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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):

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.

drugcrisisjulyodwoes-300x219With the novel coronavirus crushing the economy and helping to fuel joblessness, individuals’ isolation, and increasing hopelessness and despair among the already troubled, the opioid drug abuse and overdose crisis again is worsening — and fast.

As the Washington Post reported of what had been one of the nation’s leading public health nightmares before the Covid-19 pandemic:

“In Roanoke County, Va., police have responded to twice as many fatal overdoses in recent months as in all of last year. In Kentucky, which just celebrated its first decline in overdose deaths after five years of crisis, many towns are experiencing an abrupt reversal in the numbers. Nationwide, federal and local officials are reporting alarming spikes in drug overdoses — a hidden epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic.

covidpleasantview-home-300x111Owners and operators of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have mounted a “nimfy” (Not My Fault) defense for the tens of thousands of deaths and infections of their residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. They claim they did the best they could under tough circumstances. And now they want not only special legal protections from those who suffered harms but also taxpayer bailouts.

But the industry’s disingenuous bleating has a big problem: It gets undercut by the second by infuriating actions — including by profit-mongering facilities “dumping” thousands of aged, sick, and injured residents on the streets or into flophouses, and by homes that still fail — despite warnings and penalties — to take basic steps to safeguard the vulnerable.

The New York Times — conducting the kind of sleuthing that real federal watchdogs could be taking on — reached out to “more than 80 state-funded nursing-home ombudsmen in 46 states” to detail “involuntary discharges.” As the newspaper explained of these inappropriate evictions by care giving centers, which may number more than 6,400 nationally:

acavote-300x200In the middle of a pandemic with a novel virus that has infected at least 2.5 million Americans and killed roughly 127,000, and with 20 million people jobless, what is a prime Republican response? They are advancing yet again a court case to strip tens of millions of poor, working poor, and middle-class Americans of  health insurance.

By the way, when doing so — by seeking a total repeal of the Affordable Care Act — the Trump Administration and a collection of states led by Republican attorneys general also would put at huge risk key health insurance safeguards that Americans embrace, including:

  • They no longer would be guaranteed the protection of insurers denying them coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

capnurse-300x169What’s in a name? The Covid-19 pandemic should force a major change in the big misnomer of long-term care institutions: Let’s stop labeling them with the term nursing — as if they provide significant medical services to the elderly, sick, and injured.

Instead, the coronavirus may lead the public to bust the myth put forward by owners and operators of nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living centers, and other similar centers about how they treat some of the nation’s most vulnerable people, especially based on growing evidence amassing in news reports.

The care facilities knew they were not hospitals, with extensive equipment and highly trained doctors and nurses. The facilities found they often were sorely lacking gear — especially personal protective equipment. They too many times did not have the staff with the skills or training to treat already fragile residents infected with the novel coronavirus or recuperating from significant bouts with a debilitating illness. They did not have the Covid-19 tests they needed. They struggled to isolate the infected.

algorithmwoes2-300x200High-tech wizards may be pushing medicine into a brave new world where important medical decisions rely on supposedly data-driven findings that also may be rooted in an old malignancy: discrimination against black patients.

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine warns that race-based tools and formulas, algorithms aimed to assist doctors in speeding up their diagnosis and treatment in such areas as heart disease, cancer, and kidney and maternity care, improperly steer blacks away from therapies commonly given to whites without sound reasons, the New York Times reported:

“The tools are often digital calculators on web sites of medical organizations or — in the case of assessing kidney function — actually built into the tools commercial labs use to calculate normal values of blood tests. They assess risk and potential outcomes based on formulas derived from population studies and modeling that looked for variables associated with different outcomes. ‘These tests are woven into the fabric of medicine,’ said Dr. David Jones, the paper’s senior author, a Harvard historian who also teaches ethics to medical students. ‘Despite mounting evidence that race is not a reliable proxy for genetic difference, the belief that it is has become embedded, sometimes insidiously, within medical practice,’ he wrote.”

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