Articles Posted in Accessibility of Healthcare

chapelhill-300x169If the young are the nation’s future, they are getting a sorry eyeful now of how not to deal with widespread death and disease, uncertainty, and inequity. What will kids say years from now about how parents and politicians handled young folks’ schooling during the Covid-19 pandemic?

The student journalists at the University of North Carolina (photo, right) captured in one vulgar term the shambolic response, labeling it a “cluster—” you-know-what.

That reaction summarized the anger and frustration as leading institutions of higher education, including UNC and Notre Dame re-opened, got thousands of young people sort of settled in, and then abruptly shut down, sending them packing and switching to online learning. The universities did so after coronavirus cases on campus exploded.

aged-199x300For the old, sick, and injured who are institutionalized, the Covid-19 pandemic and the efforts to halt the spread of the disease into care facilities has created debilitating side-effects: isolation, loneliness, silence, fear, and worries of abandonment.

Facility lockdowns, combined with the relentless governmental bungling of the coronavirus response, are taking a terrible toll that may not soon be eased, the New York Times reported. Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician at the University of Pennsylvania, told the newspaper this about the situation in all too many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities:

“It’s not just Covid that’s killing residents in long-term care. It’s the isolation, the loneliness.”

doc-300x169The Covid-19 pandemic continues to slam the practice of medicine, with patients’ infection fears and treatment delays putting at serious financial risk the providers of crucial medical services like primary care doctors and pediatricians.

At the same time, as is too often the case in U.S. medicine, the rich may be getting richer, as resuming care gives patients eye-opening information on the big money in orthopedic and plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures.

The coronavirus’s economic shocks may most accelerate changes — not all of them happy for patients — for primary care physicians, who account for half the annual doctor visits annually in this country, the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service reported.

axios10bestdrugsellersaug20-300x192Big Pharma won’t be waiting for the nation’s two major political parties to hit the broadcast airwaves with their presidential nominating conventions to see which candidates will best benefit the profit-ravenous drug industry.

The big pill merchants already have pulled out their corporate checkbooks and rained millions of dollars of donations onto politicians across the country, mostly Republicans but also Democrats, according to Stat, the online science and medicine news site.

To no one’s surprise, the industry cash is going heavily to try to prevent Democrats, who already control the U.S. House, from seizing the U.S. Senate, and maybe the White House, too, Stat reported, based on its scrutiny of political spending by “23 of the biggest drug makers and the two major trade associations: PhRMA and the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, known as BIO.”

cdcredfield-150x150The Covid-19 pandemic, with grim outcomes already, may get even worse in the days ahead.

That troubling forecast — from one of the nation’s less-than-outspoken medical leaders (Dr. Robert Redfield, right, head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and as laid out in a seasoned journalist’s detailed reporting — may seem hard to take for already coronavirus-fatigued Americans.

The warnings, however, come atop even more alarms about the disease’s unchecked spread and the hard-to-fathom responses to it.

hhslogoaug20-300x300In response to the shattering harms of the Covid-19 pandemic, Congress sought to shore up the U.S. health care system with billions of dollars in emergency aid. But the federal agency that helps to oversee the institutional care for the elderly, sick, and injured performed poorly as a steward of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

The Health and Human Services department, instead, shoveled hundreds of millions of dollars, “no strings attached,” to dubious owners or operators of facilities nationwide. These “for-profit nursing home providers … have faced accusations of Medicare fraud and kickbacks, labor violations or widespread failures in patient care,” the Washington Post reported.

The newspaper said its analysis of HHS allocations of big sums in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or Cares Act, also showed that:

kffmedicaidmapaug20-300x184Voters keep sending Republicans — in statehouses, Congress, and the White House — a clear message: Americans want affordable, accessible health insurance, most notably as offered under the GOP-loathed Affordable Care Act, and especially for the poor and working poor via Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid.

This issue, if anything, may be rising in importance to the U.S. electorate as the Covid-19 pandemic rages without check and millions of Americans wrestle with pervasive joblessness that wiped out many people’s health insurance coverage.

Just weeks after voters in red Oklahoma backed a state constitutional amendment to expand Medicaid and narrowly defied the opposition of powerful GOP politicians who have dominated their state, residents of the “Show Me” state of Missouri showed up in force to approve Missouri’s expansion of the program coverage, by a 53% to 47% margin.

Last week the world took note with appropriate solemnity a terrible historic moment: The first military use of nuclear weapons, with explosions 75 years ago of bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The resulting carnage — which the United States said was needed to end the horrors of World War II, especially by averting a bloody land conquest of Japan — has been seared into the global consciousness ever since, especially with the remarkable writing and reporting of author John Hersey.

The exact toll of the bombings of Hiroshima (a famous site shown above) and Nagasaki has eluded historians and other experts because of multiple factors, including: the scale of destruction, the chaos that ensued, and the uncertainty of the population and infrastructure that existed in the already war-torn cities. Still, by many estimates, tens of thousands died immediately — at least 135,000 in Hiroshima and 64,000 in Nagasaki.

purduelogo-300x92For those trying to clean up the costly harms that Big Pharma inflicts on Americans, the how-to details not only matter, they can be confounding. For evidence, just ask federal court officials trying to unravel part of the finances of the opioid and overdose crisis, or the Trump Administration’s soggy efforts to deal with skyrocketing prescription drug prices and scary medication shortages.

The latest bedeviling development in the long crackdown on destructive and highly potent prescription painkillers involves Purdue Pharma, the maker of the addictive drug OxyContin, and the U.S. Justice Department.

For months now, courts in New York and Cleveland have sought to negotiate a “global settlement” of thousands of lawsuits, consolidated first in a federal court in Ohio, and claiming that states, counties, cities, Indian tribes, and others have suffered costly harm due to the opioid abuse and overdose crisis.

alztest-300x79It isn’t just the testing for the novel coronavirus that has already anxious Americans upset these days. Controversies also are swirling around existing and developing ways for experts to screen older patients for cognitive decline, namely  dementia and its most familiar form,  Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60%-80% of dementia cases, is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States overall and the fifth leading cause of death for those age 65 and older, researchers say. Medical scientists have engaged in furious efforts for a while now to determine the condition’s causes and to create treatments for it — a response that is sorely lacking now.

But the New York Times reported that experts believe they are nearing a better way to screen and diagnose the illness using the blood rather than current “expensive methods like PET scans of the brain and spinal taps for cerebrospinal fluid.” As reporter Pam Belluck wrote:

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