an admission of guilt and a corrective action, Abbott Laboratories, one of several drug companies being investigated for price fixing, announced it is lowering the cost of dozens of drugs and treatments. We aren't talking small reductions here: for example, one drug kit used to clear clogged intravenous tubes was cut from $127 to $2.39. This strongly suggests that drug companies have been using the same wanton tactics as the power industry in California. Both industries base their flagrant money-gouging on the premise that electricity and drugs are things the consumer HAS to have, so they can charge whatever they can get away with - screw the consumer! We are not impressed that now, faced with big-time legal action, their "consciences" are pricking them. However, with Monsanto-funded Ashcroft heading the Justice Department, one wonders how serious his "investigations" will prove to be.

Bush's First Act of 'Compromise' with New Dem Senate Will Be to Veto Patients' Rights Bill
12-Jun-01
Health Care

Waiting until Sunday night when he knew real-time news coverage would be at a minimum, Bush announed he will veto the Kennedy-McCain version of a patients' bill of rights, which allows patients to sue HMOs and other insurers in state courts. Being able to sue shoddy providers, who may inflict a lifetime of suffering through poor care, is one of the only remedies to poor care many HMO patients now have. Unfortunately, Tom Daschle on CNN's "Late Edition" Sunday night expressed a disturbingly wimpy rhetoric. "He [Bush] won by a very, very narrow margin; so did I. We have a lot in common in that regard..." Does Daschle really believe this? After all, HE didn't STEAL his election! UPDATE: Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA), frustrated at Bush's stance on the bill, plans to aid Kennedy and McCain in their fight for its passage.

Tooth Decay, the Number One Chronic Illness of U.S. Children Made Worse By Inadequate Healthcare System
03-Jun-01
Health Care

In any given year, an estimated 60% of all low-income children in the U.S. receive less than the recommended minimum of dental care, while 30% receive none at all. The problem? Lack of dental services available to the poor. Even when parents have medical plans, many do not include dental coverage. As a result, nearly 10% of all American children from all income levels don't receive proper dental care. It seems ridiculous to us that while medical insurers will cover specialists of kinds, including plastic surgeons, they either do not cover dental, or fail to cover it sufficiently. But our current healthcare system was designed for and by the insurance industry - not the patient.

Glaring Inadequacies in Healthcare System May Cause Needless Suffering
03-Jun-01
Health Care

Leeca Synder was lucky. After she badly mangled her hand in an auto accident, as a nurse, she knew that when her surgeon advised amputation, she had a right to a second opinion. Now, one year and a second opinion later, Leeca still has her hand. However, for the over 30 million Americans who do not have health insurance, or those with inadequate HMOs, demanding the best possible care when an accident or illness strikes may be difficult - even impossible. Even patients with decent insurance may not be informed of their rights. Leeca Snyder's story points up just ONE of the glaring inadequacies of the current healthcare system - the fixing of which should be a top Democratic priority.

Fed Up with Price Gouging By Drug Companies and Government Inaction, Patients File Class Action Suits
28-May-01
Health Care

When Bill and Hillary pressed for healthcare reform, the GOP and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries joined forces to torpedo their efforts. "We can do our own reforms better," these industries vowed. Well, do you see any improvements? Neither do the consumer groups across the country who have begun filing major lawsuits against drug companies for price gouging and collusion with generic drug makers to keep cheaper drugs off the market. The current defendants are Bristol-Myers Squibb, Aventis SA, Andrx Corp, AstraZeneca PLC, and Barr Laboratories, but the list will likely grow. Hopefully, insurance companies and others guilty of patient abuse will soon join the list.

Bush Budget Gives ZERO Funding to Family Medicine Training Programs
22-May-01
Health Care

Family doctors - those who still actually treat whole people, not just their kidneys, nose and throats, or other parts - are increasingly rare but still treasured and desperately needed. In over 1,000 U.S. counties, an estimated 40 million people in doctor shortage areas rely on family physicians. Now Bush wants to eliminate all funding to family medicine training programs. That means more specialists and fewer generalists, which means higher medical bills, more traveling to get the appropriate care, more depersonalization, and an even bigger tangle of referrals and paper work. I suppose Shrub's next step is to urge people to go to faith healers for their primary care (part of the religious solution, you know!).

 


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