Thursday, December 31, 2009

British parents have 90 days to raise £250,000 for cancer treatment to save son

That's socialized medicine at work for you. Big talk, very limited action. No funds even to save a kid's life. And how odd that the best treatment is in America!

The parents of Jamie Inglis, 4, have been told his only hope is expensive treatment in the US which is only available privately and has to be administered within three months of the end of his chemotherapy. Jamie has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, which began with a tumour on his kidney and spread to the rest of his body.

He has had eight sessions of chemotherapy and went through a seven-hour operation to remove the infected kidney, but his cancer is so virulent he is still expected to relapse, which could kill him. However, a new treatment developed in America could help save him. Doctors say it must be administered within 90 days to reduce his chances of relapsing.

Jamie's father John, 37, an environmental health officer for the Royal Medical Corps, was due to be posted to Afghanistan until he and wife Vicky, 34, a teacher, received the news about their young son in April. He said: "After his final treatment yesterday he has a 90 day window to receive the antibody. Children who have received it so far have shown a rapid improvement and it greatly reduces the chance of a relapse. "His body is so fragile after all the chemotherapy and surgery that a relapse would probably be fatal for him."

Recalling Jamie's diagnosis, he said: "One of the many problems with this form of cancer is the symptoms are so subtle. We noticed Jamie would sweat in the night and seemed tired but he didn't seem too serious until he was taken ill at nursery. "He was taken to his GP who referred him to hospital and we were told he had this rare and aggressive form of cancer. You feel like you have been stabbed in the chest. Just a few days earlier he had been happy and playing at his friend's birthday party. "You just want to curl up in a ball and hope it all goes away. He started chemotherapy within a week and has had regular monthly bouts of chemotherapy since he was diagnosed, as well as having one of his kidneys removed."

The antibody treatment is only available at a cancer hospital in New York and, because it is so new, it is expensive only available privately.

Mr Inglis said: "Hopefully in a few years time this treatment will be far more readily available and much cheaper to children like Jamie suffering from neuroblastoma. But that's obviously too late for him." The family, who also have a five-month-old daughter called Poppy, live near Düsseldorf in Germany, where John has been working.

John added: "Jamie is in good spirits and always has been. The one thing that has kept us going is the fact that he is always smiling. He earned the nickname Prince Charming from the nurses at the hospital, he's so cheery and belligerent. "The military community have been fantastic but we need to raise this £250,000. It's a lot of money but we have to do it, anything to give Jamie a better chance of life."


Decline in British diabetic care

Increase in diabetes patients having limbs amputated

The increase in amputations has almost doubled over a 10 year period with up to 100 patients a week losing a leg to complications of the disease. The number of people diagnosed with type-two diabetes the type caused by obesity - has increased greatly in the past decade, which could partly explain the findings, according to researchers. But doctors believe that with better care up to 80 per cent of amputations could be avoided.

Major amputations, above the ankle joint, have risen by 43 per cent and the average age of those having above-ankle amputations fell from 71 to 69 years, which followed the pattern of more people being diagnosed younger.

Dr Eszter Vamos, from Londons Imperial College, who led the study, said they had expected to see long-term complications of diabetes rising because the number of people diagnosed with the condition had increased. "But at the same time there is very strong evidence that you can prevent up to 80 per cent of the amputations.

Along with complications such as heart attacks and strokes, people with diabetes are far more likely to develop foot problems, including ulcers, which can become infected and lead to gangrene. Researchers believe that better checks by doctors and awareness of symptoms by patients could reduce the need for amputation.

The findings in the journal Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice - highlight the importance of frequent foot checks and getting control of blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol."

Diabetes UK said more early diagnosis was needed, as diabetes could go undetected for more than 10 years and most people already had complications when they were diagnosed. The charity also said too many people with diabetes are walking barefoot around their houses. It warned that diabetes sufferers are at risk of damage to their feet caused by them being numb, a complication of the disease. Damage can lead to foot ulcers and slow- healing wounds which, if they become infected, can result in amputation. Podiatrists recommend that people with diabetes should always wear slippers around the home to reduce the risk of foot injuries.

Caroline Butler, care adviser at Diabetes UK, said: "It's appalling that thousands of people with diabetes in the UK undergo lower limb amputations every year. We want to help reduce that number by getting people with diabetes to wear suitable slippers at home.


Rasmussen: Obamacare Disapproval at New High

Rasmussen's health-care polling results since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid orchestrated the Christmas Eve vote are full of undeniably bad news for Democrats. In roughly ascending order of bad news (if one is a Democrat)...

Likely voters oppose Obamacare by more than the (18-point) margin by which Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale: 58 percent to 39 percent.

There are far more likely voters who "strongly" oppose Obamacare (46 percent) than there are likely voters who support it even "somewhat" (39 percent).

Only 24 percent of likely voters think that the quality of health care would get better under Obamacare, while 54 percent think it would get worse -- a gap of 30 percent.

Only 13 percent of likely voters think that the cost of health would go down under Obamacare, while 63 percent think it would rise -- a gap of 50 percent.

Seniors oppose Obamacare by more than 2 to 1: 63 percent to 31 percent.

And the worst news of all for Democrats...

Independents oppose Obamacare by the head-turning tally of 66 percent to 28 percent.

Lest Democrats try to console themselves with the thought that perhaps Rasmussen has got it wrong, CNN's latest poll, from just a few days before the Christmas Eve vote, showed Americans opposing Obamacare by a similar tally: 56 percent to 42 percent.

In light of these numbers -- and in light of the extreme difficulty that the Democrats had in squeezing a bill tailor-made for the House through the House, and one tailor-made for the Senate through the Senate -- anyone who thinks that either the passage or the subsequent implementation of Obamacare is anything remotely resembling inevitable, is forgetting that Tocqueville's book wasn't called Monarchy in America.


Ten New Reasons Why Obamacare Can Still Be Killed

New reasons emerge almost daily as to why Obamacare can and must be defeated.

1. The American people oppose Obamacare by almost 2 to 1 in the latest CNN poll. Other polls show lopsided opposition to passing either the Senate or House health-care bill.

Public opinion is against the bill because of its obscene costs in higher taxes, burdensome debt, anti-freedom mandates, rationing, and reduced care for seniors. The American people have awakened to the fact that Obamacare is transformational legislation that will drag us against popular will into European-style Socialism.

2. The Democrats' double-counting of Obamacare's financial benefits has been exposed as a colossal lie. Harry Reid told the Senate that his bill strengthens our future by both "cutting our towering national deficit by as much as $1.3 trillion over the next 20 years" AND "strengthening Medicare and extending its life by nearly a decade."

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) refuted that assertion. CBO said the claim that Obamacare would provide these benefits simultaneously "would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and thus overstate the improvement in the government's fiscal position."

3. Obamacare is unconstitutional because of its mandate that all individuals must carry "approved" health insurance, and all businesses must give health insurance to their employees whether or not the company can afford it. "Universal" coverage will be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service with power to punish those who don't have such a plan.

Constitutional lawyers point out that the Commerce Clause does not give Congress the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance as a condition of living in our country because personal health insurance is not "commerce." The CBO wrote that "a mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action"; the Supreme Court has never upheld any requirement that an individual must participate in economic activity.

4. Since the Senate bill imposes sharp limits on health-insurance companies' ability to raise fees or exclude coverage, it likely will force many of them out of business. Obamacare is unconstitutional because it violates the Bill of Rights protections against takings without just compensation and deprivation of property without due process of law.

5. Other Obamacare provisions blatantly legislate racial and other forms of discrimination. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights sent two letters to the President and congressional leaders warning about the obnoxious requirements for racist and sexist quotas.

The Senate bill requires that "priority" for federal grants be given to institutions offering "preferential" admissions to minorities (race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and religion). Institutions training social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, behavioral pediatricians, psychiatric nurses, and counselors will be ineligible for federal grants unless they enroll "individuals and groups from different racial, ethnic, cultural, geographic, religious, linguistic, and class backgrounds, and different genders and sexual orientations."

6. Obama's claim that "everybody" will now be covered creates few winners but lots of losers. Universal health insurance will be achieved by forcing young people to pay the additional costs (insurance for the youngest third of the population would rise by 35 percent), and by restricting and rationing care for the elderly.

7. According to Robert Samuelson in the Washington Post, the "wild card is immigration." From 1999 to 2008, 60 percent of the increase in the uninsured occurred among Hispanics, and Obama's refusal to close our borders will make this problem more costly every year.

8. Obamacare gives Medicare bureaucrats the power to ration health care by forcing doctors to prescribe cheaper medical devices and drugs. In the recent case of Hays v. Sebelius, the court ruled that Medicare doesn't have the right to make this rule, but Obamacare takes jurisdiction away from the courts to hear any appeal from decisions of the new Medicare Commission.

The "stick" applied to primary-care doctors is imposing financial penalties if they refer too many patients to specialists. The "carrot" is financial rewards to doctors who give up small practices and consolidate into larger medical groups or become salaried employees of hospitals or other large institutions.

9. The Senate bill contains at least a dozen of what can be described as bribes. Senator Mary Landrieu received a $300 million increase in Medicaid funding for her state (known as the Second Louisiana Purchase), and a $100 million bribe to Senator Ben Nelson gives Nebraska a permanent exemption from the costs of Medicaid expansion.

10. The Senate bill even has a four-page section artfully written to enable ACORN to get federal health-care grants. This section describes grant recipients as "community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups" having "existing relationships ... with uninsured and underinsured consumers."


About Those “Death Panels”

It seems inevitable that the government will grab the remains of “private” medical care, so I will look at our medical futures. One development will be the implementation of the infamous “death panels” that socialists swear are a figment of the imaginations of paranoid persons like Sarah Palin.

For example, I received emails from the religious left-wing organization “Sojourners,” which declared that Palin was lying when she made the comment last August 7 in her Facebook page that declared:
The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

In the ensuing firestorm, the New York Times called it a “false rumor,” and the “fact checkers” at the Politifact website named her statement the “Lie of the Year.” Kate Snow of ABC News said the claim was “shocking” and “inflammatory.”

Neither the House nor the Senate bills use the phrase “death panels,” but that is not surprising. None of the other countries that have socialist care actually have committees with that name. However, the “death panel” mentality certainly exists, and it exists precisely because socialist medical care exists not for care of individuals, but rather to enforce larger egalitarian political goals.

Ironically, the New York Times provides the “smoking gun” to the egalitarian mentality that leads to the “death panels” route. The paper last year carried a story about a British woman, Debbie Hirst, who suffered from cancer, but could not receive the medications she needed because the National Health Service declared them too costly.

Hirst decided to raise the money herself by selling her house, but the government said that if she did that, then it would not pay for any of her care:
Officials said that allowing Mrs. Hirst and others like her to pay for extra drugs to supplement government care would violate the philosophy of the health service by giving richer patients an unfair advantage over poorer ones.

Patients “cannot, in one episode of treatment, be treated on the N.H.S. and then allowed, as part of the same episode and the same treatment, to pay money for more drugs,” the health secretary, Alan Johnson, told Parliament.

“That way lies the end of the founding principles of the N.H.S.,” Mr. Johnson said.

In other words, unless one can justify one’s treatment under larger socialist purposes, then the government will be happy to let someone die, for enforced egalitarianism trumps actual care. This is not something new. Writing in the November 1993 Freeman, Dr. Jane Orient noted that government medical “cost containment” is another term for denying care:
The global budgeters “contain costs”—ration health care by denying those things that you do need insurance to pay for: heart surgery, radiation treatments for cancer, hip replacements, things like that. Out of “compassion,” reformers may open another exit: the one that leads to the cemetery. Do you think it’s accidental that euthanasia and “universal access” are on the agenda at the same time?

Thomas Sowell is correct. Entrepreneurs lower real costs by finding ways to create more goods and using fewer resources. Governments “lower” costs via raw force or denying medical care, and if a person offers to pay for the care, well, that defeats the real purpose of socialism. Yet, we are told that private entrepreneurship in medical care is evil and medical socialism is good. People who accept such things as being true also will endorse the presence of “death panels,” even while denying that the panels exist.


Government health care is a children's fable

In the spirit of the Christmas season, let me offer up the following analogy for why health care reform, as envisioned by congressional Democrats, won't work.

Imagine that you're a child and you wake up on Christmas morning. Instead of that bike you wanted, there's a note under the tree saying that a lot of kids want bikes and the elves' workshop is backlogged for years. Don't worry -- you're guaranteed to get a bike, but Santa says that unfortunately he can't tell you where or when you might finally get that bike you're owed. Here's the part where my festive analogy breaks down: If you don't get that bike soon, you might die.

That's the problem with Democrats' health care legislation in a nutshell. It promises coverage for millions of Americans, but a government IOU is a far cry from seeing a doctor when you need one. And yet, the Senate health care legislation promises to expand Medicaid coverage to those making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level. Do that would make 11 million more Americans dependent on a program that's already broken. The government can't compel doctors to treat Medicaid patients at fixed rates they dictate, at least not yet.

The policy outcome is Econ 101: Price controls always result in scarcity. Over half of all specialists in many major metropolitan areas are refusing to take on new Medicaid patients, according to a 2009 survey by Merritt Hawkins and Associates on physician wait times. "Medicaid is not widely accepted in most markets surveyed, in at least some of the medical specialties reviewed, and, in some cases, all of them," according to the survey.

The practical consequences of the government printing more health care IOUs than doctors can handle are horrifying. The Baltimore Sun recently reported that state auditors found 250 people out of the 17,000 people listed on the state's Medicaid waiting list are deceased. Other states have similarly outsized Medicaid backlogs of people desperate for medical care.

The worst part is that Democrats lean heavily on Medicaid as cost control mechanism in their health care legislation, even though they know it doesn't provide adequate care.

While hashing out the Senate's health care legislation, Democrats rejected a Republican amendment to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates to the same level as Medicare. It didn't pass. Democrats fought with a Republican president over expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) just a few years ago.

But Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., a multi-millionaire oil scion, axed expanding SCHIP in favor of putting kids in Medicaid, cutting the price tag on the current legislation. The SCHIP program utilizes private insurance and costs more, but that also means there are many more doctors willing to treat kids with SCHIP coverage.

This is the same reason why the Democrats are gutting $122 billion out of the popular Medicare Advantage program. Medicare Advantage allows for private insurance through Medicare, and consequently it's more expensive. In 2003, there were 5.3 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Advantage. As of 2009, there were 10.2 million Americans enrolled in Medicare advantage -- including more than one-in-three Medicare recipients in New York and California. Why the explosion of people enrolled in Medicare advantage? More doctors take private insurance with better reimbursement rates. A 2008 report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found 29 percent of Medicare patients have trouble finding a primary physician.

Health care for all Americans is a noble goal, but adding 11 million more Americans to an overtaxed Medicaid system is not the way to do it. For far too many Americans, the prospect of getting good health care through the government insurance is a lot like Santa Claus. It doesn't exist.


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