Category Archives: Health

Offered Without Comment 3

The Bush Agriculture Dept in action:

WASHINGTON — Batter-coated french fries are a fresh vegetable, according to the Agriculture Department, which has a federal judge’s ruling to back it up.But the department said Tuesday that the classification applies only to rules of commerce, not nutrition, and it doesn’t consider an order of fries the same as an apple in school lunches.

The ruling last week by federal District Judge Richard Schell in Beaumont, Texas, allowed batter-coated french fries to be considered fresh vegetables under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act. Most other frozen fries had been on the list since 1996.

The Real Face of "Compassionate Conservatism"

Florida Tells Sick Kids to Get Lost

Gov Jeb Bush, the hero of the Florida election debacle, wants to cut medical care for the sick kids of low-income families. He considers the amount of his state’s contribution to KidCare, the “Florida version of the nationally popular and successful Children’s Health Insurance Program”, to be too extreme. In January, he ordered state officials to start putting eligible kids beyond a certain number on a “waiting list.”

Even children with serious health problems were put on the list. Conni Wells, director of the Florida Institute for Family Involvement, which advises families on health matters, told me at the time, “We’ve had families tell us they’ve put off buying groceries so they can afford to take their child to the doctor.”

As a result, the “waiting list” came in for some bad press. Instead of fixing the problem by just ordering the kids on it to be put directly into the program, Jeb arranged a little suprise. Bob Herbert explains in today’s NYT:

The attention given to the Florida waiting list by the news media embarrassed the state Republican Party, which controls the governorship and both houses of the State Legislature.So here’s the good news: The Legislature is expected to approve a measure that would end up providing coverage to about 90,000 of the 100,000 or so youngsters on the waiting list at the end of January.

The rest of the news is not good. Republican leaders in the Florida House and Senate have crafted the new legislation in ways that will radically limit future access to KidCare and prevent the press and the public from getting information about the number of kids who are frozen out.

At least we knew over the past several months that children were being put on a waiting list. Under the new legislation, eligible youngsters who are denied enrollment in KidCare will not be put on a waiting list. There won’t be any waiting list.

So public pressure is forcing them to take care of most of the kids they tried to freeze out, and to make sure that never happens again, they’re changing the rules to freeze out even more and make sure there’s no way the press will find out about it.

Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which has been monitoring the developments in Florida, said, “Politically, what that means is that nobody — not us, not you, not anyone — would be able at any point to say that 30,000 or 50,000 or 80,000 or 100,000 kids are on the waiting list because there would no longer be any record of a waiting list.”At the same time, the enrollment process would be sharply curtailed. Under the new legislation, there would be only two 30-day periods each year in which parents would be allowed to try to enroll their children in KidCare. Worse, the state would not be required to actually conduct those two enrollment periods. State officials could simply declare, for budgetary reasons, that there would be no enrollment in a given year. (emphasis added)

Isn’t that sweet? Herbert says, “This is mean-spirited stuff. We are finding new and ingenious ways in this country to wreak havoc on low-income people.” I think he’s being too kind.

Is this what you expected “compassionate conservatism” to mean? Playing govt tricks on poor families with sick kids so they wouldn’t have to treat them? Is that really what you had in mind when Jeb’s bro was running around the country sayin’ as how he wanted to he’p po’ folk git a leg up? I don’t think so, but that’s what you got.

ALL the Bushes need to go. They’re a collective blight on the country and not one of them seems to have the amount of soul God gave a pig. Down with the whole damn family! (Whew!)

A Bad Day for Bad Science

After taking a whipping over changng a negative health report into a positive one, The NY Times says the Bush Admin has decided to change it back.

The theme of the original report was that members of minorities “tend to be in poorer health than other Americans” and that “disparities are pervasive in our health care system,” contributing to higher rates of disease and disability.By contrast, the final report has an upbeat tone, beginning, “The overall health of Americans has improved dramatically over the last century.”

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The reversal comes in response to concerns of Democrats and the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee. They are pushing separate bills to improve care for members of minorities.

“African-Americans and Native Americans die younger than any other racial or ethnic group,” Dr. Frist said. “African-Americans, Native Americans and Hispanic Americans are at least twice as likely to suffer from diabetes and experience serious complications. These gaps are unacceptable.”

In response to this high-level tongue-lashing, the original report is now going to be published as originally written. This is all well and good. It’s a positive step. We like it. But get a load of HHS-Sec Tommy Thompson’s unmitigated gall:

Mr. Thompson said that “some individuals took it upon themselves” to make the report sound more positive than was justified by the data.

He’s decided to blame unnamed “individuals” and claim that they did it on their own. Who’s he trying to kid and exactly how gullible does he think we are? Some faceless clerks took it into their own heads, without authority, in this the most authoritarian Admin in history, to risk their careers by re-writing a key report in a way that their changes just happened to justify Bush budget cuts?

President Bush’s budget would cut spending for the training of health professionals and would eliminate a $34 million program that recruits blacks and Hispanics for careers as doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

Tommy must think we’re all morons. Fortunately, the NYT reporter, one Robert Pear, nailed down at least one of the people probably responsible.

Among those who wanted to rewrite the report was Arthur J. Lawrence, a deputy assistant secretary of health and human services.”The present draft remains highly focused on the health care system’s supposed failings and flaws,” Mr. Lawrence said in a memorandum to Mr. Thompson last fall. “In short, the report lacks balance.”

Mr. Lawrence said that geography, income and other factors could be more important than race. For example, he said, whites in rural northern Maine may have worse heart problems than blacks in big cities. In addition, he said, the report should place more emphasis on “personal responsibility for one’s own health status” and on “problems with the medical malpractice system. (emphasis added)

Lacks balance. Oh, that again. Those damn liberal scientists, anyway. They always insist on using evidence instead of faith, and they clearly don’t believe in “balance.”

Lawrence’s whole line of argument is so incredibly thin that a sheet of paper would look like a cement slab by comparison, yet the report was changed along exactly those lines. Mr Lawrence is NOT a faceless “individual” but a Deputy Asst Secretary, a position of some responsibility only two steps removed from Tommy himself, so the decision to whitewash the report in order to cover Bush’s ass was made at a pretty high level. And Tommy wants to pretend he never approved it and didn’t know anything about it?

OK, Tommy, and my daughter had no idea how the cookies I had put aside for my lunch found their way into her school backpack. Some faceless “individual” must have put them there, and she was entirely innocent. Uh-huh. Sure.

What a maroon. How did Wisconsin stand him all those years?

Here are some of the statements that were purged:

¶”We aspire to equality of opportunities for all our citizens. Persistent disparities in health care are inconsistent with our core values.”¶”Disparities come at a personal and societal price.”

¶”Compared with whites, blacks experience longer waits in emergency departments and are more likely to leave without being seen.”

¶When hospitalized for heart attacks, “Hispanics are less likely to receive optimal care.”

The original report included a stark, prominent statement that “black children have much higher hospitalization rates for asthma than white children.” The final version included the data, without comment.