The world watched warily on April 27, as cases of swine flu that first emerged in Mexico in recent weeks in near-epidemic proportions started surfacing in other nations. Mexican officials said the flu strain may have sickened 1,614 people since April 13. Officials were awaiting the results of laboratory tests to confirm how many of 149 suspected flu-related deaths were in fact caused by the illness. So far, at least 22 deaths in the nation of 111 million people have been attributed to swine flu.
In early March, veterans’ groups got wind of a plan by the Obama administration to charge veterans’ private health insurance companies for service-related injuries. “Currently,” according to CNN.com, “veterans’ private insurance is only charged when they receive health care from the VA for medical issues that are not related to service injuries, like the flu.” Veterans are worried that the proposed plan would cause their private insurance rates to skyrocket and quickly max out their private insurance.
If they had been designing a health system from scratch, the change agents assuming power in January would have done things differently. Barack Obama and Ted Kennedy would have given us a Single Payer for medical care, as in Canada and Britain (and Cuba and North Korea) and (according to national healthcare promoters) "the rest of the industrialized world."
ITEM: In an article entitled "5 Myths About Our Ailing Health-Care System" in the Washington Post for November 23, 2008, Shannon Brownlee and Ezekiel Emanuel write that the United States lags behind "many developed countries on virtually every health statistic you can name. Life expectancy at birth? We rank near the bottom of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, just ahead of Cuba and way behind Japan, France, Italy, Sweden and Canada, countries whose governments (gasp!) pay for the lion's share of health care."
New research, published in the medical journal Nature, suggests that scientists have for the first time come to a better and more thorough understanding of the genetic basis for cancer. The research may point to new and more effective treatments in the future.
ITEM: The New York Times for October 6 reported: "More than one-third of all Americans will soon receive better insurance coverage for mental health treatments because of a new law that, for the first time, requires equal coverage of mental and physical illnesses. The requirement, included in the economic bailout bill that President Bush signed on Friday, is the result of 12 years of passionate advocacy by friends and relatives of people with mental illness and addiction disorders. They described the new law as a milestone in the quest for civil rights, an effort to end insurance discrimination and to reduce the stigma of mental illness."
Seven months after instituting the only state child universal healthcare program in the country, Hawaii is dropping the plan. According to an AP article, the state could no longer afford the plan though it only enrolled about 2,000 of the state's estimated 3,500 to 16,000 uninsured children.
A federal appeals court recently upheld a San Francisco ruling requiring employers to either offer healthcare coverage to their employees or fund a citywide healthcare program. The stipulation applies to private businesses that employ 20 or more workers and nonprofit organizations with 50 or more. Of the yearly $200 million cost of the city's two-year-old program, 80 percent is drawn from state and local taxes, and a patient fee based on income. The ruling requires San Francisco businesses to help pay the remainder of the bill for the city's uninsured.