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Archive for October, 2007

Wednesday, October 31st 2007

Senator Cornyn On SCHIP

I’ve commented with brief support for Texas Senator John Cornyn in the past. More, I’ve posted on the ridiculous notion that his polling numbers give the Democrats some hope in 2008. With novice Mikal Watts out of the hunt for the Democratic Senate nomination (“hunt;” in actuality a nomination which would be difficult to give away), we’re left with only state representative Rick Noriega. Good luck.

And despite the tinge of sarcasm, I might actually be wishing Rep. Noriega luck in the election. I saw Senator Cornyn at his nephew’s wedding recently, and always have generally liked him. But what type of statement is this on the failed SCHIP renewal?

Mr. President, the families and the children in my state of Texas who are, unfortunately, put on edge and suffering some sense of anxiety wondering whether this important program will continue to serve the needs of low-income children, are being, unfortunately, taken advantage of and disadvantaged. Why in the world would Congress play this kind of game and make those that are the most vulnerable among us the most anxious about their future and whether they will be able to get the health care which everyone in Congress believes that low-income children ought to receive?

The emphasis is my own. My understanding is that Texas’ funding for SCHIP is secure for the next 2 years no matter the renewal infighting in Washington. Texas’ enrollment is capped for children of families at or below 150% of the poverty level. About as low as any state.


Noriega Responds To Cornyn On SCHIP

I know who his constituents are, but this SCHIP expansion vote (and more distressingly, his now enumerated reasoning behind such a vote) belies Senator Cornyn’s total disregard for the larger public good. Under Cornyn’s watch federal spending has increased faster than any Congresses since LBJ was in the White House. There’s no argument that the cost of the expansion to the Texas taxpayers is too great. At least not from Senator Cornyn considering his voting record.

[W]e have 700,000 low-income Texas children who qualify for Medicaid, who qualified for SCHIP, but who are currently not signed up and receiving those benefits. Instead, Congress is taking its eye off the ball and exploding this sensible program that deserves to be authorized by raising the eligibility cap to 300% of the poverty level, but doing nothing — I reiterate nothing — to insure that low-income children, including 700,000 low-income children in Texas, have coverage first before we grow the program to higher income levels and cover adults as well.

This is nonsensical from the Senator. It isn’t like Washington has failed. There is little enrollment effort to be done from DC. The ridiculous number of eligible children in Texas who are not on the SCHIP roster is a failure of the government in Austin and has absolutely nothing to do with the machinations in Washington.

Argue the SCHIP bill on the merits Senator Cornyn, get your facts in order, or get off the stage.

What can say after garbage like this? A vote is one thing, but to finally read his position for such a vote is another. Cheer, cheer for Rick Noriega I guess.

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Wednesday, October 31st 2007

Fluff Science


I Shouldn’t Link To So Many ‘Fluff’ Science Stories

via Reddit

Saturday, October 27th 2007

Flaming Squirrel Terror


Are You Kidding Me? Is It April 1st Yet?

A flaming squirrel sets a car on fire in New Jersey. Apparently this is pretty legit and has been picked up by Instapundit and others.

Tony Millar said firefighters told them it was the work of a buck-toothed saboteur that had been gnawing on overhead power lines connected to a transformer directly above the 2006 Toyota Camry.

“The squirrel chewed through the wire, was set on fire, fell down directly to where the car was,” Tony Millar said. “The squirrel, on fire, slid into the engine compartment and blew up the car.

Apparently flaming squirrels setting things ablaze are not totally uncommon.

Thursday, October 25th 2007

Still No On SCHIP

Even trying to schedule the vote with some key anti-SCHIP Republicans out in California, the retooled SCHIP bill failed to get the 2/3rd majority needed to get passed the President.

The final vote was 265-142, with 43 Republicans joining 220 Democrats to support the measure. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.), one of the most endangered incumbents in the House who hails from a conservative district, was the lone Democrat to join Republicans in opposing the measure.

Those 43 Republicans are almost identical to the 45 who supported the original bill in late September, with one Republican who previously supported the SCHIP bill – Rep. Don Young of Alaska – absent today. Another early supporter, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-Mich.), switched to a ‘nay’ vote today.

If all their supporters were on hand for another veto override, Democrats would still be almost 15 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to defeat Bush. (Last week’s override vote fell 13 short of the two-thirds majority of the 429 members who voted.)

Open Congress doesn’t have the vote up as of this post but here is the role from WaPo.

The expansion is truly dead. As Paul Kane points out, there are no more votes to garner,

Each of those lawmakers are on DCCC target lists, but none would ever make it onto The Fix’s Friday line as being in imminent danger of losing his or her seat. And, now that they’ve voted three separate times against an SCHIP expansion, it’s almost impossible to envision these lawmakers flip-flopping unless the bill is dramatically reshaped.

Texas is secure for a couple years in its SCHIP funding and gains very little from the Dems bill in Washington. For other states let’s just get a reauth of the program in place and not wait into November where they’ll have to get yet another emergency reauth in place.

Wednesday, October 24th 2007

Socialized Medicine Was Evil Then…


Yeah, I Jumped On The Reagan Cult of Personality

Tuesday, October 23rd 2007

Online Heart Surgery


The Australian Broadcasting Corp Walks You Through A CABG

A pretty amazing little “game” on ABC’s website. As Kevin, MD points out the most realistic aspect is probably the consequences when you lose.

This game is making the rounds: Via Kevin via Science Roll via A Hearty Life

Tuesday, October 23rd 2007

Personal Electronic Health Records

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum battling it out in the forum of electronic medical records. Just what we need.


Don’t Tell Me Balmer Isn’t An Evil Genius

It looks like Google is going to be setting up an online medical records service to compete with Microsoft’s new HealthVault.

Speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Mayer outlined the ways in which the search giant plans to bring its immense data storage and organization capacities to the field of medical care and patient records. Google is already the starting point for a large majority of the health-related searches on the Web, she pointed out.

“If you look at health care, there’s already a huge user need, people are already using Google more than any other tool on the Web to find health information,” Mayer said. “And the health care industry generates a huge amount of information every year. It’s a natural core competency for us, to understand how to organize all that data.”

I’m actually all for these types of services and have only limited concerns about patient privacy. If patients fear for their privacy then they won’t use them; let the market sort it out. That being said, the Google exec could’ve been a little less blunt about the objectives…

“The goal for a lot of doctors is how many patients can they see in a day,” Mayer said. “That means their minutes per patient has got to go down, and the less time they have to spend finding and going over patient records the better. Ultimately we will design a product that’s useful for users, and also helps doctors do their job more quickly and more efficiently.”

Saturday, October 20th 2007

France Closes Down Paths To Free Healthcare


Sure, His Country Is Being Paralyzed By Transport Strikes
But At Least Some People No Longer Have Access To Desperately Needed Health Care

Sarkozy is cutting back on the access to care for foreign expats who retire early to France.

In his drive to kick-start the French economy by creating a culture of hard work, Nicolas Sarkozy believes those who chose to retire early – under 65 – should not benefit from free health care.

As a result, thousands of Britons living across France were sent “brutal” letters last week from the department of social security informing them that they would no longer be welcomed as non-paying customers of France’s hugely efficient – and traditionally extremely generous – national health service.

The letter stated that, under a change of rules which is due to take effect on Sept 30, any foreign resident who had retired early would lose their right to free state health care.

All expatriates who have taken advantage of the rise in British property prices to take early retirement in France, where houses are much cheaper, will have to surrender their documents entitling them to state health care.

They will face potentially crippling private health care bills.

Friday, October 19th 2007

FISA Bill

Off of medicine for a moment and on to civil liberty sort of things.

Senator Dodd is causing a ruckus by attempting to put a hold on a Senate intelligence bill which spells out some warrantless wiretapping stuff, including apparently granting immunity to any telecos who turned over records to the NSA (which, by the way was carrying on warrantless wiretapping of Americans before 9/11 it now looks like).

That’s all nice and good, and admittedly I’m not exactly happy at my neighborhood teleco for their wimptastic lack of backbone in this whole ordeal. But protection from some civil suits (this shouldn’t even be discussed as a criminal matter) should pale in comparison to the loss of business if this country had any civic sense about it.

I’m never ready to heap a whole ton of social responsibility on the commercial sector. Not to be an apologist but if the government is telling them it’s a requirement, I’m not sure we should expect them to pay their legal department to protect the constitution.

Okay, that doesn’t sound right. We should expect such of them, but the most appropriate avenue is probably to speak by your checkbook.

I’m sure plenty will have legitimate suits when if the whole breadth of the ordeal becomes known, and there’s some nobility in trying to keep those avenues open.

The Senator from Conneticut is worth some praise for promising a fillibuster if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid doesn’t recognize his “hold,” which would I admit be pretty remarkable (Reid’s disregard for Senate tradition…not the fillibuster). But as the clapping for Senator Dodd dies down just realize this is small potatoes; the real responsible party in this mess is obviously not the phone company but the White House.


Senator Dodd On A Potential Fillibuster

As such the real question is, despite the “compromise” Congress managed with the White House, where was Senator Dodd’s filibuster when the actual FISA renewal bill came up? That’s what we really needed.

Friday, October 19th 2007

SCHIP Fails

The failure of the House to override the S-CHIP veto is disappointing. Now even the program itself is at risk, not just its expansion.

The 273-156 House vote was 13 short of the two-thirds majority needed. Despite a two-week campaign by proponents, only 44 Republicans voted to override, one fewer than had originally supported the bill.

The White House and some leading backers of the legislation immediately urged negotiations on a compromise to extend the children’s program, which serves about 6 million youths. But, after a House debate that turned acrimonious, it remained unclear whether they would find common ground.

Bush has designated Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, White House Budget Director Jim Nussle and economic advisor Allan B. Hubbard to negotiate with Congress.

Leavitt said the president wants to prevent any disruptions in coverage. But the two sides seem far apart.

Okay, all of that is hyperbole. We all know that S-CHIP has essentially become an entitlement and that the emergency funding heads through November. S-CHIP will get reauth’d before this session is done.

All of that said, no one who found the gall to be on the nay side of this list will ever get a vote from me; and they shouldn’t from you either.

It isn’t the outright objection to the program that upsets me. I can understand that. Instead, it’s the way this bill went down. Wide support for the program but not for this expansion?

Since I first wrote this post I had an opportunity to speak with a member of congress who voted against both the bill and the veto override attempt but who obviously, as the vast majority, supports the program itself. It was the typical arguments against the bill. He cited that 1.8 million of those newly eligible would come off private insurance. That doesn’t come anywhere near jiving with the CBO numbers.

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