C N S News Scroll

Thursday, April 16, 2015

$50 Million Per Patient: The High Cost of Healthcare

The New York Times, hardly a bastion of conservative thought, recently published a piece about the virtually empty U.S. built Ebola clinics in the African nation of Liberia. All part of Community Organizer in Chief Barack Obama’s day late response to the Ebola outbreak in the West African country.

Obama you may recall plodded along while, delaying the U.S. response to the epidemic that saw Liberia hit with 9,862 cases of Ebola which left a devastating 4408 dead. The Times reported that Worldwide there were 25,500 cases and 10,500 dead; so clearly Liberia was at the epicenter of the death toll, accounting for nearly half of the dead.

So Obama’s response was to hire a political hack, Democrat strategist, Ron Klain to be the Ebola Czar who departed just a short time into his projected tenure. Next the Community Organizer decided he would send nearly 3000 members of the military to help set up 11 Ebola Treatment Units (ETU). The United States outlay for this adventure was $1.4 billion.

So…how many patients did this project treat? How Many lives did it save? The grand total is 28. No that’s not a typo…28! Do the math; that works out to be $50 million per patient. These people spend so much time worry about the optics/politics of things that they delayed the response until after the epidemic had peaked.

This should be yet another glaring example of how wrong all those folks who believe that the government has all the answers or solutions to problems. The local, more nimble and largely privately funded response proved to be not only more effective, but also less expensive. Imagine these are the clowns who voted to take over a huge segment of our economy and put themselves in charge of our healthcare.

Government is a large, lumbering, slow moving mess that is not equipped to deal with anything in a timely or effective manner. Private enterprise is a clear cut more effective and cost effective manner for addressing major problems.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Liberal Bias, Locker Room Style

Bias in the Booth – An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News – Dylan Gwinnn (Regnery Press)

“We’re fast approaching a point where there’s going to be no real difference between Bob Costas and Rachel Maddow. Except one of them is a man. I think.” While that line made me chuckle, what made it not so funny is it was so true. By the way…Rachel Maddow…I hate that guy!

Dylan Gwinn is a sports talk host and in his first book, Bias in the Booth – An Insider Exposes How Sports Media Distort the News he offers up a comprehensive compendium of screaming double standard of liberal bias not just in the media, but in the sports media in particular. While the shot he takes detailed above at Tiny Bob, who is one of the absolute worst when it comes to flaming liberal sportscaster overstating there stupid opinions, Gwinn truly goes deep and detailed when it comes to pointing out the do as I say not as a do hypocrisy of the of the lefties in sports.

While they tout themselves, often straining muscles to reach around and pat themselves on the back for their open mindedness, the fact of the matter is that by most intelligent standards of reality, liberals are they absolute least tolerant people, notably in the media. The sports media is no different. God forbid you have a different opinion or view point on things, because they will bring on the pitchforks and torches and burn you to the ground.

Gwinn cites chapter and verse on topics ranging from Tim Tebow to Michael Sam and racism to Rush Limbaugh; oh wait…according to most sports broadcasters racism and Rush are one and the same. First amendment? Gwinn points out that, yes you have the right to speak your mind…as long as your opinion matches liberal sportscasters in lock step, otherwise, not so much.

Gwinn does a masterful job of dissecting the libs commentary chapter and verse and proving them wrong time after time throughout the book. Therein lies the rub…even when they are hammered with the facts, liberals never apologize for being wrong. I will continue to wait for the five halfwit St. Louis Rams players to apologize for their ridiculous hands up don’t shoot pre-game demonstration, that as now twice been proven to be wrong; once by the grand jury and once by racist, attorney general, Eric Holder’s Justice Department in the Michael Brown case. No…I won’t be holding my breath while I wait.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Great Health Care “Fix”

The Patient Will See You Now: the Future of Medicine is in Your Hands – Eric Topol, M.D. (Basic Books)

America’s Bitter Pill – Money, Politics, Backroom Deals and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System – Steven Brill (Random House)

Reinventing American Health Care – Ezekiel J. Emanuel (Public Affairs Books)

A staggering amount of ink, paper, hot air and treasure has been expanded in a seemingly never ending debate over how to best improve the current state of the health care in the United States. Some have deluded themselves into buying into the fantasy that the Affordable Care Act, aka; Obamacare was the so-called magic bullet that would once and for all fix the deeply flawed, ridiculously overpriced U.S. Healthcare system.

Unfortunately those delusional folks couldn’t be more wrong; the Obamacare legislation is the worst example of how Congress creates new laws, a mish mash of bad sausage making that slaps together so much contradictory information into a greasy mess of differing constituencies, that does nothing to actually improve care for the patient or lower costs for that sub-par care.

So despite decades of chatter, hand wringing and debate we really haven’t moved the ball. Three new books attempt to tackle the problem and at times bring strikingly similar points of view to bear and at others approach things from diametrically opposite perspectives. In the end only ones comes close to what will actually bring an impactful change to healthcare, albeit one that still has some hole that remain to be filled.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a physician and bio-ethicist by trade, was one of the architects responsible for the sloppy sausage making that went into Obamacare. His take on fixing healthcare comes in the form of his book Reinventing American Health Care, which is a mix of a clearly misplaced, misguided victory lap for his work on Obamacare and what he envisions as the next steps to continue that process.

Emanuel is a glaring example of a socialized medicine, universal healthcare-type who buys into the belief that government control is the only correct path to the delivery of healthcare. Its sounds like a case of, Obamacare was a good first step, but there is still more work to be done.

Emanuel makes some downright astounding predictions about what he sees as the future of healthcare, including:

·         The end of insurance as we know it – happening by 2025

·         The end of employer sponsored health insurance – happening by 2020

·         The end of health care inflation – happening by2020

·         The emergence of digital medicine and the closure of hospitals – happening by 2020

While I believe some of these predictions, which may be seen as bold by some, will likely happen, it won’t be for the reasons Emanuel lays out. Clearly Obamacare has failed miserably on one of the cornerstone claims that was made about it; reducing the cost of healthcare and health insurance. In fact, costs have continued to not only increase, but increase dramatically. Those costs will make it impossible for businesses, big and small, to continue to provide/underwrite the costs of insuring their employees.

As to ending health care inflation, this one is laughable on its face for a multitude of reasons. The most basic reason is one of the fundamentals of understanding economics, which clearly Emanuel and many in the Obama administration, including the President, don’t quite grasp; supply and demand. We are on the leading edge of aging baby boomers starting to hit the age where they we see the need to utilize health care at a greater rate, thereby increasing the demand, while the supply; doctors, nurses, etc., has remained relatively stagnant or actually decreased; which will lead inevitably to increased costs.

It is only with the emergence of digital medicine that Emanuel comes close to a correct prediction. Dr. Eric Topol delves much more deeply into the impact of the technological evolution and digitization of health care; more on that later.

Journalist and as he makes clear, a broad range participant in the health care system, Steven Brill takes a swing at improving health care by pumping steroids into his already pumped up take on the U.S. healthcare system. Brill expands on his epic 2013 Time magazine article, the 40,000 plus word piece entitled Bitter Pill – Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us, in the form of his new book, America’s Bitter Pill – Money, Politics, Backroom Deals and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System.

Like Topol and Emanuel, Brill serves up a heaping helping of heart rendering stories about seemingly ordinary, average, American citizens who have gotten caught up in the staggering costs of the U.S. healthcare system. Anyone who has had a hospital stay or had a family member have a hospital stay to battle disease or illness, simple or complex, has been the recipient of a mind-numbingly complex, nearly impossible to read, let alone understand, medical bill. Depending on the type of illness and course of treatment rendered, maybe more than one bill.

These sob stories have the desired effect; outrage at the high costs involved and a backlash against a seemingly secretive medical industrial complex. Brill’s solution to the problem involves the creation of large, regional health care systems being formed and assuming the role of not only provider, but of insurer for the patients they treat. This model is currently being explored in Western Pennsylvania by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and it’s insurance division. The logic Brill provides is that the insurance arms would keep close watch on the providers and the providers would be loathe to overcharge or over treat the patients covered by the insurance side, thereby keeping costs in line.

The glaring flaw in both Brill’s plan and in that of Emanuel’s socialist approach is that both keep the person purchasing the health care service outside the loop of the decision making process, which is what got us into the position that we find ourselves now firmly locked.

The only author who comes close to actually getting to what will fix the problem with our healthcare system is Eric Topol, M.D., a practicing cardiologist and researcher. In his new book, The Patient Will See You Now: the Future of Medicine is in Your Hands, Topol correctly raises the question, “Is there any other walk of life when services are purchased, but the purchaser does not take ownership?”

The problem stems from the simple fact that the patient, the reason for the service in the first place has been marginalized out of the process by third party insurers and by medical providers. Until we return control of the purchasing decision back to the patient, then the U.S. health care system will continue to be a nightmarish maze of high costs, relatively lousy results and endless problems. With that control back in the hands of the patient/consumer, comes competition for health care dollars and with that competition will come a combination of lower costs and improved service/care.

Brill and Emanuel would prefer to keep control in the hands of a third party who dictates not only what care looks like, but where you can receive it, and how much of it you can receive.

Topol makes the case that it is unlikely that the current system will willingly make the choice to hand control back to the consumer, but it is more likely that the consumer will seize control through the means of digital tools that continue to evolve and become more readily available to the average consumer in the form of smart phones and applications.

While those tools will help consumers to jump back into the process, there is still a role for physicians to play in the prescribing of medications and delivering care not in the traditional hospital setting, but on an outpatient basis which renders another level of control back to the patient. It’s not so much a case of self-medication as it is a better informed consumer making better choices for their own care.

Topol also makes a strong case against what I can only call lazy medicine with doctors doling out meds by the bucketful. Topol spells out in detail the outrageous use of medications, notably the multi-billion dollar scams for things like attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with over $9 billion in prescription drug sales annually and the anti-depressant prescription marketplace, which racks up tens of billions in sales on an annual basis, with most recipients of the meds not meeting even the most basic of medical need for the drugs. It’s doubtful that the real costs of the societal and medical impact of the reach for the prescription pad, better life through chemicals mindset, could ever be truly measured.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Gun News Update

The Washington Examiner is reporting that President Obama is once again planning to take unconstitutional action; this time looking to impose a ban the sale of 5.56 caliber ammunition which is manufactured for the top selling AR-15 Rifle. Even word of the mere speculation of the push for the ban by the bureaucrats at the ATF has driven up prices and gun retailers and has outdoor superstore Cabela’s urging its customers to contact Congress to block the President’s action. Can’t imagine the so-called Republican leadership will do anything but roll over.

Bestselling author John Lott (More Guns Less Crime) authored an excellent rebut to the specious reporting of the New York Times by laying out the facts about the law abiding nature of concealed carry permit holders.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Magical Liberal Thinking

Guantanamo Diary – Mohamedou Ould Slahi with Larry Siems, editor (Little Brown and Company)

It really comes down to two things; the perspective you bring to the table and critical thinking, or a lack there of.

If you come to this book, Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi with editing help from Larry Siems, from the perspective that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are war criminals or that being forced to listen to heavy metal music at staggering volumes while having the air conditioning or heat cranked up equates to torture, then this book will confirm much of the simplistic, mind numbed liberal horse crap that you have been fed about Gitmo.

Slahi, a Mauritanian by birth, has been in custody since November of 2001 and housed for much of that time at the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Slahi penned this tale during a period in 2005 and 2006 and after some time and legal wrangling was allowed to release a redacted version of the story after some editing by Mr. Siems.

Magical Liberal Thinking

It doesn’t take long for what I can only call magical thinking to begin; in the preface of the book, Siems details some of the background to Slahi’s story.

Slahi readily admits that he was a member of al Qaeda in 1991 and 1992 when he traveled to Afghanistan and being trained in weapons and tactics then joining the fight against the invaders from Soviet Union. Magically you are supposed to believe that once that fight ceased with the Soviet defeat, that Slahi severed all ties and drop his allegiance to al Qaeda.

Then we must account for an ongoing, steady series of coincidences that occurred in Slahi’s life.

·         Slahi was arrested in Mauritania in 2001 on suspicion that he was involved in the foiled Millenium Plot to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport on New Year’s Eve 1999. That plot was foiled by an alert border crossing agent at the Seattle/Tacoma, U.S./Canada crossing point who took Ahmed Ressam into custody when he attempted to smuggle explosives across the border. Magically Ressam had been a member of the same mosque that Slahi had led prayers during Ramadan. Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents had put Slahi under surveillance for several weeks, suspecting his participation in the plot, but had not been able to connect the dots to arrest him.

·         According to the 9-11 Commission Report Slahi was responsible for recruiting multiple jihadists into the al Qaeda fold. In the book Slahi again readily admits meeting with Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah while living in Germany, even allowing them to stay with him. Magically al-Shehhi and Jarrah were among the terrorists who flew hijacked planes into building on September 11, 2001, killing nearly 3000 people in the process.

·         Slahi also admits in the book to crossing paths with Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who intended to be a participant in the 9-11 attacks, but could not manage to get a U.S. Visa to enter the country. When bin al-Shibh was arrested and taken to Gitmo he admitted to knowing Slahi and told his interrogators that it was Slahi who directed him to an al Qaeda training camp. Bin al-Shibh later helped to supply cash and other items to the 9-11 terrorists as part of what would become known as the Hamburg (Germany) Cell that Slahi was believed to be a key contact in.

·         Peter Finn, writing in the Washington Post, hardly a outlet of conservative thought, described Slahi and fellow Gitmo detainee Tariq al-Sawah as “two of the most significant informants ever to be held at Guantanamo.” Finn went on to say that the pair had provided enough reliable information to “help officials chart connections among Islamic radicals across Europe.” So while Siems and other magical thinking liberals would have you believe that Slahi simply told interrogator “what they wanted to hear” this report clearly shows that hard intel that was garnered from Slahi.

·         Siems points to Marine Lt. Colonel Stuart Crouch a military prosecutor assigned to Slahi’s case, who declined to bring a prosecution against Slahi as evidence that there is no case to be made against him. To the contrary, Couch as stated in an Atlantic Magazine article, again far from a conservative outlet, that he chose not to prosecute Slahi on moral grounds, because he believed that Slahi had been tortured, but he still believed that Slahi was guilty of terrorist activities.

Where’s Obama

If Mohamadou Ould Slahi is innocent as seems and many other would lead you to believe it begs the question; why hasn’t President Obama, who seems hell bent to release as many terrorists as possible from Guantanamo and make good on his promise to close the facility, released Slahi back into the world? With reports of upwards of 60 to 70 percent of those who have been released from Gitmo taking up arms and returning to the Jihad, if Slahi is is so innocent, then wouldn’t he be a poster child for the program to release detainees?

Or could it be that all of these “coincidences” and the magical thinking they spawn are nothing more than a bunch of bullshit and this guy is a terrorist pure and simple. Was he on the receiving end of harsh treatment at the hands of his interrogators? Without a doubt. Did it amount to torture? All I ask is that you compare the treatment he received to that of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl or those taken prisoner by ISIS. Also know that Slahi is reported to be spending his time at Gitmo in a special compound, separated from other detainees for his own protection; tending his personal garden, writing and painting.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Republican Wake Up Call

When will Republican's finally learn that they have to stop dealing with Liberal, reporters on their terms and start taking charge. Out going Republican, Texas Governor Rick Perry, ponder another run for the Republican nomination for the right to run for President in 2016 has been dipping his toe in the water with donors and the media.

Perry recently sat down with liberal, NBC hack political reporter Kasie Hunt who had the unmitigated gall to ask Perry "are you smart enough to be President?"

Instead of telling Ms. Hunt to stick her question where the sun don't shine or removing his mic and walking away, Perry actually responded to this insulting question. Until Republicans learn to stand up for themselves and squaring off head on with these liberal hacks, then they will continue to be subject to this kind of crap. This is a wake up call for Republicans to not subject themselves to this kind of crap. I can't imagine any Democrat candidate ever being asked this kind of ridiculous question.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Unexplored Theory Doesn’t Equal “An Agenda”

The Book of Matt: The Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard – Stephen Jimenez (Steerforth Press Paperback Edition)

The October 6, 1998 beating and torture of Matthew Shepard that eventually led to his death has become one of the more interesting rallying points in our recent history in the United States. Almost overnight Shepard’s brutal murder was plunged into politics based solely on the fact that he was an HIV positive, gay man; which raised the specter that his murder was due to hated or as popularized at the time, a hate crime.

In, The Book of Matt: The Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard, journalist Stephen Jimenez continued his investigations of the crime and some of the facts that were left unexplored during the eventual trial and conviction of Shepard’s murders. Jimenez had been the producer of an ABC News 20/20 investigation into the case and a couple of years after the trial and conviction of Shepard’s murderers, he went back to Laramie, Wyoming to dig a little deeper into things that had come up in the initial digging into the story.

The book is the result of that second, deeper look at the story and some of the facts weren’t a part of the trial or the case against Shepard’s killers. It didn’t take long to track down those killers and the case against them in legal parlance was “air tight” so why would police dig any deeper?

Jimenez uncovered some clear evidence that Shepard, a slight, college student wasn’t perhaps the innocent victim of a hate crime, but perhaps even more likely, he was murdered due to his involvement in dealing methamphetamine. This naturally flew in the face of the activists who were pushing for legislation that eventually came to pass, to somehow supersize the crimes against protected classes as defined in the law.

Jimenez became the subject of attacks that labeled him as somehow “anti-gay” because he pointed out facts that flew counter to the public claims about Shepard. I guess that would make Jimenez a self-hating gay man; since he is in fact gay himself. The orchestrated campaign against Jimenez and the book is ridiculous on its face, since it doesn’t bother to actually address the facts in the book.

But that seems to be the way politics is debated in this day and age; and that is purely what is at play here. The politics of who cares more and who can somehow do more to protect or defend of give more to defined special classes. Think about the ridiculous nature of so-called hate crimes. Are people injured or killed because someone hates them? Certainly the answer is YES! Do we need a special set of laws to enforce criminal sanctions against those deemed to be in protected groups? NO…not really.

Matthew Shepard’s murder’s were convicted of their crimes; in a deal brokered by Shepard’s parents the killer received life sentences without chance of parole. If they had been convicted of a hate crime, would they spend any more time behind bars? The vile murderers of James Byrd, a Texas man who was beaten, chained and dragged to his death; both received death penalty sentences. When Texas eventually gets around to meting out that sentence, would they have been executed twice due to committing a hate crime?

Turning this book into a political debate is ridiculous. It’s clear to me that Jimenez didn’t have an “agenda” in mind when he set out to investigate the story, but it is in fact the left who attack him that have the agenda to somehow protect ridiculous hate crimes laws to somehow be portrayed as more caring and compassionate.