Access to birth control pills easier in 102 countries – outside the U.S.

On World Contraception Day, let’s reflect on the fact that Americans still need to see their doctor to get birth control.


Click to enlargeAP/Charles Dharapak

❝ In this March 25, 2015, file photo, Margot Riphagen, of New Orleans, wears a birth control pills costume as she protests in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, as the court heard oral arguments in the challenges of President Barack Obama’s health care law requirement that businesses provide their female employees with health insurance that includes access to contraceptives.

Yup. This is about as advanced and up-to-date as Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats think our healthcare should get. Keep access control in the pockets of the medical-industrial complex.

Fentanyl Passes Heroin as Leading Cause of U.S. Drug Deaths

Drug overdoses killed roughly 64,000 people in the United States last year, according to the first governmental account of nationwide drug deaths to cover all of 2016. It’s a staggering rise of more than 22 percent over the 52,404 drug deaths recorded the previous year — and even higher than The New York Times’s estimate in June, which was based on earlier preliminary data.

Drug overdoses are expected to remain the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, as synthetic opioids — primarily fentanyl and its analogues — continue to push the death count higher. Drug deaths involving fentanyl more than doubled from 2015 to 2016, accompanied by an upturn in deaths involving cocaine and methamphetamine. Together they add up to an epidemic of drug overdoses that is killing people at a faster rate than the H.I.V. epidemic at its peak…

The explosion in fentanyl deaths and the persistence of widespread opioid addiction have swamped local and state resources. Communities say their budgets are being strained by the additional needs — for increased police and medical care, for widespread naloxone distribution and for a stronger foster care system that can handle the swelling number of neglected or orphaned children.

It’s an epidemic hitting different parts of the country in different ways. People are accustomed to thinking of the opioid crisis as a rural white problem, with accounts of Appalachian despair and the plight of New England heroin addicts. But fentanyls are changing the equation: The death rate in Maryland last year outpaced that in both Kentucky and Maine.

Monthly provisional reporting looks like things are only getting worse. Too bad it doesn’t get through to a government more concerned with crushing expanded healthcare for Americans.

Americans Die Younger — Spend the Most on Health Care

❝ Typically, the more a developed country spends on health care, the longer its people live. The U.S., which spends the most on health care, bucks that trend. Compared to the 35 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which promotes policies to improve social and economic well-being, the U.S. life expectancy of 78.8 years ranks 27th. It has the fourth highest infant mortality rate in the OECD, the sixth highest maternal mortality rate and the ninth highest likelihood of dying at a younger age from a host of ailments, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

❝ The U.S. is the most obese country in the OECD, leads in drug-related deaths and ranks 33rd in prevalence of diabetes. Yet 88 percent of Americans say they are in good or very good health, according to OECD statistics. Only 35 percent of Japanese, who have the highest life expectancy in the OECD, regard themselves as healthy or very healthy.

❝ Unlike other countries in the OECD, the U.S. mostly relies on voluntary health insurance to fund health-care costs. Public health insurance, such as Medicare and Medicaid, accounts for 27 percent of coverage. By contrast, the 10 countries with the highest life expectancy depend on voluntary insurance for an average of less than 6 percent of their costs, and government spending for nearly half.

❝ One big reason U.S. health care costs are so high: pharmaceutical spending. The U.S. spends more per capita on prescription medicines and over-the-counter products than any other country in the OECD.

RTFA for beaucoup stats, details. I would add emphasis on the insurance profiteers who rip off Americans without the slightest peep from either Establishment party. Our governments manages SSA, Medicare and Medicaid with admin costs <3%. Corporate-run insurance says they need 14-24% to do the same job.

“Most Hated Man in America” Convicted of Securities Fraud

❝ Martin Shkreli, once dubbed “the most hated man in America,” is now a convicted felon.

Shkreli, notorious for raising the price of a potentially life-saving drug by 5,000 percent, was found guilty Friday of defrauding investors in two hedge funds and in Retrophin Inc., a pharmaceutical company he co-founded.

❝ He is now almost certain to go to prison. Shkreli faces as long as 20 years behind bars, although he’s likely to serve much less. U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto allowed him to return home and wished Shkreli well after the verdict was read. She said she would see him soon, though she hasn’t set a date for sentencing…

Shkreli was convicted of three of eight charges, including securities fraud. He was acquitted of fraud charges related to allegations that he looted Retrophin to pay off his hedge-fund investors. Sentencing guidelines take into consideration the size of losses, so the Retrophin allegations carried the potential for the most severe penalty.

❝ In the end, it was Shkreli’s lies to his investors that cost him his freedom, not his 2015 decision to jack up the price of an anti-parasitic drug. Prosecutors said Shkreli, 34, misled clients about the performance of his failing hedge funds, secretly used their money to start Retrophin, and then took $11 million from the drug-development company to repay them.

Shkreli played financial manipulation games almost as well as, say, a Congressman keeping his re-election fund after retiring. The operative word being “almost”. Plus, like like one of our politicians most notorious for his daily accumulation of lies, he never learned when to keep his mouth shut.

Ontario women get free access to abortion pill starting August 10th

❝ The Ontario government says it is giving women in the province more choice over their reproductive health by covering the cost of Mifegymiso, commonly referred to as an abortion pill, starting on Aug.10.

Mifegymiso, also known by the name RU-486, is a two-drug combination of mifepristone and misoprostol that can be used to terminate a pregnancy up to 49 days.

❝ It was approved in July 2015 after a lengthy study by Health Canada. It has slowly become available for distribution in Canada since then…

❝ The executive director for Planned Parenthood Toronto was also quoted in the announcement, applauding the government’s commitment.

In over 60 countries, for nearly 30 years, Mifegymiso has been a safe and accessible abortion option. Provincial funding for reliable medical abortion is the right decision,” said Sarah Hobbs-Blyth…

❝ New Brunswick and Alberta also cover Mifegymiso, and the Quebec government has said it plans to do so by this fall.

New Brunswick was first – in April. Province by Province, the nation of Canada lives up to their government’s promise for equal opportunity for Canadian women to run their own lives. One of these decades, I imagine the United States will figure out that democracy applies equally.

Depending on whether you have health insurance – and if this is covered – you pay as little as $0 in the United States – plus the cost of your insurance, of course. Can’t leave the poor insurance companies out of the transaction. You may also have to pay as much as $800. Reproductive rights are allowed by federal law. Congress hasn’t decided to protect them in all states.

GOP senators trust Paul Ryan as little as they trust Trump. Want written guarantee “skinny repeal” of Obamacare won’t become law!


Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Ron JohnsonAP

The Senate Republican healthcare process descended into disarray Thursday evening, as four GOP senators threatened to withhold support for a more moderate, “skinnier” attempt at repealing certain parts of the Affordable Care Act.

“I am not going to vote for the skinny bill if I’m not assured by the House there will be a conference where my idea and other ideas will be taken up so we can actually repeal Obamacare,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a press conference Thursday with Sens. John McCain, Ron Johnson, and Bill Cassidy.

Graham added: “I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done.”

The last-ditch, so-called skinny repeal effort would consist of a series of amendments would aim to repeal certain unpopular parts of the Affordable Care Act, including mandates to get health insurance.

At the end of the 20-hour debate period, if no bill has been picked up, the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would move on to the “skinny repeal” plan. If passed, it could lead to the House and Senate working together to compromise on one final bill in conference.

You’ll hear lots of rationales saying this is how a compromise will be worked out. The senators made it clear that compromise will include Democrats.

After the press conference, House Speaker Paul Ryan expressed a willingness to take the bill to conference.

“If moving forward requires a conference committee, that is something the House is willing to do,” he said.

The four GOP senators said they wanted assurances from House Republican leadership — including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — that they would not pass the bill, which Graham called a “fraud.”

The senators didn’t specify what kind of assurances they would request.

It’s like pornography. You’ll know it when you see it,” Graham said.

No one in the Senate is ready to take Ryan’s word. If Trump is impeached – and Senators working on that plan to include Pence in any criminal cover-up – Ryan gets to be President. He can taste it, already.

The Senators realize that, too. And BTW everyone expects ANY conference on this bill to fail. Requiring a do-over.

The so-called skinny repeal of Obamacare is the kinder, gentler version of Republican politics. It would only screw 16 million eople out of health insurance.

Trump signed a global death warrant for thousands of women

❝ Six months ago, one powerful white man in the White House, watched by seven more, signed a piece of paper that will prevent millions of women around the world from deciding what they can and can’t do with their own bodies.

In that moment, on his very first Monday morning in office, Donald Trump effectively signed the death warrants of thousands of women. He reversed global progress on contraception, family planning, unsustainable population growth and reproductive rights. His executive order even has implications for the battle against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

❝ Rarely can the presidential pen have been flourished to such devastating effect. The policy it reintroduced will shut health clinics in Uganda and HIV programmes in Mozambique; it will compel women from Nepal to Namibia to seek out deadly back-street abortions…

“Girls are kicked out of school if they get pregnant. They are very often forced to marry the fathers. Very often they have to live in their in-laws’ house, where they have to do unpaid labour. It is a violation of women’s rights. We need to see this as a gender issue and very much as a power issue.”

Tewodros Melesse, director general of the the International Planned Parenthood Federation…said the US move “seeks to restrict the rights of millions of women. It asks us as a health provider, to stop providing services which are entirely legal in countries through our members – where some of the most poorest women, depend on them.

RTFA. Congressional Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats, don’t care. As usual.