Articles Posted in Communication

cmschiefSeemaVerma-150x150With the calendar pages flying off to the fall presidential elections, why isn’t today an excellent time for President Trump to thank Seema Verma for her service and send her packing as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the Department of Health and Human Services?

Two news organizations — Vox and Politico — have posted detailed and disturbing takedowns of CMS and its oversight failures that have helped to worsen the terrible Covid-19 toll in the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

CMS, for example, halted nursing home inspections as the pandemic broke out — with disastrous consequences, as the Washington Post explains in a separate report. The agency earlier had also acceded to industry bleating about tough regulation, with Verma and her agency relaxing fines on owners and operators for detected problems and easing training requirements for under paid, over worked, and already ill-trained caregivers. The training standards have gotten so lax that a reporter, in 40 minutes of online effort, became certified temporarily to be a 24/7 caregiving aide.

poundlogo-300x84The Pound Civil Justice Institute (I’m immediate past president) held its annual forum for state court appellate judges on July 11 (virtually, for the first and hopefully last time) on the topic of “Dangerous Secrets: Confronting Confidentiality in Our Public Courts.”

This important topic has long  been close to my heart. I’ve written and talked to plaintiff lawyer groups all over the country about why we need to resist secret settlements of our lawsuits and protective orders that hide hot documents, and other related secrecy matters. Confidentiality is bad for the plaintiffs’ bar, bad for the justice system, bad for our clients, but good for defendants.  Read more by clicking here.

Now I read in the Baltimore Sun that Maryland attorney Steven Snyder has been charged by the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission with trying to extort $50 million from the University of Maryland Medical System to keep quiet problems in the UMMS transplant program that his clients’ experiences threatened to expose.

faucipic-150x150To paraphrase the White House press secretary, science denialism is not getting in the way of the rampaging Covid-19 pandemic.

Eighteen states have hit “red zone” status where infections, hospitalizations, and deaths have soared to such dire levels (more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people per week) that a study held in private by the Trump Administration recommends officials impose tough public health measures.

The country now has, at least twice, shattered daily coronavirus case counts, reporting 70,000 new Covid-19 diagnoses. The country, as the New York Times reported, also has “set a record with 75,600 new cases [in one day], the 11th time in the past month that the daily record had been broken.”

cancerlungscreen-300x217Tens of millions of Americans who have not kicked the harmful smoking habit or who have only recently done so may want to keep a watch on the work of a blue-chip advisory group as its medical scientists consider how much lung-cancer screening best benefits tobacco users.

The panel is seeking expert comment on its proposal for a greater number of older smokers and recent quitters to undergo low-dose computed tomography. That is a diagnostic procedure that combines X-rays and computers to give doctors a better look at patients’ lungs with multiple views and cross-sectional images.

The U.S. Protective Screening Task Force — which advises the federal government on preventive care and issues recommendations that can affect patient costs and insurer coverage for procedures — says more patients should have tomography than the panel recommended in 2014 when it last considered evidence on it.

drugs-300x179How has Big Pharma responded to the dire and uncertain circumstances facing American’s health and pocketbooks? By jacking up prescription drug prices and likely jabbing patients not just in the arm but also the wallet for a prospective coronavirus vaccine.

As the online news and politics site Politico reported:

 “Drug makers raised the price of hundreds of medicines during the coronavirus pandemic, even in the face of Trump administration vows to crack down on surging drug costs and efforts to tack price controls on Covid-19 relief packages. Pharmaceutical companies logged more than 800 price increases this year and adjusted the cost of 42 medicines upward by an average of 3.3% so far in July, according to GoodRx, which tracks the prices consumers pay at pharmacies.

covidSEvetcenter-300x200To paraphrase the late, great writer and activist Maya Angelou, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are showing the public in the middle of this pandemic just truly what they are.

It is hard to believe, still, the shabby way they are treating the aged, sick, and injured. Just consider this sampling of recent news reports:

“Care” facilities — including centers dealing with veterans — have been too willing to subject residents to risky medical experimentation to fight the novel coronavirus, including what appear to be  inappropriate treatments with a much-promoted anti-malarial drug. This echoes a situation involving nursing home residents in Galveston, Texas,  and their facility’s dosing them with hydroxychlorquine without their loved ones’ knowledge and iffy circumstances about their individual capacity to consent to receiving the drug. As the Washington Post reported of a Philadelphia area veterans’ facility (shown in federal photo above):

covidukschoolandyfalconer-300x240The nation’s biggest health worry now has fallen on the country’s little people: As Covid-19 infections have exceeded 3 million and the disease has killed at least 134,000, how many parents will send their kids back to school soon, especially as the coronavirus pandemic spikes in the South and West?

President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as poker players say, have pushed all (their chips) in, insisting that schools reopen and return to fall normality. The president assailed his own health experts at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for putting forth guidance on schools that he deemed too costly and complicated.

In doing so, however, he and his administration have only further muddied a profound decisions confronting parents and educators about keeping kids safe while also ensuring they don’t lose the invaluable personal and educational experiences of learning together with peers — IRL (in real life or in person), as young people say.

drugnovartislogo-300x127Big Pharma focuses relentlessly on always making a buck, no matter the cost to the rest of us, and even a viral pandemic that infects 2.8 million Americans and kills roughly 130,000 of us won’t interrupt the corporate rapaciousness.

That’s the reality that federal prosecutors have reminded the public about with an announced $678 million settlement with Novartis over the drug maker’s doctor prescribing- and kickbacks-scheme.  And it is what Gilead has shown with its planned pricing for remdesivir. It is an anti-viral drug that has shown modest effect in shortening the course of Covid-druggileadlogo-300x11519 infections and was developed with taxpayer funding.

The Novartis case also paints a damning picture of doctors’ complicity in taking bribes to defraud taxpayers (specifically the Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs programs) by pushing company products, including the high blood pressure drugs Lotrel, Diovan, Exforge, Tekturna, Valturna and Tekamlo, and the Type 2 diabetes medication Starlix.

elijahmmug-246x300The national outage over authorities’ excessive use of force, especially against black men, may take law enforcement, first responders, politicians, and critics into a murky and nightmarish area — call it the unfounded medicalization of official control.

Two fatal flash point cases — involving African Americans George Floyd in Minneapolis and Elijah McCain (shown, right) in a Denver suburb — already have raised disturbing questions about “excited delirium,”  a mental health description or diagnosis manufactured by authorities, and whether paramedics should be asked and then if they should administer powerful narcotics to individuals at police request.

As the nonprofit, independent Marshall Project on criminal justice reported about excited delirium:

covidcasesus4july-300x154The nation shudders into the second half of 2020, months deep into an unchecked Covid-19 pandemic that has infected 2.8 million Americans and killed roughly 130,000 of us.

America has become the coronavirus’s outbreak epicenter, its would-be travelers shunned by leading nations around the world as too risky to allow without quarantines or outright bans.

Five states set new infection records, and 40 of the 50 states report worrisome spikes in detected coronavirus cases (see New York Times graphic, above, of newly reported U.S. Covid-19 cases).

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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