Devaluing the Dollar by Trashing Private Health Care

The main driver of the collapse of the dollar is the liquidity provided by the Fed at nominal interest rates, which invites a worldwide army of investors to short the dollar and buy foreign stocks and bonds. If the dollar continues to fall in value, these investors are effectively paid to borrow as long as their other investments are higher in dollar terms when they unwind the trade. Professor Roubini has a good article on this subject. He predicts that current policy is creating an international stock market bubble which will be followed by a collapse.
It is not a coincidence that the dollar’s decline relative to other currencies and gold has accelerated over the last three months since the health care debate has culminated for the moment in the passage of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. To get a true sense of Congress’s irresponsibility, it is necessary to outline at least a portion of the breathtaking scope of what they are attempting. As listed before, the Act is grossly inflationary because it mandates or results in (1) more coverage requirements per person, (2) more people covered, (3) fewer doctors per patient to provide care, (4) more adverse selection, (5) unreformed and unrepentant tort lawyers, (6) sharply higher health care unionization, and (7) less private interstate competition. The similar Senate proposal, which would effectively end much of private insurance, is discussed in an earlier CWDM.

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Healthcare industry needs IT jab

This industry lags in IT adoption but a healthy dose of change is being administered.

NOWADAYS, healthcare issues seem to be dominating the news. You read about the United States declaring a state of emergency due to the increasing number of Americans dying from H1N1 while there are reports of Malaysia and other countries also struggling to contain the pandemic.

Elsewhere and at other times, there are all sorts of other maladies cropping up — everything from AIDS to super throat infections to dengue fever to an old enemy even, tuberculosis.

The question of information technology in healthcare seems rather trivial to consider at this point. After all, hundreds of new diagnostic and testing machines have been developed in the last 20 years. It would seem that contemporary hospitals and clinics are as good as they can be.

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Baucus earns his healthcare industry funding

On “The Ed Show” Monday night I said Montana Sen. Max Baucus had to decide whether he represented Montana or the insurance industry. Tuesday he made his choice, voting against both public option amendments to the healthcare reform bill in the Senate Finance Committee.

All the Democrats who voted against the public option should be ashamed, but Baucus most of all. The Senate Finance Committee chair’s reasoning was bizarre. According to Salon’s Mike Madden, whose coverage today was terrific, Baucus admitted “the public option would help hold insurance companies’ feet to the fire,” then added, “But my first job is to get this bill across the finish line.”

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Obama’s Health Care Agenda Arrives In Washington

President George W. Bush spent his first year focused on education, culminating with the passage of the No Child Left Behind bill. Barack Obama appears poised to do the same with health care.

Obama hasn’t laid out his plans, but one pillar has always been to expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). This $8 billion program provides money to states that offer health care coverage for kids whose families are uninsured but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. It’s on the fast track.

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Health care industry crisis looms for elderly

Too small and woefully unprepared — that’s how a new report from the Institute of Medicine characterizes the nation’s and California’s medical preparedness for the coming aging boom.

The report, “Retooling of an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce,” said an “impending crisis” is looming as the growing number of 78 million older patients peaks by the year 2030.

Dr. Paul Tang of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation was among the health care leaders writing the report.

Inadequate salaries, high turnover and inadequate training are cited as contributing to the quality and availability of care to the aging population.

More training is required for dog groomers and manicurists than direct-care workers in many parts of the country, the report asserted.

The first Baby Boomers will turn 65 by 2011 and older adults will comprise approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population by 2030. But there are just 7,100 geriatric physicians in the United States — one for every 2,500 older Americans, the report noted.

Boomers will also face a shortage of workers who are competently trained to care for the aged. Older adults have more complex conditions, the report noted. Those 75 or older have three chronic conditions on average, it stated.

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RFID people-tagging ‘benefits health sector’

The percentage of worldwide radio frequency identification (RFID) projects concerning tagging people has increased from eight percent to 11 percent over the last year, according to new research–with the healthcare sector set to see the benefits.

Although privacy concerns have been aired over passports being RFID-tagged, let alone people, according to the report by RFID researcher ID TechEx, people should consider the benefits before becoming too concerned.

The health sector is already taking up people-tagging, the ID TechEx report says, where it allows nurses to radio their location if they are being assaulted, reduce mother baby mismatches and baby theft, help severe diabetics with getting correct treatment, and monitoring disoriented elderly patients without the need for a dedicated member of staff.

However Phillip Allen, analyst at research firm IDC, told ZDNet Asia’s sister site ZDNet Australia that RFID does not seem to have gained a foothold in the Australian healthcare industry, and is unlikely to do so in the future.

“The healthcare sector in Australia is classified as a late adopter of IT,” Allen said, adding healthcare organizations are struggling to fund the “stock standard areas of IT”, and are unlikely invest in forward-looking technologies such as RFID.

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SiCKO Is Boffo

In 1971, Edgar Kaiser, the son of the founder of Kaiser Permanente, one of the first big HMOs, went to see John Ehrlichman, a top aide to President Nixon, to lobby the Nixon White House to pass legislation that would expand the market for health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Ehrlichman reported this conversation to Nixon on February 17, 1971. The discussion, which was taped, went like this:

Ehrlichman: I had Edgar Kaiser come in…talk to me about this and I went into it in some depth. All the incentives are toward less medical care, because the less care they give them, the more money they make.

President Nixon: Fine.

The next day, Nixon publicly announced he would be pushing legislation that would provide Americans “the finest health care in the world.”

When tapes of the Nixon-Ehrlichman conversation and Nixon’s subsequent public statement are played halfway through Michael Moore’s new movie SiCKO, it is one of the film’s more revealing moments. By this point in the film, Moore has already demonstrated that health insurance companies and HMOs are parasitic villains that routinely deny necessary medical care to make more bucks–even when their money-grubbing leads to the death of patients. Looking for the original sin that led to the present mess, Moore zeroes in on this Nixonian moment, which encapsulates the film’s premise that the United States health care system is defined by a fundamental conflict: profit versus care, and–no surprise–profit beats care.

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