A Dog’s Favorite TV Show

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Thomas Frank – What Happened, One More Time – Economic Devastation and Populist Backlash

from Jesse’s Le Café Américain [ http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com%5D

“The American white-collar class just spent the year rallying around a super-competent professional (who really wasn’t all that competent) and either insulting or silencing everyone who didn’t accept their assessment. And then they lost. Maybe it’s time to consider whether there’s something about shrill self-righteousness, shouted from a position of high social status, that turns people away.

The even larger problem is that there is a kind of chronic complacency that has been rotting American liberalism for years, a hubris that tells Democrats they need do nothing different, they need deliver nothing really to anyone – except their friends on the Google jet and those nice people at Goldman.

The rest of us are treated as though we have nowhere else to go and no role to play except to vote enthusiastically on the grounds that these Democrats are the ‘last thing standing’ between us and the end of the world.

It is a liberalism of the rich, it has failed the middle class, and now it has failed on its own terms of electability. Enough with these comfortable Democrats and their cozy Washington system. Enough with Clintonism and its prideful air of professional-class virtue.”

Thomas Frank

Drtought Map for Nov. 29th 2016

“Cures” Bill Is A Fraud – Liz Warren

For two years, Congress has been working on legislation to advance medical innovation in the United States. From the beginning, I’ve argued that any “cures” bill must include substantial new funding for medical research (National Institutes of Health), or it’s not going to cure anything.

Finally we put together a pretty decent bill with some serious compromises and some good work: a bipartisan mental health bill, protection of genetic privacy for patients, a proposal to improve foster care, and some funding for Vice President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot.

I support most of these proposals. Heck, I wrote some of them myself. But in the final days of this Congress, the 21st Century Cures bill has been hijacked by Big Pharma and big Republican donors.

Join me in telling the House and the Senate to stand up to Big Pharma and vote NO on this bill. Keep fighting for a better deal on the 21st Century Cures Act.

Democrats and Republicans had agreed that a medical innovation bill would not go forward without substantially more money for NIH. But the Cures deal has only a tiny fig leaf of funding for NIH.

21st Century Cures doesn’t reduce crushing drug prices. It doesn’t really expand the invention of new cures. And it doesn’t increase access to lifesaving therapies.

What does it do?

Legalizes fraud: It’s against the law for drug companies to market drugs for uses not approved by the FDA. You can’t sell a headache pill as a cure for cancer. Drug companies have paid billions in penalties for “off-label marketing.” Instead of following the law, they’ve cozied up to Congress to have the Cures bill shoot holes in it.

Covers up bribery: Currently, drug companies have to disclose the buckets of money, gifts, giveaways, and free trips they give doctors and hospitals as kickbacks to use certain drugs. Once again, drug companies cozied up to Congress to gut that disclosure rule – allowing any gift related to “medical education” to be exempt.

Hands out special deals to GOP donors: A major Republican donor to Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC has big business plans to sell dangerous, unproven stem cell treatments before they have been approved by the FDA as safe and effective. Now that donor is collecting on his investment. The Cures bill creates a special deal so people can sell these treatments without meeting the FDA gold standards for protecting patient safety, undermining the integrity of the FDA and the safety of untold numbers of desperate patients.

And there’s another scary thing hidden in this bill: for two years, Republicans have paid lip service to our nation’s opioid crisis while refusing to spend money on it. Now that Donald Trump has won the presidency, Republicans have agreed to set aside a few million dollars to address the crisis on the condition that the Trump Administration has complete control over the money when he takes office. If it passes, President Trump could use opioid crisis funding as a way to punish those suffering with this crisis when their political leaders don’t follow along with his agenda.

There’s more: Medicare cuts, making life harder for people with disabilities, raiding money from the Affordable Care Act, even a gun provision – but not even a 1% increase in funding for NIH. This bill has been so loaded with stink bombs that you can smell it all over Capitol Hill.

On November 8, a majority of voters supported Democratic Senate candidates, and a majority supported the Democratic presidential candidate over the Republican. The American people didn’t vote for Democrats to come back to Washington and play dead while the Republicans hand over control to billionaires and giant corporations. Drug companies and billionaire donors hijacked a decent bill, and we need to take it back or kill it off.

We need to invest in medical innovation in America – but we shouldn’t do it by making it easier for giant drug companies to commit fraud, give out kickbacks, and put patients’ lives at risk. Tell the House and Senate to keep fighting for a better 21st Century Cures Act by voting NO on this deal.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Elizabeth

Rule Pushes Hospitals To Tell Patients About Nursing Home Quality

Sunday, November 27, 2016, 6:24am  By Jordan Rau

Hospitals have long been reluctant to share with patients their assessments of which nursing  homes are best because of a Medicare requirement that patients’ choices can’t be restricted.

For years, many hospitals simply have given patients a list of all the skilled nursing facilities  near where they live and told them which ones have room for a new patient. Patients have  rarely been told which homes have poor quality ratings from Medicare or a history of public  health violations, according to researchers and patient advocates.

“Hospitals are not sure enough that it would be seen as appropriate and so they don’t want to  take the chance that some surveyor will come around to cite them” for violating Medicare’s  rules, said Nancy Foster, vice president for quality and patient safety at the American Hospital  Association.

As a result, patients can unknowingly end up in a nursing home where they suffer bed sores,  infections, insufficient staffing or other types of substandard care.
But hospitals’ tight-lipped approach to sharing quality information may soon be changed. The  Obama administration is rewriting those rules, not just for patients going to nursing homes  but also those headed home or to another type of health facility.

Hospitals will still have to provide patients with all nearby options, but the new rule says  hospitals “must assist the patients, their families, or the patient’s representative in selecting a  post-acute care provider by using and sharing data” about quality that is relevant to a  particular patient’s needs for recovery. The rule was drafted in October 2015.

The administration hasn’t said when it will be finalized. Should it not be enacted before the  end of President Obama’s term, its fate becomes uncertain. President-elect Donald Trump  has pledged not to approve new regulations unless two existing ones are eliminated.
The quality requirement might have made a difference for Elizabeth Fee, an 88-year-old San  Francisco woman who had been hospitalized for a broken hip. Her hospital, California Pacific  Medical Center, told her family about its own nursing home but did not tell them that Medicare  had given it one star, its lowest quality rating, Fee’s family asserts in court papers.

“I feel we were misled because we believed that Mom was going to a facility that would have  given her excellent care,” her daughter Laura Rees said. “And what she got was not even  close to that, it was like night and day.”

At the nursing home, Ms. Fee developed a bowel blockage that went undiagnosed until the  morning of the day she died in January 2012. The nursing home and hospital have denied that  they provided substandard care and declined to comment. The nursing home closed last  year.
Some health systems haven’t waited for Medicare’s rule change to increase the information  they provide patients about prospective nursing homes. In Massachusetts, Partners  Healthcare, which runs Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals – two  teaching hospitals for Harvard University Medical School – endorses 67 nursing homes  around the state based on a host of criteria, including state inspections, readmission rates,  location and how frequently a doctor or nurse practitioner is at the facility.

Partners believes it doesn’t violate Medicare’s rules because it gives departing patients a  complete list of nursing homes while noting on the list which ones are part of Partner’s quality  network, said Dr. Chuck Pu, a medical director at Partners. This fall, Partners dropped one of  its own nursing homes from its preferred list after it got a poor inspection. “There’s no free  pass,” Pu said.

More careful attention to nursing home quality has been encouraged by existing financial  incentives created by the Affordable Care Act that cut payments to hospitals if too many  patients are readmitted within a month. “The whole idea of preferred provider networks is  really going to escalate in the future,” said Brian Fuller, an executive with NaviHealth, a  consulting company for hospitals that focuses on patient care after discharge.

Foster, the hospital association executive, said the proposed Medicare rule should make  hospitals less wary about giving more detailed guidance. “This signals that it’s okay for  knowledgeable folks to really engage in that conversation with patients and their families,”  Foster said.

New drug limits and then repairs brain damage in stroke

Date:November 25, 2016 Source:Manchester University Summary:A potential new drug reduces the number of brain cells destroyed by stroke and then helps to repair the damage, researchers have discovered.

A reduction in blood flow to the brain caused by stroke is a major cause of death and disability, and there are few effective treatments.

A team of scientists at The University of Manchester has now found that a potential new stroke drug not only works in rodents by limiting the death of existing brain cells but also by promoting the birth of new neurons (so-called neurogenesis).

This finding provides further support for the development of this anti-inflammatory drug, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra in short), as a new treatment for stroke. The drug is already licensed for use in humans for some conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. Several early stage clinical trials in stroke with IL-1Ra have already been completed in Manchester, though it is not yet licensed for this condition.

In the research, published in the biomedical journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity, the researchers show that in rodents with a stroke there is not only reduced brain damage early on after the stroke, but several days later increased numbers of new neurons, when treated with the anti-inflammatory drug IL-1Ra.