Health care

No, the Coronavirus is not an “Equalizer”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 08/04/2020 - 2:40am in

Experts say that the nation’s unwillingness to publicly track the virus by race could obscure a crucial underlying reality: It’s quite likely that a disproportionate number of those who die of coronavirus will be black, reports ProPublica. Continue reading

The post No, the Coronavirus is not an “Equalizer” appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Cancer Patients Face Treatment Delays And Uncertainty As Coronavirus Cripples Hospitals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/04/2020 - 7:46pm in

Coronavirus creates a terrible bind for cancer patients and their doctors.

Coronavirus: A Theory of Incompetence

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/04/2020 - 8:54pm in

Coronavirus has shredded the last vestiges of the belief that America was well run. How did we get here?

What Wall Street Doesn’t Want You to Know About Hospital Emergency Rooms

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 8:34pm in

A coronavirus whistleblower winds up also exposing that private equity has too much say in running emergency rooms.

We Need to Protect Abortion Access Now More Than Ever

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 04/04/2020 - 12:49am in

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Blog, Health care

In response to the growing coronavirus crisis, states are stopping “nonessential” surgeries to ease the burden on hospitals and medical workers. While this is admirable in theory, conservatives at both the state and federal levels have capitalized on these legitimate efforts to protect our collective well-being by misclassifying critical care as “nonessential” and restricting the freedom of women. Federal judges in three states have blocked orders that limited abortion access, including one in Texas, which had gone so far as to halt nearly all abortions to “comply with the state’s temporary suspension of surgeries that are not deemed ‘medically necessary.’” Yesterday, a federal appeals court reinstated Texas’s ban on abortions. 

As the pro-choice group Fund Texas Choice wrote in an email to its supporters recently, “Abortion needs rise in the face of crisis, and unfortunately they do not pause as we figure out how to react as a society.” Access to comprehensive, quality, and affordable reproductive health care is always an imperative, and it is especially so during a global pandemic that threatens the health, economic security, and lives of millions. 

Financial insecurity is one reason that women in the US seek abortion, and this dynamic is only going to be heightened in the fallout of this crisis. Those laid off from the workforce are unsure if there will be jobs to return to, and those who will soon be graduating from college may experience a generational crisis similar to that of folks who graduated during the 2008 economic recession. Many are watching the president’s continued attacks on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and are wondering if there will be health coverage for them in the future. 

Reproductive health and economic security are always two sides of the same coin, and this is particularly true in times of crisis. And we are in a crisis of epic proportions. The latest data show that 10 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks alone; Fed analysts estimate that we could reach an unemployment rate of 32 percent. Women will be disproportionately impacted by this new reality. More than two-thirds of low-wage workers with children have experienced reductions in hours or are now temporarily or permanently unemployed. Let’s not forget that women are more than 60 percent of minimum-wage and low-wage workers in the US, and they already face a wage gap that sees them making 82 percent of what their male colleagues make (a number that is a lot less for women of color). They also experience a significant wealth gap that leaves them with far fewer assets to rely on in times of crisis. Single Black women have a median wealth of $200 and single Hispanic women $100, compared to approximately $15,000 for white women and almost $29,000 for white men. 

Even without the latest set of antichoice attacks, abortion access will be threatened in the coming weeks and months. The current restrictions on geographic mobility to combat the spread of COVID-19 will make it harder for women to travel to reach clinics, and also for providers to reach their patients. Nearly 90 percent of US counties already lack an abortion provider, and many women must travel beyond their state of residence to access abortion care. Between 2012 and 2017, 276,000 women had abortions outside of their home state, as many clinics do not have local physicians to provide abortion care and must rely on physicians from other states.  

Aimee Arrambide, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, commented on the strain that the current public health crisis is adding to an already hostile reproductive health environment in her state: “Abortion is a procedure where time is of the essence and cannot be delayed without profound consequences. State leaders should ensure that Texans who need care can access it with the least amount of obstacles and medically unnecessary visits possible.”  

Conservative maneuvering on abortion access is especially frustrating to young progressive women. “By capitalizing on this moment of economic vulnerability and overwhelming uncertainty to curtail access to safe abortion care, our representatives have prioritized circumventing public health guidelines to advance their own misguided political agendas over providing time-sensitive, medically necessary health care to their constituents,” said Snipta Mallick, a student at the University of Texas, Dallas, and the Roosevelt Network’s health care policy coordinator.  

The escalated conservative attacks on reproductive justice—and the innumerable threats posed by COVID—are unfolding against a backdrop of persistent health and economic insecurity as well as severely restricted access to abortion services. 

Over the last decade, hundreds of antichoice laws have been implemented at the state level, more than 100 clinics have been forced to close, and many states today are on the brink of losing their only provider. The Supreme Court recently heard June Medical Services v. Gee, a case that conservatives hope will significantly undermine reproductive rights; more than 200 Republican members of Congress submitted a brief to the Supreme Court urging them to use this case to overturn its landmark Roe v. Wade decision. 

Much of what lies in the weeks and months ahead is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: Now, more than ever, women need better, fundamental access to reproductive health care. This means that pregnant women need access to safe, affordable, and quality health care to ensure the health of their pregnancies. It means that women should be able to access the birth control of their choice. And it means that women who want to terminate their pregnancies must have the ability to do so. Restricting abortion access during a global pandemic makes this moment seem more like a Margaret Atwood novel than it already does. Now is the time to expand, not contract, access to comprehensive reproductive health care.

The post We Need to Protect Abortion Access Now More Than Ever appeared first on Roosevelt Institute.

6.6 million new unemployment claims April 2nd

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 11:26pm in

As the saying goes, "Records are made to be broken." But I don't think it's too often the case that it happens at the very next opportunity. Nevertheless, one week after the United States smashed its previous record for first-time unemployment claims with just under 3.3 million, it doubled the record on April 2, with over 6.6 million new unemployment claims, adding another 4 percentage points to the unemployment rate.

After that news dropped, the Congressional Budget Office (via TPM) updated its economic projections for the nation's economy. Among other things, it expects the unemployment rate to exceed 10% in the second quarter. If you remember, the peak monthly unemployment rate during the Great Recession was 10.0%, so exceeding that figure represents yet another win for Trump. So much winning!

In fact, University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers, writing in The New York Times, estimates the current unemployment rate to be about 13%. This would be the highest rate reached since the Great Depression, he points out.

The CBO report also expects that gross domestic product will fall by over 7% in the second quarter, an annualized rate of over 28%. "Those declines could be much larger, however," it adds. In fact, Wells Fargo economists are much more pessimistic and suggest a second-quarter GDP contraction of 14.3%, topping the current record for quarterly GDP drop, the 10% fall during the Eisenhower administration in 1958 Q1. So much winning!

Of course, these impacts would have been much smaller except for the illegitimate Trump regime's failed preparations and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. After two months of minimizing the outbreak and assuring us everything was under control, the federal government is still not doing anything to ensure that supplies goes to the places most in need at a fair price. Indeed, the evidence from the April 2 nightly pandemic briefing/campaign rally suggests just the opposite. The federal government is flying in large amounts of needed equipment from abroad, then putting it in the hands of private companies which then force the states into bidding wars for the products! Unfortunately, my commenting rules prohibiting me from saying more; just imagine a string of obscenities.

In related pandemic news, as of 7:45am EST, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Dashboard shows the United States not just with the most cases in the world, but more than twice as many (245,573) as second-place Spain (117,710). The number of new daily cases continues to increase, as shown in this screenshot from the dashboard:

(Click on US at the top of the country list on the left, then select daily increase in the lower right.)

Yes, on April 1, the United States topped 30,000 new cases in a day for the first time, which was just shy of 3/8 of all new cases in the world.

And the most morbid statistic for last: With over 6,000 deaths so far, doubling every 3 days, the United States is set to pass both Spain and Italy in the next six days to reach the top spot for the most deaths of any country in the world.

Yes, I'm tired of all this winning. And scared, too.

Key Official Missing in Action: North Carolina Treasurer, Sole Fiduciary of Its Pension, Has Covid-19 but State Refuses to Say More

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 03/04/2020 - 9:44pm in

Key public officials are abusing their position if they keep the severity of their Covid-19 illness under wraps.

Why Can’t Everyone in This Country Get Free COVID-19 Treatment?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/04/2020 - 9:44pm in

The US is well into the Covid-19 crisis, yet most citizens are at risk of big bills if they seek testing and care.

Seeds of Progressive Change: Rethinking Our Market-Based Medicines System

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/04/2020 - 7:15am in

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Blog, Health care

The coronavirus crisis is, first and foremost, a health crisis. The Trump administration’s failure to take the threat of COVID-19 seriously—and our systematic, decades-long decimation of our nation’s public health infrastructure—has turned what may have been a public health challenge into a crisis for our health care system. And one area where the failures of our fragmented, market-based health care system have been made plain is in our inability to produce and disseminate the medicines we need. For example: 

  • Early on in the crisis, the enormous gaps in our domestic supply chain, and our reliance on manufacturers in China for most active pharmaceutical ingredients, led to concerns that the US could face serious drug shortages should the crisis in China continue.  
  • More recently, Kaiser Permanente declined to fill a prescription of hydroxychloroquine for a woman who had been taking it for lupus, citing concerns about worldwide shortages. Hydroxychloroquine is currently one of several drugs being investigated for its potential use as a treatment for COVID-19. 

Amid these failures—perhaps because of them—we are beginning to see policymakers from across the political spectrum rethinking the market-based logic that informs our current system.  The recently-enacted CARES Act, for example, includes $3.5 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services that “supports the transition of medical countermeasures such as vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics from research through advanced development towards consideration for approval by the FDA and inclusion into the Strategic National Stockpile.” 

While imperfect, BARDA is one of the clearest examples in the federal government of a coordinated system of industrial policy and planning. Unlike the National Institutes for Health, which typically prioritizes basic over translational research and has no direct role in  manufacturing processes or government purchasing, BARDA’s work includes efforts to identify and develop manufacturing capacity. It also engages in procurement efforts, playing a direct government role in planning for and directly and affirmatively creating and shaping markets to create a stockpile of medicines and vaccines for use in public health emergencies. 

This substantial investment—$2 billion more than the FY2020 budget request—is evidence of a real recognition that other approaches that the government has taken, including market incentives and nudges, are insufficient tools for developing and manufacturing any medicine for which there is no clear market, even when the public health need is clear. 

Despite the emerging recognition that a far more directive and directly involved government role is required, a pernicious strain of thinking persists. Even when the government is directly involved in nearly every aspect of drug or vaccine development, it is still assumed by most US policymakers that any pharmaceutical companies involved in this research should nonetheless own the intellectual property rights to what is learned and produced, and therefore should be entitled to own and enjoy monopoly profits on the fruits of that shared knowledge for decades. 

That’s why the next phase of the COVID-19 response effort must include a clear directive to the Trump administration that any vaccine or intervention developed with public funds must, at the very least, be issued as open licenses and made available with reasonable pricing requirements. Preventing profiteering of this pandemic is a demand being made by access-to-medicines and health advocates, like Public Citizen, and campaigns, such as Lower Drug Prices Now.

In this public health emergency, where each of us depends on the other in order for all of us to stay healthy, it is clearer than ever that the way our nation develops and manufactures medicines must change. The seeds of that change are here.  

The post Seeds of Progressive Change: Rethinking Our Market-Based Medicines System appeared first on Roosevelt Institute.

Local Covid-19 Report and Infection Modeling

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 01/04/2020 - 4:54pm in

More efforts to understand how efforts to contain Covid-19 might or might not be working.

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