hospitalbedhospice-300x200Profit-raking private investors, aka hedge funders, have taken aim at operations intended to help the elderly, desperately ill, and grievously injured experience a dignified death. The rapacious takeover of the hospice industry nationwide ought to be setting off political and regulatory alarms in a rapidly graying nation.

As is typically the case when MBA-driven interests buy up different kinds of enterprises, they not only don’t exhibit much concern about the whys or wherefores of a business. They focus, instead, on how they can build volume, while cutting services, staff, and costs, the Huffington Post reported, describing what private equity firms have targeted for hospices. As the online news site found:

“Today, private equity firms are acquiring American hospices at an astonishing rate. From 2012 to 2019, the number of hospices owned by private equity companies tripled. The pace of acquisitions seems to have only gotten faster during the Covid-19 pandemic. Industry brokers who have never before put together a deal involving private equity say they now field calls from private equity buyers multiple times a week. Tempted by a wave of retiring baby boomers, the-sky’s-the-limit Medicare payments, the mom-and-pop nature of the industry and a lack of regulation that is pretty startling even by U.S. standards, private equity now accounts for three out of every five new hospice acquisitions.”

manchin-150x150Record numbers of poor, working poor, and middle-class Americans are signing up to receive federal help to get affordable insurance to safeguard their health and finances. But will congressional politicking cost them this invaluable coverage — just before the nation goes to the polls for midterm elections?

For months now, President Biden and the Democrats have labored to put together a multitrillion-dollar legislative package dealing with the nation’s health needs, climate change, and more. Because Capitol Hill is so riven — among Democrats, as well as between Republicans and Democrats — the ambitious aspirations of those in the party barely in power have needed to be wrapped into a sprawling measure that can sidestep the filibuster and survive a complex legislative maneuver and on to passage.

Let’s be clear that 50 Republicans in the Senate and hundreds of GOP House members have refused to act in any way like American lawmakers, declining at all to work on the package and to sticking to partisan position that Democrats will need by themselves to pass measures needed and popular with voters.

The Omicron variant swiftly has become the nation’s dominant strain, with coronavirus infections skyrocketing from coast to coast.

Officials are anxiously awaiting data to gauge the severity of Omicron infections and if the sharp rise in cases involving this variant will mean overwhelming numbers of patients requiring care in hospitals, too many of which already have been swamped, treating those infected with the deadly Delta variant.

femalemd-300x209They excel through four years of rigorous undergraduate study, then battle their way through four more years of tough, tough medical school. They cram to pass their medical boards and  grind through exhausting internships. They also pursue years more of exacting, sleep-deprived training in residencies and fellowships.

But, wait a minute: Women doctors earn over a professional lifetime an estimated $2 million less on average than their men counterparts? They experience gender pay gaps of 25% to as much as 50% over the course of a 40-year career?

Yes, those are the disconcerting findings of published research that analyzed data from surveys of 80,000 doctors between 2014 and 2019, the New York Times reported:

COgeneratorrisk-300x140If you or someone you know has concerns enough about extreme weather events and the electrical failures that too often accompany them  to look into buying a portable generator, be sure to take great care to examine the pricey device’s safety features.

Thousands of consumers have been poisoned or killed by carbon monoxide (CO) fumes from emergency household generators, according to ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site, which joined the Texas Tribune and NBC News in digging into records on the dangers posed by the combustion engines that can provide power in critical moments.

But just as motorists must take care to avoid running their vehicles in closed environs, and consumers should not run fuel-burning heaters in confined, indoor spaces, so too, users of portable generator  must safeguard themselves and those in a wide area around them from their units’ powerful but odorless fumes. The generators, costing from $400 to $2,500, should not be run near or inside homes. As ProPublica and its partners found:

sacklerdendurtemple-225x300Fortunately for desperate regular folks, Big Pharma doesn’t always carry the day with its rapacious schemes.

Just look at how a federal judge has upended a plutocratic family’s ploy to shield themselves from a wave of lawsuits over their company’s deceitful inundating of the country with powerful painkiller, or how public furor has pummeled a firm that wanted to charge nosebleed prices for a dubious prescription medication targeted at treating Alzheimer’s.

Officials from the District of Columbia and Maryland helped stymie the wealthy Sacklers from an ugly legal bargain in a multilbillion-dollar bankruptcy case involving the family-run Purdue Pharmaceuticals and thousands of lawsuits over the company’s OxyContin painkiller.

It’s that time of year to offer seasonal greetings and best wishes for happiness, prosperity, hope, peace, and goodwill.

xmasvax-300x217May many good things especially go to the courageous, beleaguered, and stalwart folks struggling with the coronavirus pandemic 24-7 (including through the holidays), notably in health care, as first responders, and, of course, in service for our country.

To everyone who reads this blog, of course, all the best and, once more, a major appeal in these uncertain times:

nhomehall-300x200The battle to safeguard the elderly, sick, and injured residents of the nation’s nursing homes and other long-term care facilities is far from over — and the fight may be even tougher than advocates for the vulnerable may have imagined.

That’s because the facilities employ aggressive tactics to contest safety and other violations found by state and federal regulators in a system that favors them and shuts out the aggrieved while also keeping crucial information hidden from the public, the New York Times reported.

The newspaper said it investigated what happens when inspectors write up homes, finding a little-known system that owners and operators play to the max to protect a financially lucrative aspect of their operations: the “stars” awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on its web site.

carolynmaloneypresser-300x184Regular folks have known it, chapter and verse, forever. They experience it every time they pay for their prescription drugs. But Democrats in the U.S. House report in a 269-page study that they have spent three years on, have concluded that Big Pharma runs a world-class cash-raising racket that would make street crooks blush.

Well, formally, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform majority has assailed U.S. “drug-pricing practices that are ‘unsustainable, unjustified and unfair,’” the Washington Post reported. As the newspaper also said:

“[C]ompanies studied by the committee raised prices of common brand-name drugs during the past five years by nearly four times the rate of inflation. The report seeks to debunk industry contentions that companies’ price strategy is needed to plow money back into researching and developing new medicines, finding that revenue is substantially greater than those investments.”

anxietygal-300x200Not all grievous injuries are apparent to the eye, as anyone who has experienced catastrophic illness or injury can attest. And now we’re learning a lot more about the hidden costs — mental, emotional, social, and spiritual — inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporters Emily Baumgartner and Russ Mitchell of the Los Angeles Times surfaced intriguing points of view on what has now become normalized but widely aberrant behaviors in the age of Covid. They did so, as they dug into the reasons for the unacceptable increase in road fatalities at a time when the public, overall, drove less and many people had open byways. The deadly toll that took in 2020 was expected to, but did not, reverse in 2021.

It got worse — and the reasons why need urgent attention, sources told the newspaper, which reported:

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