American Elephants


The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is Unsustainable! by The Elephant's Child

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), in hot pursuit of telling everyone what to do and what to eat, has held its fourth meeting and is devoting a session to “sustainability,” (of course) which will be taken into account for nutrition standards that are used to create policy at the federal level.

Isn’t it interesting that they have to revise the standards every year, because they were wrong? Those things that they thought were good have been determined to be bad, and nutritionists now have new ideas, which will probably turn out to be incorrect as well. Is there any use for that diagram, whether in a pyramid or plate form, beyond giving the government rules which no one follows, except some school lunch programs.

sus•tain•able: able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed.
involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources.
able to last or continue for a long time.
[sustainable is currently in the top 1% of lookups and is the 158th most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com]

Sustainable is an environmentalist buzz-word intended to make you fear that we are using up our resources and if you don’t stop we’re all going to die.

To make us sustainable the USDA has hired an environmental food activist—one Angela Tagtow— to lead the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, which oversees DGAC. The DGAC’ Friday meeting included a presentation by the work group leader Miriam Nelson for “Environmental Determinants of Food, Diet, and Health,

Consistent evidence indicates that, in general, a dietary pattern that is lower in animal-based foods and higher in plant-based foods has a lesser environmental impact and at the same time is more health-promoting than the current American diet.

Promoting more sustainable diets will contribute to food security for present and future generations by conserving resources. This approach should be encouraged across all food sectors.

Nelson said there is “remarkable consistency” in research that vegetarian-like diets are better for the planet. The presentation focused on “sustainability outcomes” for the food system, which take into account “environment footprint,” including greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and biodiversity (emphasis added)

The committee was enthusiastic about the hiring of Tagtow, who they called a “good food” activist who advocates for social justice in the food system and an “ecological approach to nutrition.” They consider Tagtow a cheerleader for sustainability. The goal is to push sustainability, not to push healthy eating.

Good grief. I think the left has gone completely insane. “Social justice in the food system?” If you want to do something for the food system, stop wasting taxpayer money on putting food crops into our gas tanks. The federal government does not need a committee to draw up nutrition guidelines. They are usually wrong anyway or they wouldn’t need revising every year. There are departments of nutrition, college majors in nutrition and huge aisles in every bookstore devoted to food — should we care to seek advice on what to eat for a healthy diet, there in no lack anywhere of plentiful information, including your public library. Honest, we can handle it without your advice. Butt out.



Obama’s Scandals: Not Funny Anymore. by The Elephant's Child

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has chimed in on the IRS “Lost Emails Scandal:

  • Lew: “Sometimes a broken hard drive is just a broken hard drive.”

From Zero Hedge: “perhaps the NY Post put it best: The thing about dogs eating homework is, it could actually happen. This can’t. This is “The dog ate my hard drive, broke into another building, ate the backup of the hard drive, then broke into six other top officials’ offices and ate their hard drives also.”

20140624_IRS

 



Would You Pay $200,000 to Hear Hillary Speak? by The Elephant's Child

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As a woman, I have never understood the idea of “the first woman” and why that would seem important to any voter. The highest office in the land depends on qualifications and proven competence. Whether it is a woman, a man, or the first person of any particular race, ethnicity or sexual preference should not make the slightest difference. I have opposed Barack Obama, not because of his race, but because he had no real qualifications. To assume that there is something special about a president because of his race is absurd. You would have to be remarkably racist to assume that skin color has anything to do with qualifications and competence.

By the time someone aspires to the presidency, they need to have a solid record of accomplishments. I’m never enthusiastic about senators as presidential candidates. Their accomplishments are largely in making speeches and in their voting record. Those who champion an important bill and push it through have an accomplishment. Those who just vote aye or nay haven’t got much.

Hillary originally thought that being married to the president qualified her to be his co-president, until the people rose up and said ‘Wait just a minute—we didn’t elect you.’ When Patrick Moynihan died, a safe Democratic senate seat opened up, and Hillary quickly bought a home in the district and ran for the Senate. Her qualifications were that she had been first lady. Members of Congress who die in office are often replaced by their widows, who get elected on name familiarity or sympathy, not qualifications. Hillary’s senate career was unremarkable. Her tenure as Secretary of State was unremarkable and tallied up only in air miles.

The Benghazi scandal was typical Hillary. She didn’t know, she wasn’t informed, she met the parents when the bodies were returned and told them that they would get the guy who made the video — which she surely knew at the time was a complete crock. Hillary has remarkably poor political instincts— understanding instinctively how something will play with the public. And she’s always stepping in it. When she does, she reacts poorly as “What difference does it make” demonstrates.

An ambassador killed because he does not have the protection he requested. Two former SEALS who ran to the sound of the guns, saved 30 people and waited and waited for seven hours for help that never came. How can anyone have such abysmal political instincts that they do not understand how that will play out with the American people. But she didn’t. And there are dozens more examples of the same lack.



The Decline and Fall of Another Socialist Paradise by The Elephant's Child

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Another socialist paradise is crumbling away. This time it’s Venezuela. They have already run short of milk, flour, vegetable oil, sugar and even toilet paper. They can’t manage to even keep baby formula in the stores. Now it’s drinking water. Residents in the capital of Caracas must wait for hours in line to fill jugs of water for drinking, cooking and keeping clean. Even the 5-liter bottles the government mandates are scarce. That’s what you get —5 liters for everything. There’s very little bottled drinking water.

Drought and crumbling infrastructure are blamed, but the socialist state also owes tens of billions to international bondholders and they couldn’t pay their debts and also import bottled water. They were afraid foreign creditors would seize their oil shipments, so they elected to pay $2.8 billion in interest on their foreign debt.

Blaming a drought caused by El Niño, the state-owned water company, Hidrocapital, began rationing tap water in Caracas in May. The Table of Democratic Unity (MUD) opposition party was having none of it, noting “the lack of responsibility and improvisation with which the government acts, postponing investments, maintenance, and opportune decisions.”

The government owes over a billion dollars of debt to foreign companies that provide its medicine, operate the telephones and import the food. Things have been falling apart for some time, thousands of Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest. and many have been killed.

When Hugo Chavez died a year ago, he left an estate of $2 billion, which seems to be typical of socialist paradises. He, at least, had some ability in management as evidenced by the size of his estate. Actually he left a mess for his even less competent successor, Nicolás Maduro. Corruption, rampant crime and  economic mismanagement are driving protesters into the streets, not to mention hunger and need.

The Diplomad summed it up clearly back in February when things began really falling apart. This brilliant former diplomat is usually spot on:

A question for us, of course, is where is the United States? Nowhere. While our incompetent Secretary of State dashes about trying to convince Assad to give up power, and the Palestinians to stop being Palestinians, and the Iranians to stop being Iranians, and to convince us that “global climate change” is the gravest threat to our security, our neighborhood is on fire. Events are now transpiring in friendly and hostile Latin American countries with little or no regard or concern for the views of Washington. For the first time in some 150 years, the United States government (not so the private sector) is essentially irrelevant to much if not most of Latin America. In essence, we have no official views of any consequence re Latin America coming out of the White House, no functioning Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at State, and no active and calming US Southern Command at the Pentagon.



When Socialists Promise a Utopian Paradise … by The Elephant's Child

Gutted Yellow Building Havana

We have people out protesting about the minimum wage. They seem to think it is right and proper for the government to decide what employers should pay their employees, no matter what skills the employees may possess.  Seattle has just decided on a $15 an hour minimum wage, to be reached gradually. In the socialist paradise of Cuba, they don’t have a minimum wage. They have a maximum wage. Nobody gets to earn more than $20 — but that’s a month, not an hour. Doctors and lawyers get an extra $10 to bring them up to $30 a month.

Fidel Castro declared that his salary was about 900 pesos per month, or $36. But Forbes magazine included the Cuban ruler in its 2006 list of the 10 richest “Kings, Queens, and Dictators.” Interesting revolutionary ethics.

Now Fidel Castro’s former bodyguard has written a book that says Castro’ claim that he lived a life of exemplary revolutionary frugality was a pack of lies. Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, 65, served as a bodyguard for the Cuban leader for 17 years and has published a memoir that portrays Fidel as a sort of feudal lord who ran the island like a personal fiefdom.

Castro controlled about 20 luxury homes, a Caribbean island getaway with a pool and dolphins, at Cayo Piedra south of the Bay of Pigs, where he kept the 88 foot yacht Aquarama II, several fishing vessels whose catch was sold to fatten his bank account. Like most dictators, there were several numbered bank accounts, as well as the finances of several state enterprises including a small gold mine. There were a couple of other large yachts, one a floating hospital. Only special friends like the Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Márquez and CNN owner Ted Turner were invited. And there was a complex of Havana buildings and grounds, including a basketball court, a fully equipped medical center, rooftop bowling alley.

It isn’t just socialist paradises, but apparently Islamic paradises as well. Saddam Hussein was well equipped with palaces and luxury. The Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has been found to control a financial empire worth an estimated £60bn. An empire which includes businesses as wide-ranging as an ostrich farm, a birth control pill factory, oil and telecommunications.

The big-shots in charge always talk a good game about caring for the poor, and helping the middle class, serving the people, but when you lift up the covers and peek underneath, they all seem remarkably intent on enriching themselves.



Can the Problems at the VA Be Fixed? An Open Question. by The Elephant's Child

The backlogs at the Veterans Administration Hospitals appear to have resulted from demand from higher-ups to serve more people in less time in order to save money; and I  immediately remembered the scandal in Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), where they were keeping patients in ambulances parked outside the hospital so they wouldn’t have to log them in. Government guidelines  stated  how long patients would have to wait to be seen. If they were parked outside and not logged in, who would know? British reporters are not as politically correct as ours usually are.They reported the facts, and soon the whole world knew about their wait-list scandal.

The British newspapers have been, over time, a great source for following the failings of socialized (single-payer) medicine. The stories, and the failings, get reported.  However, there was a case where the work of our reporters did prompt real change — from former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates new book Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War:

On February 18 and 19, 2007, The Washington Post ran a two-part series by reporters Dana Priest and Anne Hull on the administrative nightmare and squalid living conditions endured by wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. …The reporters described, in detail, Building 18, where a number of recuperating soldiers were housed, as rife with mold, filth, leaks, soiled carpets, rodents, cockroaches, and overall shabbiness. There were clearly not enough caseworkers to help outpatients and not enough help for outpatients and families to navigate through the huge hospital complex or the massive and confusing paperwork. I was shocked by the conditions described in the articles. At my morning staff meeting on February 20, I said we had a big problem on our hands, a failure to take proper care of our wounded warriors and their families. That had to be addressed immediately.

The secretary held a press conference 3 days later to announce an outside group to investigate the situation in depth, recommend remedial actions, and he gave them 45 days to report back with their findings. He held a press conference at Walter Reed, said the situation was unacceptable and would not continue. He expressed his gratitude to the reporters for bringing the problem to the attention of the Department of Defense. and said how disappointed he was that they did not discover it themselves. People were fired, military officers retired, but the situation was fixed, and promptly.

Apparently the Congress, successive administrations and the veterans groups relied on wait times as a primary performance measure. This emphasis, according to Yuval Levin who served as a health policy staffer in the Bush White House, was not tied to structural reforms that might make the VA system work more efficiently.

Centrally run, highly bureaucratic, public health-care systems that do not permit meaningful pricing and do not allow for competition among providers of care can really only respond to supply and demand pressures through waiting lines. It happens everywhere, but when it has happened at the VA the response has been to criticize waiting times rather than to reconsider how the system is organized.

The core of the scandal is what seems to be a highly organized effort to cook the books in order to be ale to report shorter wait times for care than were actually achieved. In order to work this system had to involve large numbers of people at each facility, and since it is in many facilities in the system, there had to be some collusion between them. The Obama administration set a goal in 2011 of 14 days between the time a patient asked for an appointment and the time that patient sees a doctor or a nurse. These targets, Levin says, did not account well for the huge differences between different kinds of patients seen by the VA, and they were directly tied to bonuses and salary increases for hospital administrators, creating a huge incentive to game the system and, as happened here, just lie about wait times.

The Phoenix hospital reported that it had managed by last year to get average wait times down to 24 days. The inspector general report found the actual average wait time was 115 days. That’s a lot of cooking the books.

Yuval Levin says the Department of Veterans Affairs is the most poorly managed cabinet department and probably among the most poorly managed agencies in the whole government. The veterans’ disability system has enormous problems as well. It is hard to overstate the political power of the veterans interest groups over the VA. The department is not subject to congressional or administrative oversight in the usual sense. It answers to veterans groups, who are likely to be resistant to fundamental change. Mr. Levin’s article is more informative about what the real problems are than most I have seen. Do read the whole thing.

The current problems at the Phoenix hospital and others are far different than the administrative dysfunction that has been a hallmark of the VA for so long. This is a massive conspiracy to benefit VA employees at the expense of their patients.



If You Want The Truth, Talk To The Doctors Who Trained at VA Hospitals! by The Elephant's Child

A watchdog report from the VA’s independent inspector general focuses on the Phoenix VA Health Care System in Arizona, where wait times for patient appointments were improperly reported, but it also  points to widespread scheduling problems throughout the VA health care system. The report said “Our reviews at more VA medical facilities…have confirmed that inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic,” the report said. The inspector general said it had identified potential criminal and civil violations, and is coordinating efforts with the Justice Department.

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal by Dr. Hal Scherz, a pediatric urological surgeon at Georgia Urology and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and member of the faculty of Emory University Medical School,  members of Congress who are attempting to get to the bottom of this, instead of calling  for the resignation of General Shinseki, should be talking to the doctors who trained there.

There are 153 VA hospitals, most of them are affiliated with the country’s 155 medical schools, and they play an integral role in the education of young physicians. These physicians have borne witness to the abuses and mismanagement, and when they attempt to fight against the entrenched bureaucracy on behalf of their patients, they meet fierce resistance.

Most doctors have their personal VA stories. In my experience at VA hospitals in San Antonio and San Diego, patients were seen in clinics that were understaffed and overscheduled. Appointments for X-rays and other tests had to be scheduled months in advance, and longer for surgery. Hospital administrators limited operating time, making sure that work stopped by 3 p.m. Consequently, the physician in charge kept a list of patients who needed surgery and rationed the available slots to those with the most urgent problems.

Proponents of the Affordable Care Act have long used the VA to showcase the benefits of federally planned and run health care. Doctors know otherwise—and it is no surprise that a majority of them have opposed a mammoth federal regulatory apparatus to control health care in this country. The systemic problems with the VA bureaucracy are a harbinger of things to come.

He suggests providing veterans with federally issued insurance cards, allowing them to receive their care in the community, where it can be delivered more efficiently and far better.

Clean out the swamp. Send appropriate bureaucrats to prison, and fix this national embarrassment directly and promptly. Let’s not have any more of our honored veterans die of neglect and inattention. 115 day wait for an appointment indeed!



The VA Scandal Is Caused By the Perverse Incentives of Socialized Medicine. by The Elephant's Child

About-The-Department-of-Veterans-Affairs-resized-6001

Memorial Day just calls more attention to the scandal of the Veterans Administration hospital system. Democrats are in panic mode. This is a bad one. Nancy Pelosi is trying to blame it all on Bush, the usual fall-back position. She would have it that it is all the enormous influx of young veterans wounded in Bush’s wars. Nice try, but that’s not the case. It isn’t the young guys that are dying of inattention, despite their sometimes grievous wounds, they are younger and healthier. The problem is socialized medicine.

The reason Democrats are attracted to government-run health care is that the left is always focused on intent, not results. They believe in government by experts, the best and brightest, and ever more experts to get it right — in other words, in big government. Their intent is what matters. If the results aren’t right, they will fiddle and tweak until they get it fixed.  But they intend a bright and shining success.

When you guarantee beneficiaries free treatment which is open-ended in terms of cost, more patients are apt to seek treatment for less important reasons. They have no idea of the cost—they are guaranteed care. For the government, the patients are now their responsibility and the incentive is entirely to cut costs.

Doctors and nurses may well be wonderful, and choosing to work with veterans indicates a caring intent, when they could probably do as well or better in the private sector. But for the bureaucratic staff, the incentive is to force the medical staff to cover more patients in less time, to prescribe cheaper medicines, to do less costly procedures. Success at bringing down costs results in bigger bonuses and career advancement for the bureaucrats.Some are represented by unions. The incentives for unions are to gain bigger bonuses, better retirement, and better pay, not better care for vets.  Which results in long wait lists, hidden because they are embarrassing and certainly not resulting in career advancement— or exactly what we’ve got.

Democrats don’t really understand what all the fuss is about, because they are focused on their intent. The results can be tweaked to prevent such problems.

You can see  the intent of ObamaCare being tweaked daily by the president, as he issues executive orders and rewrites the law to overcome problems. But we have had added the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) which issues decisions on what preventative services will and will not be covered and for whom they are indicated. Got that? You don’t get to decide, it will be decided for you by a new agency filled with unaccountable bureaucrats.

The Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is tasked with cutting Medicare costs either through a reduction of services or by cutting the payments to providers. They simply don’t understand that they cannot cut payments to providers below a certain point or there will be few or only poorly qualified providers.

Whether with Medicare, Veterans Care or Medicaid, Obama and his advisers were particularly concerned with the higher costs of health care for older people. Statistically, the biggest expenses for health care are in their final years. If you can cut back on those expenses, and old people have fewer worthwhile life years ahead of them, then you are more apt to meet your budget.

And again, whenever care is free at the point of service, the more care people will demand. I wrote this in an earlier post, but this is what Obama said:

Obama did say that people might be better off taking a pain pill than getting surgery. He also said “the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out there.” Excuse me, but isn’t that what health care is for?

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The VA Scandal Predicts What ObamaCare Will Inevitably Become. by The Elephant's Child

A health-care system run and funded by a national government has been caught covering up its waiting lists, leaving patients without care for so long that they have died before they were attended to and, worst of all, perhaps, fudging the numbers in order to make itself and its political masters look more competent. I’m from England, and I’ve seen this movie before.

That’s Charles C.W. Cooke, writing at National Review. Anyone who follows the news from Britain or any of the other countries with national health care, is aware of the problems inherent in government-run health care. ObamaCare, at present, is predicated on a system of private insurance, maintains the nations network of private hospitals, and funnels taxpayer money to subsidizing monthly premiums rather than to the reimbursement of carriers. But the Democrats always intended ObamaCare to gradually evolve into single-payer health care, or socialized medicine.

Paul Krugman, once a celebrated economist, now mostly a political hack, endorsed the principle of a government takeover of the health sector and advocated nationalizing hospitals as well. Krugman endorsed the VA as “an integrated system, which provides health care as well as paying for it.” As a result he claimed “it’s free from the perverse incentives when doctors and hospitals profit from expensive tests and procedures, whether or not those procedures actually make medical sense.”

One of Democrats’ core beliefs is that the federal government can be a force for good, their most basic responsibility is to make government work. Theoretically, the most basic responsibility of anyone who chooses a career in the public sector at whatever level is to make government work. Wise experts.The Best and the Brightest. Total Dedication. Not long ago the Left raved about the VA. Today it’s “Obama must fix VA scandal to redeem liberal vision of government.”How about fixing the VA scandal so no more of our honored veterans die while waiting for treatment? The “liberal vision of government” is what got us here in the first place. Here’s Paul Krugman again in 2006, during the Bush administration,  when there was no ObamaCare:

I know about a health care system that has been highly successful in containing costs, yet provides excellent care. And the story of this system’s success provides a helpful corrective to anti-government ideology. For the government doesn’t just pay the bills in this system–it runs the hospitals and clinics.

No, I’m not talking about some faraway country. The system in question is our very own Veterans Health Administration, whose success story is one of the best-kept secrets in the American policy debate.

According to The-Military-Guide.com, “If you’re eligible for any level of VA care, whether it’s high-priority or low-priority, you’re no longer eligible for ACA exchange subsidies.”  There are worse things than being excluded from ObamaCare, but the VA may well be one of them.

The Veterans Administration’s health care had been a problem for years and years, probably as far back as the Kennedy administration. The question isn’t blaming, it is fixing. And it is recognizing that the current VA system is an example of where ObamaCare wants to take us.

Charles C.W. Cooke writes:

In England nowadays, when bad things happen to patients, we do not blame hospitals, doctors, and drug companies but politicians and their appointees. Those who follow Parliament are thus treated to the absurd spectacle of the prime minister being asked to comment on individual medical cases in far-flung corners of the nation. This he seems to have accepted as his role. Never does he say in response, “Why am I being asked about this?” Never does he ask whether it might be better if the state got out of the hospital business. Instead, in each and every instance, he takes responsibility and promises to look into it.

Does he do so? Rarely. Because mistakes in delivering health care are catastrophic for those seeking reelection or trying to push an agenda, politicians in Britain spend the vast majority of their time worrying about perceived rather than actual improvement. Government, by definition, has no competition, which means that those who staff it can lie and spin and cover up mistakes not just with impunity but with the full force of the state at their back. Thus do results become less important than statistics, reforms less important than spending, and patients less important than careers.

“When the government is responsible for taking care of the citizenry, their care is already a political question. Which means the response will be political. Can it be covered up, how will this affect the next election, will it make me look bad?

In the private sector, success depends on your results. If you screw up, you probably lose your job and your reputation. Happy patients mean success. It may not be perfect, but it’s a hell of a lot more honest.



Oh-Oh! “The National Strategy For Biosurveillance” by The Elephant's Child

Obama photoshop

Under the new Affordable Care Act, hospitals and clinics are required to computerize patient records. This is supposed to save vast amounts of money. So far the expense of putting everything on newly acquired computers linked in newly acquired programs is massive. Doctors now interact more with the computer than the patient, but that’s the way it goes.

The overarching theory was that the federal government would thus gain access to American’s private medical information, and government experts thus could decide what treatments were judged to be best, and what was too expensive, and what was not worthwhile. This would give the experts all the information they need to be, well, expert, and just save vast amounts of money when all those little used treatments were discarded. One size fits all. Like school lunches. CNS News reports:

The federal government is piecing together a sweeping national “biosurveillance” system that will give bureaucrats near real-time access to Americans’ private medical information in the name of national security, according to Twila Brase, a public health nurse and co-founder of the Citizens Council for Health Freedom.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is currently seeking public comment on a 52-page draft of the proposed “National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018” (NHSS).

The deadline for comment is 5 pm EST on May 21st. (See Draft National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018.pdf)

“Health situational awareness includes biosurveillance and other health and non-health inputs (e.g., lab/diagnostics, health service utilization, active intelligence, and supply chain information), as well as systems and processes for effective communication among responders and critical health resource monitoring and allocation,” the draft states.

You might want to send the feds your comments, but keep it clean.

Brase notes that the information collected by the government will be “all-encompassing.” It would include our health status, if we exercise, how often we get a cold, what medications we take, how much we drink, do we have guns in the house, what is our preferred gender, race, and national origin. I added the last because that’s what they are asking these days.

According to the draft proposal, NHSS will create “health situational awareness” by “collecting, aggregating and processing data from both traditional and nontraditional sources (such as social media) and from various governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders…decision makers will have the capacity to visualize and manipulate data from many sources to create an operational picture suited to the specific situation and the decisions before them. Brase wars that the government’s biosurveillance plan is much more intrusive that the data collection currently being done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

But the fact of the matter is that [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] HIPPA already allows the federal government and the state government and the local government and anyone who is a public health agency to have access to our medical records – identifiable medical records – without our consent. It’s in the HIPPA Privacy Rule, which has the full force and effect of law. But that wasn’t actually put in by Congress. It was put in by the Department of Health and Human Services.” (See HIPAAPrivacyRegs_EconomicStimulusChanges.pdf)

President Obama cited the NHSS and “the first-ever National Strategy for Biosurveillance which was announced by the White House in July 2012 as a “top national security policy.” Bet you missed that.

You should read the whole thing, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act forces every doctor to have “interoperable electronic medical records by January 1, 2015 or face penalties from Medicare, financial reductions in their payments.

HIPPA and the HITECH Act (part of the 2009 stimulus bill) together already allow 2.2 million entities to have access to your private medical records without your consent.

People might worry about things like HIV or depression, something that is stigmatizing or embarrassing. They should be concerned about the fact that this is a strategy to oversee your entire life, supposedly with the intent to keep you healthy.

But you will find alternate purposes in North Korea, Communist China’s one-child policy, the belief of some radicals on the left that the earth is overpopulated. The intent may be benign, or not. It is too open-ended, too uncontrolled, and there are too many big government bureaucrats at the other end. And so far, under the administration that produced ObamaCare, government bureaucracies are producing one scandal after another, each more devastating than the last. Some just have SWAT teams breaking down your door, or cost you a lot of money. Some scandals kill people.

Anyone who has worked in government (not politicians) will tell you, if they are honest, that you should not trust the government. The bigger government gets, the less trustworthy it is. Bureaucracy breeds bad behavior. When responsibility is spread across too many, nobody is responsible, and nobody can be blamed — it’s just the bureaucracy.



Emergency Room Use Goes Up. Democrats Mystified. by The Elephant's Child

Headline in the Wall Street Journal: “ER Visits Rise Despite Health Law”

Despite? Should say “ER Visits Rise Because of Health Law”

When RomneyCare was enacted in Massachusetts, much of the reason was to cut down on emergency room use. Emergency room use went up. Why is anyone surprised? Stuff doesn’t always happen during regular office hours. Everybody knows that.

You have stupid accidents or get sick in the evenings and on weekends. As the parent of an accident-prone kid, I can attest to that. And every time we have gone to the emergency room, there was someone in the next bed who had a little ringworm, or pink eye, or something else that was definitely not an emergency. Although American medicine does not suffer in general from the wait times of other countries (or the VA), instant appointments are usually not available. As the phone tree at your doctor’s office probably tells you “if this is a medical emergency, hang-up and call 911.”

But now, you theoretically have vast new numbers of newly insured, who can now go to the emergency room because they don’t have to pay for it themselves.

Emergency room doctors could have told the Democrats that emergency room use was largely patients who had insurance— not the uninsured—even before the health law took effect.  The Democrats who designed the 2010 Affordable Care Act expected to save money because they were sure the law would reduce unnecessary care. There are a lot of other things yet to come that they expected would reduce costs that are only going to add to expense.

Emergency-room physicians say they are seeing a rise in visits since Jan. 1 of this year, when expanded coverage under the Affordable Care Act took effect.  Forty-six percent of emergency rooms say the volume of patients has increased, while only 27 percent say it has remained the same. Seventy-seven percent say their emergency department is not adequately prepared for significant increases in patient volume.

A spokesperson for HHS said it was too soon to draw conclusions, and they cannot speak to the long-term effects “of expanded coverage, which will be shaped by our continuing efforts to help people use their new primary care and preventive care benefits and to invest in innovative approaches aimed at improving our nation’s system of primary care.” Excellent bureaucrat-speak.

Massachusetts Care ER visits rose an estimated 2.2% a year through September 2009. In Oregon which expanded Medicaid coverage in 2008, ER visits rose over 40% over 18 months. In Napa, Calif. St. Joseph Health Queen of the Valley Medical Center is putting patients in the hallways on a regular basis due to ER crowding. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) a former OB-GYN said he wasn’t surprised, “It was a specious argument that the law wold reduce ER use.

Another proof that Democrats just don’t get incentives. The more  you make things free or low cost, the more they will be used. And that will really throw a monkey wrench into your best-laid plans.

 



No Unflattering Pictures Of Obama Will Be Allowed. by The Elephant's Child

The White House has decreed  that photographs of the president and his family will be the work of the White House photographers, and then distributed to the media. Ron Fournier wrote in the National Journal on November 21, 2013:

The fast-moving trend is hampering reporters and videographers who cover the White House, but Mills’s profession has probably been hardest hit. “As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens, officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the Executive Branch of government,” reads a letter delivered today to Carney by the WHCA and several member news organizations including The Associated Press and The New York Times.

The letter includes examples of important news events that were not covered by media photographers, and yet pictures were taken by the White House image team and widely distributed via social media. This happens almost daily. …

Again, this is propaganda–utterly lacking a skeptical eye. The irony is that Obama is using technology that democratized and flattened the media to centralize and strengthen the powers an institution, The Presidency.

Today, I noticed that the Washington Times is striking back! Here is the caption under a White House distributed photo of the president visiting Walter Reed:

President Barack Obama autographs a banner while visiting a wounded service member at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., June 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

President Obama clearly doesn’t like unflattering pictures. He doesn’t like being photoshopped, and if you use his picture in a commercial or political way, expect a SWAT team to break down your door first thing in the morning when you are expected to be asleep. You have been warned.




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