Bad Day at Black Rock

Below is a guest post by Raynor James, an eastern North Carolina resident who has followed the debate on North Carolina House Bill 184 very closely:

Tuesday, April 3rd was a sad day in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Let me tell you about it. Dale Folwell is North Carolina’s Treasurer. He’s a very popular fellow for all the right reasons. He did a good job when he served in the North Carolina General Assembly. He got North Carolina’s unemployment insurance out of debt to the Federal Government when he served in Governor McCrory’s administration, an accomplishment that continues to save North Carolina’s employers significant sums annually. He’s known as a problem solver.

North Carolina’s State Health Plan (which pays for medical expenses of current and retired state employees) is seriously underfunded and is projected to be bankrupt by the year 2023.When Dale Folwell was elected Treasurer, many who voted for him expected him to solve the Plan’s problems as its administration was in the Treasurer’s portfolio.

Enter HB-184 which if implemented will tie the Treasurer’s hands and not allow corrective action to be taken while a committee studies the situation.

HB-184 was debated on the floor of the House April 3rd. Let’s look in on how some conservative House members tried to kill the bill.

First, Representative Michael Speciale offered two amendments to the bill. Representative Speciale’s first amendment would give the Treasurer a vote on the study committee and would make it impossible to expand the size of the committee (something that is sometimes done when the “powers that be”don’t like the direction a committee seems to be taking).

That amendment passed by a vote of 106 to 5.

Representative Speciale’s second amendment would remove Section 2 from the bill. Section 2 requires that Blue Cross-Blue Shield continue to be used during the study period.

It also prevents the Treasurer from switching the Plan to using referenced based pricing for medical services to the Plan during the study period.That amendment failed by a vote of 88 to 23.

During debate on HB-184 itself, Representative Larry Pittman cited a memo from the Plan’s Board of Trustees that projects that the plan will be out of money in 2023, and said that we can’t wait on a two year study. He talked about how hospital groups were groaning about how burdensome the Treasurer’s planed payment changes would be on them [tie pricing of medical services to 172% of the average Medicare pays for the same service], and pointed out how well funded many hospitals are. In support of his assertion, Representative Pittman mentioned that the hospital at East Carolina has given $10 million dollars to fund a stadium.

Representative Pittman asked that members not pass the bill and added that when Treasurer Folwell had requested info from the hospital groups, they had sent him the schedules he asked for with page after page blacked out. “They might as well have slapped him in the face and spit on him,” Representative Pittman said.

He continued by saying passage of the bill would hurt both members of the Plan and taxpayers who pay the freight and pointed out that members of the Plan are also taxpayers, so they get hit two ways.

He stated that Dale Folwell is “competent” and “honest” and renewed his request by saying, “Defeat this bill.” Representative Michael Speciale said, “We’re told that if we don’t pass this bill, the sky will fall; we’ll lose our rural hospitals.” He went on to say that they’d heard the same thing when he was trying to get rid of the CON [Certificate of Need] laws [which did not pass] and shortly thereafter they closed one of the hospitals in my district.”

“I hear fake news ads” [on the topic of rural hospitals closing if HB-184 doesn’t pass] when I drive in my district.”

Representative Speciale went on to say that Dale Folwell got the people together who are opposing him [mainly large hospital groups] and asked how much waste, fraud, and abuse there is in the system. The answers they give him ran from 12% to 25%, so he took a middle number and asked them to figure out how they could reduce costs by 15% and said that they needed to get together again as soon as that was done.

After that meeting, Treasurer Folwell tried to set follow up meetings, and time after time he was stonewalled.

Representative Speciale continued, “Now we’re faced with $33 to $36 billion dollars in unfunded liabilities. If we don’t allow him to cut costs, how are we going to cut costs because it’ll be on us!”

“Dale Folwell has increased what would be going into rural hospitals. He’s compromised, but they won’t budge an inch.If we do not pass this bill, then the hospital lobby will sit down and talk to him. Let the state Treasurer do what he was elected to do. Throw the politics aside and vote NO!

Representative Keith Kidwell said, “For the last 10 years, health care costs have gone up and up. We asked Treasurer Folwell to handle it. Let’s not bobble him,or we’ll be faced with taking $235 million to $509 million [dollars] from the general fund to deal with the problem AND $1.1 billion will be added to the unfunded liability.”

“HB-184 will cost us a ton of money!” “Cut through partisanship and look at the numbers! We HAVE to block this bill!’

In spite of those eloquent pleas and others, too, HB-184 passed 75 to 36, and it will now be sent to the North Carolina Senate where it is hoped that wiser voices will prevail.

If you’d like to hear the whole debate, you can go to the NC General Assembly website at which NC House sessions are archived.

Thank you, Raynor. This is a picture of what is going on in the North Carolina state legislature. President Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex. What we see here is the result of intense lobbying by the healthcare-industrial complex. We need to stop this bill.

We Need To Re-evaluate Vaccine Requirements

There have been stories in recent years that childhood vaccines may cause autism. I have no idea whether or not this is true. My children were routinely vaccinated in the 1970’s with no ill effects, but I have no idea if today’s vaccines are the same as the ones given to my children. However, as more and more people decide to decline vaccinations for their children because of fear of autism, we need to look at the consequences of that decision (for all of us).

The New York Post posted an article today about measles in America.

The New York Post reports:

America has charted 387 cases of measles across 15 states since the beginning of the year — the second-highest number of reported infections since the disease was declared “eliminated” in 2000.

The number was topped only once before, in 2014, when 667 cases were reported by the same date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s graph of year-over-year cases — updated every Monday — shows that 2019 passed last year in terms of outbreaks as of March 28. There were 372 cases confirmed by this time in 2018.

The states that have reported cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Outbreaks — defined as three or more cases — are ongoing in California (Santa Cruz and Butte County), New Jersey, New York (Rockland County and New York City) and Washington, according to the CDC.

Rockland County has banned unvaccinated minors from public spaces. The recurrence of measles in America is the result of two things–parents who refuse to vaccinate their children and travelers who brought the disease to America from foreign countries such as Israel, Ukraine and the Philippines, which currently have measles outbreaks.

We need to find a way to make the vaccine safer (divided into more doses?) to assure parents that it is a good idea to vaccinate their children. This is a public health issue. The other aspect of this measles epidemic is that we need to make sure we control our borders to insure that immigrants are not bringing diseases into this country that have been eradicated. We need to question both legal and illegal immigrants about their health history.

Amazing News From Israel

The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that a group of Israeli scientists believe that they have found a cure for cancer. If their clinical tests prove what they believe, this is fantastic news.

The article reports:

“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer,” said Dan Aridor, of a new treatment being developed by his company, Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies Ltd. (AEBi), which was founded in 2000 in the ITEK incubator in the Weizmann Science Park. AEBi developed the SoAP platform, which provides functional leads to very difficult targets.

“Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of a few weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than most other treatments on the market,” Aridor said. “Our solution will be both generic and personal.”

…Aridor, chairman of the board of AEBi and CEO Dr. Ilan Morad, say their treatment, which they call MuTaTo (multi-target toxin) is essentially on the scale of a cancer antibiotic – a disruption technology of the highest order.

The potentially game-changing anti-cancer drug is based on SoAP technology, which belongs to the phage display group of technologies. It involves the introduction of DNA coding for a protein, such as an antibody, into a bacteriophage – a virus that infects bacteria. That protein is then displayed on the surface of the phage. Researchers can use these protein-displaying phages to screen for interactions with other proteins, DNA sequences and small molecules.

In 2018, a team of scientists won the Nobel Prize for their work on phage display in the directed evolution of new proteins – in particular, for the production of antibody therapeutics.

AEBi is doing something similar but with peptides, compounds of two or more amino acids linked in a chain. According to Morad, peptides have several advantages over antibodies, including that they are smaller, cheaper, and easier to produce and regulate.

The article concludes:

The MuTaTo cancer treatment will eventually be personalized. Each patient will provide a piece of his biopsy to the lab, which would then analyze it to know which receptors are overexpressed. The individual would then be administered exactly the molecule cocktail needed to cure his disease.
However, unlike in the case of AIDS, where patients must take the cocktail throughout their lives, in the case of MuTaTo, the cells would be killed, and the patient could likely stop treatment after only a few weeks.

The company is now writing patents on specific peptides, which will be a large bank of targeting toxin peptides wholly owned and hard to break, said Aridor.

Morad said that so far, the company has concluded its first exploratory mice experiment, which inhibited human cancer cell growth and had no effect at all on healthy mice cells, in addition to several in-vitro trials. AEBi is on the cusp of beginning a round of clinical trials which could be completed within a few years and would make the treatment available in specific cases.
Aridor added: “Our results are consistent and repeatable.”

Wow. Just wow.

When The Federal Government Gets Involved In Medicine

Townhall posted an article today about the lack of logic in the current move to put more restrictions on opioids but decrease restrictions on marijuana use.

The article reminds us that marijuana is very loosely regulated in some states:

For example, in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal, users can purchase up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks. This is enough to be stoned every day. Once you have a prescription, you can refill it for an entire year without going back to renew the prescription. It’s easy to get a prescription in most states that have legalized medical marijuana, just inform a doctor you have pain. And if you live in a state like California that has legalized recreational marijuana, there aren’t even any limits on how much you can buy (just how much you can have on hand).

Opioids are another story:

By October of this year, 33 states had passed laws limiting opioid prescriptions. They limit the supply a doctor may prescribe to seven days or less. This exponentially increases problems with timely refilling prescriptions. One chronic pain sufferer complained, “The insurance companies are lying to their own subscribers in the Prior Auth Dept, ignoring, transferring to dead lines, long appeals that go nowhere, on & on….” It also means more co-pays. Some states are now requiring doctors and pharmacists to take a course on opioids. 

Many states have limited the maximum dose as well. Federal opioid prescribing guidelines recommend doctors use caution in prescribing above 50 MME/day. But many patients need 90 MME/day or higher. In Arizona, patients are limited to 90 MME/day. There are exceptions for some types of illnesses — but not chronic pain. For those sufferers, they can only receive a higher dose if their doctor consults with a board-certified pain specialist. 

The article concludes:

The reality, according to the National Pain Report, is “America’s so-called ‘opioid epidemic’ is caused by street drugs (some of them diverted prescription drugs)  rather than by prescriptions made by doctors to chronic pain patients.” More people die from illegal opioids than prescription opioids. Opioid prescriptions were already decreasing before the crackdown started. In Arizona, prescriptions decreased every year since 2013, a 10 percent decrease total.  

And just because a few doctors overprescribed opioids does not mean everyone should be treated like a dangerous addict at risk of overdosing. One size does not fit all. Someone who has been taking a higher dosage of prescription opioids for years without incident should be allowed to continue.  

Over 11 percent of the population suffers from chronic pain. It is cruel and bad medical science to prevent this segment from the population from getting the only relief that works for many of them. The laws need to be changed to allow those legitimately suffering to access adequate amounts of prescription opioids, without risk to their doctor or pharmacist. It makes no sense as we’re relaxing the laws prohibiting marijuana.    

Marijuana has somehow achieved something of a protected status. At the same time we have all but eliminated any positive image of tobacco smoking from our culture, we are promoting the idea of legalizing marijuana all over the country. It truly defies logic.

When The Government Overrides The Free Market

On Wednesday The Wall Street Journal posted an article about the current controversy about the cost of an EpiPen. Anyone who understands free market economics has been scratching their head trying to figure out why there was no competition to manufacture this product (and thus a more reasonable price). Well, The Wall Street Journal article provides an explanation. For the moment, I am going to overlook the fact that the company involved made a large donation to the Clinton Foundation and that the person in charge of the company is the daughter of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin.

The article at The Wall Street Journal explains:

In a statement, the Democrat (Hillary Clinton) assailed the “outrageous” cost of EpiPen, an emergency treatment for allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis, and she demanded that drug maker Mylan “immediately reduce the price.” Federal and Senate investigations are pending into these spring-loaded syringes filled with epinephrine (adrenaline) used primarily by children with life-threatening sensitivities to food or insect stings.

Mylan has raised the price of EpiPen in semiannual 10% to 15% tranches so that a two-pack that cost about $100 in 2008 now runs $500 or more after insurance discounts and coupons. Outrage seems to be peaking now because more families are exposed to drug prices directly though insurance deductibles and co-pays, plus the political class has discovered another easy corporate villain.

Still, the steady Mylan rise is hard to read as anything other than inevitable when a billion-dollar market is cornered by one supplier. Epinephrine is a basic and super-cheap medicine, and the EpiPen auto-injector device has been around since the 1970s.

Thus EpiPen should be open to generic competition, which cuts prices dramatically for most other old medicines. Competitors have been trying for years to challenge Mylan’s EpiPen franchise with low-cost alternatives—only to become entangled in the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory afflatus.

Approving a generic copy that is biologically equivalent to a branded drug is simple, but the FDA maintains no clear and consistent principles for generic drug-delivery devices like auto injectors or asthma inhalers. How does a company prove that a generic device is the same as the original product if there are notional differences, even if the differences don’t matter to the end result? In this case, that means immediately injecting a kid in anaphylactic shock with epinephrine—which is not complex medical engineering.

But no company has been able to do so to the FDA’s satisfaction. Last year Sanofi withdrew an EpiPen rival called Auvi-Q that was introduced in 2013, after merely 26 cases in which the device malfunctioned and delivered an inaccurate dose. Though the recall was voluntary and the FDA process is not transparent, such extraordinary actions are never done without agency involvement. This suggests a regulatory motive other than patient safety.

The article concludes:

Mrs. Clinton claims the EpiPen price hikes show the need for price controls, and she says she’ll require drug makers to “prove that any additional costs are linked to additional patient benefits and better value.” Somebody in Congress should require the FDA to justify how its delays are advancing the same goals.

Price controls are not the answer–a government agency that cannot be corrupted by special interests is the answer. The FDA has been interfering with the free market, and the price of the EpiPen is exhibit A in the case against the FDA. I am all for safe drugs and clinical trials, but I am tired of federal agencies being used to pick winners and losers.

Numbers Don’t Lie

The numbers on ObamaCare are now starting to come out. They don’t look good. Power Line Blog posted an article yesterday about the latest statistics. National Public Radio collaborated with Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to survey Americans’ recent experience with health care.

Here are two graphs from the article:

ObamaCareStatisticsWhen you look at the numbers, ObamaCare is not a success.

At Least It Was British Money–Not American Money

On Wednesday, CBN News posted an article entitled, “Study Finds Poor Health Leads to Early Death.” Somehow I don’t think this is rocket science.

The article reports:

The finding comes from a British study that looked at more than million people over a 50-year period. Researchers warn the problems get worse the earlier those unhealthy lifestyles begin.

A 40-year-old man who has dealt with diabetes, heart attack, and/or stroke could lose 23 years from his life. Someone in their 60s who has dealt with two of those problems could lose 12 years.

The worst problems, such as diabetes and heart disease, are preventable largely by eating right and staying active.

I would call this an example of spending money to study the obvious. I can’t believe they spent 50 years and a lot of money to figure this out. In most cases, this is something your mother told you when you were little.

Upside Down Logic At Work

On Wednesday Bill Bennett and Christopher Beach posted an article at Politico about the legalization of marijuana. The article points out the contradiction of a liberal philosophy that wants to legalize marijuana while banning large sodas, sugary foods, trans fat, smoking tobacco, etc.

The article points out:

In his recent New Yorker interview, President Obama remarked, “I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.” But then he added, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” Of the legalization in Colorado and Washington—never mind the unresolved conflict between state and federal law—he said, “it’s important for it to go forward.”

Got that? The same president who signed into law a tough federal anti-cigarette smoking bill in 2009 now supports marijuana legalization.

The article concludes:

What explains this obvious paradox? Do these liberals think that marijuana is somehow less harmful than a Big Gulp soda or a bucket of fried chicken? It’s hard to believe that’s the case, given the vast amount of social data and medical science on the dangers of marijuana.

Marijuana is destructive, particularly when used by teenagers. Does the people who want to make it legal believe teenagers will not be able to get it and smoke it? That hasn’t worked real well with either cigarettes or alcohol. Most of us probably know a teenager who used pot and paid a price later on–either in his ability to learn, moving on to other drugs, or side effects from some of the things added to the marijuana. Are we willing to make this drug easier for teenagers to obtain? This sounds like a bunch of 60’s hippies who are finally in control wanting to mainstream their counterculture. This is not good for our children, and it is not good for our society.

 

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If You Are Going To Set A Really Bad Example, At Least Get Your Facts Right

Today’s Washington Times posted a story about President Obama’s latest claims about marijuana. The President recently stated that marijuana is no worse than cigarettes or alcohol. His statement is in direct contradiction to statements by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The article reports:

And as reported by the government’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, adolescent use of marijuana does something that alcohol does not; it causes permanent brain damage, including lowering of I.Q.

Taxpayers have spent billions of dollars warning about drugs, often about marijuana, but these efforts were dramatically undercut by the president’s comments.

As President, President Obama has a responsibility to set an example. After hearing his statement, one wonders how he would react if he caught his daughters smoking marijuana.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. There were a number of statements regarding marijuana in the interview President Obama gave to the New Yorker magazine that simply are not true. The misinformation in the article could prove to be damaging to America‘s youth. How many lives will be ruined by the belief that there is no danger in smoking marijuana?Enhanced by Zemanta

A Moment To Be Carefree

To be carefree is a wonderful thing. It’s one of the first things cancer patients give up when they are diagnosed with the disease.  The Mimi Foundation decided that it would change that for some cancer patients. Please read the article at the Business Insider to understand the whole story and to see some wonderful pictures.

Meanwhile, YouTube posted the video:

Enjoy.

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Elections And Laws Have Consequences

America was promised, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.” Many Americans believed that and were told that the people who were saying it wasn’t true were fear mongering. Well, here we are, ObamaCare is about to be in force, and we have discovered that the warnings were true. There is now a website called MyCancellation.com that shows cancellation letters from health insurance providers to policy holders. In some cases insurance premiums of the people who have received these letters will increase 300 percent.

Meanwhile, many insurance executives have been intimidated to the point that they are afraid to speak up about the damage ObamaCare will do to healthcare in America. Yesterday National Review posted an article about some of the comments health-care consultant Larry Thompson is hearing from insurance company executives.

The article reports:

Thompson predicts that by the end of next year, two phenomena will begin to unfold: first, that insurance companies, taking losses, will begin to remove themselves from the federal exchanges, and second, that wait times for doctors will rise. He even suggests that some of the exchanges may close by 2015. 

The crux of the problem: “Expectations are high, and delivery is going to low. When those two things converge, the law is going to get a pretty bad rap.”

We are only beginning to see the negative impact of ObamaCare.

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How Much Does It Cost?

ObamaCare was supposed to allow everyone in America to get health insurance, and it was supposed to lower the cost of health insurance for everyone. So far that is not the case.

Yesterday RedState posted an article about the cost of insuring a family under ObamaCare. It’s not a pretty picture.

The article tells the story of one man’s search for healthcare on the website for ObamaCare:

First, I decided to look at the low-tier, catastrophic coverage, under ObamaCare.  This should typically be the cheapest plan per month.  Yet one option would have cost my family over $50,000 a year in premiums.

My first thought was maybe this was just a mistake, another technical “glitch” in the website.  So I kept looking.

Here are a few more of the plans I found, costing as much a $4,910 a MONTH in premiums.  That’s nearly $58,920 a year for a family of five.

When I looked at the chart, I thought it showed yearly premiums, in which case the numbers would be reasonable. However, the chart below shows MONTHLY insurance premiums for basic policies under ObamaCare.

Heathcare.gov

I’m hoping we can end ObamaCare before it bankrupts America and the American people. The best way to do that is to elect people who oppose it in the next election cycle. If we continue to elect people who support ObamaCare, we will be stuck with it.

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Some Sad News From The Entertainment World

ABC News is reporting today that Linda Ronstadt has Parkinson’s Disease and as a result has lost her ability to sing. Linda Ronstadt had a truly beautiful singing voice. She could do rock and roll, country, traditional songs and operetta. She provided part of the soundtrack of my early twenties, and later I thoroughly enjoyed her performance in Pirates of Penzance. I wish her the best and hope a cure for the disease is found soon. Her beautiful voice will be missed.

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When Reality Gets In The Way Of Promises

Remember the promise that ObamaCare would eventually make health care cheaper for everyone because universal coverage would make us all healthier? Well, it seems as if we tend to be as healthy as we want to be regardless of whether or not we have universal coverage.

On Friday the Daily Beast reported that a study on Oregon’s Medicaid expansion showed that the people who were now eligible for medical treatment had no improvement in their health (as measured by basic health indicators such as like blood pressure or cholesterol).

The article reports:

health insurance doesn’t actually improve access to necessary treatment that much.  If someone else covers the cost, it can help with the financial burden of health care.  But uninsured people will mostly find a way for the most important treatments, the ones we know improve health, from stitches to control bleeding, to antibiotics, to blood pressure medication.  It’s the expensive stuff on the frontier–the stuff that’s as likely to be useless, or harmful, as it is to help–that the uninsured mostly forego. 

When you consider the fact that hospitals are not permitted to turn away patients because of their inability to pay, this makes sense.

The article concludes:

…But I think it’s instructive that the political campaign for Obamacare leaned so heavily on claims about death and untreated suffering.  Whether or not we should provide that sort of insurance, I don’t think that Obamacare would have passed if its backers had said “The best study available shows that we’ll probably get a nice reduction in depression and catastrophic expenses, but no statistically significant improvement in diabetes, mortality, or cardiovascular health.”

That should give us pause.  We passed a big, complicated piece of legislation on the assumption that Medicaid expansions like Oregon would make us healthier–so much helathier that we’d obviously be able to measure it.  It just made gut sense, after all.  And that shouldn’t just make us pause and think about Obamacare. What other policies are we pulling out of our intestinal loops?

Frankly, I think the best thing the government could do for the health of Americans would be to get out of healthcare. Repeal ObamaCare, and set up a system that subsidizes low income people who need insurance and let the free market run healthcare. There would have to be some basic guidelines set up for pre-existing conditions, but the healthcare industry knows much more about healthcare than the government does. Let’s let them take care of America.

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Thumbs

Some recent observations about thumbs. I was recently forced to realize the usefulness of thumbs due to some surgery on my thumb. The surgery was on my left hand; and as I am right-handed, I didn’t think it would be any big deal. The surgery went well and my thumb is healing nicely. In that sense, it was no big deal. Now for the educational part of the experience.

People are born with two opposing thumbs. They don’t seem too important–after all, there are eight other fingers. However, there are some things that thumbs are very useful for–opening jars, buttoning buttons, tying shoelaces, etc. You get the picture. Thumbs (opposing thumbs) are useful.

When America was founded, three branches of government were established–the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature. The idea was that if one branch overreached its power, the other two would bring balance to whatever was happening. This was a really good plan, and it generally works. It means that Congress controls the debt ceiling so that there is some control over the amount of money the President can spend. It means that the President can veto a law that he feels is not good for the country and that law will not go into effect unless the Congress overrides his veto by a two-thirds margin. It means that the courts can rule when the other branches of government overstep their bounds. Just as opposing thumbs help us do useful tasks, opposing branches of government strive to keep us a representative republic.

Sometime today, take time to be grateful for things that oppose–thumbs, Congressmen and Congresswomen, Judges, and sometimes, Presidents.

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I Have Very Mixed Emotions On This

I don’t smoke. I have never smoked, but I grew up in a blue haze caused by two parents who were heavy smokers. I also lost those two parents to lung problems long before I was ready to give them up. That is why I have very mixed emotions on the story I am about the report.

CNS News reported this week that eighteen California cites and counties have banned smoking in multi-unit housing–condominiums, apartments, etc. So the city, state, or county is now telling you what you are permitted to do in your own home, which you may actually own. What about smokers’ rights as property owners?

The article reports:

Calling it “the next frontier in California’s ongoing efforts to protect its citizens from secondhand smoke,” the American Lung Association’s Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing compiled a 2011 report on smoke-free housing policies and provided an update that shows 18 cities and counties in the state have banned smoking in multi-unit housing, including apartments and condominiums.

I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but I really wonder if this isn’t going too far.

The article further reports:

Some other details in the report include a provision in the city of Belmont’s smoking ban: “For current tenants who smoke, there is a 14 month grace period during which time they are still allowed to smoke in their unit.”

If you have every watched anyone struggle to quit smoking, you know how difficult this will be for many of the current tenants.

Smoking is out of fashion right now. It has been moving in that direction for about twenty years. There was a time when smokers didn’t have to huddle in office or restaurant doorways in order to have a smoke. Again, I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but this is totally creeping government. If we sit by and watch this happen because we don’t smoke or don’t like the smell of smoke, what will the next target be?

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Some Good News From The Medical Profession

The U.K. Express is reporting today that a drug has been discovered to slow the amount of brain damage suffered by people who have multiple sclerosis (MS).

The article reports:

Data presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis congress, showed the drug cut the risk of an attack by up to 60 per cent and brain shrinkage by 35 to 39 per cent.

Gavin Giovannoni, Professor of Neurology at Barts and the London NHS Trust, said the “important” research should bring patients improved quality of life.

Please follow the link above to the article to see the specifics. This is fantastic news for people suffering from MS.

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I Haven’t Found This Story In Any Major Media Yet…Still Looking

The Lufkin News reported yesterday that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast has been charged in an alleged billing scam. Charges were brought by Karen Reynolds, a former employee of a Lufkin clinic.

The article states:

The updated complaint, filed in October 2011, alleges that while Reynolds was employed as a health center assistant, she was instructed by the organization to maximize billing revenue when the government was fitting the bill through Medicaid and the Women’s Health Program.

She claims this was the procedure in all 12 Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast locations across Texas and Louisiana.

The suit alleges that, in addition to falsifying patient records, billing the government for unwarranted services and services not covered by Medicaid, Planned Parenthood tacked on services patient did not receive.

The case is set for trial in April 2013.

 

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It’s All Smoke And Mirrors

Katie Pavlich at Townhall.com posted an article this morning about the Obama Administration’s non-compromise on the latest healthcare directive from Health and Human Services. Yes, I said non-compromise.

The Obama Administration’s definition of a compromise is to still require religious institutions to provide insurance covereage for procedures that violate their religious principles.

The article reports:

…a “compromise” that allows religious employers to opt out of paying for providing birth control to women, but will still be required to provide contraception. What this means is, insurance companies will pick up the tab for contraception, but religious employers are still required to provide contraception through insurance plans to their employees, despite the move being against religious beliefs.

This is all smoke and mirrors. Under the compromise, religious institutions are still required to ignore their basic beliefs and provide coverage, they just don’t have to pay for it. That is not a compromise. Also, why is the federal government requiring a religious organization to ignore their religious beliefs in order to comply with any law?

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Medical Expenses Of The Elderly

Friday’s Wall Street Journal (I am not linking to the article because it is subscribers only) contained an article entitled, “Commonly Used Medicines Send Seniors to Hospitals.”  The article reports on a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found that an estimated 99,628 hospitalizations every year of people 65 years and older are linked to adverse drug events such as allergies and unintentional overdoses. It further reports that nearly half of those hospitalized were age 80 or older. The drugs responsible were not high-risk medications–they were commonly used diabetes pills and blood thinners.

Maybe we need to rethink the way we handle medical care for seniors. Is there a way to make the commonly used drugs safer, for example bottles that somehow remind the person to take their medicine and let them know if they have already taken their dose for the day? I have no idea if that is possible or already in existence, but certainly drug safety might be one way to seriously cut medical expenses for everyone.

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A Wonderful Contrast To The 99 Percent

Yesterday Hot Air posted a story that should remind us what our real priorities should be. This is a picture from that article:

Boaz Reigstad, Down Syndrome, pro-life

The picture is of Boaz Reigstad, a five-year old who will shortly turn six. This picture has appeared on Facebook.

The article reminds us:

Reigstad also happens to have Down Syndrome. That, too, is visible in his picture — but it takes a back seat to the joy and warmth of his expression. Sadly, the apparently cheerful child is the exception to a startling rule: About 90 percent of pregnant mothers who learn their babies have Down Syndrome choose to abort. As The Blaze puts it, “That means [just] 10 percent of children are brought to term after the mother learns of the condition.”

Raising a child with a disability is an incredibly difficult job. Over the years I have known people who are raising children with serious problems. I have watched the struggles and the special love between these children and their parents. It is a sad commentary on our society that only 10 percent of children with Down Syndrome are allowed to live.

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