Discribed as "exaggerated, biting, unfair", Michael Moore's new documentary "Sicko" about US health care industry, is unlikely to change US health policy. While Moore taps into widespread dissatisfaction with the current system in America, most voters have been listening to similar complaints for a long time and are still not ready to deconstruct the health care system. The film details accounts of insurance companies denying people coverage and, while this makes people angry, I doubt whether the film will have a significant effect on health care policy.The middle class is still being served by things as they are.
Visit the new Hospital Compare Web Site to compare hospital mortality rates for heart attack and heart failure at over 4,000 nationwide.
Once closely guarded, hospital mortality rates are coming out in the open. The Hospital Compare Web Site may include information on whether your local hospital's 30-day mortality rates (heart attack and heart failure patients who died for any reason within 30 days of admission) are better or worse than 4,000 other hospitals.
Thousands of parents believe their kids have peanut allergies and because the allergic reactions can be very serious, they place suffocating limitations on their kids. Some of these families are worrying unnecessarily.
A study* of 84 children who tested positive for peanut allergy on the skin-prick-test showed that a substantial number were found not to be allergic to peanuts when they ate peanuts under medical supervision. The study claimed that the skin-prick-test is not precise or specific enough.
Parents with a child who has tested positive for peanut allergy should consider a "peanut challenge" in a hospital environment. Especially if their child has never had an allergic reaction to peanut before.
* Study published in the journal Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. Dr Anthony Yee, Donna Jelley and Mary Ziegler, Sydney Children's Hospital.
New Hampshire has distributed 14,000 doses of Gardasil (Merck) at no charge since January. The HPV vaccination program aimed at girls 11 to 18 has proven to be 100% effective at preventing HPV which is responsible for 70% of new cervical cancer cases. (Search this blog for "HPV Vaccine" to view related articles). In 2007, New Hampshire will spend almost $5 mil (28% of it's immunization budget) on the Gardasil program. Private insurers and the federal government provide all of the funding.
New Hampshire never sought to make HPV vaccination mandatory and has avoided the controversy and parental backlash experienced with the mandatory proposals in Texas. Virginia has a mandatory HPV Vaccine law but offers parents an option to decline. South Dakota and Washington, have voluntary programs offering free vaccine.
Doctors routinely treat cancer patients for anemia with 3 FDA approved drugs - Epogen, Procrit, and Aranesp. The prarmaceutical companies market the drugs to help with fatigue and improve the cancer patients' quality of life. At a $1,000 a dose, there's potential for abuse. Indeed, aggressive marketing to doctors and TV advertising to patients has led to overuse of the drugs and may be contributing to safety problems.
Recently the FDA warned that the drugs may speed the growth of cancer and increase the liklyhood of heart attacks and strokes leading to earlier death for some. The increased risks are due to overprescribing to a wide spectrum of patients. As many as 450,000 American patients are taking the drugs, which are covered by Medicare.
A coalition of 36 big US companies including Pacific Gas and Electric, General Mills, PepsiCo, Safeway, Bumble Bee Foods, and health industry giants Aetna, Cigna, Eli Lilly and Blue Shield of California, have joined together to lobby congress for market-based universal health care.
The coalition has laid out some core principles that health care reform should follow:
Health insurance will be mandatory
Low income citizens are to be subsidized
Health insurance will cover pre-existing medical conditions
Plans will include coverage for preventive care and incentives for healthier lifestyles
The self-insured will get tax relief
Medical treatment costs will be transparent.
What's new here is that big business traditionally oppose health care reform at the national level.
Illinois Business owners are voicing outrage over Governor Blagojevich's universal healthcare proposal for the state of Illinois. Illinois Covered would tax Illinois businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $2 million from 0.08% to 1.95% of gross sales. "That's more than thes profit fror many of these businesses and some businesses would move out of Illinois if the tax was imposed", says the state Chamber of Commerce who is conducting a campaign in opposition to the plan.
Bianca Kennedy, age 41, suffered terribly from hot flashes after being treated for breast cancer. Up to 25 times a day, she turned red and sweated uncontrollably. For the last 18 months, she's been completely free of hot flashes after a series of 3 injections of local anesthetic into nerve tissue located in the neck. She calles the treatments "life changing".
Stellate ganglion blocks (SGB), have been used safely for over 60 years to treat pain says board-certified anesthesiologist and pain management expert Eugene G. Lipov, M.D., Medical Director of the Chicago area-based Advanced Pain Centers. Nineteen out of twenty patients had at least an 80 percent decrease in hot flashes for a period of two weeks to a year following SGB. The SGB treatment is undergoing clinical trials with breast cancer patients under Dr Lipov's supervision.
Back in February 2007, I wrote that the state of Texas was mandating that all 6th grade girls be vaccinated with Gardasil, the Merck HPV vaccine, that promises to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in Texas by 70% within a generation. I applauded Gov. Rick Perry for getting out ahead of the curve with his bold public health policy mandate.
In short order, the press questioned Perry's motivation when it disclosed that Merck (who manufactures Gardasil) had donated a total of $10,000 to Perry and eight Texas lawmakers. Then a groundswell of complaints were raised by concerned parents. Some resented the mandated HPV vaccine treatment as contrary to their religious beliefs. Others voiced fears that their daughters might become promiscuous if the fear of cervical cancer was removed. The volume of complaints was surprising even after Perry explained that parents already had the option to opt out of the mandate on an individual basis if they wished.
At the end of April, the Texas legislature approved a bill that prevents mandatory vaccination for school girls for 4 years. Perry can veto, but the legislature would likely override his veto due to the overwhelming numbers in favor of the delay.
In next 4 years, over 6,000 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in Texas and over 1,500 Texas women will die of the disease.