Trump demands Supreme Court kill Affordable Care Act, aka 'Obamacare'

Because the cruelty is the point.

England moves to opt-out organ donation model

As of today, everyone in England is an organ donor, unless they explicitly opt out, are tourists or recent immigrants, or are incapable of giving consent. Wales moved to the opt-out system in 2015, and Scotland plans to follow later this year. Correction: England, not the U.K. Read the rest

Nearly 27 million Americans lost their job-based health insurance in pandemic, study shows

IMAGE: Health Insurance Coverage Before and After Job Loss Among People in a Family Experiencing Job Loss as of May 2, 2020, courtesy kff.org

An estimated 27 million Americans may have lost employer-based health insurance because of pandemic layoffs, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Wednesday. Read the rest

Banksy installed a stunning artwork in a hospital; its auction will raise money for healthcare

Banksy hung this stunning painting in the foyer of Southampton General Hospital's emergency department. Apparently the installation of the framed, one meter square artwork was completed in cahoots with the hospital management. Video below.

Banksy left a note that reads, "Thanks for all you're doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if its only black and white."

According to the BBC, "the painting will remain at Southampton General Hospital until the autumn when it will be auctioned to raise money for the [UK's National Health Service]."

Read the rest

Trump: 'What we are doing is we wanna terminate health care'

In today's edition of impeached president Donald Trump's brain melting down on live television, fresh word salad featuring health care and the verb 'terminate.' Read the rest

Healthcare providers facing criminal inquiries got coronavirus stimulus checks from Trump

The U.S. government spent $30 billion last month in stimulus payments last month to most healthcare providers that billed Medicare last year, part of the $2.3 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress to address the economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic. Read the rest

Elizabeth Warren's brother dies of coronavirus

Senator Elizabeth Warren said today that her brother, Don Reed, died Tuesday of coronavirus.

"What made him extra special was his smile—quick and crooked," Warren wrote on Twitter. "It always seemed to generate its own light, one that lit up everyone around him."

Reed, who joined the US Air Force at 19 and served in Vietnam, is one of about 47,000 Americans reported to have died so far in the Covid-19 pandemic. Warren recently ended her campaign to become the Democratic Party's candidate in this year's presidential election, and remains a potential VP pick going into November's poll.

Photo courtesy Sen. Warren. Read the rest

Medical professionals and Healthcare providers are getting their pay cut while dealing with COVID-19

From ProPublica:

Most ER providers in the U.S. work for staffing companies that have contracts with hospitals. Those staffing companies are losing revenue as hospitals postpone elective procedures and non-coronavirus patients avoid emergency rooms. Health insurers are processing claims more slowly as they adapt to a remote workforce.

[…]

[A memo from Alteon Health, a major hospital staffing company] announced that the company would be reducing hours for clinicians, cutting pay for administrative employees by 20%, and suspending 401(k) matches, bonuses and paid time off. Holtzclaw indicated that the measures were temporary but didn’t know how long they would last.

From The Boston Globe:

Emergency room doctors at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have been told some of their accrued pay is being held back. More than 1,100 Atrius Health physicians and staffers are facing reduced paychecks or unpaid furloughs, while pay raises for medical staff at South Shore Health, set for April, are being delayed.

From Twitter, which is what lead me down this wormhole in the first place:

Good thing we paid billions in bailouts to airlines and other corporations. Granted, the coronavirus stimulus bill did provide $100 billion for hospitals and healthcare providers, but it seems that none of that is trickling down to the people on the front lines keeping us alive. Read the rest

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

More posts