July 12, 2007
Holsinger Hearing in Senate
Dr. Holsinger's confirmation hearing for Surgeon General is today in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The American Public Health Association has expressed its opposition to his appointment as Surgeon General. BibleBelt Blogger has written extensively about the controversy surrounding Dr. Holsinger and his views on homosexuality. NPR's Morning Edition provided some further background information about Dr. Holsinger and the New York Times has an editorial with suggested questions for the nominee.
TalkLeft has a wonderful discussion and super helpful links and information about today's hearing in the House Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security on the DEA's regulation of pain medicine.
July 11, 2007
TB and Quarantine/Isolation Take II
I am not sure why patients are responding with flight when informed that they have a contagious disease that requires them to stay away from others. Perhaps the hospitals and health officials are scaring them or perhaps people are just showing an extremely unattractive selfish side or could it be the hospital food . . . ?. ABCNews reports on the latest TB flight from an Arkansas hospital,
A man placed in isolation after he was diagnosed with contagious tuberculosis broke a hospital window and fled, health officials said.
Unlike the Georgia lawyer who was under a federal quarantine after flying to Europe with what was then believed to be extensively drug-resistant TB, Arkansas health officials said the man who fled has a form of tuberculosis that would respond to treatment.
Franklin Greenwood, 50, is still contagious, though, health officials said. Greenwood was placed in isolation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital on June 29 after he was seen coughing up blood outside the city's traffic court. He left the hospital on July 1.
Bush On Health Care
Who knew that the problem with the Health Care system in the United States is . . . Americans. Perhaps he was being inartful but I cannot believe that many people would find his message reassuring as a way to move forward on health care reform. Here is the video of yesterday's Presidential speech. Thanks to Crooks and Liars.
Update: The Washington Monthly has some further comments on President Bush's health care ideas.
July 10, 2007
Former Surgeon General Critiques Bush Interference
Reuters reports that the former Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Carmona, discussed his tenure as surgeon general from 2002-2006 by noting that, "Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried." Dr. Carmona was testifying in front of the House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform committee. He further stated,
"The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party," Carmona added.
Carmona said Bush administration political appointees censored his speeches and kept him from talking out publicly about certain issues, including the science on embryonic stem cell research, contraceptives and his misgivings about the administration's embrace of "abstinence-only" sex education. . . .
"Political interference with the work of the surgeon general appears to have reached a new level in this administration," said Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to which Carmona testified.
ThinkProgress has more as well as some video of Dr. Carmon's testimony.
Tom Tomorrow on Health Care Reform
Salon.com has a great cartoon by Tom Tomorrow on various arguments against universal health care.
July 9, 2007
Drink More Wine Said the Dentist . . . .
Well, I am looking forward to my next dentist visit now -- woo! I cannot wait to discuss the heightened levels of dental well-being that I may receive based on that glass of pinot noir I plan to have every evening - purely for medicinal purposes. LiveScience/MSNBC reports on a new study concerning the ever-increasing health benefits of wine:
Drinking wine can maintain heart health, prevent cancer and even settle a mean case of diarrhea. Research now shows it’s also good for your teeth and throat.
According to a new study, a cocktail of compounds found in both red and white wine fights germs that can cause dental plaque as well as sore throats.
“Exposure to wine had a persistent antibacterial effect,” the authors wrote in their study, detailed in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Prior to their research, the authors said the effects of wine against germs found in the mouth hadn’t been studied.
Red wines have stronger bacteria-fighting effects than white wine, although not by much. Curiously, the acidity and alcohol isn’t responsible for wine’s germ-fighting properties—instead, it’s a collection of organic (carbon-containing) compounds found in the drink. . . . .
But don’t run out and gargle wine before brushing just yet, as the acids in wine can actually soften the hard but thin coat of protective tooth enamel.
“Sipping or holding acidic drinks in the mouth before swallowing increases the risk of erosion on dental enamel,” said Dr. David Bartlett of the Academy of General Dentistry. To cut down on this risk, Bartlett recommends waiting at least 20 minutes before brushing after eating any acidic foods.
Based on all the good press that wine has been receiving lately, I am waiting for pharmaceutical manufacturers to distill its essence into tablet form.
Child Health Insurance Battle Looms
It is amazing to me how every suggestion of an expansion of health care insurance becomes political . The New York Times reports today on the impasse over the State Children's Health Insurance Program. It reports,
The seemingly uncontroversial goal of insuring more children has become the focus of an ideological battle between the White House and Congress. The fight epitomizes fundamental disagreements over the future of the nation’s health care system and the role of government.
Democrats have proposed a major expansion of the program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, to cover more youngsters with a substantial increase in federal spending.
Administration officials have denounced the Democratic proposal as a step toward government-run health care for all. They said it would speed the erosion of private insurance coverage. And they oppose two of the main ideas contemplated by Democrats to finance expanded coverage for children: an increase in the federal tobacco tax and cuts in Medicare payments to private insurance companies caring for the elderly.
White House objections to the Democratic plan are “philosophical and ideological,” said Allan B. Hubbard, assistant to the president for economic policy. In an interview, he said the Democrats’ proposal would move the nation toward “a single-payer health care system with rationing and price controls.”
Democrats said the insurance program, created 10 years ago with bipartisan support, had improved access to care for millions of children and sharply reduced the number who were uninsured. Democratic leaders in both houses of Congress — with support from doctors, consumer groups and many state officials — want to increase enrollment in the program, which served 7.4 million people at some time in the last year. . . . .
To return the children’s insurance program to what he calls “its original intent,” Mr. Bush has asked Congress to reduce federal payments to the states for coverage of children in families with incomes of more than twice the poverty level. (A family of four is considered poor if its annual income is less than $20,650.) At least 18 states cover children with family incomes more than twice the poverty level. . . .
Mr. Bush and some Republicans in Congress worry that as public coverage becomes available to families with higher incomes, it tends to replace private coverage.
In a recent report, the Congressional Budget Office said that for every 100 children who get public coverage as a result of the children’s insurance program, “there is a corresponding reduction in private coverage of between 25 and 50 children.”
That increases the cost of efforts to expand coverage, according to the budget office, because the government inevitably picks up some people who recently had private insurance when it tries to sign up the uninsured. Thus, the budget office said, to reduce the number of uninsured children by three million, states may need to add four million to six million children to the rolls.
Peter R. Orszag, director of the budget office, said that other efforts to expand coverage — for example, by offering tax breaks for buying private insurance — faced a similar challenge: some benefits would go to people who already had coverage.
How horrible - the government might actually provide help to people who don't immediately need it -- I don't recall this concern when the Bush tax cuts were enacted.
Update: Dean Baker has some additional thoughts on the manner in which health care reform and health care proposals are being debated this year.