Archive for the ‘US health care’ Category

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First thing we do, let’s kill all the mosquitoes

May 13, 2016

The lawyers will have to wait.

Let’s Kill All the Mosquitoes
Now is the time to wipe the disease-carrying critters off the face of the Earth.

“The level of alarm is extremely high,” said the head of the World Health Organization on Thursday, describing the spread of Zika virus around the world. As well it should be: The disease, which seems likely to be causing birth defects, could affect millions of people in several dozen countries. And the virus may be on its way into the U.S. As of Friday morning, no fewer than five New York residents have been diagnosed as Zika positive. […]

Consider the statistics: Mosquito-borne diseases kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Malaria alone claims the lives of 6 million people per decade, mostly small children. The economic costs are similarly staggering, likely in the tens of billions of dollars every year. […]

You might’ve thought that news about the Zika outbreak would have convinced humanity to crush the mosquito. But all we keep hearing are proposals to take the battle to the virus, not its host. We’re told that scientists must work hard to find a new vaccine, as if that would be the best solution to the problem. The hunt for a Zika cure could take a decade—and in the meantime we’re left to wait and watch swarms of evil on the wing, mating in midair, and landing on our shores. An enemy has made its way to the nation’s borders. Now is not the time for soft responses.

It’s time to kill all the mosquitoes. It’s time for mass mosquito-cide. […]

As the article mentions later, there are plans for a trial in Florida of genetically modified mosquitoes that will interrupt wild mosquitoes’ breeding cycle. Evidently, the approach has been tried successfully in other locations.

Tell the FDA What You Fear More: Zika, or GMO Mosquitoes?

What are you more afraid of, the Zika virus, or genetically engineered bugs being released in the wild?

If you feel strongly about this issue, you have until midnight Friday to make your opinion known as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers whether to approve an effort to kill the disease-carrying mosquitoes by releasing genetically engineered bugs in Florida.

The biotech firm Oxitec plans to release non-biting male mosquitoes that have been modified to produce offspring that don’t survive after mating with wild females. Researchers believe that within a few generations, this should sharply reduce the mosquito population.

Scientists have weighed in on both sides in the nearly 1,300 comments viewable online so far. Fear is also a common theme, but there’s a split over what people find more frightening: genetic engineering, or birth defects linked to Zika. […]

I don’t know what the downsides to wiping out skeeters might be, but offhand it sounds like a great idea. And (as the first article mentioned), it worked for the screwworm fly.

In fact, there was a spooky sci-fi story in the late 70s titled The Screwfly Solution. It was made into an episode of Masters of Horror (a show I’ve never watched).

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When things get politicized

September 6, 2015

What a great object lesson on why the government should have as little power as possible.

Because most things it touches get handled the way Tom Harkin handled health care.

The Alternative Medicine Racket: How the Feds Fund Quacks

James Randi, call your office.

H.T. Jeff G

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Supreme Court duct tape

June 26, 2015

Peter Suderman writes at Reason’s blog (my emphasis below).

In Upholding Obamacare’s Subsidies, Justice Roberts Rewrites the Law—Again
Time to start calling the Affordable Care Act SCOTUScare.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has rewritten the law to save Obamacare—again. […]

“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he writes. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”

And so Roberts decided that a law which explicitly and repeatedly states that subsidies are limited to exchanges “established by a State,” and which defines “State” as one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, actually allows subsidies in exchanges established by a State or the federal government. Roberts’ decision does not interpret Obamacare; it adds to it and reworks it, and in the process transforms it into something that it is not. […]

As Justice Antonin Scalia writes in a scathing dissent, Roberts presumes, with no definitive evidence, that his interpretation is the one that Congress intended. “What makes the Court so sure that Congress ‘meant’ tax credits to be available everywhere?” Scalia asks. “Our only evidence of what Congress meant comes from the terms of the law, and those terms show beyond all question that tax credits are available only on state Exchanges.” […]

As even Roberts admits in his opinion, the law “contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting” and generally “does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.” It is a shoddy, messy piece of legislation, held together, barely, by Supreme Court duct tape.

It looks like we’ll be saddled with the PPACA indefinitely, despite passing it and finding out what’s in it.

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He’s all about political advantage

November 10, 2014

On the one hand, I have to admire Mr. Gruber’s candor. And I agree with his analysis of the games that were played to pass PPACA.

If Mr. Gruber chooses to attribute the PPACA’s passage to the ‘the stupidity of the American voter’ rather than attributing it to intentional obfuscation by Congress — as he should — well, that’s his choice I suppose.

A lot of sharp folks were calling BS on the proposed law but its sponsors refused to speak straight to its faults: they were all working the politically expedient angles. Thanks, Pelosi.


On the other hand, this is exactly the kind of "enlightened despotism" that we need to guard against. When a government gets to the point that some parts of it start to bend its own rules to fool other parts — gaming the CBO score in this particular case — then it’s too messed up to trust.

What particularly galls me about this clip is Gruber’s saying that PPACA was designed so that it could not be regarded as a tax. But when the Supreme Court ruled on it, the Chief Justice based his argument supporting PPACA on calling it a tax and on Congress’ authority to levy taxes.

So we’re damned if they do call it a tax – and we’re damned if they don’t. What a deal.

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The Health Care Special (4)

February 22, 2014

The reason I title these posts about Obamacare as I do is because when it kicked in I wanted to do a parody of Midnight Special about it. But that didn’t pan out.

Luckily, we have this parody of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 to fill the gap (from Reason.tv).

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How to manage health care

December 22, 2013

I’ve mentioned price transparency for health care before. This article in The Freeman describes a surgeon who’s making it happen. And he confirms my long-held idea that what makes medical care so expensive is all the paperwork and overhead.

Can This Man Save Healthcare?

While the country focuses its attention on the sputtering implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), one man is quietly revolutionizing American medicine. Dr. Keith Smith, founder of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma (SCO) in Oklahoma City, is bringing market forces to healthcare by posting his prices online.

Healthcare costs in the United States have increased at an average rate of 7.7 percent per year since 1980, compared to 4.6 percent for the consumer price index. Smith believes price wars and other market mechanisms, not increased government control, are the best way to stem and reverse this inflation. With the ACA’s implementation, the prospects for formal healthcare policy changes are limited. Smith hopes, however, that he and a handful of other transparent fee-for-service providers will be the vanguard of a free-market movement that runs parallel to the ACA. “The price transparency and price deflation,” Smith says, “aims at the soft underbelly of the beast.” […]

Healthcare Doesn’t Cost That Much

According to Smith, “Healthcare doesn’t cost that much, but what healthcare professionals charge is another matter.” By cutting out hospital administrators and the bureaucracy involved with third-party payers, the SCO is able to offer healthcare services at deep discounts. For example, for a patient with a bad back, the SCO was able to perform a two-level disc decompression for $8,500. That paid for the surgeon, anesthesia, and supply costs as well as an overnight stay. The patient’s next-closest bid was $60,000, saving his company’s health plan $51,500. While few would argue that high four- to low five-figure treatment costs are cheap in absolute terms, in relative terms they are. For major spine surgery, the SCO charges $16,500, which Smith admits “is a lot of money, but people are flying here from Alaska and Massachusetts to get this price because in their home states it’s not uncommon for this surgery to cost $175,000.” […]

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The cost of affordable care

November 25, 2013

As I’ve mentioned, I think the problems with the Affordable Care Act are (a) it does nothing to increase price transparency and (b) it entrenches and subsidizes the current health insurance-based structure for paying for medical care (insurance companies and all).

So I thought Coyote nailed it with his post about the opportunity costs of PPACA, as shown by a study at The Manhattan Institute. RTWT.

Health Care Lost Opportunities

One of the real frustrations I have with Obamacare is that I believe we were on the cusp of a revolution in health care costs and payment systems, which the PPACA will likely kill. As more and more of us adopted high-deductible health insurance plans, there was an increasing transparency in pricing, and new delivery models were emerging to serve this consumer-based, non-third-party payer health niche.

I think this even more as I read about the CMS revising its future health care cost inflation numbers to take into account a flattening of medical price inflation that has been occurring over the last few years. The Left has hilariously claimed credit for this cost reduction via some kind of time-travelling effect of not-yet-implemented PPACA measures. But Charles Blahous reads the CMS report more carefully and finds that the PPACA has nothing to do with these inflation reductions, and in fact is if anything slowing the cost reduction progress.

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