The Department of Veterans Affairs is at the center of a growing controversy over the improper treatment of veterans at VA hospitals. On June 16, CNN noted that a report released in June by the VA’s Office of Inspector General showed only “about 42.5 percent of 42 VA facilities inspected without warning in May had standard operating procedures in place for the equipment being used and could demonstrate that their staffs had been trained to use the devices.” In other words, more than half of the institutions (57.5 percent) had improper procedures or training.
President Barack Obama signed legislation on June 22 granting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration broad powers to regulate many aspects of tobacco product manufacturing, marketing, and sales. Known as the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, the bill allows the FDA to ban candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products and to prohibit companies from labeling their products “light,” “mild,” or “low tar.” The act requires larger warning labels on tobacco product packaging, restricts the advertisement of tobacco products, and forces companies to lower the levels of nicotine in cigarettes.
If ever there was a textbook example of why a free people should think twice before tasking government with a job (much less dedicate an entire agency to it), the Food and Drug Administration’s latest goofball maneuver to classify the breakfast cereal “Cheerios” as a drug is it!
Details of the various proposals for healthcare reform are beginning to emerge. House Democrats and Republicans are each formulating their own plans, while two Senate committees are taking different approaches. The Bipartisan Policy Center, a group composed of former Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle, Howard Baker, and Bob Dole, has proposed a plan meant to gain support from both political parties. Yet another perspective is being offered by Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas), a doctor whose lifelong practice of medicine gives him unique insight.
President Obama devoted his June 13 weekly address to outlining cost savings to offset the massive price tag for his proposed healthcare reform. Supposedly an additional $313 billion can be saved during the next 10 years through "common-sense changes" to Medicare and Medicaid that will "rein in unnecessary spending, and increase efficiency and the quality of care."
As part of his efforts to promote healthcare reform, President Barack Obama attended a town hall meeting at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on June 11. The president was introduced by Laura Klitzka, a 35-year-old mother of two who is battling breast cancer. Klitzka spoke about the thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills her family has incurred and how devastating this has been. President Obama thanked her for sharing her story and noted that she is not unique; millions of Americans worry not just about their health, “but whether they can afford to get well.”
George Stephanopoulos informed ABC television watchers on May 11 that this is “probably the best chance we’ve had in 15 or 16 years to actually get a comprehensive health care plan through.” The major difference between now and 1994, when the Clinton administration failed to push through its healthcare overhaul, is that today’s industry groups would “rather switch than fight,” he said.
In the midst of his travels through the Middle East and Europe, President Barack Obama used his weekly address on June 6 to talk about healthcare reform, just as Congress began dealing with health insurance-reform legislation.
“President Obama, in a pivot from some of his harshest campaign rhetoric, told Democratic senators [on June 2] that he is willing to consider taxing employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for a broad expansion of coverage,” the Washington Post reported on the following day.
Every person with an ounce of common sense, and an equal amount of compassion for his fellow human beings, takes public health threats seriously. It is an unfortunate fact of our existence that we are vulnerable to communicable diseases, which, when detected, must be contained.
Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said on May 4 that the virus it now officially designates as "novel H1N1 flu" has been confirmed in six more states since the previous day, there were signs that the severity of the illness is less than initially feared.