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carwrecked-300x200Motorists who didn’t make new year resolutions should sign on to some lifesaving, commonsense vows: They can pledge to slow down, focus on task more, and to halt the record road carnage that happened in 2020.

In the year just ended, Americans drove fewer miles than they had in recent years due to public health restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic and the virus-caused economic collapse. But drivers logged destructive results when they hit the road, the Wall Street Journal reported, noting:

“Historically, economic downturns have led to fewer vehicle miles traveled as well as lower rates of motor-vehicle deaths, but last year took a different turn. Nationally, vehicle miles traveled dropped an unprecedented 264.2 billion miles over the first half of 2020, a decline of 17% compared with the first half of 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In the same period, the agency estimated the number of fatalities shrank 2%, falling to 16,650 from 16,988 the previous year. But the rate of fatalities grew 18%, rising to 1.25 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from 1.06. In other words, an inordinate number of people died given how many fewer miles they traveled. It was the highest motor-vehicle fatality rate for that span of time in a dozen years.”

The brutal data slipcovidnhomestatsdec20-300x271 in and out of the headlines. But the terrible toll of the coronavirus on the aged, injured, and sick in institutions is increasing in unceasing and unacceptable fashion.

Not long ago, HIV-AIDS activists crusaded against the public’s ignoring a lethal infection with the stark saying: Silence=Death. Is it becoming necessary to intone this about the relentless but seemingly tacitly accepted, coronavirus-related mortality, sickness, and suffering of those in long-term care?

As NPR reported:

documentsigning-300x156Wealthy investors want to enrich themselves yet more, partly by pushing doctors to oust patients from their practices unless they sign away invaluable constitutional rights. These rights can protect them if they are harmed while receiving medical services.

Patients’ safeguards, however, too often vanish when businesses compel customers to sign on to “forced arbitration,” Bloomberg Businessweek reported, noting that this consumer menace is rising in medicine as hedge funds buy up physician groups. Rich investors see lucrative profits in these practices, particularly in specialties like dermatology, gastroenterology, and obstetrics.

It seems that doctors like practicing medicine and dislike the billing, managing, paper shuffling, and other bureaucratic aspects of their profession, the story reported. Some aren’t good at it. Many are struggling, especially as the coronavirus pandemic has slashed patient demand for all kinds of medical procedures, sending doctors’ revenues plummeting. As Bloomberg reported:

covidshotlines1-300x170As the nation recoils from the deadly insurrectionist attack on Congress and the United States Capitol, a direct line also must be drawn to the huge health harms that President Trump and his administration incited with a flood of falsehoods, relentless attacks on science and expertise, and the reckless politicization of public health.

This administration will leave office with the nation hurtling toward 400,000 coronavirus deaths and 22 million infections. The disease is unchecked. New cases and hospitalizations are breaking records by the instant. The situation is likely to worsen significantly before it improves, experts warn.

The best efforts to battle Covid-19 also — due to a shambolic and too often counter-factual federal response — must combat the misinformation, mistrust, and animus sown during a needlessly destructive presidential term.

dcemptystreets-300x200Auto insurance companies and agents may have sent customers cards, fridge magnets, or calendars as part of their holiday cheer. But tens of millions of motorists may wish to demand more — both much more, and less.

Consumer advocates say the coronavirus pandemic has curtailed driving and claims for wrecks enough still that auto insurers — who are raking in big profits — need in the new year to fork over more refunds or premium reductions, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper reported that advocacy organizations like the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Economic Justice, have investigated and “found that car crashes remained ‘well below’ 2019 levels”:

compare-202x300A lot of people in health care across the country are firing up their computers to dig into long-sought, confidential information from hospitals about their prices and deals they cut on them with an array of parties.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, the Trump Administration successfully battled with hospitals to get them to disclose previously secret pricing data, in the hopes that disclosing this key information will benefit the U.S. health care system, notably in curbing costs. Here’s why, as the newspaper reported:

“T]hose who pay for health-care premiums and medical bills — employers, workers and patients — were long in the dark about wide price differences among hospitals for the same service in the same city, according to research and efforts by large employer groups to compare prices. Hospital prices are under intense scrutiny as the sector consolidates and research points to price increases after mergers, but without the quality gains that hospitals often cite as rationale for the combinations.

chartnytnhomedeaths-300x213Nursing home owners and operators have pleaded “poor us” through a lethal 2020. But profit-seeking players in the industry clearly still see rapacious opportunity in long-term care facilities — with residents suffering the consequences.

NPR and the Washington Post both have dug into the results when investment groups or chains acquire and operate nursing homes, and, as the media organizations reported, resident care declined.

The newspaper focused one of its deep digs on long-term care on New Jersey-based Portopiccolo Group, and how it “buys troubled nursing homes and tries to make them profitable,” paying “hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire facilities in Maryland, Virginia and elsewhere,” with little federal, state, or local oversight of its acquisitions.

covidhealthcasualties-300x130As the nation closes out 2020 and months of a raging coronavirus pandemic, will old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?

Covid-19, unchecked, has killed at least 330,000 Americans and almost 19 million of us have been infected with the disease.

Those numbers likely are underestimated. Based on still tallying “excess deaths” in this country — the higher than expected number of fatalities above the norm and likely due to the coronavirus, the truer toll from Covid-19 as of Dec. 16, likely exceeds 377,000.

walmartlogo-300x117The stain of the nation’s opioid abuse and drug overdose crisis has spread now to Bentonville, Ark., as federal prosecutors have sued Walmart, accusing the nation’s largest retailer of improperly allowing its pharmacists to fill millions of suspicious prescriptions for potent painkillers.

The pharmacists themselves complained to their corporate bosses that they were delivering opioids in far too great quantities to too few customers in out-of-the-way places, prosecutors contend. The warnings were ignored.

Instead, Walmart operated too lax a system both to monitor its outlets’ dispensing of drugs and to provide legally required warning information to federal watchdogs about potentially problematic sales, the New York Times reported, quoting Jeffrey Bossert Clark, acting assistant attorney general of the U.S. Justice Department’s civil division:

christmaswish-300x200These may be some of the most somber holidays in many Americans’ recent memory. They also may challenge the faithful to translate seasonal religious messages about hope, joy, compassion, and caring for others into practical action, particularly in how the nation treats people who have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

While reaching out, past the confines of our homes and health safety measures, and while feasting and enjoying gifts and the merriment of the year’s end, can we also express our gratitude to those whose toil has sustained us through an awful 2020?

Can we say thanks to essential workers — the folks who made the groceries run, who kept big stores humming, who grew, raised, and harvested what we eat, and who made the magic, so endless boxes of needed and desired stuff magically showed up on doorsteps?

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