Showing posts with label medicine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label medicine. Show all posts

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Conditional adorability


That's the adorable word from WECT television in Wilmington, N.C.
Try not to smile after taking a look at this picture!

Shantee Johnson from Wilmington shared her most recent ultrasound picture and you can see her prenatal daughter is all smiles.

3D and 4D ultrasound technology is giving a lot of future parents the opportunity to get a quality glimpse of their children. Johnson got her ultrasound done at Wilmington Maternal-Fetal Medicine. She's due in mid-March, but was induced Wednesday and is currently in labor. She's expecting a girl.

MEANTIME,  "forced ultrasounds" are a Nazi plot against the autonomy of the blah blah blah blahblahblahblah. That's the outraged word from the NARAL Pro-Choice America website:
Imagine this: you're facing an unintended pregnancy. After talking about it with your partner and your family, you decide that abortion is the right choice for you.

You call the doctor, and are told that you have to make two appointments. At the first appointment, you are forced to undergo an ultrasound and have the images described to you. You don't want an ultrasound, and your doctor does not recommend one—but you and your doctor have no choice. Your state has a forced-ultrasound law. 
The Challenge

Many states have some type of ultrasound-related law. Some give women the option; others have forced-ultrasound laws that don't give women a choice.

The people behind forced-ultrasound laws claim they just want to give women more "information." But really these laws make women go through invasive medical procedures against their will.

In a free country, we don't force anyone to undergo medical procedures against their will. Women considering abortion—a safe, legal, and constitutionally protected procedure—are no different. Politicians have no place telling a woman she has to have a procedure she does not want and her doctor does not recommend.
ACTUALLY, ultrasound examinations are absolutely routine for pregnant women as a means of screening for birth defects, as well as the age, position and number of fetuses. Ironically, it's also not unusual for abortion clinics to do ultrasounds before terminating the baby . . . er, pregnancy.

Besides, if this study of abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics in Los Angeles is indicative of what happens across the country, it's not like NARAL Pro-Choice America will be fending off a plague of "unwanted" children. According to the Reuters Health story, when women really don't want to be pregnant, they really don't want to be pregnant.

And in a free country, when women really don't want to be pregnant and others can profit from that, it's absolutely fine to have forced -- legally -- almost 49 million in utero human beings "to undergo medical procedures against their will" from 1970 through 2010.

Which resulted in their deaths.

Because adorability is in the eye of the executioner.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beer may be hazardous to your manhood

I could be wrong (though I really doubt it), but I think there's a metaphor for contemporary American society squirming around somewhere in this Ohio story.

Also everywhere in this story is a sharp sympathy pain down the groin of every living man . . . and probably a few dead ones, too.

Brace yourselves and read on. Or not.
Lorain Police say a homeless man was Life Flighted to the hospital after cutting off his penis.

Cops were called to the area of East 21st Street and Access Road Tuesday around noon after an unauthorized man was seen on CSX Railroad property.

Officers found the man with his hands and gym shorts covered in blood. He told officers that he had just cut his penis off. According to the police report, he said he tried to use an old rusty saw, but he used a broke bottle when the saw didn't work.

The man told police that "Busch (beer) made me do it."
YOU KNOW WHAT? I'd love to hear a contemporary Don Draper's sponsor pitch to the Busch beer people with that one stuck in his mind. And close to his heart . . . which you know if you're a Mad Men aficionado.
"Gentlemen, I'll probably never see you again, so I have to tell you something.
"I didn't enjoy Busch beer on a sun-splashed sandy beach with a blonde on each arm. That's what every American man would like to think of whenever he pops the top on a cold Busch. Get it? (leer) No, the truth is, I grew up in a whorehouse in Pennsylvania, and I was raised by a stepmother who didn't want me. 

"After I'd go through the pockets of johns while the whore were otherwise, shall we say 'entertaining' them, the girls would pay me off with a cold Busch beer. And I savored every golden drop of that cheap-ass beer because, gentlemen, your beer was the only thing that could kill enough of my brain cells -- dull enough of the psychic pain -- so I could somehow cope with growing up in a whorehouse with a stepmomma who couldn't care less if you lived or died, which, let me tell you, is kind of like cutting your own tallywhacker off with a busted beer bottle. Probably an old Miller High Life bottle. 

"Frankly, if I had my way, I'd tell you not to advertise your beer at all. Because if Busch beer is good enough to kill the pain of growing up in a whorehouse . . . if it's good enough to anesthetize you while you cut off your own tallywhacker, it will sell itself with no help from Sterling Cooper and Partners. 

"Gentlemen, thank you for your time. I'm going around the corner to get loaded."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

TV crack for the Boomer vidhead

Playing as soon as you hit the start button . . . the 1972 pilot for Emergency.

Gage, DeSoto, Dr. Brackett, Nurse Dixie, lots of sirens and perilous predicaments . . . and Millie Helper with a toilet seat epoxied to her butt. All directed by Jack Webb. What more could you possibly want out of a TV movie?

Sorry, but I do so miss the '70s.

Monday, December 03, 2012

A confederacy of dunces . . . on the make

I . . . well, you see . . . uhhhhhh . . . the . . . ummmmmm . . . well, dat's Loozi . . . errrrrrr . . . I . . . ummmmm . . . HOLY CRAP!

I . . . I . . . I . . . errrrrrr . . . I . . . it . . . the the . . . ohhhhh . . . ummmm, well. . . .

Aw, hell, here's the story from WWL television in -- of course -- New Orleans:
The Quicky's convenience store in Mid-City takes its parking lot rules seriously. Very seriously.

About 4 p.m. Friday, New Orleans paramedics rushed inside the store for a man with a life-threatening medical issue.

They worked on the patient with chest pain, put him inside the vehicle, then started to speed off.

The paramedics “heard a loud noise,” and the vehicle came to a screeching halt, according to Jeb Tate, spokesman for New Orleans Emergency Medical Services.

The medics stepped out and found a boot on their ambulance.

Convenience store employees allegedly put a restrictive parking boot on the ambulance. And now it was stuck.

The paramedics were perplexed.

Tate said the ambulance had its emergency lights on the whole time.

Store employees didn’t want to talk about it. They declined requests for comment.

Apparently one of the employees took the boot off. The tire was left flat.

And so the paramedics and the man with the emergency waited.

“We actually had to delay that patient's care by calling another ambulance out here to come transport this patient,” Tate said.

The man who booted the ambulance was a Quicky’s convenience store employee and New Orleans Police cited him for simple criminal damage to property for putting the boot on the ambulance.

Eyewitness News saw workers continuing to boot cars in their parking lot Monday morning. A worker at Quicky's convenience store said the employee, identified in a police report as Ahmed Sidi Aleywa, who booted a working ambulance Friday has been fired.

“The guy that did this, he came from another country. He didn't even know what an ambulance looked like. He's been fired,” said Ali Colone, a man identified as a worker at Quicky’s. The owners declined to comment, but Colone said the owners are sorry it happened.

“We just have rules and regulations that we have to follow by. There are signs out here for our regular customers,” Colone said.

Those rules and regulations are self-imposed. Quicky’s parking lot is private property. Signs posted read, “If you leave the property your vehicle will be booted."

Akesha Allen is a private investigator and in September, she stopped to get a drink at Quicky's. Before getting out, she climbed to the back of the van to secure her equipment when it started shaking.

“I said, what are you doing? I'm not illegally parked. He goes, yes you are. You didn't pay the fee. I said I never got out of the van to pay the fee,” Allen said about a $5 charge for parking in the lot.

They gave her a sheet that said she owed them $120 to remove the boot.

“We had to come out there with cash. They wouldn't take a check,” said Mark Avery, Allen’s employer at Deep South Investigations.
SO, do you need any more proof that New Orleans is not of this country, if indeed of this world? It's not just anywhere that you will find such a perfect storm of abject stupidity plus people always, always on the make and looking for somebody, anybody to shake down.

Even an ambulance trying to take one of your deathly ill customers to the freakin' hospital.

It says a lot about the folks who run Quicky's that they think it's a defense that their now-former employee was so out of touch with modernity that he didn't know what an ambulance was and, one assumes, couldn't read or comprehend "New Orleans EMS" painted on its side in giant letters.

"Eems? Wha iss theese eems! Theese eems no park here!"

Really? They think they'll look better because they hire flippin' morons from BF Egypt? That booting an ambulance is somehow less abjectly criminally insane because they hired a moron mystified by an ambulance parked in the convenience-store lot, emergency lights flashing?

God Almighty.

Well, at least somebody at Quicky's knew the number for 911. That's something, I guess.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How I learned to stop worrying
and love my enormous testicles

Wesley Warren Jr., last year

Fame must be a little like meth.

People will do anything for another hit. Or not do anything, as the case may be.

Take, for example, the poor soul in Las Vegas who now is so hooked on his notoriety that he's turned down the offer of a free million-dollar surgery to right-size the source of that notoriety -- his person-sized testicles.

The man has to go through life wearing enormous hoodies as if they were pants, because that's the only thing into which he can stuff his junk. He also has to go through life peeing on himself because . . . well, he can't find it buried deep within all that.

Then there's all the stuff you
can't do when you have a 100-pound scrotum.

So, whatever the risks -- and there are a couple -- you'd think accepting the offer of free surgery to fix what ails you would be a no-brainer. Unless accepting the offer from the Dr. Oz show meant it got exclusive rights to your story.

And what if getting rid of 99 percent of your enormous testicles -- getting to the point where people never mind your bollocks -- meant that people would never mind you, either?

Wesley Warren Jr., this month on Tosh.O . . . in the video
I can show.
(Skip to 4:45 in the video.) In the other clip,
Warren drops hoodie and shows "it."

Paul Harasim at the Las Vegas Review-Journal has been chronicling the strange, strange case of Wesley Warren Jr., and his large, large balls. Here's the latest:
The late President Lyndon Johnson used to relish doing in-person interviews with reporters while moving his bowels. Wesley Warren Jr., he of the 100-pound scrotum, loved being interviewed last week while sprawled bare-assed across his bed.

Yet Warren, unlike Johnson, swears he was "just being comfortable," that he wasn't deriving a twisted sense of power from watching a journalist try to act like nothing is strange as he is deliberately cast into an awkward situation.

"Write that I have clean butt cheeks," Warren said, laughing in a follow-up phone interview.

Uninspected butt cheeks aside, Warren laughed often as we talked in his small Las Vegas apartment, and he said his scrotum, partially encased in a towel, "grew another three inches."
I WONDER whether he charts its growth with pencil marks on the doorjamb, just like the proud parent of a similarly sized child.

But celebrity -- even the strangest manifestation of it -- is a narcotic, and you got to get that next fix. Ordinary junkies and meth heads do mundane things in the name of getting high, like stealing from family or selling their bodies to strangers.

Fame addicts do other things. Ultimately, they develop a Stockholm syndrome kind of relationship with the genesis of their notoriety, the thing that's holding them hostage.

No debasement is too much, no testicle joke too demeaning if it prolongs the buzz. Even if the world is laughing at you instead of crying with you, the world still is acknowledging that you exist.

Oh, joy.
A "Tosh.0" video also showed a skateboarder appearing to get knocked down when he ran into Warren's scrotum.

"It was fun going to Los Angeles in the big van they sent for me," Warren said, grinning.

The Wesley Warren of today does not act like the somber Wesley Warren I interviewed last fall.

Rather than on the edge of tears, he's seemingly enjoying his celebrity. He reminds you he'll soon appear on The Learning Channel and that Fire Cracker Films of Great Britain signed him to a contract for a documentary.

An indication that Warren's interest in celebrity could interfere with repairing his condition seemed to arise soon after my first story appeared. Producers from "The Dr. Oz Show" called to say Dr. Mehmet Oz had read the piece and would find the best surgeons possible to help Warren at no cost to him.

Yet Warren balked. While fearful he might die on the operating table during the highly complicated surgery, he also said he did not like the fact that Dr. Oz wanted to confine all interviews to his show.

"Howard Stern (the radio shock jock) wants me on his show," he said.

But Warren grows angry if anyone suggests he wants the spotlight more than the corrective knife.

"Who would want to live like this?" he said. "I just don't want to die during the operation."
TOO LATE. Warren died when he answered that first phone call from a Hollywood TV producer.

The Man With the Mammoth Balls, who's filling the late Wesley Warren Jr.'s upside down XXXL hoodie, is going to ride his bollocks as far as they'll carry him. Maybe even to
The Howard Stern Show.


In today's America, it's always better to be The Man With the Mammoth Balls than to be nobody at all.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

So much for 'products of conception'

We have met the Antichrist, and he is us.

What else is there to say about this story in
The Telegraph, one of Britain's national dailies, reporting that a group of medical ethicists affiliated with Oxford advocates the killing of unwanted newborns, being that there's no difference between a newborn and a fetus. Their position was outlined in an article in the Journal of Medical Ethics.

I suppose pro-lifers should at least welcome the dropping of pretenses and the acknowledgment that, no, there is no biological difference between a newborn and a fetus in the womb. Nor is there any moral difference between the killing of one and the killing of the other.

And I suppose that we could, as well, appreciate the irony of one of the authors -- in the wake of the predictable death threats -- saying that "those who made abusive and threatening posts about the study were 'fanatics opposed to the very values of a liberal society.'"

Aye, there's the rub.

It really isn't ironic at all. The "fanatics" really might be "opposed to the very values of a liberal society" -- at least the one we presently have, which holds that one creates his own moral universe and, indeed, his own reality. In the Oxford death-dealers' reality, "babies are not 'actual persons' and do not have a 'moral right to life.'"

THIS IS the "liberal society" we all have been busy creating the past number of decades, one that perhaps may have been made inevitable by the dawning of the Enlightenment. I mean, by what objective standard was the Enlightenment enlightened? By what -- or whose -- authority do we proclaim such?


In liberal society, all that is required for the repellent to become the height of morality is us saying it is. Or at least enough people with enough authority (and enough guns) to make it so. And the first step is getting a serious journal to legitimize your crackpot theory that up is down, left is right, green is red, wrong is right, and right is wrong.

Or that "babies are not 'actual persons' and do not have a 'moral right to life.'" Enter the
Journal of Medical Ethics, and suddenly we don't need to pretend anymore that what's inside the womb is materially different somehow from that which pops out of it. Death to "the products of conception"!

Now we can get on to the real business of categorizing Lebensunwertes Leben.
The article, entitled “After-birth abortion: Why should the baby live?”, was written by two of Prof Savulescu’s former associates, Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva.

They argued: “The moral status of an infant is equivalent to that of a fetus in the sense that both lack those properties that justify the attribution of a right to life to an individual.”

Rather than being “actual persons”, newborns were “potential persons”. They explained: “Both a fetus and a newborn certainly are human beings and potential persons, but neither is a ‘person’ in the sense of ‘subject of a moral right to life’.

“We take ‘person’ to mean an individual who is capable of attributing to her own existence some (at least) basic value such that being deprived of this existence represents a loss to her.”

As such they argued it was “not possible to damage a newborn by preventing her from developing the potentiality to become a person in the morally relevant sense”.

The authors therefore concluded that “what we call ‘after-birth abortion’ (killing a newborn) should be permissible in all the cases where abortion is, including cases where the newborn is not disabled”.

They also argued that parents should be able to have the baby killed if it turned out to be disabled without their knowing before birth, for example citing that “only the 64 per cent of Down’s syndrome cases” in Europe are diagnosed by prenatal testing.

Once such children were born there was “no choice for the parents but to keep the child”, they wrote.

“To bring up such children might be an unbearable burden on the family and on society as a whole, when the state economically provides for their care.”

However, they did not argue that some baby killings were more justifiable than others – their fundamental point was that, morally, there was no difference to abortion as already practised.

They preferred to use the phrase “after-birth abortion” rather than “infanticide” to “emphasise that the moral status of the individual killed is comparable with that of a fetus”.
PETER SINGER would be so proud.

So would Adolf Hitler.

One way or another, if civilization is to survive, our "liberal society" must be destroyed. I mean, given the most recent empirical data, you'd have to agree that it's been demonstrated to be nothing more than a "potential" society at best and therefore has no justifiable "right to life."

Pull the plug now. We must make room for something less crippled, less retarded and more robust. It's only logical.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Don't mess around when burtations strike

In Los Angeles, when a reporter does this, it's cause for alarm and much legitimate speculation about on-air strokes or possible brain tumors. Scary stuff.

In Omaha, when a reporter does this, it means you must be watching Channel 6.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Murder . . . by inches (and a couple weeks)

Dammit! Jabbing surgical scissors into a baby's head is only legal if the baby's -- er . . . fetus' -- head is still inside the birth canal!

I hope this Philadelphia doctor --
the one booked for eight counts of murder . . . seven dead babies and one dead mother -- gets the book thrown at him for doing this horrible thing at 28 weeks' gestation, as opposed to 24. Imagine, an abortionist preying on poor and minority women!

Imagine, an abortionist doing gruesome things! Cutting up babies! Jabbing scissors into their itty bitty heads! Who'd a thunk it?

And thus we discover the true meaning of "What a difference a day makes"
(not to mention six inches): Life in prison.

THE LATEST on this unspeakable atrocity (as opposed to heroic acts in the name of reproductive freedom) comes from The Associated Press:
A doctor who gave abortions to minorities, immigrants and poor women in a "house of horrors" clinic was charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Dr. Kermit Gosnell, 69, made millions of dollars over 30 years, performing as many illegal, late-term abortions as he could, prosecutors said. State regulators ignored complaints about him and failed to inspect his clinic since 1993, but no charges were warranted against them given time limits and existing law, District Attorney Seth Williams said. Nine of Gosnell's employees also were charged.

Gosnell "induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord," Williams said.

Patients were subjected to squalid and barbaric conditions at Gosnell's Women's Medical Society, where Gosnell performed dozens of abortions a day, prosecutors said. He mostly worked overnight hours after his untrained staff administered drugs to induce labor during the day, they said.

Early last year, authorities went to investigate drug-related complaints at the clinic and stumbled on what Williams called a "house of horrors."

Bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses "were scattered throughout the building," Williams said. "There were jars, lining shelves, with severed feet that he kept for no medical purpose."

The clinic was shut down and Gosnell's medical license was suspended after the raid.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dying for sex

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

No matter how we try and try, and then try again, to make ourselves into figurative tubs of Chiffon -- remember Chiffon? -- we crash and burn upon the rock-hard realities of "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."

Oftentimes, this principle is demonstrated most starkly and tragically when it comes into conflict with the modern-day dogma of universal autonomy, which holds that "f***ing is an entitlement."
NBC News unveiled the latest chapter of an interminable tale of hubris and woe this morning on Today (above) and on MSNBC:
Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson may have known years ago about the deadly risks of its birth control patch Ortho Evra, according to internal documents obtained by NBC News.

Patient reports between 2002 and 2004 show that Ortho Evra was 12 times more likely to cause strokes and 18 times more likely to cause blood clots than the conventional birth control pill, NBC News' TODAY show revealed Wednesday.

When Ortho Evra first hit the market in 2002, it was a big hit. "Time" magazine called it one of the best inventions of the year and doctors have written nearly 40 million prescriptions for it. But as sales surged, so did claims of injury and even death.

Some experts say the patch is problematic because it delivers a continuous and high level of estrogen — 60 percent more estrogen than the pill. When a birth control pill is swallowed, it quickly dissolves into the system. But with the patch, estrogen keeps flowing into the bloodstream for an entire week.

"With the patch… there's no relief of the body of the woman from getting estrogen," Dr. Sidney Wolfe, Medical Director of watchdog group Public Citizen, told NBC.

Concern over the patch has led to high-level resignations at Johnson & Johnson.

In 2005, Johnson & Johnson Vice President Dr. Patrick Caubel suddenly quit, saying in his resignation letter, "I have been involved in the safety evaluation of Ortho Evra since its introduction on the market. … The estrogenic exposure [of the patch] was unusually high, as was the rate of fatalities."

His letter, which was obtained by NBC, said the research was "compelling evidence" that the company ignored. Therefore, he wrote, "it became impossible for me to stay in my position as VP."

NBC's investigation also found a lawsuit by another Johnson & Johnson vice president, Dr. Joel Lippman, who is suing the company for unlawful termination after he says he blew the whistle on the patch's dangerously high levels of estrogen, even before it came to market.

The company, he says, "disregarded his concerns and launched the product anyway."

"The company knew about much of it, if not all of it," said Dr. Wolfe. "They thought correctly that it wouldn't sell as well if you told people how dangerous it was."
NATURAL LAW isn't a popular concept in the postmodern West, but that doesn't make it any less valid. Everything has a purpose. Natural systems, and this includes Homo sapiens, have a certain economy.

Certain plants grow best within a certain environment, and humans thrive only within certain parameters -- physiologically, sociologically and morally. We don't want to hear this, however, because being fallen creatures, we want to do what we want to do.

(For that matter, we don't want to hear that we're fallen, either.)

And we'll find ways to deny the consequences of our doing exactly what we want to do. Which brings us into direct conflict with the one immutable reality of earthly existence --
"It's not nice to fool Mother Nature."

THERE WILL be consequences when you violate the law -- moral and physical. Most of them will be ugly.

In every instance, though, we're going to keep trying our damnedest
(in every sense of "damnedest") to do just that. You see, in this sad case, we find that the corollary to "f***ing is an entitlement" is more important than the main point itself:

"Making billions of dollars off 'f***ing is an entitlement' is far greater entitlement than f***ing.
And we'll kill you to do it."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Because breast-cancer patients are un-American

I wonder whether all the tea-party "patriots" worried about "ObamaCare" are much worried about this "death panel"?

Probably not, because WellPoint's death panel is a respectable capitalist death panel, not one of Barack Obama's communistic ones.

I guess
Reuters reported the following story because it's based in Great Britain, and the Limeys are "socialists" just drooling all over themselves in anticipation of turning the United States into the simply-red USSA.

And MSNBC picked it up because, well . . . it's MSNBC, which rhymes with "Red TV."

the ticket:
One after another, shortly after a diagnosis of breast cancer, each of the women learned that her health insurance had been canceled. First there was Yenny Hsu, who lived and worked in Los Angeles. Later, Robin Beaton, a registered nurse from Texas. And then, most recently, there was Patricia Relling, a successful art gallery owner and interior designer from Louisville, Kentucky.

None of the women knew about the others. But besides their similar narratives, they had something else in common: Their health insurance carriers were subsidiaries of WellPoint, which has 33.7 million policyholders — more than any other health insurance company in the United States.

The women all paid their premiums on time. Before they fell ill, none had any problems with their insurance. Initially, they believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.

Once the women were singled out, they say, the insurer then canceled their policies based on either erroneous or flimsy information. WellPoint declined to comment on the women's specific cases without a signed waiver from them, citing privacy laws.

That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. Insurance companies have used the practice, known as "rescission," for years. And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders.

But WellPoint also has specifically targeted women with breast cancer for aggressive investigation with the intent to cancel their policies, federal investigators told Reuters. The revelation is especially striking for a company whose CEO and president, Angela Braly, has earned plaudits for how her company improved the medical care and treatment of other policyholders with breast cancer.

The disclosures come to light after a recent investigation by Reuters showed that another health insurance company, Assurant Health, similarly targeted HIV-positive policyholders for rescission. That company was ordered by courts to pay millions of dollars in settlements.

In his push for the health care bill, President Barack Obama said the legislation would end such industry practices. Making the case for reform in a September address to Congress, Obama specifically cited the cancellation of Robin Beaton's health insurance. Aides to the president, who requested they not be identified, told Reuters that no one in the White House knew WellPoint was systematically singling out breast cancer patients like Beaton.

Many critics worry the new law will not lead to an end of these practices. Some state and federal regulators —- as well as investigators, congressional staffers and academic experts — say the health care legislation lacks teeth, at least in terms of enforcement or regulatory powers to either stop or even substantially reduce rescission.

"People have this idea that someone is going to flip a switch and rescission and other bad insurance practices are going to end," says Peter Harbage, a former health care adviser to the Clinton administration. "Insurers will find ways to undermine the protections in the new law, just as they did with the old law. Enforcement is the key."


The cancellation of her health insurance in June 2008 forced Robin Beaton to delay cancer surgery by five months. In that time, the tumor in her breast grew from 2 centimeters to 7 centimeters.

Two months before Beaton's policy was dropped, Patricia Relling also was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anthem Blue Cross of Kentucky, a WellPoint subsidiary, paid the bills for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

But the following January, after Relling suffered a life-threatening staph infection requiring two emergency surgeries in three days, Anthem balked and refused to pay more. They soon canceled her insurance entirely.

Unable to afford additional necessary surgeries for nearly 16 months, Relling ended up severely disabled and largely confined to her home. As a result of her crushing medical bills, the once well-to-do businesswoman is now dependent on food stamps.

"It's not like these companies don't like women because they are women," says Jeff Isaacs, the chief assistant Los Angeles City Attorney who runs the office's 300-lawyer criminal division. "But there are two things that really scare them and they are breast cancer and pregnancy. Breast cancer can really be a costly thing for them. Pregnancy is right up there too. Their worst-case scenario is that a child will be born with some disability and they will have to pay for that child's treatment over the course of a lifetime."
I AM SURE these women, in some manner intentionally not reported by the Brit commies -- you have heard that even the Tories on that benighted isle are "Red" Tories, right? -- really had this coming, and that raw, unrestrained capitalism once again has acted in a manner morally superior to any statist policy paradigm.

"Enlightened self-interest," "greed is good" and all that rot, wot?

Monday, March 08, 2010

The road to hell

If there is indeed such a thing as a real hell on earth -- as opposed to pedestrian, rhetorical hells on earth -- Juarez, Mexico, might be a finalist for the designation.

And when you get right down to it, Juarez became hellish due to a lot of factors you can see, to a lesser degree, in my own Louisiana hometown, Baton Rouge. And in things closer to home here in Nebraska -- like, for example, the growth of "concierge medicine."

This hit me like a thunderbolt as I listened to All Things Considered this afternoon. In the NPR program's feature on the plight of Juarez, one part hit me between the eyes with a journalistic two-by-four.

IT WAS this segment in the report:
In March 2009, Calderon put the Mexican army in charge of the Juarez police department after one of the local drug cartels ordered the police chief to quit.

Calderon now concedes that military muscle alone isn't going to end the violence. "We need to tackle this social plan, because the problems in Juarez have deep roots in the structure of this city," Calderon told a group of local business and community leaders.

Young people lack opportunities, he said. Juarez doesn't have enough schools, hospitals or soccer fields. Only half the roads are paved. Murder, extortion and kidnapping go unpunished.

Calderon said the social fabric and rule of law need to be re-established in Juarez. He received one of his biggest rounds of applause when he declared that motorists should be accountable and people should no longer be allowed to drive around without license plates.

Calderon pledged tens of millions of additional dollars for social programs in Juarez, but he also said he will not pull the Mexican army out of the streets.

The double punch of the global economic downturn and the gruesome drug war has battered the border city across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. The maquiladoras, or assembly plants, in Juarez have cut more than 100,000 jobs since 2008. The owners of thousands of restaurants, bars, corner stores and other small businesses have shut their doors rather than pay "protection money" to local gangs. Many professionals have moved to El Paso.

Alvador Gonzalez Ayala, a civil engineer who works in Texas, has chosen to keep his home in Juarez. "And I want to remain here," he says. "I want my children to remain here."

He says one of the biggest problems facing the industrial city is the huge disparity in wealth.

Gonzalez says much of the blame rests with the local elite, which he says is "a privileged and influential minority that's totally indifferent to the great mass of poor people [who] live in the area."
[Emphasis mine -- R21]

He adds that the city has been neglected for decades. Young people who see the opulence in Juarez and just across the border fence in Texas are attracted to the quick money of the drug trade, he says. Workers in the maquiladoras earn $60 to $70 a week. Drug runners can earn that or much more in a day.

Gonzalez is involved in several civic groups, and he recalls going recently to talk to a group of preteens in one of Juarez's poorer neighborhoods.

"We were promoting education and science and math. And we were asking them, what do you want to do when you grow up? Many of them told us, 'I want to be a sicario.' That's striking. A sicario is a paid assassin," he says.

THE PART about tolerating cars driving around without license plates reminded me -- in the sense of a concept being carried to its logical conclusion -- of the great Gallic shrug Louisiana gives the larger concept of civic responsibility and good behavior. As did the part about indifferent elites.

It was the indifference of elites that also reminded me of life here in Omaha, home of one of the nation's poorest African-American communities -- one with only the tiniest of middle classes. The indifference doesn't, in my opinion, reach Louisiana (and certainly not Mexican) levels, but it there.

It's there whenever people can tout "concierge medicine" in the face of high infant mortality rates, astronomical levels of sexually transmitted disease, endemic street violence and disenfranchised people whose greatest deprivation is that of hope for a better life.

There are only two things that can lead to such tone deafness and rank selfishness. One is abject malevolence. The other is abject indifference. I don't know, frankly, which is worse.

But the end of the road, if the better angels of our nature do not eventually prevail upon us, is Juarez.

Medi¢ine the$e day$

Breathe deeply while you still can for free.

Soon enough, someone will find a way to make you pay a premium for clean air. And if you can't afford the good stuff, America . . . well, you can just kindly remove yourself to the back of the bus, where the "free market" makes "those people" sit.

Every day and in every way, the ranks of "those people" are swelling.

Take health care, for example. If you'd like some, it will cost you. If you'd like the good stuff, it will cost you a lot -- though you really can't afford the good stuff.

AND KNOW that to the extent the well-off opt for the "good stuff -- something we're coming to know as "concierge" care, where the doctor actually gives you the time of day . . . and his phone number -- what's left for the rest of us likely will come to resemble the scraps from the rich man's table.

According to Sunday's Omaha World-Herald, you can just call the vast majority of us Lazarus
Imagine opening a letter like this from your doctor:

“I'd love to keep you as a patient, but to stay with me you'll have to pay an extra annual fee of $2,500.

“Please let my office know if you will be paying the fee. If not, we'll help you find another primary care doctor.”

Although it might be worded more politely, that's the gist of the letter you could receive if your doctor adopts a style of primary health care known as concierge medicine.

Its backers say the concept can attract and retain more primary care doctors by improving their lives and enabling them to practice medicine the way they want, rather than under the time-constrained demands of the typical doctor's office.

But the concept also raises philosophical and ethical issues. Concierge physicians limit the number of patients they see by charging annual fees, which wealthy people can more easily afford. Also, this kind of medicine could reduce the number of primary care doctors at a time when demand already exceeds supply.

Nationally, the practice of concierge medicine is still small — perhaps 400 primary care physicians out of about 250,000 nationally — but in some regions it is firmly established.

The largest concierge company, MDVIP, has more than 300 doctors nationwide and recently was purchased by Procter & Gamble. It's been more than 12 years since the first such practice opened in Seattle. There's even a cable TV program, “Royal Pains,” about concierge medicine.

But the approach has only recently arrived here. Nebraska's first, a two-doctor practice, opened last month near 90th Street and West Dodge Road in Omaha after a three-year trial at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

It's affiliated with a new Omaha management company, Members.MD, whose chairman is former Burger King franchise owner and cancer survivor Mike Simmonds.

“Primary care is broken,” said Dr. Joel Bessmer, who is medical director of Members.MD and who opened the new practice with partner Dr. Robert Schwab. “It allows us to step off the treadmill and spend time with patients. This is a different world of trying to provide primary care.”

Physicians get to know patients thoroughly and become their health partners, he said. The doctor's office becomes the patients' comfortable, easily accessible medical home, instead of a hurried place full of other sick people and doctors who have no time to spare.

But Dr. John Goodson of Harvard Medical School said concierge medicine could worsen a system that to some degree already dispenses care based on whether people can afford insurance.

“Do we as physicians hang together and maintain our commitment to access?” he said. “That really ought to be a fundamental principle of medicine. We're there to help people, and we're not going to discriminate against people because of their economics.”
Goodson said primary care doctors should supervise their patients' hospital stays as part of normal care, not for an extra fee. Members.MD offers hospital supervision only with its upper level of care.

Eliminating people from a medical practice by charging a fee is “abandonment,” he said. Even if a patient's records transfer, the new doctor doesn't know all the information that the first doctor learned about the patient.

Yet the rise of concierge care, he said, shows that as a profession, primary care “is on the ropes and dying fast. It's like the polar ice cap, starting to fracture. It ought to be a wake-up call to everybody.”

He said that the start of a practice in Omaha indicates the concierge model, although marginal in most regions, isn't going away. “It makes me sad as a professional that my colleagues are doing this sort of charging.”
WE NOW LIVE in a country where one's bank account determines one's worth in life. You are what you make. Human dignity has become a commodity.

"Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Formerly available for free from one's Creator, they now are available only with purchase of the America Plus premium package.

If you don't want to die before the next operator is available to schedule your appointment with a Proletarian Partners physician's assistant, it's going to cost you. And you'd better hope your insurance plan allows diagnostic stethoscope use.

But that's not important now. What's important is that "concierge medicine" is the talk of the town -- the part of town that matters, that is:

Simmonds, who was inducted in the Omaha Business Hall of Fame last year for his success in the fast-food business, said the concept is “sort of the talk of the town, at least in my circles.”

Simmonds said he heard about Bessmer's practice from a fellow airplane traveler, called Bessmer the next morning, interviewed him over lunch at Charleston's and “hired him” as his doctor. Simmonds' former primary care doctor was good and even a friend, but Simmonds couldn't call or e-mail him whenever he wanted.

“When I don't feel good, I like to talk to somebody right now,” he said. “Joel spoiled me,” including supervising his care when he was hospitalized and providing other care over the past year and a half. He was diagnosed with cancer several years ago.
IF YOU BELIEVE it's a self-evident truth that "all men are created equal," you should be offended as hell right now. Some folk think their money makes their well-being more important than yours. They think that rationing isn't rationing if they slap a "free market" label on it and have enough cash to game the system in their favor.

There's a four-letter word for that kind of thinking: E-V-I-L.

And I think the Bolshevik Revolution happened for a reason. I hope people like Mike Simmonds have another think coming before finding out exactly what that reason was.