Category Archives: Health Care

Information on Pseudomyxoma peritonei

A very close friend of mine gave me the following message yesterday:

you have a larger network than me, could you leave a msg about PMP cancer on your blog somewhere, so if anybody have information, we could get more information

I know it’s not appropriate, not necessarily on your blog, any public websites

I’ve met the sufferer of Pseudomyxoma peritonei and am afraid that I don’t know anything more than what’s on the wikipedia and national health service pages. It seems very scary and unformtable, but if you have any additional information about this illness, I would appreciate a comment or an email.

The Conservative / Liberal Case for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

I Think I Get It Now,” by John Podhoretz, The Corner, 6 August 2005, http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_07_31_corner-archive.asp#072197.

I support stem cell research using embryos left over from fertilization…,” by Sophia, Clean Cut Kid, 8 August 2005, http://www.cleancutkid.com/2005/08/06/dobson-stem-cells-and-the-right.

Liberal CCK commentator Sophia abrasively defends embryonic stem cell research from an overbearing “culture of life”

Those embryos and blastocysts are just little gobs of cells for Pete’s sake! They don’t think, talk, plan, experience. They are just little blobs of cells, and those little blobs of cells could make dramatic changes for millions and billions of suffering people.

We don’t have proof that those stem cells will vastly improve quality of life – because we haven’t had the opportunity to do the research. We don’t have proof that they won’t make those wonderful changes either.

Yup, they could be misused. As George Will said in today’s column, we live our lives on a slippery slope of one kind or another.

This “sanctity of life” thing has gone way overboard. When there is a death, even of a real, living, breathing, existing child, there is something to mourn. At a funeral for a five month old, the pastor related the family’s story of how this little boy liked to ride in his stroller, how his hair was growing, etc. What is there to say about an embryo, a blastocyst?

But, but, but it might become. . . Yeah, it might become anything. Or nothing.

Conservative NRO commentator John says almost the exact same thing, echoing the ancient Talmud

But as I’ve been trying to argue, the morality here isn’t as clear-cut as you would like it to be. Perhaps it is for a practicing Catholic, for example, because the doctrine of the church is that all embryo creation outside the womb is a sinful act to begin with. But for a practicing Jew like me, for instance, the moral framework has a different baseline.

The Talmud says any embryo-fetus under the age of 40 days is to be deemed “like water.” That sounds harsh, though I believe its initial intention was to limit the emotional involvement of parents in the very early stages of pregnancy, when something like 25 percent of all fetuses naturally abort.

In any case, the code of ethics outlined in the Old Testament and the Talmud is based in the admonition in Leviticus to “choose life.” In the case of embryonic stem-cell research, an argument can be made that such research does just that.

John concludes his thoughts by criticizing the increasingly empty arguments of the anti-researchers, and sees himself drifting to support federal funding of such research. Increasingly, I agree with John

Now here’s the thing. I am not even ARGUING in favor of embryonic stem-cell research. I find myself in some sympathy with the argument that any such research represents a journey down a potentially treacherous and immoral road. But I have to tell you, if brilliant polemicists like you can’t make better arguments than the ones you’ve been making, you’re helping to lead me toward that slippery slope….And here endeth my disquisitions on this subject. (For now.)

medium_pre-embryo.jpg
Life?

Paperwork and Bed-Chaining

I have a temporary job at an awesome medical testing firm. The people there are nice, the job is comfortable, and the clock goes fast. But…

Paper is everywhere

One of the business-flows is

  1. Order is emailed in
  2. Email is printed out
  3. Printed email is keyed in
  4. Report is printed from keyed-in information
  5. Printed report is faxed

Two paper documents have to also be modified, but this process takes enough time, introduces errors, and could be easily automated.

And now, the an angrier rant:

Several family members when it visit my great aunt. She is aware, intelligent, smart, &c. She has everything except youth and health — deficiencies which put her in the hospital.

Anyway, the hospital has, without informing anyway why, moved her from one room (and roommate) to another. They also have threatened to chain her to the bed, because she will get out of bed at night. (As my grandmother, also as lucid as ever, actually was, this is not an idle threat.)

The alternative is to piss herself.

The best explanation we found was vague fear of “lawsuits.”

Finale: The Economist has reported that, until 1980, there was no statistical correlation between spending on health care and life expectancy. A family friend who was formerly a Chief of Surgery has made similar complaints for years.

I wonder if vigilante executions of small-town hospital workers helped depress life expectancy.

Conservatives for Medical Marijuana

Medical Marijuana This AM,” by Rich Brookhiser, The Corner, 15 June 2005, http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_06_12_corner-archive.asp#066200.

From the conservative Catholic “hippies” at National Review

Anyone who wants to support the Hinchey- Rohrabacher bill allowing states to permit medical use of marijuana should call his congressman (see below).

Chemotherapy, which I had in 1992, wasn’t all bad. I looked very cool bald; it gave a nice grey perm when my hair came back (why couldn’t it bring more hair back? can’t they cut it with menoxydil?); and it did stop my unpleasant visitor.

But the nausea was not cool, and only the illegal drug worked once the legal ones had failed

John Walters says there is no medical evidence for marijuana’s effects. He is a liar or an ignoramus, probably both.

Fiddling for Health Care

Waiting for C.E.O.’s to Go ‘Nuclear’,” by Matt Miller, New York Times, 18 May 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/18/opinion/18miller.html?.

This New York Times article on CEOs is a good springboard for a health care post

The consuming Senate slugfest over judges (vital as they are) proves how Washington remains determined to fiddle while our biggest problem burns: a broken health care system that threatens working families and national competitiveness.

The “consuming Senate slugfest” is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)’s shut-down of the Senate. Not allowing committees to meet — effectively saying “No!” to every issue – is typical of the Democrats since Daschle’s (D-formerly of SD) leadership. Republicans like Newt Gingrich have plans for health care. Democrats like Hillary Clinton also have ideas.

But does the Senate Democrat leadership? Of course not.

They are determined to fiddle while a great problem burns.

The Clinton-Gingrich Plan

Clinton, Gingrich Unite on Health Care,” by Devlin Barrett, Associated Press, 11 May 2005, http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050511/ap_on_go_co/clinton_gingrich_1 (from Democratic Underground).

I blogged on Next Gingrich’s medical-industry reforms earlier, as well as Hillary Clinton’s good ideas, so this is a natural development

Longtime political foes Newt Gingrich and Hillary Rodham Clinton joined cheerfully Wednesday to promote legislation on health care changes, joking that some might view it as a sign of a soon-to-come doomsday.

Clinton, D-N.Y., and Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, appeared outside the Capitol to promote a bill that would modernize medical record-keeping.

The bill — one long-in-coming that moves more record from paper to digital networks — is as boring as it is bi-partisan and important.

Proponents of the measure being offered in the House by Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Pa. and Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., say the bill would greatly reduce the 98,000 estimated U.S. deaths a year caused by preventable medical errors such as misreading a prescription.

Which doesn’t stop Newt from his trademark rhetoric — which is right this time!

Paper kills,” said Gingrich. “This is not complicated. If you see paper in the health system, it risks killing people.”

Plus, this will be a political affair to remember

medium_newt_gingrich_loves_hillary_clinton_small.jpg

Fixing Medicine (dailyKos is Right)

GM loss, Wal-Mart, and universal health care,” by kos, Daily Kos, 20 April 2005, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/4/20/11223/3967.

Daily “Screw ‘Em” Kos correctly identifies a serious drag on the American economy

GM and Wal-Mart can be potent allies in a new (and this time successful) push for universal health care. It would be the ultimate corporate welfare, instantly adding billions to the bottom line of American businesses, yet at the same time helping insure the entire nation.

The instincts of the American left is to fight Wal-Mart and demand it cover its workers, when we have an opportunity to perform political jujitsu with the fiercely Republican Waltons and turn the battle for universal health care into a lopsided fight with Big and Small Business, Labor, and the progressive alliance, versus the American Taliban (who in all their supposed compassion would fight this to the end).

I can’t, for the life of me, understand why a coalition hasn’t formed around the issue yet. It’s a no-brainer.

Earlier in the post, kos linked to a story describing GM’s health-care driven troubles. But it’s not just big companies that suffer.

One of my greatest professors is locked into a job against his will. He is a former Consultant and generally a mover-and-shaker. However, it is basically impossible for him to find different work than what he has because of a serious medical condition. His current work insurance pays it, but it is unlikely any other would. This is a broken price system which does not allocate labor efficiently.

We need to fix medicine in the United States. There is a crisis. Hopefully Democrats and the left can be a constructive part of the solution. Sadly, their recent childishness is not a good sign.

Update: Professor Bainbridge calls it a “terrible idea.” But it’s not a terrible opening for a better world.

Toward Free Market Medicine

Newt: How to Improve Medicaid for Minorities,” by Newt Gingrich and James Frogue, Newt.com, 7 April 2005, http://www.newt.org/index.php?src=news&submenu=press&prid=1036&category=Opinion.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich goes almost all the way in diagnosing and fixing America’s health care problems

The current system hurts poor minorities the worst

Ethnic minorities in America, particularly African-Americans, are generally less healthy and suffer from reduced access to quality health care services relative to whites. This should be unacceptable in the richest and most advanced country on the planet. There are a range of socioeconomic and cultural reasons for these troubling findings, but one reason in particular escapes scrutiny – minorities’ disproportionate representation in the outdated and bureaucratic Medicaid program.

The current issue of the journal Health Affairs focuses on racial health disparities. It points out that, relative to whites, infant mortality rates are 2.5 times higher for blacks, life expectancy is 10 years less, and blacks have significantly higher mortality rates from heart disease, stroke and cancer.

The recent trends are not encouraging and yet they are uniquely focused in the health system. In one article, former Surgeon General David Satcher points out that the United States has made marked progress in closing the black/white gap in civil rights, housing, education and income since 1960. But health inequalities remain stubbornly persistent. Standardized mortality rates between blacks and whites have changed very little since 1960. Using 2002 data, there are 83,570 excess deaths annually in the black community as a result of the black/white mortality gap. The gap in deaths from cancer and heart disease has actually widened.

Socialized medicine isn’t the solution, because it is part of the problem

The answer lies in the fact that Medicaid, which serves the poor who are disproportionately African-American (the income gap needs forward-looking solutions as well), largely remains a 1960s era model that is no longer appropriate for 21st century health care financing and delivery.

It is an inflexible system of government-defined benefits and prices that would evoke howls of laughter if anyone suggested it be applied to the markets for food, housing, automobiles or software. Medicaid’s heavily bureaucratic structure is biased in favor of a rigid status quo and against the kind of innovation that can more quickly improve patient care. In short, Medicaid beneficiaries are segregated into second-tier health care, and that is a second tier with demonstrated costs in lives and in quality of life.

Gingrich sees the way forward (while tossing a bone to the federalists)

What is needed is an entirely new Medicaid system that is outcomes-oriented, not process-based. Those outcomes should include a clear and measurable commitment to eliminating the disparities in health outcomes between different groups of Americans. Confident, competent, forward-looking governors should be allowed to opt-in to a new Medicaid system that cuts them loose from federal hand-holding and stifling red tape. In exchange for this new freedom, willing governors would agree to a defined contribution of federal funds from Washington that increases every year at an amount below their recent growth trend. The federal government would save money.

It is important that Congress not compel states to accept the new program. Those governors content with the status quo and secure in their inability to improve the delivery of health care to their poorest and most vulnerable citizens should be allowed to stew in old Medicaid. Allowing a few trail-blazing governors – who are closer and more accountable to their constituents than faceless bureaucrats in Washington – to lead the way would move us closer to a model that best serves the poor. Moreover, instead of auditing the process by which they spend their federal Medicaid dollars, the federal government would audit states based on demonstrated improvements in health outcomes, childhood immunizations, or a closing of the gap in racial health disparities. Washington’s role would change from its current focus on oversight of process compliance to auditor of results.

I agree with the Speaker, but I will go one more step.

We allow companeis to offshore workers. Why not encourage patients to offshore doctors?

Medicare payments should extend to responsible hospitals in low-cost locations, such as India and Thailand. Physician Offshoring allows for substantial cost savings. Even including the costs of a more experienced doctor, first class seats, more attractive patient-centered nursing staff, and a hotel-like suite for a patients room, offshored medical care still is cheaper. Often almost ten times cheaper.

The winners of the current system are protected American doctors, protected American hospitals, and beaurocrats. Let’s put the patients first.