Articles Posted in Primary Care

casesurgecovidoct-300x175Numbers can tell a persuasive story, but will even overpowering figures shock Americans into taking the steps needed to deal with the coronavirus cases surging across the country?

By many metrics, it is counter-factual to contend, as President Trump insists, that the nation is “rounding the corner” on the Covid-19 pandemic and “the country is learning to live with it” — as opposed to getting sick and dying from it. Let’s take a look at a bunch of the metrics:

The United States’ new coronavirus case count exceeded 70,000 in a day for the first time since July.

AARP-logo-300x94For residents of nursing homes and their loved ones, new and disturbing information has come out on  long-term care facilities’ persistent failure to safeguard the vulnerable from the coronavirus that has killed tens of thousands of the institutionalized and infected hundreds of thousands of them and their caregivers.

Six months after the pandemic exploded across the country, more than a quarter of nursing homes nationwide are “reporting shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and staff, and almost half have staff infected with Covid-19,” according to the AARP, the country’s largest advocacy group for older Americans.

The organization based its finding on its scrutiny of federal data, reporting:

covidmapoct-300x201As the weather has turned crisper, and autumn leaves have begun to fall, in sadly predictable fashion, coronavirus cases are rising once again coast-to-coast.

More than 8 million Americans have been infected — roughly equivalent to the population of New York and far exceeding the number of people who live in metropolitan Washington, D.C.

The nation is racing toward 220,00 Covid-19 deaths, with that number rising inexorably and likely an understatement of the disease’s terrible toll. The coronavirus now has claimed as many lives as the population of cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, Salt Lake City, Utah, or Modesto, Calif.

javaid-300x169A Virginia criminal case, while focusing on claims of fraud against the federal government, also has exposed a long-running and nightmarish pattern of what prosecutors assert has been a Chesapeake gynecologist’s rampant mistreatment of his patients, many of them women of color and poor.

Dr. Javaid Perwaiz is on trial because authorities say he “manipulated records to cover crimes that enriched him but endangered pregnancies, sterilized women unnecessarily, and pressured them into needless procedures to finance his lavish lifestyle,” the Washington Post reported.

The newspaper’s articles, as well as the efforts by the FBI and federal prosecutors to develop the charges against the jailed specialist, raise disturbing questions about not only Virginia medical regulators but also the hospitals where the gynecologist practiced and colleagues who have described a “frenzied environment in which hospital staff struggled to keep pace with Perwaiz as he rushed from procedure to procedure.”

medjournals-300x196They are a unique combination — august publications in science and medicine that  harken back for centuries yet now inform 21st century practitioners about the latest advances in their fields. And now these leading scientific journals say the present moment  forces them to abandon their prized political neutrality to oppose the science denialism of the incumbent leader of the free world.

This is an unprecedented and uncomfortable development for the New England Journal of Medicine, Nature, Scientific American, and Lancet Oncology (a journal for cancer specialists). They have never taken a political stand of this kind in their histories, dating to 1812 for NEJM, 1845 for Scientific American, and 1869 for Nature.

Their editors say they would much prefer to stay out of presidential endorsements  and to keep their focus on publishing important, rigorous research and peer-reviewed information about advancements in the fields of science and medicine.

costsrisinghealthinsurancekff20-300x225The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many Americans to reconsider their transportation options, what with fears of infection and the slashing of public transit systems’ routes and schedules. That has made used cars, motorcycles, and bicycles hot commodities.

Those who are working and considering how their finances might stretch may take little comfort in another reality of the U.S. health care system — the relentlessly increasing cost of employer-provided coverage. Who can afford a second car while also footing the rising bill for health coverage?

As the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation said in its annual report on this issue:

oxylabel-300x180So, who doesn’t daydream a little about money? Maybe even big money. Just imagine a scenario where, if you could put up $3,000, you could keep $13,000, or if you forked over $30,000, and walked away with $130,000? So how great would it be if you paid $3 billion but could stuff $13 billion into your pockets?

What a deal! Of course, it depends on whose perspective you look at it from.

Federal prosecutors and a bankruptcy court may give a plutocratic family that deal, along with a hard-to-imagine get-out-of-jail free card, news organizations report.

antibodiesregeneron-300x157Well, there he goes again (as President Reagan used to say): President Trump, whose White House has become a coronavirus hot spot and who has clearly played a role in a super spreader event, is hyping yet another medical treatment for Covid-19.

He has referred to his own viral infection as “a blessing from God,” used the C word (as in “cure”) and has called an incipient therapy used on him as a “miracle.” So, now Americans may be racing to reference works to learn more about coronavirus care with monoclonal antibodies, specifically those developed by the Big Pharma firm Regeneron. It is headed by Dr. Leonard Schleifer, and as CNN reported:

[Schleifer] and President Trump are acquainted: The CEO has been a member at Trump’s golf club in Westchester, New York, and his company also received $450 million in government funding in July as part of the president’s Operation Warp Speed plan to quickly develop a vaccine and other treatments for Covid-19 … Trump also recently owned shares of Regeneron (REGN) [as] listed as assets on Trump’s 2017 filing with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, though [not] on the president’s most recent filing for 2020.”

crackdownushealthscams-300x200With the Covid-19 pandemic ensuring that even more dollars are flooding into health care than ever, nefarious parties — including doctors, nurses, and other licensed professionals — have targeted ordinary Americans and the federal government in big-time scams. U.S. prosecutors have punched back with a nationwide fraud crackdown.

They announced that they have charged 345 individuals for “submitting more than $6 billion in false and fraudulent claims to federal health care programs and private insurers, including more than $4.5 billion connected to telemedicine, more than $845 million connected to substance abuse treatment facilities, or ‘sober homes,’ and more than $806 million connected to other health care fraud and illegal opioid distribution schemes across the country.”

The biggest part of the federal busts targeted bunko crimes in telemedicine, the medical care option that burgeoned in popularity as patients fearful of infection with the novel coronavirus sought distanced treatment.

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are pounding Big Pharma executives for price gouging, publishing an 18-month investigation of the soaring costs of select prescription medications and grilling  high-paid corporate leaders on whether those meds’ spiking prices were all too prevalent in the profit-ravenous drug industry.

The prescription medications targeted by the lawmakers included “Celgene and Bristol Myers Squibb’s Revlimid cancer treatment, which saw its price hiked 23 times since 2005, and Teva’s multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone, which went up in price 27 times since 2007,” reported the independent, nonpartisan Kaiser Health News service. “Those costs have little to do with research and development or industry efforts to help people afford medication, as drug companies often claim, according to the [congressional] probe.”

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