Snooze, you lose!

❝ Last March, Tony Schmidt discovered something unsettling about the machine that helps him breathe at night. Without his knowledge, it was spying on him…

Schmidt, 59, has sleep apnea, a disorder that causes worrisome breaks in his breathing at night. Like millions of people, he relies on a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine that streams warm air into his nose while he sleeps, keeping his airway open. Without it, Schmidt would wake up hundreds of times a night; then, during the day, he’d nod off at work, sometimes while driving and even as he sat on the toilet…

❝ As many CPAP users discover, the life-altering device comes with caveats: Health insurance companies are often tracking whether patients use them. If they aren’t, the insurers might not cover the machines or the supplies that go with them…

❝ The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates about 22 million Americans have sleep apnea, although it’s often not diagnosed. The number of people seeking treatment has grown along with awareness of the disorder. It’s a potentially serious disorder that left untreated can lead to risks for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and cognitive disorders. CPAP is one of the only treatments that works for many patients.

I consider myself a Poster Child for CPAP. After a decade-and-a-half, my health response has been positive enough that my doc leaves me in control of my own machine settings. Current machine is ResMed; but, removable memory card ONLY. I think I’ll be eligible via Medicare for a break on a new machine in 2020 and I’ll be certain to check specs for snooping!

The Justice Department Abandons the Law, the Constitution

❝ A continuing challenge of covering the three-ring circus that is the Trump administration is not letting the outrageous antics and statements of the president and his allies distract attention from the outrageous policies being implemented on his watch.

One example, unfolding right now in the midst of the president’s various rhetorical wars — with our G-7 partners, with the special counsel, with his own attorney general — is the administration’s remarkable move not to defend the constitutionality of key parts of the Affordable Care Act…

This is crazy. Nobody imagined — not members of Congress who happily gutted the individual mandate, not President Trump in signing the new law, not members of the public who wanted to learn about what the tax change meant for them — that the consequence was also to eviscerate perhaps the most popular part of the health care law, the protection for those with pre-existing conditions.

You might have thought if that was going to happen, it would have come up at some point in the public debate. You might have thought it would receive some notice from the president, who in his first address to a joint session of Congress proclaimed that it was his priority to “ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage,” and who signed the tax law without any peep about this provision’s supposed unconstitutionality.

I wouldn’t say “crazy” and I’m not surprised. I expect nothing less than absolute allegiance to the most corrupt ideology of America’s class rulers. In this instance, Trumps/Sessions lifetime of butt-kissing of the whole medical-industrial complex.

From insurance companies to Big Pharma, there is no masquerade of new evidence or revelation. The corruption of these two politicians has always been as self-evident as their racism, snobbery, sexual hangups. You pick out something disgusting and backwards about American politics there’s a good chance they’re standing in line for a hug.

Every “New” GOP Health Proposal Would Mean Less Money for States


Graham-Cassidy Bill would have stolen $205 billion from states over 6 years

❝ U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, was joined by other GOP senators as he talked to reporters this week. The bill authored by Graham and Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy would have shifted health policy decisions to the states while sending them much less federal money…

❝ “Under our approach, the money and power in Washington is given to state officials who will be accountable at the ballot box and therefore more accessible than any Washington bureaucrat,” Republican U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana said after their Graham-Cassidy bill died this week.

But authority is less enticing when it’s accompanied by the cuts in federal dollars that the proposals have entailed, said Mari Cantwell, chief deputy director of the California Department of Health Care Services and director of the state’s Medicaid agency. Under Graham-Cassidy, California would have lost $74 billion between 2020 and 2026.

Nationally the cuts would have reduced federal health funding to the states by $205 billion in that period of time, according to an analysis by Avalere Health, a health policy research company…

❝ Graham and Cassidy pledged to try again, saying that replacing the Affordable Care Act, often known as Obamacare, is inevitable. “It’s only a question of when…”

Teresa Miller, acting secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services, said that statements like that from Republican leaders are the opposite of reassuring. “The problem we need to address is stabilizing the insurance market and the longer this discussion about repealing and replacing goes on, the longer it’s going to take to stabilize.”

This is just the latest attempt at Republicans dragging their feet in response to the growth of public support for universal healthcare through the Obama years. Rationales duel with outright lies for supremacy in Republican agitprop. No matter. Lies always become clear to a voting public that may be slow to respond – but, you can’t hide this crap forever.

RTFA for as many details as you can stand.

Insurance companies drive physicians crazy – nearly half now prefer upgrading Obamacare to single-payer

❝ There are many reasons people put off going to the doctor. One of the big reasons is cost — a huge arc in the current debate about whether and how to repeal and replace Obamacare, which sought to increase the number of Americans with quality health insurance. Another is access, or finding a doctor who takes your insurance and has appointment openings. But whatever the reasons, the disconnect means that many people choose to become patients only in extreme circumstances and are then at the mercy of the system.

❝ “It really debases and demeans and takes away your dignity to be shuffled around when you know you have something wrong with you,” said Dr. Paredes, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Lakeland, Fla., who practiced in a variety of healthcare settings before retiring two and a half years ago. “I think healthcare is something that should be available to everyone from cradle to grave.”

That’s one of the main reasons nearly half of the 500 doctors who responded to a February LinkedIn survey said they would support a single-payer healthcare system, or Medicare-like coverage for everyone, not just the elderly, instead of the current patchwork model of insurance coverage.

Aside from the crap lies offered by Congressional Republicans…

❝ …For many physicians, the issue comes down to efficiency. In their responses, they cited the administrative hassle of working with multiple insurance companies, each with its own rules and billing procedures. And they pointed to some of the less visible costs, like patients who bounce from one healthcare provider to another as their health plans change.

A total of 48% of physicians said they would be in favor of single-payer healthcare, while 32% were opposed and 21% said they didn’t know.

❝ And even though doctors acknowledged that they might take a financial hit under a single-payer system, many respondents said it would be more than mitigated by getting out of the collection business. In other words, even if they earned less, there would be more patient care and less of the aggravation that comes with negotiating with and tracking down payment from multiple insurance companies.

RTFA for pretty middle-of-the-road analysis. For me, the truth has always been cost. Social Security and Medicare each are national insurance programs with premiums paid by the insured and, generally.their employers. There’s an artificial cap allowing high earners to stop paying the SSA tax at just over $100K income. Still, both of these systems are run with administrative costs less than 3%. And they work well. Helluva lot better than the motley arrangement Obamacare relies on.

Our adorable insurance companies declare their administrative costs run 14-25% and jack up all their rates accordingly. Couple that with a Congress that refuses civilians the same right the military has to negotiate fixed prices for prescriptive drugs – and we get screwed twice by the existing system. That’s the system Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats want to make more expensive and less safe for the insured.

Humbug!

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz


Screwups by the Medical-Industrial Complex are the 3rd biggest cause of death in America

med:ind complex

Medical errors kill more people than car crashes or new disease outbreaks. They kill more people annually than breast cancer, AIDS, plane crashes, or drug overdoses. A new study estimates that they are the third leading cause of death in the United States, causing a quarter-million fatalities in 2013 alone.

Patient safety researchers Marty Makary and Michael Daniel published new data in the British Medical Journal Tuesday suggesting that preventable medical errors resulted in 251,454 deaths in 2013. If that estimate is correct, the only bigger causes of death are heart disease and cancer.

The researchers worry, however, that their number is actually an underestimate — that medical harm kills even more patients than we’re currently able to count

When a patient dies as a result of medical harm, there’s no regulator that has to get notified — the hospital doesn’t send off paperwork about the error that occurred. Sometimes the information gets jotted down in the patient’s medical record, but even that is not a certainty.

This makes estimating the frequency of medical harm very difficult — and researchers generally believe that their figures underestimate the prevalence of harm. Their study uses data from four recent studies, all of which relied on medical records to estimate fatalities caused by medical errors. So the authors know that their estimate of fatalities misses any errors that weren’t captured in the medical record…

Still, they argue that there is value to putting out the best number they can find, as it can draw attention to the potential magnitude of a rarely discussed problem in health care…

Some errors in medicine are stunningly bad….They are terrible and easy to recognize. But they aren’t what cause the most harm in American health care. It’s the less stunning, more quotidian mistakes that are the biggest killers. Take, for example, bed sores.

Bed sores are one of the more mundane complications of modern medicine. They’re called “pressure ulcers” in medical jargon, and are the open wounds that patients develop when they have not moved for long periods of time. The skin literally cracks under the pressure of the body weighing down on it.

A 2006 government survey found that more than half a million Americans are hospitalized annually for bed sores that are the result of other care they have received. And 58,000 of those patients die in the hospital during that admission.

Does this mean that pressure ulcers killed all those patients? No — these are typically frail, elderly patients battling other conditions ranging from pneumonia to dementia. But did bed sores mean some of these patients died who otherwise wouldn’t have? Experts say that’s almost certainly the case.

Like Congressional politics or the average conservative family values agenda – American health care is steadily devolving back towards the 19th Century. The ranks of sub-par management coupled with industrial-level greed is about as dangerous to the public good as populist politics shepherded by a media establishment with no backbone and fewer standards.

Two ways Republicans screwed people who need healthcare – and they’re still at it

expanded medicaid

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that a cornerstone of the Affordable Care Act — its expansion of Medicaid to low-income people around the country — must be optional for states. But what if it had ruled differently?

More than three million people, many of them across the South, would now have health insurance through Medicaid, according to an Upshot analysis of data from Enroll America and Civis Analytics. The uninsured rate would be two percentage points lower.

Today, the odds of having health insurance are much lower for people living in Tennessee than in neighboring Kentucky, for example, and lower in Texas than in Arkansas. Sharp differences are seen outside the South, too. Maine, which didn’t expand Medicaid, has many more residents without insurance than neighboring New Hampshire. In a hypothetical world with a different Supreme Court ruling, those differences would be smoothed out.

And that was the idea behind the Affordable Care Act. Before the law passed in 2010, the country had a highly regional approach to health policy and widely disparate results in both health insurance status and measures of public health. One of the main goals of the law was to provide some national standards and reduce those inequities by using federal dollars to buy coverage for low-income people in every state.

That’s the Republicans as bitter as they were a few days ago. The conservative fops on SCOTUS, the guardians of all that reactionary politics can provide to screw working people — are taking another shot at the ACA:

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