Tag Archives: funded

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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Filed under Austrailia, Cancer, Culture, England, France, Health, Health Care Reform, Japan, Medicine, Mesothelioma, News, Opinions, Uncategorized, Women's Issues, World

President Obama: Three New Initiatives to Help Community Health Centers

Posted by Audiegrl

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after signing a memorandum expanding government funded health clinics across the country, Dec. 9, 2009

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after signing a memorandum expanding government funded health clinics across the country

White House.gov—Two causes all Americans can get behind are initiatives to improve our health care system and create jobs in a struggling economy. In an effort to accomplish both at once, today President Obama announced that $600 million in stimulus money will go towards improving community health centers across the country:

Starting today, we’re making $88 million in funding available for centers to adopt new health information technology systems to manage their administrative and financial matters and transfer old paper files to electronic medical records. These investments won’t just increase efficiency and lower costs, they’ll improve the quality of care as well –- preventing countless medical errors, and allowing providers to spend less time with paperwork and more time with patients.

That’s the purpose of the final initiative I’m announcing today as well -– a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of the “medical home” model of care that many of our health centers aspire to. The idea here is very simple: that in order for care to be effective, it needs to be coordinated. It’s a model where the center that serves as your medical home might help you keep track of your prescriptions, or get the referrals you need, or work with you to develop a plan of care that ensures your providers are working together to keep you healthy.

So taken together, these three initiatives –- funding for construction, technology, and a medical home demonstration –- they won’t just save money over the long term and create more jobs, they’re also going to give more people the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there for them and their families when they need it.

And ultimately, that’s what health insurance reform is really about. That’s what the members of Congress here today will be voting on in the coming weeks.

Now, let me just end by saying a little bit about this broader effort. I know it’s been a long road. I know it’s been a tough fight. But I also know the reason we’ve taken up this cause is the very same reason why so many members from both parties are here today –- because no matter what our politics are, we know that when it comes to health care, the people we serve deserve better.

President Obama announces that the Recovery Act will provide new funding for Community Health Centers to finance new construction, modernize information technology, and build a “medical home” model. December 9, 2009

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Filed under Barack Obama, Change, Computers, Democrats, Health, Health Care Reform, Kathleen Sebelius (Sec of HHS), Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Stimulus, TARP, Technology, United States, Video/YouTube