Hi guys, I have a bit of time this morning to add to SOD’s quicky. So, let’s get to it.
I found this clip of Al Franken at Susie’s place. He makes an excellent case for sticking to your principles especially when it comes to supporting American working families. At the same time, he tears apart the Republican and Tea Party rationale for denying needy Americans the money to work, pay their COBRA bills and feed their kids in order to spare the deficit. He talks about how we gave away trillions in taxpayer money to the banking industry to bail them out after they took the world over the cliff. That was OUR money and now we’re supposed to take a haircut in order to keep the deficit from expanding? American working families should have been the first people helped out, not merely an afterthought. Many of the unemployed would still have jobs if it weren’t for those crooks. But I digress. Enjoy the clip.
Correct me if I’m wrong but does it feel like Al is picking up the burden of FDR Democrats everywhere? He’s really matured (but not too much, I hope). What would it be like to have the first Jewish president and have a White House Hannukah special on HGTV every year?
Some Health Care Industries are more equal than others
Also found at Susie’s place, here’s a piece from Miles Mogulescu at Huffpo about the deal that Obama cut with hospitals. Check out this little sample:
This is one of the great under-reported stories of the health reform saga. Much has been written about the Obama administration’s deal with big Pharma to continue to block Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices or to allow consumers to buy cheaper drugs from Canada, in exchange for Pharma running pro-Democratic ads and giving campaign contributions to Democratic candidates. That’s the reason, under pressure from the White House, that Senate Democrats voted down an amendment that would have allowed consumers to buy cheaper drugs from overseas.
But Obama’s deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to insure there would be no public option has, as best I can tell, only been reported in two articles in The New York Times. On August 13, The Timesreported that while President Obama had presented himself as “aloof from the legislative fray,” particularly in connection with the public option, “Behind the scenes, however, Mr. Obama and advisors have been…negotiating deals with a degree of cold-eyed political realism potentially at odds with the president’s rhetoric.” One of the deals reported in The Times article was the Pharma deal. The other was a deal with the for-profit hospital lobby to limit its cost reductions to $155 billion over 10 years in exchange for a White House promise that there would be no meaningful public option.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that one of the advisors that Obama has been listening to has been Michelle Obama who used to be an administrator in the hospital industry. And now, here’s a story I heard from a friend of mine who is an expat from a country where health insurance is a government priority: A couple of years ago, her husband had to have hernia surgery here in NJ. It was an outpatient affair. He was in and out in four hours. Wanna know how much it cost? Go on, guess. Give up?
Yup, that didn’t include the anesthesiologist or the surgeon. It was just the hospital. My friend was shocked so she called the insurance company to find out what gives. It must have been a mistake. The insurance company said, yes, that does seem excessive. So, it renegotiated with the hospital. The final bill came to $40,000 or roughly $10,000 an hour. She’s still trying to figure out what they got for that money. I’d like people to at least think about that when they are so quick to condemn what they see as the outrageous cost of drugs. Those drugs can keep you out of the hospital. And while I think the pharma CEOs made a strategic error lobbying the way they did, especially since it did absolutely nothing to resolve the underlying issues plaguing the industry, I have to wonder how it is we always focus our laser beam intensity on Big Pharma while the hospital industry comes up smelling like a rose. I suspect it has something to do with the Democratic party’s reliance on class action lawyers for campaign contributions but I’ll save that for another post. Let’s just say that both parties are responsible for the pathetic approach to health care reform.
Curing cancer one molecular target at a time
Target Cancer is a series featured last week in the New York Times that’s right up my alley. It’s about new drugs for the treatment of cancer, specifically melanoma, and the process by which medicine and the pharmaceutical industry carry out clinical trials. It’s particularly interesting because it delves into how our evolving understanding of the molecular biology of the cell can be harnessed to tailor our treatment of disease to the individual. Very encouraging.
Are these people for real??
Digby watches the Sunday morning talking heads so we don’t have to. This week, Versailles gets it’s panties in a bunch trying to justify why they took down Desiree Rogers, the White House Social Secretary. Sam Donaldson says she was violating some sumptuary law. Cokie Roberts tries to put a less embarrassing spin on the whole affair. Krugman just shakes his head in disbelief.
These people should be humiliated, the sooner, the better.
Save the BBC webservices!
As most of you know, I am a podcast junky. But what you might not know is some of the best podcasts on the web come from the BBC. That’s why I was concerned to see that the BBC is planning to make cuts in their radio and web services. The BBC does top quality work. They have a rich variety of programs on history, the ascent of man, philosophy, radio drama, etc. It’s hard to find American podcasts of this quality that are as consistently good and well funded. (There are exceptions like This American Life and Backstory but they don’t have the commitment from our government that the BBC has so I always get the feeling that the best American cultural programming we have is ephemeral, dependent and desperate for donors to pony up five bucks every so often to pay for bandwidth. Sort of like Lambert soliciting donations to keep the hamsters going. Is this any way to run a public broadcasting service? I’d pay for the privilege of supporting something like BBC Radio 4.
To give you a taste of what you might be missing, check out the BBC’s latest hit series, A History of the World in 100 Objects. This podcast is on break right now so it’s a perfect opportunity to catch up on the first 25 episodes. Start with the one on a stone cutting tool from the Oldevai Gorge. Each episode is about 15 minutes long and includes pictures and video of each object being discussed. If you like quiet afternoons at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you will love this series.
Filed under: General | Tagged: A History of the World in 100 Objects, Al Franken, BBC podcasts, big pharma, Desiree Rogers, First Jewish President, Hospital industry, Melanoma, Michelle Obama, sumptuary laws, Target Cancer | 91 Comments »