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Archive for June, 2006

Monday, June 5th 2006

The Debate Over Global Warming

Is it a surprise that Dr. Bill Gray, doesn’t think global warming is as sure fire as the media makes it out to be?

It might be difficult to tell that is his opinion from this snippet from The Frederick News-Post,

Meteorologist William Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, pioneered hurricane forecasting. Each year, Mr. Gray and his team issue predictions on the number of major tropical storms and hurricanes that will form in the Atlantic Ocean.

For 2006, Mr. Gray has predicted 17 named storms with nine becoming hurricanes, five of those with winds greater than 110 mph.

Warmer ocean water combined with lower trade winds favors the development of hurricanes in greater numbers and with greater intensity, he said.

“When the surface of the Atlantic is 1 degree higher in temperature, which it is, there is potential for a more severe season,” Mr. Markey said.

Yeah, “global warming” isn’t used once in this article, but this “garbage,” as Dr. Gray calls it is so embedded, so prevalent in the media that it is understood what the quote above is implying. Or maybe it is just me.

“Let’s just say a crowd of baby boomers and yuppies have hijacked this thing,” Gray says. “It’s about politics. Very few people have experience with some real data. I think that there is so much general lack of knowledge on this. I’ve been at this over 50 years down in the trenches working, thinking and teaching.”

One thing is for sure, a lot of misinformation is out there. I love it how climate change and global warming are virtually synonymous in that AP wire piece.

This is the most over-politicized environmental issue in my lifetime and it is skewing the debate, or lack thereof. This has become scripture for some people who have never even glanced at the evidence beyond snippets from the New York Times mentioning by what size a certain glacier has shrunk. I mean, neither have I, but at least I’m sitting here arguing for some actual discussion on the topic.

Monday, June 5th 2006

Health Savings Accounts

Health Care Blog takes on the Cato Institute’s, defense of Health Savings Accounts.

According to Mathew Holt,

[Canon] suggests that basically the healthy members of the group are better off moving into higher and higher deductible plans. Eventually no one will be left able to afford the “sicker” plan, so the effect will have been the movement of everyone to a high-deductible from a low deductible plan.

This ignores two HUGE issues. The first is the loss of the money from the pool to pay for the care of the sick people in it. Unless miraculously in Year 1 overall health care costs collapse, the movement of all the healthy people into a lower premium insurance product will mean that there won’t be enough money in the pool to pay all the health care expenses of its members. Why not? Because it’s the premiums from those healthy “students” that’s paying for the care for the sick “professors”. If you stop collecting premiums from the 80% of healthy people and allow them to keep them in cash, there is not enough money left in the pool to cover the care of those who get sick. The math just doesn’t work, as I showed here (and I’m by no means the only one who’s pointed this out). Someone has to make up the difference in year one. (This is BTW why social security privitization is a political non-starter because it demands more money in the first years).

You can read a brief summary of HSAs at Wikipedia, or the CRS report on HSAs, or look at nationalized health coverage proponent Jill Quadango trashing HSAs.

I really could care less about, nor am I capable of grappling with the, economic implications of HSAs. I think they’re the right thing to do whatever disparity they do (or do not) create. I take this quote from Rep. Jim McDermott, from an editorial against HSAs. Where he finds fault I find beauty:

A bedrock principle of this nation is to pool our resources and share the risk, because it benefits all. That’s why we collectively support police and fire departments, national defense and a host of other essential services. The alternative would turn back the clock to the early 20th century…

A bedrock principle which Mr. McDermott admits is itself merely a hundred years old? Less I would argue when applied to health. Quite fundamental, been around forever as you can see. Moving on though, healthcare falls something short of the police or fire department not only in terms of the comparison (which I don’t think is apt) but in terms of the fundamental role of government.

Monday, June 5th 2006

Worst Case of Mistaken Identity Ever

A women in a coma is mistaken for a dead girl by doctors and her family.

For more than a month, Laura VanRyn’s friends and relatives thought she had survived a van crash that killed five people, and they celebrated the young woman’s milestones as she recovered.

Then came the stunning news last week of a tragic mix-up: It was not VanRyn, but a college classmate who had survived in a coma-like state. On Sunday, friends and relatives gathered to remember VanRyn, a 22-year-old senior who was just weeks shy of graduation.

Cerak, 19, who bore a strong resemblance to VanRyn, was in a coma after the van she and other students from Taylor University were riding in was hit by a tractor-trailer April 26. Her face was swollen, and she had broken bones, cuts and bruises.

VanRyn’s parents did not begin to question whether she was actually their daughter until, as she regained consciousness, she started saying things that did not make sense to them, including referring to VanRyn’s father by a pet name he did not recognize.

Monday, June 5th 2006

HIPAA Improves Patient Care?

My God, I’ve spent enough time working as office staff in multiple physician’s offices to know this is a bogus claim.

Goldman and other privacy advocates point to numerous reports of health information being made public without patients’ consent — the recent theft of millions of veterans’ records that included some medical information, a California health plan that left personal information about patients posted on a public Web site for years, and a Florida hospice that sold software containing personal patient information to other hospices.

In the meantime, Goldman said, surveys continue to show that for fear that their medical information will be used against them, people avoid seeking treatment when they are sick, pay for care out of pocket, or withhold important details about their health from their doctors.

“The law came about because there was a real problem with people having their privacy violated — they lost jobs, they were embarrassed, they were stigmatized. People are afraid. The law was put in place so people wouldn’t have to choose between their privacy and getting a job or going to the doctor,” said Goldman, who also heads the Health Privacy Project, a Washington-based advocacy group. “That’s still a huge problem.”

I am for government regulated formalized patient privacy protections. But the argument for such is purely one of the importance of the right of privacy. This argument that HIPAA improves patient care, is in my mind, complete numbskullery. If this was really the idea behind this man’s passion when he helped construct the HIPAA law then he’s a fool.

Any benefit gained by patients seeking care for sensitive issues is easily outweighed by the costs of the bueacracy, slow down and lapses in the ability to communicate patient data between healthcare entities (don’t pretend that doesn’t happen just because HIPAA makes provisions for it), and other issues.

In any case the entire Washington Post article is a little baloney. They chastise the Department of Health & Human Services for not imposing fines in 70% of complaints. What percentage of those cases that they didn’t hand out fines went something like this –

Patient notices record sitting on unattended computer screen where everyone can see.

Low level medical record clerk with high school degree sends out patient’s records even though the release, while filled out by the patient, was accidentally not signed.

Patient complains that physician office is slow in amending his medical record, per his request, that he was treated for syphilis in 1997 NOT 1999!

The physician office’s EMR system doesn’t quite meet government security standards. Hackers are lurking, watch out!

It has been two and a half weeks since I asked to see my own records! I filled out a little form, and left it on in someone’s ‘in box’ shaped like a waste basket, I don’t know the person’s name I left it for, and I haven’t checked in since but my God someone should’ve handled my request by now.

80%? 90%? Maybe more? This isn’t people’s records being posted negligently on the web. This isn’t records being sold. This isn’t, for the large part, records being sent to employers, to entities with authority over patients. I’m not sure heavy fines can lower the rate of such examples of complaints as listed above.

There are over 5,000 cases open, some likely involving major neglect or even malice. What the hell is this article complaining about? My God, we have to come down on that office, that clerk faxed my medical records to the wrong doctor’s office! Now anyone could have them! If we fine them now, that clerk will never hit 5 instead of 6 on the fax machine ever again!

For any casual reader this article is alarmist and paints a completely single sided picture of the situation.

H/T Slashdot

Saturday, June 3rd 2006

Go Heat Go

Suddeny The Big Guy and D Wade are my heroes.

Friday, June 2nd 2006

Costs Like Clear Glass

Medicare is publishing the average prices it pays hospital for 30 elective procedures, so that the patients it covers can make more informed decisions. It is a move in the right direction.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs the Medicare health program for over 43 million elderly and disabled people, is posting the average price Medicare pays for 30 common elective procedures broken down by U.S. county.

Health care costs are generally opaque in the United State, in part because intermediaries like health insurers and employers finance much of the system for patients. Experts have said Americans know more about the quality and pricing of their cars than their health care.

Friday, June 2nd 2006

Duke Lacrosse To Play Next Year

Although Duke has denied a newsconference scheduled for Monday is to anounce such. One of the assistances is to start the next season as interim head coach.

A news conference is expected Monday.

On Friday night, Duke spokesman John Burness denied that the school planned to announce the team would play next season.

Former three-time Duke All-American Kevin Cassese, 25, who served as an assistant Blue Devils coach last season, will run the program pending a national search for a head coach, Newsday reported.

Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead announced on March 28 that the university was suspending future games of the men’s lacrosse team until there was a clearer resolution of the legal situation involving team members.

On May 1, a Duke University committee recommended that the lacrosse program be reinstated.

Friday, June 2nd 2006

USC QB Mark Sanchez

Has been cleared by the Los Angeles County DA of rape allegations leveled by a fellow USC student.