Trump doesn’t give a rat’s ass worth of concern about healthcare

By Simon F. Haeder

The Trump administration recently released its budget blueprint for the 2021 fiscal year, the first steps in the complex budgetary process…

However, budget drafts by presidential administrations are not meaningless pages of paper. They are important policy documents highlighting goals, priorities and visions for the future of the country.

As a health policy expert, I find the vision brought forward by the Trump administration deeply concerning. Cuts to virtually all important health-related programs bode ill for nations future. To make things worse, ancillary programs that are crucial for good health are also on the chopping block. To be sure, most of the proposed damage will find it hard to pass muster with Congress. Yet given the nation’s ever-growing debt Congress may soon be amenable to rolling back the nation’s health safety net…

To no one’s surprise, some of the biggest cuts in the proposed budget focus on health care programs. The budget document uses a number of terms to disguise its true intentions. Yet a closer look indicates that terms like “rightsizing government,” “advancing the President’s health reform vision,” “modernizing Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” and “reforming welfare programs” all come down to the same end result: cuts to the safety net.

One of the main targets remains the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. In 2017, after several failed attempts to repeal and replace the ACA, the Trump administration has scaled back its open hostility. Instead of asking directly to repeal the ACA, this year’s budget proposal calls for initiatives to “advance the president’s health reform vision,” by cutting more than half a trillion dollars from the budget.

First off, RTFA. The point of posting the opening bits and pieces articles I found relevant to healthful and [more or less] sane living is to give you an idea of the content I found useful. You may not. Your choice.

Second, time to mention this comes from one of my favorite new sources, The Conversation. A newsletter that addresses damned near everything that tempts intellectual curiosity.

Someday, a Medical Machine Will Smell Whether You’re Sick – or Not

Click to enlargeViktor Koen

❝ Blindfolded, would you know the smell of your mom, a lover or a co-worker? Not the smells of their colognes or perfumes, not of the laundry detergents they use — the smells of them?

Each of us has a unique “odorprint” made up of thousands of organic compounds. These molecules offer a whiff of who we are, revealing age, genetics, lifestyle, hometown — even metabolic processes that underlie our health…

❝ …Not every physician’s nose is a precision instrument, and dogs, while adept at sniffing out cancer, get distracted. So researchers have been trying for decades to figure out how to build an inexpensive odor sensor for quick, reliable and noninvasive diagnoses.

The field finally seems on the cusp of succeeding.

❝ “You’re seeing a convergence of technology now, so we can actually run large-scale clinical studies to get the data to prove odor analysis has real utility,” said Billy Boyle, co-founder and president of operations at Owlstone, a manufacturer of chemical sensors in Cambridge, England.

❝ Mr. Boyle, an electronics engineer, formed the company with two friends in 2004 to develop sensors to detect chemical weapons and explosives for customers, including the United States government. But when Mr. Boyle’s girlfriend and eventual wife, Kate Gross, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2012, his focus shifted to medical sensors, with an emphasis on cancer detection.

Ms. Gross died at the end of 2014. That she might still be alive if her cancer had been detected earlier, Mr. Boyle said, continues to be a “big motivator.”

The shame is that our US government – supposed to be part support of our family and lives – never seems to have that concern for our health and care anymore. Yes, we got Obamacare for a little while. Shortsighted and convinced our insurance and pharmaceutical giants need as much support as individuals and families, that endeavor is currently being short-circuited by mean spirited politicians who care even less than the capitalist barons or Dark Ages priests they pimp for.

❝ Owlstone has raised $23.5 million to put its odor analysis technology into the hands of clinicians. Moreover, Britain’s National Health Service is funding a 3,000-subject clinical trial to test Owlstone’s sensor to diagnose lung cancer…

The company also is conducting a 1,400-subject trial, in collaboration with the University of Warwick, to detect colon cancer from urine samples, and is exploring whether its chips can help determine the best drugs for asthma patients by sorting through molecules in their breath.

RTFA for more examples, more individuals and firms doing good work, useful studies constructed to lead to healthier lives. Good for them.

Shame on those we put into office at all levels with the same sort of mandate – conveniently forgotten when they take their seat in power.

Obamacare Helped Cut Personal Bankruptcies in Half — Think the Republican Congress Cares?

❝ As legislators and the executive branch renew their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act…they might want to keep in mind a little-known financial consequence of the ACA: Since its adoption, far fewer Americans have taken the extreme step of filing for personal bankruptcy.

Filings have dropped about 50 percent, from 1,536,799 in 2010 to 770,846 in 2016…Those years also represent the time frame when the ACA took effect. Although courts never ask people to declare why they’re filing, many bankruptcy and legal experts agree that medical bills had been a leading cause of personal bankruptcy before public healthcare coverage expanded under the ACA. Unlike other causes of debt, medical bills are often unexpected, involuntary, and large…

Click to enlarge

❝ The many experts we interviewed also pointed to two other contributing factors: an improving economy and changes to bankruptcy laws in 2005 that made it more difficult and costly to file [another present from Congressional Republicans]. However, they almost all agreed that expanded health coverage played a major role in the marked, recent decline…

It’s not enough that the majority of Americans have a continuing, rising opinion of the ACA. It’s not enough that Trump voters stand to lose more than most if Congressional Republicans destroy this advance in healthcare. We already know the Tea Party dragoons and the so-called moderate leadership of Republicans inside the Washington Beltway really don’t give a damn about working class Americans, working class families. Their lifelong allegiance is solely to that fraction of 1% that actually owns our economy and its wealth.

Have a Republican Senator or Congress-critter? Call ’em up and ask what do they think about the effect Obamacare has had on personal bankruptcy? Enjoy the crap you will be fed/emailed/snail-mailed trying to make the data disappear. Fake news exists to protect incompetent politicians. Ignoring basic, solid data is just another part of their religion.

Oh, and RTFA for all the details you can stick in their ear.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Cancer survivors, patient advocates, speak out in defense of Obamacare

❝ With continuing attempts in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act…a panel of experts and patient advocates at the American Association for Cancer Research’s annual meeting here discussed how changes would affect cancer patients and survivors.

“I don’t know if I’d be alive today without coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” said Chiara D’Agostino, a 45-year-old from Montclair, N.J., with triple negative, stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She said she could not have afforded medical insurance without the ACA.

“And I’m incredibly anxious that my healthcare insurance can be pulled out from under me.”

❝ She was joined on the panel by three-time breast cancer survivor Diana Chingos of Los Angeles, who related how she could not switch health plans prior to the ACA, as well as moderator Gilbert S. Omenn, MD, PhD, of University of Michigan, and Ernest Hawk, MD, MPH, of University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Omenn…noted that access to comprehensive health insurance is vital for all Americans, especially the 1.7 million who were diagnosed with cancer in 2016, and the estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States today…

❝ “About 3% of healthcare spending in the U.S. is for prevention and public health, and 75% of healthcare costs are related to preventable conditions,” said Hawk, noting that one-third to one-half of cancer deaths are preventable in western populations, and that the ACA has provisions for covering clinical preventive services…

❝ Chingos, a 23-year breast cancer survivor, said that when she left the corporate world to freelance years ago, she hadn’t expected to be diagnosed with cancer at age 30.

“I found that I was married to my health insurance policy,” she said, since she couldn’t switch coverage because of her pre-existing condition…

To her, she said, “Repeal and replace are words that are not compatible with a cancer diagnosis.”

Too bad so many of our elected officials are missing a heart.