covidkillerfactors-300x130Roughly a tenth of adult Americans (~37 million people) have gotten coronavirus vaccinations, as the Biden Administration pushes to increase vaccine supplies and shot sites, while also boosting disease testing capacity and availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

The battle against Covid-19 may seem still to be a slog, with vaccine demand exceeding supply and frustration high as to why the nation has not made greater progress in quashing the pandemic and returning to normality.

As expected, Republicans in Congress have declined to join the new president and his administration in the Democratic plan to fast track and go big with a pandemic response — especially with a $1.9 trillion relief plan that will follow hard on the heels of a $900 million package that was stalled for months by the GOP but finally approved in December.

autowreck-300x178Congressional investigations may be coming none too soon on revelations about predatory billing by big hospitals and hospital chains against patients for costly care they received after they were hurt in vehicle wrecks.

The New York Times reported that its investigations showed that patients, especially the poor and vulnerable, too often have gotten ripped off on treatments that their health insurance could have covered when they were involved in car crashes. Instead, hospitals and hospital chains seek to maximize profits — and purportedly to protect themselves against financial losses — by making legal claims against wreck victims and their finances.

The claims, permitted under centuries-old practices, are called liens. They are a legal “claim on an asset, such as a home or a settlement payment, to make sure someone repays a debt,” the New York Times reported.

candidacdcauris-300x135Patients long have dreaded the possibility that — when already seriously ill or hurt — they also would be hit with debilitating or deadly hospital- or health care-associated infections, aka HAIs. The most nightmarish of these cases involve bacteria or fungi difficult to subdue, even with powerful treatments.

Now, with care institutions overwhelmed by coronavirus pandemic cases, drug-resistant HAIs are increasing — and in worrisome fashion because they are so difficult on their own for patients, doctors, and hospitals to deal with, the New York Times reported:

“’Seeing the world as a one-pathogen world is really problematic,’ said Dr. Susan S. Huang, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California at Irvine Medical School, noting that the nearly singular focus on the pandemic appears to have led to more spread of drug-resistant infection. ‘We have every reason to believe the problem has gotten worse.’ A few data points reinforce her fears, including isolated outbreaks of various drug-resistant infections in Florida, New Jersey, and California, as well as in India, Italy, Peru, and France. Overall figures have been hard to track because many nursing homes and hospitals simply stopped screening for the germs as resources were diverted to Covid-19. When even modest screening picked up again early in the summer, the results suggested that certain drug-resistant organisms had taken root and spread. Particularly troublesome have been growing case counts of a fungus called Candida auris [shown in CDC photo, above], which authorities had tried to fight before the pandemic with increased screening, isolation of infected patients and better hygiene.”

boxing-300x199Although corporate titans insist that Big Business can show more responsibility and not put profit ahead of all else, consumers are getting tough displays of how loath companies can be to owning up to dealing with harms their enterprises can cause or the rapacious pricing of their goods.

The most recent sketchy signals on product liability and costs came from a spectrum of enterprises and their executives, including nursing home owners and operators, a giant furniture maker, and, of course, Big Pharma.

Caveat emptor? Maybe. Or does the corporate ducking, bobbing, and weaving that would make a champion boxer proud also underscore that there are sound reasons for rigorous corporate oversight and regulation by governments, as well as a need for individuals, in keeping with their constitutional rights, to seek justice with medical malpractice and other safety and liability lawsuits in the civil system?

bronzekff-300x264President Biden has increased the access and affordability of health care for millions of Americans, issuing executive orders to reopen Obamacare exchanges and review rules or practices that targeted the aged, poor, sick, and chronically ill or mentally ill and hindered them from benefiting from Medicaid.

These were fast, early actions that Biden campaigned on and said that voters wanted him to take with urgency, as he did.

Allowing a “do over” of ACA enrollment will be a boon for millions of the pandemic jobless, many of whom may have lost employer-provided health insurance (which covers more than 150 million Americans, or most of us) and could not afford the daunting prices of so-called COBRA policies. That coverage requires consumers to may their own share of health insurance, plus the big chunk their employers cover, as well as an administrative fee.

coronavirusvaxallocationfmgao-300x167As coronavirus vaccine supplies  keep far exceeding demand, and as the new administration races to acquire and distribute more doses, as well as to kick start  plodding vaccination campaigns across the country, it may be a challenge not to ask the people who oversaw battling the pandemic before: What the heck were you thinking?

More on that in a second.

As of Jan. 29, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that ~49 million vaccine doses had been shipped and ~28 million were administered, with ~23 million patients now having received at least one of two shots required.

advanced-300x158Many Americans took a good step for themselves and their loved ones after getting shocked by learning about treatments, like prolonged machine ventilation, that coronavirus patients may undergo. Not for me, the healthy may have decided. They committed to determining end-of-life wishes, committing these to “advance directives” or POLST (portable orders for life-sustaining treatment) forms.

That may just the start of what people need to do with these formal documents, now easily found online, reported Paula Span, the New York Times’ “New Old Age” columnist. They need to do more. (Hint: Some of this even may be covered under older adults’ health insurance, especially Medicare).

They need to ensure that their doctors and their lawyers, too, support their recording of their end-of-life plans. These must be as clear, specific, and concise as possible, so there can be no mistaking what patients want with vague discussions, such as avoiding “heroic” or “unusual” interventions. They need loved ones to know where they may be stored, especially knowing how to locate them and give them to health workers, including first responders.

altarumfig-300x176The Biden Administration faces major challenges as it seeks to tame the coronavirus pandemic’s terrible toll on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The roll-out of vaccines for residents and staff plods along, while a big concern may be rising as facility staffing keeps eroding.

The New York Times reported that Walgreens and CVS, the chain pharmacies that the Trump Administration chose to partner with with to deliver vaccine shots to long-term care facilities, have vaccinated 1 million and 1.6 million residents and staff, respectively.

Both companies say the vaccination rollout has been rockier and tougher than expected, with issues in getting required consent for shots for the elderly, sick, and injured, as well hesitancy among staff. Vaccine supplies have been less predictable than would be optimal, though the pharmacies are not reporting shortfalls. Rina Shah, a group vice president at Walgreens, told the New York Times that the logistics and scheduling of vaccinations, with multiple visits at facilities, has required a “monumental effort.”

negron-150x150melgen-150x150bernadett-150x150President Trump’s term ended with a spree of executive clemency to health care crooks who ripped off taxpayers and harmed patients.

His last-minute actions infuriated advocates for health care reform and patient protection, as well as federal prosecutors. They were aghast by the inexplicable largess shown to Medicare and medical miscreants included in Trump’s last-minute, public pardons of 73 people and commutations for 70 others. 

The white collar crooks not only got get-out-of-jail-free cards from Trump, but also saw their debts to the government canceled to the tune of millions of dollars.

bidenPresident Biden kicked off his term by swiftly issuing a series of executive orders and sharing an actual plan to combat the unchecked, raging coronavirus pandemic — which he warned will get worse before it gets better and may kill as many as 600,000 Americans in grim days ahead.

Biden put the federal government squarely in the Covid-19 battle, promising to work with states and local governments but not, as his predecessor had, to shove huge roles and responsibilities on a host of others without talking with or helping them thereafter.

He said his strategies and tactics would rely on science and the best experts available, not on personal and political cronies or personalities popping up on TV broadcasts or extremist online sites.

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