This seems like a pretty good system. By handling the bulk of inquiries online or over the phone, the British government is keeping swine flu sufferers where they belong: at home and in bed - which lowers the risk of contagion. Unless I've missed it, I haven't seen similar plans for the United States this fall:
More than 5,500 people received anti-viral drugs for swine flu on the first day of England's National Pandemic Flu Service, the government has said.
The telephone hotline and website were launched so patients could obtain treatment without a GP's prescription.
The system was "working well", Health Secretary Andy Burnham said.
Sufferers are advised to select a "flu friend" to pick up medicine for them. Critics say the system is open to abuse and should be staffed by experts.
And the Conservatives have argued the service should have begun earlier, when a global pandemic was declared, as it was now "too little, too late".
There are now 1,031 locations across England where the drugs can be collected, up from 330 on Thursday, when the service began.
People who think they have swine flu can complete a questionnaire online or over the telephone.
Among the symptoms listed are fever or temperature over 38C or 100.4F, coupled with two of the following: unusual tiredness, headache, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or cough, loss of appetite, aching muscles, diarrhea or vomiting.
If patients are diagnosed with the virus, they are issued with a unique reference number which must be given when the drugs are collected.
However, patients are still being advised to contact GPs if they have serious underlying illnesses, are pregnant, have sick children aged under one, their condition suddenly worsens or continues to worsen after seven days - five for a child.
More than 100,000 people in the UK are estimated to have caught swine flu in the past week along, while 30 people have died after contracting the illness.
There was a huge rush to access the government website when it went online on Thursday, with reports of it receiving initially 2,600 hits a second, or 9.3m an hour.
More than 58,000 assessments were completed that day, 89% of them online.
On Saturday I wrote about a piece by Kip Sullivan which attacked the Public Option on its own[...]
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Agent Orange, the herbicide used as a weapon by U.S. military forces in Vietnam for nearly a decade to defoliate vast stretches of inhabited forest and jungle in an effort to deprive the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces of both cover and a supportive populace, has long been known to have caused a large number of serious and debilitating diseases, many of them passed on to children of those exposed. But now it also appears to cause a peculiar blindness among American journalists.
This is demonstrably the case at The New York Times, where a report in Saturday's edition on new Agent Orange links being found to Parkinson's Disease and ischemic heart disease noted that it could lead to many more Vietnam War Era veterans being eligible for disability benefits and treatment, but completely failed to mention the significance of the discovery for the millions of Vietnamese who were also exposed to the chemical -- and for their descendants.
The new link was announced in a report by a 14-member committee of the Institute of Medicine, which had been asked to determine what conditions might be traced to exposure to the chemical that had been "used to clear stretches of the jungle" in Vietnam. As the article noted, since 1994, the Institute of Medicine has to date found 17 medical conditions that can be traced to exposure to Agent Orange, "13 of which qualify veterans for service-connected disability benefits."
There's a lot wrong with this article, as written by Times reporter Janie Lorber (though admittedly we can't know what is her responsibility and what is the handiwork of the newspaper's editors).
Everything that happened in the health reform effort last week was expected. Senate Finance continued to stall, the Blue Dogs continued their extortion, and the media can't figure out who the good guys are. Welcome to health care reform.[...]
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There is an article in yesterday's LA Times on Ted Kennedy's current work. It's long, it's good, and you should read it. It basically says that Senator Kennedy has good days and bad days, but no matter what the day, if he can get up, he's still working on making sure good health care for all Americans is accomplished in his lifetime.
"I have enjoyed the best medical care money (and a good insurance policy) can buy. . . . Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to," Kennedy wrote in an unusually personal essay published in this week's Newsweek, adding near the end of the article: "We're almost there."
He cited his sophisticated course of treatment -- risky surgery at Duke University Medical Center to remove part of the tumor, proton-beam radiation at Massachusetts General Hospital and multiple rounds of chemotherapy -- as a privilege of the rich.
"My wife, Vicki, and I have worried about many things, but not whether we could afford my care and treatment."
Kennedy's aggressive cancer is bringing a sense of urgency to a famously slow-moving Congress, with friends on both sides of the aisle mindful of passing a bill in time for him to see it signed.
The Senator is not perfect, no one is. But a lesser man may likely have resigned from the Senate to spend his waning days with his family, pursuing personal interests. But his interests are for all of us, and to build a better country, to make sure that those with nothing can have the same health care he can afford.
I hope that you will read the article, and then call/write your reps and ask them to GET THIS DONE. And then call/write 5 friends/family members and ask them to call/write also, and contact 5 more people. If you've done it before, do it again. Find 5 more people.
There are people (you know who you are....and notice how nice I'm being about not naming names) who refuse to contact their reps because "I don't do that. I vote, and that should be enough." It isn't. Reps don't know where their constituents stand unless you tell them. And then tell them again. If a dying man can take his remaining strength and work the phones, you can too.
I know I keep carping, but there is no other issue that affects 100% of humanity.
Cantor claims he has the votes to kill health care reform
The first thing I read last, night when I got off a 24 hour trip home from Bali, was Paul Krugman's highly sensible piece on Blue Dog perfidy, An Incoherent Truth. Ah... back in America! After explaining the Democratric proposals for health care reform, Krugman points out that the Blue Dogs "talk a lot about fiscal responsibility, which basically boils down to worrying about the cost of those subsidies. And it?s tempting to stop right there, and cry foul. After all, where were those concerns about fiscal responsibility back in 2001, when most conservative Democrats voted enthusiastically for that year?s big Bush tax cut-- a tax cut that added $1.35 trillion to the deficit? But it?s actually much worse than that ? because even as they complain about the plan?s cost, the Blue Dogs are making demands that would greatly increase that cost."
There has been a lot of publicity about Blue Dog opposition to the public option, and rightly so: a plan without a public option to hold down insurance premiums would cost taxpayers more than a plan with such an option.
But Blue Dogs have also been complaining about the employer mandate, which is even more at odds with their supposed concern about spending. The Congressional Budget Office has already weighed in on this issue: without an employer mandate, health care reform would be undermined as many companies dropped their existing insurance plans, forcing workers to seek federal aid-- and causing the cost of subsidies to balloon. It makes no sense at all to complain about the cost of subsidies and at the same time oppose an employer mandate.
So what do the Blue Dogs want?
Maybe they?re just being complete hypocrites. It?s worth remembering the history of one of the Blue Dog Coalition?s founders: former Representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana. Mr. Tauzin switched to the Republicans soon after the group?s creation; eight years later he pushed through the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, a deeply irresponsible bill that included huge giveaways to drug and insurance companies. And then he left Congress to become, yes, the lavishly paid president of PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry lobby.
One interpretation, then, is that the Blue Dogs are basically following in Mr. Tauzin?s footsteps: if their position is incoherent, it?s because they?re nothing but corporate tools, defending special interests. And as the Center for Responsive Politics pointed out in a recent report, drug and insurance companies have lately been pouring money into Blue Dog coffers.
But I guess I?m not quite that cynical. After all, today?s Blue Dogs are politicians who didn?t go the Tauzin route-- they didn?t switch parties even when the G.O.P. seemed to hold all the cards and pundits were declaring the Republican majority permanent. So these are Democrats who, despite their relative conservatism, have shown some commitment to their party and its values.
Now, however, they face their moment of truth. For they can?t extract major concessions on the shape of health care reform without dooming the whole project: knock away any of the four main pillars of reform, and the whole thing will collapse-- and probably take the Obama presidency down with it.
In this entire century the Democratic Party has never been invested with power on the basis of a program which promised to keep things as they were. We have won when we pledged to meet the new challenges of each succeeding year. We have triumphed not in spite of controversy but because of it; not because we avoided problems but because we faced them. We have won not because we bent and diluted our principles, but because we stood fast to the ideals which represent the most noble and generous portion of the American spirit.
If you want to cut this
All down to size, guys,
Syrian Sephardic Jews
Are the new wise guys.
VERSE CASE SCENARIO
Tony Peyser provides daily poems and weekly cartoons for BuzzFlash and also writes the BuzzFlash column, "Blue State Jukebox." He was a daily cartoonist for the L.A. Times from 1994 to 1997. You can e-mail Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) tells the media to honor our troops -- by not saying bad things about her. That and other political news in today's TPMDC Morning Roundup.[...]
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Recently, the birther movement has gained greater notoriety, with CNN’s Lou Dobbs promoting the discredited myth and right-wing activists confronting members of Congress. Though the conspiracy theory has been thoroughly-debunked, some Republicans continue to feed “the wacko wing” of the party. For instance, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) recently told Politico that he thinks the birthers “have a point?:
But as if to illustrate the touchiness of the subject, Hoekstra quickly added: ?Not that this isn?t important.?
Sen. Jim Inhofe has also tried to find the elusive middle ground.
?They have a point,? he said of the birthers. ?I don?t discourage it. … But I?m going to pursue defeating [Obama] on things that I think are very destructive to America.?
It’s unclear why Politico characterizes Inhofe’s decided support for the “birthers” as an “elusive middle ground” stance.