Category: Culture

Myths and reality about Medicare and Medicaid

A pair of recent studies use evidence to challenge two widely held beliefs, namely that undocumented immigrants are draining the Medicare trust fund and Medicaid provides poor quality medical care.

In the first instance, a study conducted by investigators from Harvard Medical School and the City University of New York and published online in mid-June by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that undocumented immigrants pay more into the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund than they take out.

The second study, released June 25 and conducted by researchers at The Commonwealth Fund, found that in 2014, 95% of Medicaid patients who were covered all year had a regular doctor, and 55% said they received excellent or very good care.

“I think this underscores the need for evidence-based policymaking,” Sara Collins, PhD…a co-author of the organization’s study told MedPage Today. “It’s important that everyone look at the data that’s available.”

Between 2000 and 2011, unauthorized immigrants generated a substantial surplus for the Medicare Trust Fund — $35 billion, according to the Harvard study. That ranges to between $2.2 billion and $3.8 billion per year, or $316 per capita for that population, compared with $106 per capita for the rest of the American population…

On the Medicaid side of the equation, according to the Commonwealth Fund report…Medicaid patients ages 19-64 had similar experiences to people with private insurance and were in far better circumstances than those who lacked insurance altogether. Among the uninsured, the survey found, 77% of people reported having a regular doctor, with only 40% saying they received good care.

“There’s some conventional wisdom that Medicaid is not very good coverage, but this shows how well Medicaid does in enabling people to protect themselves,” Collins said. “It may be a surprise to many, but these figures do demonstrate that it’s certainly better to have Medicaid than to have no coverage at all.”…

Perhaps most telling, 19% of Medicaid beneficiaries reported having some kind of issue related to paying medical bills. About one-third of people with private insurance – and 47% of uninsured – reported the similar struggles.

Given the still-controversial Medicaid expansion called for by the Affordable Care Act, and the beating Medicaid coverage has taken in some quarters as a result, the survey findings call for a fresh look at what Medicaid really delivers, Collins said…

I hope you’re not surprised that evidence and data-driven analysis reveals a more positive outlook than conventional wisdom or conservative ideology. Now, let’s make it even better!

Expansion of Medicare to all citizens within a single-payer system reduces costs by cutting out the insurance industry slice of the pie. Congress isn’t likely to have the courage for that. But, the experience of Social Security – with operating costs about 80% cheaper than anything the insurance industry offers – proves the possibility.

The same holds true for Medicaid. And I may as well throw in my favorite criticism of the provisions as designed by Congress. There is no legitimate reason preventing taxpayers in general from enjoying the same fixed, government-negotiated rates for prescription drugs that are offered members of the armed services.

Are Republicans right? Will same-sex marriage ruin civilization?

Same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the USA. This is a good thing, it’s always nice when people get equal treatment under the law. Sadly, not everyone agrees. Such is the speed of modern news and communication that announcement of the Supreme Court decision was essentially immediately followed by furious objections and doom-laden predictions of the collapse of society for various reasons.

It’s easy to dismiss these objections as angry incoherent bitterness from people who can’t or won’t accept that the rest of the human race doesn’t have to conform to their antiquated views, and many people do just that. But what if they’re not? What if there are genuine scientific reasons to fear same-sex marriage? After all, we in the UK know that same-sex marriage caused extreme flooding when it was legalised here, and now that it’s permitted in a country with the size and influence of the USA the consequences could be even more catastrophic. Here are just some possibilities we should brace ourselves for.

The overturning of nature

Governor Mike Huckabee pointed out that for the Supreme Court to legalise same-sex marriage is to overturn nature, which is impossible…

However, same-sex marriage is now legal, so clearly it is possible for humans to overturn nature. This opens up a wide variety of problems, given how nature is responsible for everything that keeps the planet running. Clearly LGBT people have the power to overrule nature to suit their own needs. While we can hope they restrict this ability to things like increasing the number of rainbows, there’s no guarantee of this. What if some careless homosexual is struggling with a heavy suitcase and decides to lower the mass of the planet to reduce the strength of gravity? We’d all be flung out of the atmosphere without warning…

Too many rainbows

As already hinted at, the celebrations of the legalisation of same-sex marriage have resulted in a stark increase in the number of rainbows seen everywhere. The rainbow is the symbol of the LGBT movement, so this makes sense. No harm in rainbows, right?

Wrong! It may seem like harmless celebration to put rainbows in every possible location, but what about the effect this is having on the eyes of those who have to look at them? The retina in the eye relies on photoreceptors, specialised cells that detect light. Because they’re organic and rely on biological processes, these photoreceptors can become exhausted if exposed to a particular stimulus for too long. Constant exposure to rainbows could mean people can’t see colours as well, and this could be disastrous. How will they know when to stop or go at a traffic light? Or which wire to cut when defusing a bomb?

RTFA. Good for a chuckle. A witty rejoinder to the animal spirits of the ignorant. Read on and learn about The climate damage and The slippery slopes.

The guy who made ISIS-Dildo Flag tells CNN where they can stick their report


Click the link in this post to see the video at MoJo

Anyone near the internet last Saturday was treated to one of most glorious cable news gaffes in recent memory. CNN thought it had a stunner of a scoop: Gay pride was being infiltrated by Islamist terror!

CNN anchor Suzanne Malveaux crossed from the US studios to international assignment editor Lucy Pawle in London, who claimed to have spotted an ISIS banner amongst the rainbow-adorned floats at London’s annual LGBT pride parade. A glorious exclusive!…Peter Bergen, the network’s national security analyst, was even called in for his sober assessment.

The only problem? The banner Pawle spotted was a satirical flag adorned not with ISIS’s logo in Arabic, but with butt-plugs and dildos.

…Why did Paul Coombs—a self-described “collagist” and “multi-media dildo obsessive”—make the flag? “Medieval ideologies and barbarism were being spread and recorded through that most modern of expressions, social media, with that flag ever-present,” he writes in something of an artistic mission statement. “It has become a potent symbol of brutality, fear and sexual oppression. If I wanted to try and stimulate a dialogue about the ridiculousness of this ideology, the flag was key.”

“The Pride festival is a pure celebration of the finest aspects of humanity: of tolerance, togetherness, acceptance and liberation, the polar opposite of what Isis stands for,” he continues. “If there was anywhere where my flag had a voice, it was there.”

Coombs also writes, “CNN correspondent Lucy Pawle described my flag as a ‘very bad mimicry’ but the only bad mimicry I could see was CNN’s impression of a reputable news organization. What does this say about every other report that they broadcast? And why have they not mentioned it since?”

Like most of the mediocre poseurs in the news-as-entertainment racket, CNN hates to admit publicly when they’ve screwed up. Truth doesn’t matter. Integrity is a foreign concept. Reality might interfere with their dreams of being world-leaders in distributing profitable claptrap.

Donald Trump – you’re fired! Sincerely, NBC


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NBC is ending its business relationship with Donald Trump over his recent comments about Mexican immigrants.

“At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values,” NBC said in a statement. “Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

The network will no longer air the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants that were part of a joint venture with Trump, the statement added. Its relationship with “Celebrity Apprentice” will continue, as Trump ceased his involvement with the reality show during his presidential bid…

Univison previously announced that it would cease its relationship with the Miss Universe Organization over the comments. Trump has said he will sue that network for breach of contract and defamation.

Trump responded to the news after an appearance in Chicago, telling reporters: blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!

No need to repeat crap lies from a reactionary clown show like Donald Trump. His deceit, foolishness, lifelong dedication to self-aggrandizement and bigoted causes is well-enough known.

The Republican Party deserves him. My only hope is that his billion$ buy him a candidacy.

500K Chinese visitors expected to visit Yellowstone, this year

There are a lot of places to get visitor information about Jackson Hole and the greater Yellowstone region — unless you’re looking for one printed in Mandarin Chinese.

Then the guide you’re looking for is Escape.

The glossy mag hit stands and the Internet about a week ago — with 15,000 in the communities around Yellowstone National Park, 15,000 in China and 420,000 digital copies for all Chinese citizens who have applied to renew travel visas.

The total nearly matches the number of Chinese nationals that Yellowstone expects to see this summer.

“That’s an increase from 300-odd-thousand last year,” said Brian Riley, publisher of Escape. “That’s a huge increase.”…

The former investment banker visited Japan as an exchange student at the age of 14 — “I know Japanese like the back of my hand,” he said — and he ran a division of a bank in Singapore for about 15 years. For the past 15 or 16 years he has continued to travel regularly to China and other Asian countries.

“When I retired from [banking] I moved to Jackson,” he said. “I’ve been constantly looking for something that uses my business and entrepreneurial background.”

When he began to see more and more Chinese tourists coming to Jackson Hole, and began to hear that the upward trend in visitation was predicted to continue, he found what he was looking for…

A well-circulated statistic has the typical Chinese tourist spending $6,000 on a visit to America.

“Assuming they spend a lot on airfare and other visits, even if it’s just one-third [of] that, that’s $1 billion spent in Yellowstone,” he said…

And while these tourists may look average in their rental cars and Western clothes, chances are that they are wealthy.

“They own their own factories,” Riley said. “They are not factory workers or store employees. They are big business owners,” and they want to leave some of their money behind as they travel.

Too many local American communities are hypocrites – like our government – when it comes to putting real business interests on the line. The Feds blather about the shortage of Chinese investment in American companies. Then, Congress, the State Department or the White House rolls out some jingoistic rant when actual offers are made to buy American companies or start up a branch of a Chinese business.

Local yokels whine about shortages of tourists, the small amount of foreign direct investment in their state or city economy. Followed up by fear and trembling press conferences, Tea Party rallies, lifetime fools whining about the dangers of foreign money entering the economy.

If this nation spent as much time entertaining real investment from China in the talent and experience we have to offer – as we spend whining in fear – we’d probably be a year or two closer to climbing back to cyclic normal from the Great Recession.

And only one person in Jackson Hole got around to producing a local guide in Mandarin.

Anesthesiologist trash-talks sedated patient — $500K worth!

colonoscopy

Sitting in his surgical gown inside a large medical suite in Reston, Va., a Vienna man prepared for his colonoscopy by pressing record on his smartphone, to capture the instructions his doctor would give him after the procedure.

But as soon as he pressed play on his way home, he was shocked out of his anesthesia-induced stupor: He found that he had recorded the entire examination and that the surgical team had mocked and insulted him as soon as he drifted off to sleep.

In addition to their vicious commentary, the doctors discussed avoiding the man after the colonoscopy, instructing an assistant to lie to him, and then placed a false diagnosis on his chart…

There was much more. So the man sued the two doctors and their practices for defamation and medical malpractice and, last week, after a three-day trial, a Fairfax County jury ordered the anesthesiologist and her practice to pay him $500,000…

The jury awarded the man $100,000 for defamation — $50,000 each for the comments about the man having syphilis and tuberculosis — and $200,000 for medical malpractice, as well as the $200,000 in punitive damages. Though the remarks by Ingham and Shah perhaps did not leave the operating room in Reston, experts in libel and slander said defamation does not have to be widely published, merely said by one party to another and understood by the second party to be fact, when it is not…

Because he was going to be fully anesthetized, the man decided to turn on his cellphone’s audio recorder before the procedure so it would capture the doctor’s post-operation instructions, the suit states. But the man’s phone, in his pants, was placed beneath him under the operating table and inadvertently recorded the audio of the entire procedure, court records show. The doctors’ attorneys argued that the recording was illegal, but the man’s attorneys noted that Virginia is a “one-party consent” state, meaning that only one person involved in a conversation need agree to the recording.

The recording captured Ingham mocking the amount of anesthetic needed to sedate the man, the lawsuit states…”…The discussion soon turned to the rash on the man’s penis, followed by…comments implying that the man had syphilis or tuberculosis. The doctors then discussed “misleading and avoiding” the man after he awoke

Ingham then mocked the man for attending Mary Washington College, once an all-women’s school, and wondered aloud whether her patient was gay, the suit states. Then the anesthesiologist said, “I’m going to mark ‘hemorrhoids’ even though we don’t see them and probably won’t,” and did write a diagnosis of hemorrhoids on the man’s chart, which the lawsuit said was a falsification of medical records.

After declaring the patient a “big wimp,” Ingham reportedly said: “People are into their medical problems. They need to have medical problems.”

Stupid 101. Testimony included expert opinion that anesthesiologists should be aware that any patient might not be in a deep sleep and might recall hearing silly, irrelevant remarks. Catching the whole procedure as an audio recording was a plus that locked everything up for the lawsuit.

If you feel like RTFA, some of the recordings are available. :)

Thanks, Honeyman

Americans tired of explaining things to idjits


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Many Americans are tired of explaining things to idiots, particularly when the things in question are so painfully obvious, a new poll indicates.

According to the poll, conducted by the University of Minnesota’s Opinion Research Institute, while millions have been vexed for some time by their failure to explain incredibly basic information to dolts, that frustration has now reached a breaking point.

Of the many obvious things that people are sick and tired of trying to get through the skulls of stupid people, the fact that climate change will cause catastrophic habitat destruction and devastating extinctions tops the list, with a majority saying that they will no longer bother trying to explain this to cretins.

Coming in a close second, statistical proof that gun control has reduced gun deaths in countries around the world is something that a significant number of those polled have given up attempting to break down for morons.

Finally, a majority said that trying to make idiots understand why a flag that symbolizes bigotry and hatred has no business flying over a state capitol only makes the person attempting to explain this want to put his or her fist through a wall.

In a result that suggests a dismal future for the practice of explaining things to idiots, an overwhelming number of those polled said that they were considering abandoning such attempts altogether, with a broad majority agreeing with the statement, “This country is exhausting.”

The Borowitz Report nails it, once again. Though I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting to overcome several of the most significant stupidities in American culture I admit that retirement from work a number of years ago – combined with the Web offering avenues for activism that don’t involve getting into my pickup truck and driving to town – opened the door to a life of being a proper hermit.

Now that my wife has achieved early retirement, we get to be hermits together. Which suits both of us. I can holler at the idjits on television. Which I can turn off. I can harangue the nation via my personal blog. Which I can turn off.

We go for walks with Sheila the dog.

Court rules “gay conversion therapy” nothing more than consumer fraud

A New Jersey group that claimed it could “cure” gay people and make them straight has been ordered to pay $72,400 in damages to its former clients, after being found by a jury to have broken the state’s consumer fraud protection law.

A jury of seven men and women took about three hours to reach what is being hailed as a landmark civil-rights verdict on Thursday against the founders of Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (Jonah), a group that said it had provided “gay conversion therapy” to clients largely from the Jewish faith.

The group was sued by three former clients and two mothers of ex-clients, who collectively told the court in Jersey City that they had suffered great psychological damage as well as considerable financial loss as a result of the fraudulent program.

The lawsuit, launched by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is believed to have been the first in the US to use consumer protection laws to challenge the controversial practice. Most of the major professional bodies including the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association have long denounced the treatment, and many states have also moved to restrict its practice. The White House supports a ban…

David Dinielli, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s deputy legal director…said…“Conversion therapy and homophobia are based on the same central lie – that gay people are broken and need to be fixed,” he said. “Conversion therapists, including the defendants in this case, sell fake cures that don’t work and can seriously harm the unsuspecting people who fall into this trap.”

Theocratic mumbo-jumbo has a “cure” rate roughly akin to any other placebo based on superstition. That someone might convince themselves to behave to a societal norm doesn’t have a damned thing to do with altering behavior that’s part of the genetic chemistry set you were handed on birth.

Nice to see a brilliant legal response like this winning the start of what I hope will be a long string of victories.