Tag: health care

I call bullshit

The Mail online has an article titled “Are low-carb diets BAD for you? Nutrition expert claims giving up grains can lead to heart disease and cancer” where they make the following claim:

Low-carbohydrate diets are all the rage, but one nutrition expert has claimed that they may not be as healthy as we think.

According to Dr T Colin Campbell’s new book The Low-Carb Fraud, giving up grains can mean putting yourself at a higher risk for heart disease, cancer and other regenerative diseases.

He says that not only are low-carb diets lacking in nutritional value, but they’re actually even worse than the standard American diet.

The problem, says Dr Campbell, who has 40 years’ experience in nutrition science, is that people who cut out carbs tend to load up on animal protein and fat, which heightens cholesterol levels, sometimes leading to disease.

Even the standard American diet is too high in protein and fat, an imbalance that is merely worsened with a low-carb diet.

Consuming more meat also leads to smaller consequences like headaches, rash, cramps and bad breath, also known as halitosis.

Yeah, sure. Like with everything else I bet it will depend on genetics. My paternal grandfather smoked filterless Camels (2 packs a day) and drank like a lush, and died at the tender young age of 99. The guy gave me the best advice I ever got: don’t booze it up, smoke, or chase tail till you turn 13, and while I never smoked (other than a real occasional cigar) and didn’t start drinking until after I was 19, I did take the other part of his advice at heart.

I myself eat a low carb diet. I changed to that after my regular diet started packing the pounds on. I feel healthier and am able to be a far more active with that diet. I also recently had my annual checkup. My results were so good that the doctor told me to not come back for 2 years, despite the fact that people of my age are strongly encouraged to visit yearly. Even more importantly, he asked me to join a study about cholesterol, considering my number was not just so low, but that my good cholesterol number was higher than my high cholesterol number. Apparently this condition is so rare, and practically unheard off in people my age. I declined because I would have had to drive to Yale twice a week for them to do shit, and was getting nothing in return for the effort worth my while. I asked him to check if I could just deal with the facilities right in my town and have that send there, but Yale wanted nothing to do with that. Their loss.

Now granted, I have good genes, work out regularly and am quite active, eat lots of veggies and fruit with my low carb diet, and while I have lots of bones I broke when I was younger that bother me more these days , and even have some bad habits, they are not the sort that seem to impact me negatively, so I may just be an outlier. The thing is, Low carb diets for couch potatoes could be bad, but I bet a carb diet for the same people is worse.

And everyone should eat more fish, and by fish I don’t mean the ones that come from the ocean, lakes, or rivers. That stuff is like a mircale cure. Besides it sounds like this guy is just selling his book..

Liar in chief…

Yes, that’s about Obama, whom like a host of other democrats with aspirations to the high office or held the office, seem to be reality challenged. Remember Obama talking about his poor uninsured “Momma”? That was damned lie.

“Thus he wrote in ‘Dreams from My Father’ that he lamented seeing his mother ‘suffering because of a broken [American] health care system.’ But he ignores the fact that in her hour of need, Stanley Ann, an intelligent, highly educated woman then living in Indonesia, chose America’s health care system above all others. And it wasn’t the system that failed her. In fact, she was quite fortunate to receive the best of care at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York (and later the Straub Clinic in Hawaii).”

Are we to believe that Stanley Ann’s medical co-payments were beyond the means of her loving son, who by this time was a Harvard Law School graduate flush with a six-digit signing bonus for his first book? Moreover, are we as Americans to tear down the finest health care system in the world based on – let’s be honest enough to call them what they are – lies?

Like all leftists he just lied to impart the importance of the whole thing, you know. It’s about emotions, not real facts, and why tell just small lies when an avalanche of lies can do the trick. Not like the complicit LSM will call him out on his bullshit either. One is safer assuming these scumbags – and especially Obama – are just lying from the start, than to pretend that’s not the case.

Yeah, I know. I am such a racist for pointing stuff like this out. BTW, Bill Clinton and John Kerry are lying fucks too, so what does that make me?

Krugman Consumes His Own Tail

Paul Krugman has written a bizarre op-ed in opposition to the GOP Medicare plan. Let’s have some fun with it.

Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough.

It’s acceptable to call them consumers and providers because that’s what they are. The only reason this language strikes Krugman as odd is because he, like many liberals, has becomes used to thinking of healthcare as a “right” — something akin to Freedom of Speech. But any time there is a voluntary exchange of services, the relationship is one of consumer to provider. There’s nothing repulsive or sinister about this. Teachers, fireman, cops, doctors, clergy — none of these people work for free. All of them provide services that we consume.

Note also that Krugman is engaging in the “I’m On Your Side” tactic. He praises the doctor-patient relationship as something sacred. But, as we will see, he does this on the way to severing and controlling that bond.

We have to do something about health care costs, which means that we have to find a way to start saying no. In particular, given continuing medical innovation, we can’t maintain a system in which Medicare essentially pays for anything a doctor recommends. And that’s especially true when that blank-check approach is combined with a system that gives doctors and hospitals — who aren’t saints — a strong financial incentive to engage in excessive care.

I agree. One way we can do this is to put more responsibility on the consumers who have shown the ability to make complex and difficult decisions about homes, cars, schooling, computers and other supposedly opaque disciplines. We could, for example, adopt David Goldhill’s proposal of moving back to a major medical system where the first few thousand dollars of healthcare — the most discretionary part — is controlled by the consumer and either the employers or the government provide a voucher for a $5000 deductible. It’s difficult to imagine such a system now because we’ve gotten so used to first dollar coverage. But that’s what we used to have when our healthcare spending wasn’t so out of line. That’s what we have in non-insured regions like lasik surgery or fertility treatments, where price guarantees are normal.

Alternatively, we could move toward something like the Australian system. In Australia, there is a socialized insurance system that provides basic care and pays a basic fee. If you’re poor, you can go to lower-tier hospitals that accept those fees. If you have more money, you can buy additional insurance or pay out of your own pocket to get better care. But the key is that you pay the bills and are then reimbursed. So the consumer is decidedly in the loop. (My understanding of the Aussie system is based on talking to my wife and her family; blame any errors on them.)

So certainly Krugman, an economist, is going to suggest something along … oh.

Hence the advisory board, whose creation was mandated by last year’s health reform. The board, composed of health-care experts, would be given a target rate of growth in Medicare spending. To keep spending at or below this target, the board would submit “fast-track” recommendations for cost control that would go into effect automatically unless overruled by Congress.

Dr. Krugman, please send a nice package of whatever it is your smoking to my house. Have you been watching the budget debate? We endured weeks of rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over the cutting of unspent budget authority. Do you think Congress is going to stand up to seniors and tell them they can’t get care? Even assuming this board makes some tough choices — do you really think Congress will let unpopular ones stand?

We don’t even need to ask these questions — we’ve already seen what will happen. When PPACA was being debated, a study came out claiming routine mammography should start at 50, not 40. Congress immediately moved to prevent this from being acted on, whether the result was valid or not. Their previous mandate on unproven CAD technology led to a huge surge in this expensive procedure. One of the reasons Republicans want insurance sold across state lines is that state governments have become incredibly pliable in mandating coverage, including “alternative medicine”. During the PPACA debate, several senators tried to get alternative medicine like therapeutic touch and prayer therapy into the bill (these being fringe guys like um, … the 2004 Democratic nominee for President). Any government board is going to be controlled by special interests (who are solidly behind the idea) and overridden by a spineless Congress.

Where is this sudden surge of political courage going to come from? This seems like an inverse of the “starve the beast” theory. I’ll call it “gorge the beast”. The idea is to let government healthcare spending get so out of control that Congress will have to act.

Now, what House Republicans propose is that the government simply push the problem of rising health care costs on to seniors; that is, that we replace Medicare with vouchers that can be applied to private insurance, and that we count on seniors and insurance companies to work it out somehow. This, they claim, would be superior to expert review because it would open health care to the wonders of “consumer choice.”

Notice the two-step here. Krugman has spent his time running down consumer-controlled healthcare. But now he’s running down a very different proposal on privatizing Medicare. These are not the same things, unfortunately.

“Consumer-based” medicine has been a bust everywhere it has been tried. To take the most directly relevant example, Medicare Advantage, which was originally called Medicare + Choice, was supposed to save money; it ended up costing substantially more than traditional Medicare. America has the most “consumer-driven” health care system in the advanced world. It also has by far the highest costs yet provides a quality of care no better than far cheaper systems in other countries.

You know, it must be nice to be a Nobel Prize Winner. It apparently means you never have to bother with facts anymore and can just pull things out of your ass.

Because this is pulled out of Krugman’s ass. RAND has studied consumer-controlled healthcare and shown considerable savings, a result that has held up under some scrutiny. And we are most decisively not the most “consumer-driven” healthcare system in the world. According to the OECD’s 2008 data, out of pocket spending accounts for 12.1% of healthcare spending in the US. That’s less than Switzerland (30.8), Sweden (15.6), Japan (14.6 in 2007), Australia (18% in 2007), Canada (14.7% in 2007) and just about every country except France (7.1%). Decisions might be consumer controlled; spending is not. And any economist — any economist not talking out of his ass that is — can tell you what happens when consumers have no restrictions on spending other people’s money. The Kaiser Foundation has specifically identified the decline in patient responsibility (from 40 to 10%) as one of the reason for rising healthcare costs.

Medical care, after all, is an area in which crucial decisions — life and death decisions — must be made. Yet making such decisions intelligently requires a vast amount of specialized knowledge. Furthermore, those decisions often must be made under conditions in which the patient is incapacitated, under severe stress, or needs action immediately, with no time for discussion, let alone comparison shopping.

This is a straw man made of red herrings. Under consumer-controlled plans, no one would be comparison shopping when they are incapacitated, under sever stress or need action immediately. Such situations would be well into the insurance-controlled regime. Additionally, the idea that healthcare spending is “involuntary” or that patients are incapable of making difficult choices is ridiculous and arrogant. Two thirds of healthcare spending occurs in non-emergency situations. Patients make decisions about healthcare every God-damned day, including about the most expensive and wasteful of care — end of life management. Medical procedures, by law, have to be explained to the patient who then has to be told of his prospects and alternatives. They almost always do everything the provider says. But is that, at least in part, because they’re not paying the bills?

The idea that all this can be reduced to money — that doctors are just “providers” selling services to health care “consumers” — is, well, sickening. And the prevalence of this kind of language is a sign that something has gone very wrong not just with this discussion, but with our society’s values.

No. This is reality. It’s not repulsive to describe patients and doctors and consumers and providers. That’s precisely what they are. We’ve just forgotten because of our diseased system. All economic transactions — all movements of goods and services — take place between consumers and providers. Describing that relationship as “sickening” is like the describing the Law of Gravity as “sickening”.