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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: February 21, 2013

Time and Healthcare The Morning Flap: February 21, 2013

These are my news headlines for February 21st:

  • Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us | TIME.com – 1. Routine Care, Unforgettable Bills
    When Sean Recchi, a 42-year-old from Lancaster, Ohio, was told last March that he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, his wife Stephanie knew she had to get him to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Stephanie’s father had been treated there 10 years earlier, and she and her family credited the doctors and nurses at MD Anderson with extending his life by at least eight years.Because Stephanie and her husband had recently started their own small technology business, they were unable to buy comprehensive health insurance. For $469 a month, or about 20% of their income, they had been able to get only a policy that covered just $2,000 per day of any hospital costs. “We don’t take that kind of discount insurance,” said the woman at MD Anderson when Stephanie called to make an appointment for Sean.
  • GOP Has Trouble Settling on Candidates Who Can Win – One of the interesting things about recent elections is that Republicans have tended to do better the farther you go down the ballot.They’ve lost the presidency twice in a row, and in four of the last six contests. They’ve failed to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, something they accomplished in five election cycles between 1994 and 2006.But they have won control of the House of Representatives in the last two elections, and in eight of the last 10 cycles.And they’ve been doing better in elections to state legislatures than at any time since the 1920s.

    One reason for this is that, as I have written, Democratic voters are clustered in large metropolitan areas, which helps them in the Electoral College but hurts in legislatures with equal-population districts.

    But there’s another reason, which has been particularly glaring in races for the U.S. Senate: candidate quality.

  • The future of free-market healthcare – Over nearly a century, progressives have pressed for a national, single-payer healthcare system. When it comes to health reform, what have conservatives stood for?For far too long, conservatives have failed to coalesce around a long-term vision of what a free-market healthcare system should look like. Republican attention to healthcare, in turn, has only arisen sporadically, in response to Democratic initiatives.Obamacare is the logical byproduct of this conservative policy neglect. President Barack Obama’s re-election was a strategic victory for his signature healthcare law. Once the bulk of the program begins to be implemented in 2014 — especially its trillions of dollars in new health-insurance subsidies — it will become politically impossible to repeal. And as the baby boomers retire and Obamacare is fully operational, government health spending will reach unsustainable levels.The great irony of Obama’s triumph, however, is that it can pave the way for Republicans to adopt a comprehensive, market-oriented healthcare agenda.  The market-oriented prescription drug program in Medicare has controlled the growth of government health spending. Similarly, conservatives can use Obamacare’s important concession to the private sector — its establishment of subsidized insurance marketplaces — as a vehicle for broader entitlement reforms.
  • The Pro-Growth Sequester – The Obama administration is whipping up hysteria over the sequester budget cuts and their impact on the economy, the military, first providers, and so forth and so on. Armageddon. But if you climb into the Congressional Budget Office numbers for 2013, you see a much lighter and easier picture than all the worst-case scenarios being conjured up by the administration.For example, the $85 billion so-called spending cut is actually budget authority, not budget outlays. According to the CBO, budget outlays will come down by $44 billion, or one quarter of 1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP is $15.8 trillion). What’s more, that $44 billion outlay reduction is only 1.25 percent of the $3.6 trillion government budget.
  • Ted Cruz knocks Obama on immigration – Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says President Barack Obama wants to “scuttle” immigration reform by injecting a path to citizenship into the debate so Democrats can keep the issue alive for political gain.“The president has been focusing on amnesty — a path to citizenship that skips ahead of the line,” the freshman tea party senator said Wednesday at a speech in Dallas, according to The Dallas Morning News. “That, he knows, is a position not supported by a great many Americans and not a position that will achieve bipartisan cooperation. It’s designed to scuttle the bill.”
  • Foreign Buyers Hop on Rental Trend – US Masters, a real-estate investment trust that has raised $276 million, primarily from Australian retirees, is one of a handful of foreign firms that are betting on the U.S. housing recovery by buying houses at discount prices.The business of buying-and-renting houses, long dominated by local mom-and-pop investors, has morphed over the past two years into one of the hottest investments on Wall Street. Dozens of pension investors and private-equity firms, such as Blackstone Group LP BX -2.19% and Colony Capital LLC, are clamoring to buy homes in beaten-up markets, sometimes using money from foreign co-investors.
  • Majority of U.S. citizens say illegal immigrants should be deported – More than half of U.S. citizens believe that most or all of the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants should be deported, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday that highlights the difficulties facing lawmakers trying to reform the U.S. immigration system.The online survey shows resistance to easing immigration laws despite the biggest push for reform in Congress since 2007.
  • Missile Defense Tests Successful, but Future of Program in Doubt – The unanswered question is whether the Missile Defense Agency will be permitted to advance this space-based missile defense capability—whether through the STSS program or the PTSS program—to a deployed constellation at all. There should be little doubt that arms control advocates, both inside the Administration and out, are livid that this test took place at all, let alone that it was successful. This is because a space-based missile defense capability is incompatible with the Administration’s arms control agenda.
  • Gov. Scott agrees to expand Florida Medicaid program – Gov. Rick Scott announced plans Wednesday to expand Medicaid coverage to roughly 900,000 more people under the federal health overhaul, a surprise decision from the vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s plan.Scott said he will ask the Legislature to expand the program under a bill that would expire in three years, after which it would require renewed legislative support. He’s the seventh Republican governor so far to propose expanding the taxpayer-funded health insurance program.
  • Tea Party and Republican groups launch Hispanic outreach – Tea Party and Republican groups launch Hispanic outreach #tcot
  • How former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Spent His Campaign Funds – Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D) pleaded guilty today “to a conspiracy to siphon about $750,000 in federal campaign funds for their personal use,” the Chicago Tribune reports.”About 3,100 personal purchases were made on campaign credit cards, totaling $582,772.58… Prosecutors said $60,000 was spent on restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $31,700 on personal airfare; $16,000 on sports clubs and lounges; $17,000 on tobacco shops; $5,800 on alcohol; $14,500 on dry cleaning; $8,000 on grocery stores and $6,000 at drug stores.””In one of the more exotic purchases, Jackson used campaign funds in the spring of 2011 to pay a taxidermist in Montana $7,058 for two mounted elk heads to be shipped to his office in Washington. This was the beginning of an FBI sting, according to court documents.”
  • California Dept. of Transportation: ‘Be Sure to Black Out the ‘United States’ and [the] Motto’ | The Weekly Standard – California Dept. of Transportation: ‘Be Sure to Black Out the ‘United States’ and [the] Motto’
  • Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilians – Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilians #tcot
  • The sequester blame game – Much depends on the timing of any economic turndown. If it occurs this year, but is followed by improvement in 2014, the political consequences are not likely to be significant. If the economy is in trouble in mid-2014, then all bets are off. For this reason, among others, Republicans should reject out of hand the president’s efforts to postpone the sequester for a year. In any event, the sequester would make the Republicans a full partner with Obama when it comes to the state of the economy.In the end, though, Republicans are committed, as they should be, to cutting government spending. This is never a politically risk-free proposition. But it’s better to get a head start now, when blame might well be shared, than to save all the work for when (if) Republicans gain control of the government and will absorb all of the blame.JOHN adds: My own view is that Republicans should happily take credit for the spending cuts represented by the sequester. They aren’t anywhere near enough, but they are the most substantial spending cuts, I believe, in my lifetime. I think 75% of the population will be pleasantly surprised to learn that Congress is actually capable of cutting spending.
  • The GOP’s astonishingly bad message on sequester cuts – None of which addresses the Republican problem on the sequester. If the problem is one of substance — that is, if GOP leaders truly believe the cuts threaten national security but are nevertheless supporting them — then Republicans have put themselves into an untenable situation. If, as is more likely, the problem is one of message — that is, if Republicans believe the cuts are not only manageable without threatening national security but are also desirable as a first step toward controlling spending — then the Boehner article is sending all the wrong signals.
  • Video: John McCain Gets Testy With Arizona Voter Questioning Immigration Amnesty – Flap’s Blog – Video: John McCain Gets Testy With Arizona Voter Questioning Immigration Amnesty #tcot
  • Mistake in First California Carbon Auction Raises Questions About Secrecy | KQED News Fix – Mistake in First California Carbon Auction Raises Questions About Secrecy
  • Second cap and trade auction needs big bucks | news10.net – Second cap and trade California auction needs big bucks
  • We predicted there was no tax ‘windfall’ | CalWatchDog – We predicted there was no California tax ‘windfall’
  • The Morning Flap: February 20, 2013 – Flap’s Blog – The Morning Flap: February 20, 2013 #tcot
  • A Mighty Wind by Ben Boychuk – City Journal – A Mighty Wind – California Flatulence Jokes
share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: February 21, 2013

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share save 120 16 The Obesity Paradox: Weigh More and Live Longer

Weighing in The Obesity Paradox: Weigh More and Live Longer

The health blogosphere is awash with the new study that says overweight people may indeed live longer.

But, wait.

The counterintuitive findings that people who are overweight live longer, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, couldn’t have been more perfectly timed, coming as it has right when people are resolving to be healthier — which involves, for many, losing weight.

In many places where this story has been picked up, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time, the implication seems to be that the push to get people down to a “healthy” weight has been overblown.

But that being overweight is associated with increased lifespan isn’t new. It’s called the “obesity paradox,” and studies documenting it have lead to widespread speculation about the potential “protective benefits” of excess body fat.

For some health advocates, the implication is downright offensive. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health, for example, lost his cool this morning on NPR, declaring, “This study is really a pile of rubbish and no one should waste their time reading it.”

But the study’s author, Katherine Flegal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mounted a solid defense: “It’s statistically significant.” Those three words carry weight — if an association has been found to be significant, it tells us that if nothing else, we need to acknowledge that the results are in some way legitimate and warrant our attention.

The findings are without doubt interesting, which on its own makes the study worth reading. The problem is that despite the grandness of the meta-analysis — it takes into account over 3 million people! — it still has an extremely limited scope. It looks at BMI, and only BMI, in relation to death, regardless of cause. It’s impossible to report on its baseline conclusion without taking into account substantial caveats.

Just remember your weight is only one metric to your overall health.

It is very important, and do not think you can slack because of this study. But, do keep the context in mind.

share save 120 16 The Obesity Paradox: Weigh More and Live Longer

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share save 120 16 American Smoking Sinks to One in Five   Tied for All Time Low

Gallup Poll Smoking American Smoking Sinks to One in Five   Tied for All Time LowAccording to the latest Gallup poll.

The prevalence of smoking in the U.S. is currently tied for the all-time low in Gallup trends dating from 1944, after a long, slow decline in smoking rates since the 1970s. Currently, 20% of adults say they smoked a cigarette “in the past week,” down from 22% last year but matching the 2009 level.

Gallup recorded the sharpest decline in smoking between the early 1970s and late 1980s, with the rate dropping roughly 15 percentage points during this period. Smoking leveled off at about 25% for much of the 1990s, but has since descended slowly, if unevenly, to 20%. The latest results are from Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits poll, conducted July 9-12, and are in line with the smoking rate the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finds in daily surveys of Americans.

According to an analysis of Gallup trends since 2001 — combining data from Gallup’s Consumption Habits polls into three periods, 2001-2005, 2006-2010, and 2011-2012 — the most recent decline in smoking has not occurred across the board, but is seen mainly among certain groups. Smoking rates have fallen particularly sharply among young adults — those 18 to 29 — as well as among college non-graduates and those living in the East and West.

Great news as I am reminded what my parents told me over fifty years ago.

Smoking is a dirty, nasty habit – don’t ever start because it will be hard to quit.

Face it smoking is “unhealthy” and “addictive” behavior.

In the next decades, let’s hope the numbers of Americans who smoke drop even further.

share save 120 16 American Smoking Sinks to One in Five   Tied for All Time Low

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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: April 26, 2012

Obama Has a Big Stick The Morning Flap: April 26, 2012

These are my links for April 25th through April 26th:

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share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: April 25, 2012

Newt Gingrich2 The Morning Flap: April 25, 2012

These are my links for April 24th through April 25th:

Newt Gingrich will officially end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and formally express his support for Mitt Romney next week, two sources close to Gingrich tell CNN.

While details are still being worked out, Gingrich is likely to hold his final campaign event Tuesday in Washington, DC where he will make the announcement surrounded by his family and supporters.

It is not surprising that Gingrich is suspending his campaign for the White House as he has all but acknowledged it is winding down and Romney is the presumptive GOP nominee.

“When he says he is transitioning, what he means is that he is trying to determine as a citizen how he will pro-actively help Mitt Romney become president and the Republican Party win back the Senate and help (House Speaker) John Boehner keep his majority in the House,” said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

It appears that Gingrich’s focus will be much broader than the presidential campaign, as the former speaker, who made his name and career in the House, plans to be actively involved in helping the GOP take back control of both sides of Capitol Hill.

  • The Arizona Faceoff – The Administration Tries to Nullify a State Immigration Statute – The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in that other major case that has the political class on edge—Arizona’s immigration law. As with health care’s individual mandate, the Obama Administration is again making claims about the scope of federal power that upset the Constitution’s federalist structure—in this case, to unilaterally nullify state laws that the President happens to oppose.The Justice Department sued Arizona for its 2010 law that requires police to enforce federal immigration statutes. Justice charged that Republican Governor Jan Brewer violated the Supremacy Clause that says federal laws pre-empt state laws. And ordinarily the Administration lawyers would have a point, since the Constitution expressly tells Congress to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” and the courts have long interpreted that to mean that Congress has plenary power over immigration policy.
  • 5 Ways to Jumpstart Cancer Prevention – Know most cancers are preventable. Cancer isn’t all genetics or bad luck. Research confirms more than half of cancer in the U.S. is preventable. The top preventable causes of cancer are lifestyle choices: smoking, obesity, diet, and lack of physical activity (PDF). In 2011, there were 572,000 deaths from cancer. That’s at least 286,000 people that could be alive today had they modified just one of those risk factors. We as a society need to make changes in the way we live and shift our thinking about cancer prevention and wellness.
  • PokerStars Reaches Agreement to Buy Full Tilt, Settle with DOJ – PokerStars has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice, pokerfuse can reveal. Part of the deal involves the purchase of Full Tilt Poker and full repayment of all players.The specifics of the deal are not yet known, and no statement has yet come from any parties involved.

    Rumors that PokerStars has reached a deal with the DOJ to purchase Full Tilt Poker began swirling early Tuesday morning on poker forum 2+2. Sources have corroborated the story with Pokerfuse that a deal has indeed been reached but could not confirm any specific details.

    Alex Dreyfus, CEO of Chili Gaming, stated on twitter that PokerStars has paid $750m to acquire Full Tilt and settle its outstanding legal issues with the DOJ. A reported $330m of that price will go to repay Full Tilt account holders with the remainder believed to be in settlement of outstanding charges against PokerStars.

  • Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » Lawsuit Seeks Drug Protocol Change to Resume Executions in California – Lawsuit Seeks Drug Protocol Change to Resume Executions in California
  • How a British Marathoner’s Death Inspired Over $825,000 in Online Donations – The death of a British runner during Sunday’s London Marathon has inspired over $825,000 in online donations for Samaritans, the charity she was was supporting.Claire Squires, 30, a hairdresser from Leicestershire, England, was just one mile away from the finish line when she collapsed. Squires was pronounced dead on the scene, and investigations into the cause of her death are expected in the coming days.

    Squires’ death has sparked an outpouring of donations to her JustGiving page, which states, “I’m running the london (sic) marathon for Samaritans because they continuously support others.” As of writing, more than 45,000 individual donations have accumulated, and the number continues to grow.

    Samaritans is the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network. According to the Daily Telegraph, Squires’ brother died from an overdose in 2001 at the age of 25. Her mother has also volunteered for the charity for more than 20 years.

  • The Long Stall – California’s jobs engine broke down well before the financial crisis. – Everybody knows that California’s economy has struggled mightily since the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. The state’s current unemployment rate, 12.1 percent, is a full 3 percentage points above the national rate. Liberal pundits and politicians tend to blame this dismal performance entirely on the Great Recession; as Jerry Brown put it while campaigning (successfully) for governor last year, “I’ve seen recessions. They come, they go. California always comes back.”But a study commissioned by City Journal using the National Establishment Time Series database, which has tracked job creation and migration from 1992 through 2008 (so far) in a way that government statistics can’t, reveals the disturbing truth. California’s economy during the second half of that period—2000 through 2008—was far less vibrant and diverse than it had been during the first. Well before the crisis struck, then, the Golden State was setting itself up for a big fall.
  • Flap’s Dentistry Blog: The Daily Extraction: April 24, 2012 – The Daily Extraction: April 24, 2012
  • AD-38: Scott Wilk and Rep Tom McClintock Event Details Finalized » Flap’s California Blog – AD-38: Scott Wilk and Rep Tom McClintock Event Details Finalized via @flap
  • California’s population growth is slowing dramatically, study finds – California’s population will grow much more slowly in the next few decades — and that is good news for the state’s still-struggling economy, according to new population projections by USC.The report by USC researchers John Pitkin and Dowell Myers says that through 2050, at least, the state’s population growth will not reach the boom rates of recent decades, especially the 1980s. But California’s population, now about 37 million, will still grow at “manageable” rate for years to come, Myers said.

    The report, the third in a series of population projections by the Population Dynamics Research Group in USC’s public policy school, says the slowdown is mainly the result of a dramatic drop in immigration to the state, part of a nationwide trend.

    The report expects the California population to grow at less than 10% for each of the next several decades. By comparison, the population surged 26% — more than 6 million people — in the 1980s, a decade the researchers now say was an anomaly. The growth rate was 14% in the 1990s and 10% in the decade just ended.

  • Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog » The Morning Flap: April 24, 2012 – The Morning Flap: April 24, 2012
  • Google boosts Docs storage to 5GB; today could be Google Drive day – latimes.com – RT @latimes: Google boosts Docs storage to 5GB; today could be Google Drive day
share save 120 16 The Morning Flap: April 25, 2012

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