The Trump administration won't re-open enrollment for Healthcare.gov and the Affordable Care Act

From Politico:

President Donald Trump and administration officials recently said they were considering relaunching HealthCare.gov, the federal enrollment site, and insurers said they privately received assurances from health officials overseeing the law's marketplace. However, a White House official on Tuesday evening told POLITICO the administration will not reopen the site for a special enrollment period, and that the administration is "exploring other options."

The annual enrollment period for HealthCare.gov closed months ago, and a special enrollment period for the coronavirus could have extended the opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to newly seek out coverage. Still, the law already allows a special enrollment for people who have lost their workplace health plans, so the health care law may still serve as a safety net after a record surge in unemployment stemming from the pandemic.

[…]

Trump confirmed last week he was seriously considering a special enrollment period, but he also doubled down on his support of a lawsuit by Republican states that could destroy the entire Affordable Care Act, along with coverage for the 20 million people insured through the law.

Healthcare.gov is of course a product of the Affordable Care Act, which is also commonly referred to as Obamacare, a branding that has inspired a decade's worth of spite from Republican politicians determined to destroy the legacy of the first black president at all costs.

There are honestly few things in this world that baffle me as much as the vitriol that some conservatives feel about Obama's "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor" quote. Read the rest

Furries in therapy

The excellent headline "Fursuit of Happiness" belies the seriousness of the topic: how do furries fare in therapy? Professionals find that it's best to bring along the fursona rather than put it aside on the couch, writes Hussein Kesvani.

According to Sharon Roberts, a sociology professor at the University of Waterloo and one of the few researchers who focuses on identity within furry communities, Max’s therapy experience is pretty common. “There are some psychologists who associate fursonas with dissociative behavior, which by and large isn’t the case,” she explains. “In other cases, because of the aesthetic of furries — that they’re a colorful and quite loud subculture — society generally sees them as more likely to suffer from mental health issues, when the research shows that’s not true either. In a lot of cases, furries are less likely to develop severe mental health conditions because of how strong the bonds are in the community.”

To better spread (and back up) this message, Roberts co-founded the International Anthropomorphic Research Project, a collective of academics dedicated to producing evidence-based research on furry culture and providing insights about it to therapists.

Photo: Rob Beschizza (CC BY 3.0) Read the rest

Universal health coverage not radical

This image, posted by the 1912 Progressive Party, offers a stark illustration of how commonplace universal healthcare -- i.e. "Medicare for All" -- is in the developed world and even beyond it. It struck me that not having effective healthcare is seen as an aspect of American Exceptionalism, where the lack of something other people enjoy becomes a uniquely American virtue: faith in the generosity of insurance companies. Read the rest

Kansas county sends people to prison for medical debt

It appears that a county in Kansas has found a way to make people overburdened by medical debt struggle more.

CBS News:

That law was put in place at Hassenplug's own recommendation to the local judge. The attorney uses that law by asking the court to direct people with unpaid medical bills to appear in court every three months and state they are too poor to pay in what is called a "debtors exam."

If two hearings are missed, the judge issues an arrest warrant for contempt of court. Bail is set at $500.

Hassenplug said he gets "paid on what's collected." If the bail money is applied to the judgment, then he gets a portion of that, he said.

"We're sending them to jail for contempt of court for failure to appear," Hassenplug said.

In most courts, bail money is returned when defendants appear in court. But in almost every case in Coffeyville, that money goes to pay attorneys like Hassenplug and the medical debt his clients are owed.

"This raises serious constitutional concerns," said Nusrat Choudhury, the deputy director of the ACLU. "What's happening here is a jailhouse shake-down for cash that is the criminalization of private debt."

Read the rest

UK officials blame asthmatics for the carbon footprints of 180,000 cars

Because we live on a divergent Hellworld timeline where everything is too comically absurd to be real except for the fact that it is, the BBC published an article about the need for asthmatics like me to step up our roles in fighting climate change. This is just the very beginning of it:

Many people with asthma could cut their carbon footprint and help save the environment by switching to "greener" medications, UK researchers say.

Making the swap would have as big an "eco" impact as turning vegetarian or becoming an avid recycler, they say.

As a lifelong asthmatic, I find it difficult to articulate the inherent bullshittery of this concept without smashing my laptop in a fit of hyperventilation. But that would require me to use my rescue inhaler to save my own life (and then I'd also be without a computer, which would make things even more difficult). But I'm going to try my best.

The initial premise here is based on the fact that some aerosol sprays contribute significantly to climate change. This apparently includes metered-dose inhalers—like the rescue one I use when my lungs stop working—which rely on hydrofluoroalkane in order to release that little misting burst of asthma medicine. In the UK, this is estimated to account for about 4 percent of the total greenhouse gas emissions produced by the National Health Service and the related medical industry.

On the surface, there's nothing inherently wrong with pointing this out—indeed, the medical industry should find greener ways to do things! Read the rest

Kamala Harris announces medicare for all plan

Dem presidential hopeful Kamala Harris announced her cut of Medicare for All monday morning.

Medicare for All will cover all medically necessary services, including emergency room visits, doctor visits, vision, dental, hearing aids, mental health, and substance use disorder treatment, and comprehensive reproductive health care services. It will also allow the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices.

First, when we pass my plan, all Americans will immediately have the ability to buy into Medicare

Second, we will set up an expanded Medicare system, with a 10-year phase-in period.

Third, in setting up this plan, we will allow private insurers to offer Medicare plans as a part of this system that adhere to strict Medicare requirements on costs and benefits

The pundits of the floating world have been pushing hard on the "Medicare for All will divide the Dems" columns, but even the centrists know that it's a policy winner. The fight is over how it coexists with private insurance and how fast to do it.

Sen. Kamala Harris, who has spent some time clarifying her stance on "Medicare for All," is now proposing her own version of the single-payer insurance plan. She'll remain a co-sponsor of the bill introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a campaign spokesperson said. But there are key differences between Harris' plan and that of the Vermont senator: Harris has proposed to double the transition period from the current health care system to the single-payer system, to reduce Sanders' proposed tax on middle-class families to pay for the plan, and she would allow private insurance companies to offer Medicare options.

Read the rest

During a secret meeting, a top Pelosi health aide told medical insurers that there was no need to worry about Medicare for All passing

Wendell Primus is one of Nancy Pelosi's top health aides. Leaked slides from a closed-door meeting with Blue Cross execs reveal that he has been quietly advising the health insurance industry that there is no danger of Democrats pursuing a "Medicare for All" strategy, and offered them what amounted to a quid pro quo that would keep them safe from nationalized healthcare if they would break with the pharma industry to help lower drug prices. Read the rest

"Brain-eating" amoebas kill woman who used filtered tap water in neti pot

Neti pot brain-amoeba deaths are like shark week: an incredibly rare event that commands outsize attention due to reactionary schadenfreude and the sheer horror of the victim's demise. Fox News:

When a 69-year old Seattle woman had a seizure earlier this year, doctors at Swedish Medical Center thought she may have had a brain tumor. However during surgery, they discovered it was something much more unusual. ... Dr. Cobb says she most likely became infected by the amoeba after treating a common sinus problem with tap water.

“We believe that she was using a device to irrigate her sinuses that some people use called a neti pot. It’s extremely important to use sterile saline or sterile water. I think she was using water that had been through a water filter and had been doing that for about a year previously,” Dr. Cobb said.

The FDA isn't quite so stern, saying you can use tapwater to irrigate your sinuses if you boil it for at least 3 minutes and, of course, let it cool first. The CDC says you can use filtered tapwater, but only if you're using filters that are explicitly designed to remove germs. Most fridge and store-bought filters do not remove germs.

My local water department handed out this fancy Zerowater model to householders during a local water quality scare here and I can recommend it, though it's slow to filter and the replacement filters are pricey. It also removes dissolved minerals, unlike most store brands, resulting in all the pros and cons of drinking soft water. Read the rest

Major U.S. insurance company to sell only health-tracker backed life insurance

A week ago, Apple announced a redesigned smartwatch that could track heart data, run EKGs, and even detect atrial fibrillation, promising that it would save lives. Today, one of America's biggest insurers killed its traditional life insurance policies, replacing them with "interactive" insurance that encourages users to use such devices and share the data with them to get perks. Read the rest

There's an EpiPen shortage. Parents of kids with serious allergies prepare for back-to-school without the life saving medication.

The EpiPen is a widely used medical device that delivers emergency medication to prevent someone with a severe allergic reaction from going into anaphylactic shock. There's a shortage of EpiPens across the United States. Parents of kids with serious allergies are worried about sending their kids back to school without one. Read the rest

Roboticist Simone Giertz describes her recovery from brain surgery

Boing Boing fave Simone Giertz (of "Shitty Robots" fame) had brain surgery earlier this year, so it's great to see her back with an update. Read the rest

Facebook support groups packed with predatory marketers

Looking to Facebook for help with addiction? Take care: the social network is full of predators, and they know where to find vulnerable people. They're sleazy marketers, brokering questionable self-help and inpatient treatment options.

A stranger named Garrett Hall sent Couch a Facebook message. “Hey Lauri [sic], I saw your name on the Affected By Addiction support group, and I had this weird/strong impulse to just reach out,” Hall wrote to Couch. “[A]re you doing ok?” ...

Couch soon got a call from Meghan Calvert, a paid marketer for a treatment center called Pillars Recovery. It’s owned by Darren Orloff, who is part of Affected by Addiction’s volunteer leadership team. Couch, who has a background in sales, knew a sales pitch when she heard it. She told Calvert off for taking advantage of desperate people. ... After the call, Couch was surprised to find that she could not log back in to Affected by Addiction. In fact, she came to realize, she’d been banned.

Specific addiction support groups are the tip of the predatory marketing iceberg, but Affected by Addiction's the one Zuckerberg personally promoted on his own page.

Cat Ferguson:

Facebook, by making desperation so easily searchable, has exacerbated the worst qualities the treatment industry. A word-of-mouth industry with a constant supply of vulnerable and naive targets who feel stigmatized and alone is a scammer’s paradise.

Read the rest

Canadian healthcare isn't as free as you think

I love you, America! Between living in your country as a digital nomad for part of the year and attending events as part of my job, I've spent a lot of time in the United States. One of the biggest misconceptions that I've run into when talking to my American pals is that they believe we receive free healthcare.

This is mostly incorrect.

Most Canadians, with the exception of Alberta, where I live for half of the year, either pay for our hospital and doctor visits as part of our taxes or are billed monthly by the province we live in. Having been born and raised in Canada, I've taken for granted being able to see doctors or receiving emergency medical care whenever I need it – right up to the point where I no longer could. I needed to visit the hospital, shortly after moving from one province to another. I'd registered as a resident there, but my paperwork had somehow been lost. A month after seeing a doctor, I received an $800 bill in the mail. So, that sucked. Even when things work the way that they're meant to, not everything is covered. Things like dentistry, massage therapy or counseling only happen on a pay-per-use basis, or if you're lucky enough to have a job that affords you a health plan. I fall into this latter group, thanks to my partner. 

And then there's the cost of drugs.

As The Guardian recently pointed out, Canada has the second highest drug prices of any industrialized country in the world. Read the rest

Universal health care is "free stuff" as in "freedom"

Jeb Bush accused Democrats of winning black votes by promising "free stuff," and then Hillary Clinton accused Bernie Sanders of "promising free this and free that and free everything." But universal health care is free as in "freedom." Read the rest

How Trumpcare keeps Americans sick and congressmen in office

Michael Goodwin, author of an excellent cartoon history of economics has a new comic about the Republican health care plan, and why its not about helping sick people get affordable medical care but about making rich people richer so they will keep donating money to the GOP. It's humorously illustrated by Dan E. Burr. Read the rest

Reader reviews for animal medication tell a grim story about human healthcare in America

If you want an idea how desperately bad the U.S. healthcare system is for those unable to afford it, the reader reviews on Moxifish—aquarium antibiotics—make for grim reading.

Worked in two days! My fish no longer has a tooth infection:) lol

My fish started work at a new job and his insurance hadn't kicked in yet. Well, of course, my fish got a bad case of bronchitis or something like that. Nevertheless, we decided to get him some meds and boom! Within 2 days he was all new again and just kept swimming!

My fish got bronchitis the first week of a new job and didn't have the time or money to go see a doctor. I received these quickly after ordering them and now my fishy's nasty cough is gone!

My fish have been sick for two weeks straight and having trouble sleeping at night. I finally figured out that the fish have a bad sinus infection and swollen glands. After just a few hours the swelling is gone and my fish can breath again. They were even outside all day building a shed and didn't feel sick at all. :).

$40 for thirty 500mg amoxycillin capsules isn't a good deal, and it seems likely the reader reviews have become more about the joke than the broke. But doctor visits can cost hundreds of dollars without insurance (and $50 or more with it), alternatives are not easily accessible, so here we are.

P.S. survivalists have long suggested stocking up on pet antibiotics for the comic-book apocalypse. Read the rest

An Eel in the Keel

1. Chinese man is constipated. 2. Chinese man remembers an old folk remedy. 3. Remedy involves inserting a live eel up your bum. 4. Chinse man goes to hospital.

Seems like a foregone conclusion that if you insert a live eel in your rectum, health problems will ensue! The slippery monster ate through part of the guy’s intestines and went for a swim. The man went to the hospital to have it removed.

I don’t really have to say anymore because here’s a video from Chinese news with a CGI reenactment of the whole fiasco. From the music, the little green cloud, and the gas mask it appears that Chinese news takes this to be a comedic episode. Just remember this the next time you go out for a nice unagi dinner.

Via SoraNews 24.

  Read the rest

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