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With all of the Buffoonery He allows, God must have a great sense of humor.

Archive for the ‘Health Care’ Category

A Blast from the Past

Posted by Mike O on August 11, 2009

Read through this carefully; as you do so, many of the numbers may seem ludicrous.  The reason they do is after the quotation:

Now — we’re for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we’ve accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.

But we’re against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They’ve called it “insurance” to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term “insurance” to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they’re doing just that.

A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary — his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he’s 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can’t put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they’re due — that the cupboard isn’t bare?

The reson the number look so ridiculous?  Because these were the words I heard spoken by an exceptionally eloquent speaker…. Ronald Reagan on May 10th, 1964 in Hutchinson, Kansas (it was a canned speech he used many times).  The warnings were issued even back then by the conservative movement… and have been ignored by both parties.  Now the chickens are starting to roost, with our annual debt exceeding the total obligation of Social Security back then.  And the Social Security/Medicare current obligation exceeds $100 Trillion.

Now — we’re for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we’ve accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.

But we’re against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They’ve called it “insurance” to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term “insurance” to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they’re doing just that.

A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary — his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he’s 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can’t put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they’re due — that the cupboard isn’t bare?

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Posted in Health Care, Politics | Leave a Comment »

Obamacare Impact on Wasteful Spending

Posted by Mike O on August 10, 2009

Six separate areas were found to be the greatest source of waste in HealthCare:

  • Defensive medicine ($210 billion)
  • Inefficient claim form processing ($210 billion)
  • ER as a clinic ($14 billion)
  • Medical mistakes ($17 billion)
  • Preventable readmissions ($25 billion)
  • Noscomial (acquired in-hospital) infections ($3 billion)

Can Obama  tell me how the Fed’s natural tendency to massively increase the second one could possibly be even offset in the others?  And they say they’re going to save Money?  Can anyone give a single example that the Federal government ever managed to reduce costs, rather than increase them??

Posted in Health Care | Leave a Comment »

Atypical Care and the Federalization of Health Care

Posted by Mike O on July 12, 2009

Here’s an area for concern with increasing federalization of health care; how ‘atypical care’ will be handled.

My son was diagnosed with NF2 three years ago, a 1-in-40,000 genetic condition resulting in numerous benign tumors in the brain, spine and nerves.  The severity and speed of NF2 varies widely (we are blessed that his case is on the milder side), and treatment approaches are constantly evolving.  The current conventional wisdom is- in serious and complex cases- to get a second opinion.  But what happens when there are multiple high specialists involved (neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, radiotherapists, etc.)… and the opinions on approaches vary widely?  You end up like us, visiting over a score of doctors across hundreds of miles, lugging a stack of MRI films that now weighs 51 pounds.  Had we not (and done a tremendous amount of research on our own) my son would have already gone under the knife twice; the result would be complete paralysis of the facial muscles, partial paralysis of the palate and swallowing, and complete deafness on the left side, as well as the need to wear braces on both legs.  That fate may now be postponed for many years.

With federalization, make no mistake; rationing of health care will happen and costs will go up.  It has never failed to do so in any increase of government in medicine, anywhere in the world.  What we have gone through- in as quickly as we have done it- simply would not be possible for anyone.  Sadly, some in the NF2 community currently do not have the resources nor do the due diligence we have done.  But increased federalization stands far less chance in providing them those options, than in taking them away from others.

And the only long-term hope in NF2 is continued innovation; innovation paid for with the substantial return on investment that medical research is currently capable of producing. For example, Brain Stem Implants (BSIs) are essential to provide a sense of hearing to people deafened by NF2.  The NF2 community hopes that advances in other areas, such as PARP inhibitors, can be found to benefit the more esoteric stuff like NF2.  But those checks are only done if the funds are available from the large ROI elsewhere.  And those ROIs will not be available with the government controlling too much of what goes on in the medical realm.  One only has to look at where the majority of medical advancement occurs in the world to understand the value of our system.

Understand, the current system is very far from perfect; it can be a nightmare for the involuntarily uninsured or underinsured.  (I have no empathy for the voluntarily uninsured, nor the illegal alien; they need to take personal responsibility for their voluntary actions).  However, government is substantially more a problem than a solution in the  medical field, both from a bureaucratic and from the judicial (lawsuit) sides.  The catastrophic and uninsured problems can be addressed without going to a single payor or crippling the current private system with new rules, regulations and tax disadvantages.

Posted in Health Care | 2 Comments »

The Clinical Fallacy of the Assumption of Positive Normalcy

Posted by Mike O on June 8, 2008

First off, the great news.  My son’s condition apparently is not as bad as first feared: it is not likely his condition has turned malignant, according to the most NF2 knowledgeable in the field.  Dealing with a rare condition is often a lesson in learning how much people of high specialty don’t know, as is seems to be in this case. 

Specifically, they performed a test (PET CT Scan, which measures the uptake of radioactively tagged glucose) that is rarely done on NF2 patients and spoke with a level of assurance not warranted on the meaning of the result.  Had we not been the types to do ‘due diligence’, as one doctor put it, we would have gone with the opinion of the first two doctors (the radiologist and neurooncologist) and had Alan scheduled for surgery that would cause permanent debilitation of his right leg.  Even the severity of that debilitation is an issue: one doctor said it would be mild, while two said it was dependant on nerve dominance, with one fairly sure that leg bracing will be required. These last two doctors expressed more concern about Alan’s other tumors that the one in the leg; one more concerned about the slow growth of the acoustical neuroma that affects his left hearing, the other a small ependinoma in the spinal cord. 

Read the rest of this entry »

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Family Fear: will Grandma outlive Grandson?

Posted by Mike O on May 31, 2008

UPDATE: My mother passed away on July 19th, 2009.  It didn’t take a year of being dependent on medicare/medicaid daily care in a nursing home to do what 70 years of smoking couldn’t; sap the life from her.  Once bedridden and blind, the government’s answer to healthcare really dooms you, even with family showing up almost every evening to supply supplemental care.

My mother is 91 next month and smokes a pack a day.  A few days ago, we found out she has an outside shot at outliving my 20 year-old son.  Alan has NF2, a genetic disorder leading to normally benign tumors on the nerve sheaths.  In the last two years we’ve been dealing with this, all it’s cost him is about 75% of his left ear’s hearing, some facial palsy and a weak left foot.  But tests came back a few days ago that suggest his largest mass may have gone malignant; meetings with the surgeons start next week.  The best outcome likely from the removal is significant weakness on his right foot and abdominal muscle.  If it is indeed malignant, prognosis out just two years is poor and not much fun during that time.  Still, some make it out 5 years, a handful to full remission.  Hard to know when you’re dealing with a condition that they see in maybe one in 250,000 at most.

So what are we doing this week?  What we had planned to do before; go whitewater rafting in Colorado, clearly for Alan’s last time.  These things are like the river we’ll be rafting:

  • You have very minimal control of the actual end point, but you try to use skill and a cool head to ride it out the rough stuff the best you can.
  • You try to look like you know what what you’re doing and that this is the most normal thing in the world, even when it isn’t.
  • You realize that maintaining the quality of the ride is far more important than the duration.

Needless to say, my posting frequency will likely suffer and the contents will definitely take on a different tone.  I will add one quasi-political note: say what you want about American health care, but my boy would pretty much have no chance anywhere else.

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The ‘Only the Good Die Young’ Gene

Posted by Mike O on April 2, 2008

My 91-year-old mother, who smokes over a pack a day, has been repeatedly told by her doctor that she’s living proof only the good die young.  Also, that’s she’s too mean to die.  It turns out there might be a genetic component for that:

“…smokers who possessed one copy of either variant were 28% more likely to develop lung cancer, while those with two copies were at a stunning 81% increased risk for the disease.”

It they keep digging, they might find an ornery gene that explains how she refused chemotherapy after nearly bleeding to death from colon cancer 25 years ago and is still around.  My own scientific thought is that she smoked the rest of the cancer to death; after all, as she says ‘smoked meat last longer than fresh’.

Her remaining living brother (merely a kid at 81) has a more religious explanation; their 7 departed siblings have decide not to let in the family troublemakers to wherever they went.

Posted in Health Care | 2 Comments »