Tag Archives: doctors

Cancer Treatment and Health Care Reform

Blogged by: BarbaraOBrien1

One argument you may hear against health care reform concerns cancer survival rates. The United States has higher cancer survivor rates than countries with national health care systems, we’re told. Doesn’t this mean we should keep what we’ve got and not change it?

Certainly cancer survival rates are a critical issue for people suffering from the deadly lung mesothelioma cancer. So let’s look at this claim and see if there is any substance to it.

First, it’s important to understand that “cancer survival rate” doesn’t mean the rate of people who are cured of a cancer. The cancer survival rate is the percentage of people who survive a certain type of cancer for a specific amount of time, usually five years after diagnosis.

For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, the survivor rate of prostate cancer in the United States is 98 percent. This means that 98 percent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive five years later. However, this statistic does not tell us whether the men who have survived for five years still have cancer or what number of them may die from it eventually.

Misunderstanding of the term “survivor rate” sometimes is exploited to make misleading claims. For example, in 2007 a pharmaceutical company promoting a drug used to treat colon cancer released statistics showing superior survival rates for its drug over other treatments. Some journalists who used this data in their reporting assumed it meant that the people who survived were cured of cancer, and they wrote that the drug “saved lives.” The drug did extend the lives of of patients, on average by a few months. However, the mortality rate for people who used this drug — meaning the rate of patients who died of the disease — was not improved.

But bloggers and editorial writers who oppose health care reform seized these stories about “saving lives,” noting that this wondrous drug was available in the United States for at least a year before it was in use in Great Britain. Further, Britain has lower cancer survival rates than the U.S. This proved, they said, the superiority of U.S. health care over “socialist” countries.

This is one way propagandists use data to argue that health care in the United States is superior to countries with government-funded health care systems. They selectively compare the most favorable data from the United States with data from the nations least successful at treating cancer. A favorite “comparison” country is Great Britain, whose underfunded National Health Service is struggling.

It is true that the United States compares very well in the area of cancer survival rates, but other countries with national health care systems have similar results.

For example, in 2008 the British medical journal Lancet Oncology published a widely hailed study comparing cancer survival rates in 31 countries. Called the CONCORD study, the researchers found that United States has the highest survival rates for breast and prostate cancer. However, Japan has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in men, and France has the highest survival for colon and rectal cancers in women. Canada and Australia also ranked relatively high for most cancers. The differences in the survival data for these “best” countries is very small, and is possibly caused by discrepancies in reporting of data and not the treatment result itself.

And it should be noted that Japan, France, Canada and Australia all have government-funded national health care systems. So, there is no reason to assume that changing the way health care is funded in the U.S. would reduce the quality of cancer care.

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Sandra Bullock Gives $1 Million To Doctors Without Borders for Haiti Relief

Posted by: Audiegrl

Award-winning actress and producer Sandra Bullock said Friday she donated $1 million toward Haitian earthquake relief.

Bullock’s contribution went to Doctors Without Borders’ emergency operations in Port-Au-Prince, where three of the organization’s existing facilities were damaged by the magnitude 7.0 quake.

I wanted to ensure that my donation would be used immediately to meet the needs of the Haitian people affected by this catastrophic event,” said Bullock in a statement.

I urge all of my friends and fans around the world to join me collectively to match my contribution or give in any way you can,” she said. “We must act now.”

Earlier Friday, Not On Our Watch, an advocacy and grantmaking group founded by George Clooney, Brad Pitt and others, donated $1 million to Partners in Health. Madonna also announced she gave $250,000 toward the effort as celebrity aid continued to pour into the devastated country.

The international Red Cross estimates 45,000 to 50,000 people were killed in the earthquake, which devastated the Caribbean nation on Tuesday.


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44-D’s Impact Diaries: Largest-Ever Kidney Swap Donors and Patients Meet

26 Operations Done Over Six Days Gave 13 People New Kidneys In Huge Lifesaving Effort

Posted by Audiegrl

Kidney donors (left to right) Bill Singleton, Lucien Boyd, Sylvia Glaser, Kelvina Hudgens, Pamela Hull and Tom Otten attend a news conference at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 15. The donors are part of a record-setting 13-way kidney swap, a pioneering effort to expand transplants to patients who too often never qualify.

Kidney donors (left to right) Bill Singleton, Lucien Boyd, Sylvia Glaser, Kelvina Hudgens, Pamela Hull and Tom Otten attend a news conference at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 15.

Associated Press—Thirteen patients with healthy new kidneys from what’s believed to be the world’s largest kidney exchange met the donors who made it happen Tuesday — including three who are sure to face the question, “Why?”

A hospice nurse who handed homemade cookies to her operating team. A retired stockbroker who had volunteered with the National Kidney Foundation and decided to walk the talk. And a woman inspired by President Barack Obama’s call to volunteer. They all donated a kidney with nothing to gain — they didn’t have a friend or loved one in the marathon chain of transplants that they helped make possible.

It feels wonderful,” Sylvia Glaser, 69, the hospice nurse, said Tuesday at a news conference where most of the donors and recipients met for the first time. “You are giving someone a life, and there is no substitute for that.”

It’s not like I’m doing anything courageous,” Bill Singleton, 62, the kidney foundation volunteer, told The Associated Press before his surgery. “If I don’t volunteer, who will?”

Kidney exchanges widen the pool of potential donors for the hardest-to-transplant patients — minorities as well as people whose immune systems have become abnormally primed to attack a donated kidney. What happens: Patients find a friend or relative who isn’t compatible with them but will donate on their behalf, and the pairs are mixed to find the most matches.

Roxanne Boyd Williams, left, cries as she meets her kidney donor Tom Otten, a suburban St. Louis police officer, in an emotional reunion at the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 11. Otten's wife, Irene, also received a kidney as part of the donor chain.

Roxanne Boyd Williams, left, cries as she meets her kidney donor Tom Otten, a suburban St. Louis police officer, in an emotional reunion at the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington D.C. on Dec. 11. Otten's wife, Irene, also received a kidney as part of the donor chain.

But a donor whose kidney isn’t directed to a particular patient — a so-called altruistic or non-directed donor — multiplies the number of operations that can be done in a kidney swap. And Dr. Keith Melancon at Georgetown University Hospital had three such donors, people he calls “pieces of gold.”

People keep wanting to know why, why, why,” Glaser, the Gaithersburg, MD, nurse said before her surgery. “It sounds very trite but you pass through this world, and what do you ever do that makes a difference?”

The AP documented weeks of the complex logistics as Melancon’s team initially planned for a 16-way exchange, juggled donors and recipients for the best matches — and emerged with a record-setting exchange: Twenty-six operations over six days this month at Georgetown and nearby Washington Hospital Center.

Ten of the 13 recipients were African-American, Asian or Hispanic. And five were patients who never would have received a kidney under the traditional system, because they needed an extra blood-cleansing treatment to remove those hyperactive immune cells, treatment that only a handful of hospitals in the country offer.

Kidney transplant recipient Solomon Weldeghebriel, second from left, with kidney donor Bill Singleton, right, holds his children Mahor, 5, left, and daughter Simona Weldeghebriel, 3

Kidney transplant recipient Solomon Weldeghebriel, second from left, with kidney donor Bill Singleton, right, holds his children Mahor, 5, left, and daughter Simona Weldeghebriel, 3

I cannot explain in words. I can raise my children now. He gave me life,” said Solomon Weldeghebriel, 42, a Washington cabdriver. Two of his three children wiggled on his lap as he met Singleton, his donor.

The exchange started with a 45-year-old Maryland woman inspired by President Obama. She asked to remain anonymous but told The AP: “I just wanted to help someone out that needed my help, to give them a better life.”

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/17/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised the progress that has been made on health insurance reform, and spoke out against those who defend the status quo in order to score political points and protect their profits. With reform the closest it has ever been to becoming law, the insurance companies are rolling out deceptive ads, paying for misleading studies, and flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists. Now, Washington needs to serve the American people, not the special interests.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 17, 2009

Over the better part of the past year, a great debate has taken place in Washington and across America, about how to reform our health care system to provide security for people with insurance, coverage for those without insurance, and lower costs for everyone. From the halls of Congress to the homes of ordinary Americans, this debate has helped us to forge consensus and find common ground. That’s a good thing. That’s what America is all about.

Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action. Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history.

But this is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This is not the time to grow complacent. There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out in the coming weeks. And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost. The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses, and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us.

We know that this inaction has carried a terrible toll. In the past decade, premiums have doubled. Over the past few years, total out of pocket costs for people with insurance rose by a third. And we know that if we do not reform the system, this will only be a preview of coming attractions. A new report for the Business Roundtable – a non-partisan group that represents the CEOs of major companies – found that without significant reform, health care costs for these employers and their employees will well more than double again over the next decade. The cost per person for health insurance will rise by almost $18,000. That’s a huge amount of money. That’s going to mean lower salaries and higher unemployment, lower profits and higher rolls of uninsured. It is no exaggeration to say, that unless we act, these costs will devastate the US economy.

This is the unsustainable path we’re on, and it’s the path the insurers want to keep us on. In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.

Of course, like clockwork, we’ve seen folks on cable television who know better, waving these industry-funded studies in the air. We’ve seen industry insiders – and their apologists – citing these studies as proof of claims that just aren’t true. They’ll claim that premiums will go up under reform; but they know that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that reforms will lower premiums in a new insurance exchange while offering consumer protections that will limit out-of-pocket costs and prevent discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. They’ll claim that you’ll have to pay more out of pocket; but they know that this is based on a study that willfully ignores whole sections of the bill, including tax credits and cost savings that will greatly benefit middle class families. Even the authors of one of these studies have now admitted publicly that the insurance companies actually asked them to do an incomplete job.

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.

Now, I welcome a good debate. I welcome the chance to defend our proposals and to test our ideas in the fires of this democracy. But what I will not abide are those who would bend the truth – or break it – to score political points and stop our progress as a country. And what we all must oppose are the same old cynical Washington games that have been played for decades even as our problems have grown and our challenges have mounted.

Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition. Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.

I believe we can. I believe we will. And I urge every member of Congress to stand against the power plays and political ploys – and to stand up on behalf the American people who sent us to Washington to do their business.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/10/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised past and current political leaders from across the spectrum who have come forward to support reform. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and drug companies have already expressed their support. In the past several days Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bloomberg, former Senate Major Leader Bob Dole, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, among others, have all come forward to say that the status quo is unsustainable and that now is the time to reform the system. They see that this is a not a Democratic or a Republican problem, but an American one in need of a solution.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 10, 2009

The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate. Having worked on this issue for the better part of a year, the Senate Finance Committee is finishing deliberations on their version of a health insurance reform bill that will soon be merged with other reform bills produced by other Congressional committees.

After evaluating the Finance Committee’s bill, the Congressional Budget Office – an office that provides independent, nonpartisan analysis – concluded that the legislation would make coverage affordable for millions of Americans who don’t have it today. It will bring greater security to Americans who have coverage, with new insurance protections. And, by attacking waste and fraud within the system, it will slow the growth in health care costs, without adding a dime to our deficits.

This is another milestone on what has been a long, hard road toward health insurance reform. In recent months, we’ve heard every side of every argument from both sides of the aisle. And rightly so – health insurance reform is a complex and critical issue that deserves a vigorous national debate, and we’ve had one. The approach that is emerging includes the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats, and people across the political spectrum.

In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers.

And earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform, joining two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole and Dr. Bill Frist, himself a cardiac surgeon. Dr. Louis Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, supports reform. As does Republican Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution.

Still, there are some in Washington today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics, working to score political points, even if it means burdening this country with an unsustainable status quo. A status quo of rising health care costs that are crushing our families, our businesses, and our government. A status quo of diminishing coverage that is denying millions of hardworking Americans the insurance they need. A status quo that gives big insurance companies the power to make arbitrary decisions about your health care. That is a status quo I reject. And that is a status quo the American people reject.

The distinguished former Congressional leaders who urged us to act on health insurance reform spoke of the historic moment at hand and reminded us that this moment will not soon come again. They called on members of both parties seize this opportunity to finally confront a problem that has plagued us for far too long.

That is what we are called to do at this moment. That is the spirit of national purpose that we must summon right now. Now is the time to rise above the politics of the moment. Now is the time to come together as Americans. Now is the time to meet our responsibilities to ourselves and to our children, and secure a better, healthier future for generations to come. That future is within our grasp. So, let’s go finish the job.

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Let Congress Go Without Insurance by Nicholas D. Kristof

Posted by betham37

Op-ed by Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof

Nicholas D. Kristof


New York Times/Nicholas D. Kristof—Let me offer a modest proposal: If Congress fails to pass comprehensive health reform this year, its members should surrender health insurance in proportion with the American population that is uninsured.

It may be that the lulling effect of having very fine health insurance leaves members of Congress insensitive to the dysfunction of our existing insurance system. So what better way to attune our leaders to the needs of their constituents than to put them in the same position?

About 15 percent of Americans have no health insurance, according to the Census Bureau. Another 8 percent are underinsured, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a health policy research group. So I propose that if health reform fails this year, 15 percent of members of Congress, along with their families, randomly lose all health insurance and another 8 percent receive inadequate coverage.

Congressional critics of President Obama’s efforts to achieve health reform worry that universal coverage will be expensive, while their priority is to curb social spending. So here’s their chance to save government dollars in keeping with their own priorities.

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Dad’s Life or Yours? You Choose by Nicholas D. Kristof

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Doctors from All 50 States Visit the White House to Support Health Insurance Reform

President Barack Obama speaks to doctors on the health care reform in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2009

President Barack Obama speaks to doctors on the health care reform in the Rose Garden of the White House, Monday, Oct. 5, 2009

White House blog—It might seem merely symbolic that there were doctors from all 50 states here at the White House, but it’s symbolic of a deep truth about the health insurance reform debate. As the President said today, “when you cut through all the noise and all the distractions that are out there, I think what’s most telling is that some of the people who are most supportive of reform are the very medical professionals who know the health care system best — the doctors and nurses of America.” He continued:

“These men and women here would not be supporting health insurance reform if they really believed that it would lead to government bureaucrats making decisions that are best left to doctors. They wouldn’t be here today if they believed that reform in any way would damage the very critical and sacred doctor-patient relationship.

Instead, the reason these doctors are here is because they have seen firsthand what’s broken about our health care system. They’ve seen what happens when their patients can’t get the care they need because some insurance company has decided to drop their coverage or water it down. They’ve seen what happens when a patient is forced to pay out of pocket thousands of dollars she doesn’t have for treatments that she desperately needs. They’ve seen what happens when patients don’t come in for regular check-ups or screenings because either their insurance company doesn’t cover it or they can’t afford insurance in the first place. And they’ve seen far too much of time that they want to devote to taking care of patients spent filling out forms and haggling with insurance companies about payments.

So these doctors know what needs to be fixed about our health care system. And they know that health insurance reform will do — that it will go a long way towards making patients healthier and doctors and nurses to be able to perform that — those tasks that are so important to them and led them into medicine in the first place.”

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Television Ad: “Every Day”

President Barack Obama’s campaign organization released a new national television advertisement on Tuesday morning aimed at amplifying the White House’s effort to make doctors and nurses the face of health care reform.


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John Zogby: Decision Day For Democrats: Poll Shows Path to Healthcare Reform By S. Ward Casscells, MD and John Zogby
Despite suggestions that Americans were either tired of the health care issue or did not consider it to be enough of a priority, we found that people would read the long description of the bill, then wade through 10 amendments. Even after months of off-putting rhetoric by an over-heated, over-publicized few on both sides, Americans do indeed care about this health care debate.
Moreover, they sent a clear message: Only one proposed amendment raises support for the bill to even: malpractice reform. The second biggest boost was from eliminating the individual mandate, and third: adding a public option.

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