Category Archives: CDC

Another Reason for Medicare for All

While all of you are working from home, perhaps you can consider what Marcia Angell says below in between doing your work and playing with the kids.

Santa Fe New Mexican

March 21, 2020

Why the U.S. failed the coronavirus test

By Marcia Angell

The coronavirus pandemic is the best argument for “Medicare for All.” As it stands, most Americans get health care only if we have insurance that will pay for it. If we don’t or we can’t afford the deductibles and copayments, too bad. Every other advanced country provides universal health care in a predominately nonprofit system.

What happens, then, when Americans develop a fever and cough? Are they likely to seek medical help, despite the hefty bills they are sure to receive, particularly if, say, the radiologist is out of network or the insurance company refuses to pay for some other reason? The new coronavirus, while highly contagious, is usually mild, so people with minimal symptoms might simply take their usual cold remedies while they go about their business and spread the infection widely.

The problem is that we treat health care like a market commodity distributed according to the ability to pay in an uncoordinated system with hundreds of commercial insurers and profit-oriented providers. Some 30 million people have no access to health care because they are uninsured, and millions more don’t use their insurance because the deductibles and copayments are unaffordable. In addition, insurers usually require patients to get their care within a narrow network of providers and exclude certain services.

The shortage of test kits for coronavirus stems from a related problem. Since there was no commercial market for them, they didn’t get made immediately. While we’ve converted health care into a market commodity, we’ve hollowed out our public health system, so it couldn’t do the job.

For all we know, the coronavirus may already have spread widely within the United States. Although it has been in other countries for more than two months, we have not really looked for it here. Until the last week in February, our premier public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, limited its diagnostic testing to symptomatic patients who had traveled to China or had contact with someone known to be infected. This is akin to looking for lost keys only under a lamppost.

The CDC probably could not have done better, given its lack of funding and governmental support. But ignorance is hardly a good public health strategy. Right from the beginning, we should have made test kits available to state and local public health agencies (as was done in Italy and South Korea). The only way to deal with an epidemic of this scope is with a universal health care system like “Medicare for All” and a strong, well-funded public health network.

The political opposition to “Medicare for All” is puzzling, since Medicare is the most popular part of our current fragmented system. In fact, many 64-year-olds can hardly wait to be 65, so they will be eligible. Why, then, do opponents of “Medicare for All” seem to believe that extending this popular program to everyone would be a sacrifice? Would a 64-year-old really prefer private insurance, with its networks and variable benefits, to Medicare, with its free choice of doctors and guaranteed benefits?

It’s true that taxes would have to increase to pay for “Medicare for All,” but the taxes could be as progressive as we wanted. For most Americans, they would probably be completely offset by the elimination of premiums, deductibles and copayments. In addition, the system as a whole would be far more efficient, because of the reduction in our gigantic overhead costs and the elimination of most profits. Most important, cost inflation would slow greatly, so that in a few years we would come out well ahead.

But as important as cost control is, my reason for favoring “Medicare for All” is primarily moral. Health care is not like ordinary consumer goods that people can choose to purchase. Illness is not a choice; it’s a misfortune. So why should people have to pay for it, as if they wanted it? Providing health care, just like providing clean water or police protection or basic education, is simply what decent societies should do. And during an epidemic, it protects all of us. The coronavirus pandemic powerfully underscores the need for a coherent national health system, in which we all pull together.

Marcia Angell is a member of Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, and a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine. She will soon be a resident of Santa Fe.

https://www.santafenewmexican.com/opinion/my_view/why-the-u-s-failed-the-coronavirus-test/article_cb92b8a6-694c-11ea-80b4-078d871fd2e9.html

The Seven Dirty Words of Healthcare

A report on Friday, in the Washington Post, said that the current regime in Washington was forbidding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using seven words and phrases in official documents being prepared for their budget for next year.

When news of this development became public, no doubt images of the George Orwell novel, 1984 came to mind, with its doublespeak and newspeak concepts straight out of a dystopian future. The novel was published in 1948.

But it also brought to my mind, something many Americans of my generation and older remember from the world of comedy. The late comedian, George Carlin, had a routine about the seven words you could not say on television.

This being a family blog, I will not repeat them here, but I bet the folks at the CDC did when they learned about this attempt to stifle free speech.

The seven words that the Orangutan Regime is forbidding are as follows: “Diversity”, “Entitlement”, “Evidence-based”, “Fetus”, “Science-based”, “Transgender”, and “Vulnerable.”

According to the Post, policy analysts at the CDC in Atlanta were told of the list on Thursday at a meeting with senior officials who oversee the budget, an analyst at the meeting said.

The analyst, who spoke anonymously, said that the analysts were given alternative phrases such as “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.” Talk about Doublespeak.

In other cases, the analyst said there were no replacement words. Since the Orangutan took office, questions as to how to address sexual identity, gender identity, and abortion rights has surfaced in federal agencies. Several departments have changed some federal policies and how they collect information on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the article in the Washington Post reported.

For instance, in March, HHS dropped questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in two surveys of older Americans.

HHS also removed information about LGBT from their website, and the Administration for Children and Families achieved a page that outlined services available to LGBT persons.

The meeting on Thursday was led by Alison Kelly, a senior leader in the agency’s Office of Financial Services, the anonymous analyst said. It was pointed out that this person was not authorized to speak publicly. At the meeting, Kelly did not say why the words were being banned, and said she was merely relaying information.

The existence of this list of forbidden words was confirmed by other CDC officials, and it is likely that other parts of HHS are operating under the same guidelines, the analyst told the Post.

According to the analyst, the reaction of people at the meeting was “incredulous”, “Are you serious?”, and “Are you kidding?” There were probably some other choice words thrown in, such as the seven dirty ones I mentioned above from the world of comedy.

Alison Kelly told the analysts present at the meeting that “certain words” were being sent back for correction. Those words were “vulnerable”, “entitlement” and “diversity.”

In a related story from The Hill, HHS is pushing back on the report saying the agency was not allowing personnel at CDC to use words like “diversity”, “transgender” and “fetus” in official documents.

HHS spokesperson, Matt Lloyd told The Hill Saturday, “HHS will continue to use the best scientific evidence available to improve the health of all Americans. HHS strongly encourages the use of outcome and evidence data in program evaluations and budget decisions.”

What’s next? Big Brother is Watching You?

How Employers (and Medical Travel Facilitators) Can Deal With Zika

Teresa Bartlett, wrote last Friday in Insurance Thought Leadership.com about the precautions employers can take to avoid the Zika virus, and how to think about it.

She raises the following questions, and gives insightful answers:

  •  Where Is Zika Spreading?
  • What Are the Symptoms?
  • How Is Zika Treated?
  • What Special Precautions Should Be Taken by Pregnant Women?
  • What Should Employers Do?

The entire article can be read here.

Now that summer is almost upon us in the US, employers and those in other industries, like health care and medical travel, as well as the travel industry itself, should be fully aware of these facts.

Only time will tell before we have native cases of Zika here. You must be prepared.


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I am also willing to work with any health care provider, medical tourism facilitator or facility to help you take advantage of a market segment treating workers injured on the job. Workers’ compensation is going through dramatic changes, and may one day be folded into general health care. Injured workers needing surgery for compensable injuries will need to seek alternatives that provide quality medical care at lower cost to their employers. Caribbean and Latin America region preferred.

Call me for more information, next steps, or connection strategies at (561) 738-0458 or (561) 603-1685, cell. Email me at: richard_krasner@hotmail.com.

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Transforming Workers’ Comp Blog is now viewed all over the world in over 250 countries and political entities. I have published nearly 300 articles, many of them re-published in newsletters and other blogs.

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Zika More Dangerous than First Thought

According to two reports on NBCNews.com, the Zika virus is more dangerous than health officials first thought.

The first report from last week can be found here. The second report says that Zika goes to the brain, and causes nerve damage similar to that caused by multiple sclerosis. Zika destroys developing nerve cells.

What does this mean to you, the medical travel facilitators working in Central and South America?

It means that maybe, money spent to attract patients to your countries, might first be better spent cleaning up your slums and cities that have standing water and debris that can be a breeding ground for the mosquitoes that carry the disease.

It also means that you must work closely with your government agencies to assure that medical travel facilities are clean and prepared to deal with the disease, should there be patients who come down with the disease while getting medical care there.