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Regulate anti-vaccine docs?

syringe justiceWe may not ever solve the problem of an irresponsible tabloid press and sensation-seeking media, since the freedom of speech is too important to infringe.  But we do have power over those we license as physicians.

Dr. Walt Larimore enters the vaccine debate in his blog, not by suggesting forced vaccination, only the regulation of physicians. I wouldn’t support the recommendation without some leeway — I’m certainly not going to approve of every vaccine without a time trial in this very diverse lab that is the United States.

However, Dr. Larimore and his guest author, Dr. Russell C. Libby, are right to raise the ethical and medic0-legal responsibility of physicians who are licensed by the State and who advocate against good science and medical standards.

 

From the article:

“State medical boards must decide if the actions of healthcare practitioners who advocate against vaccination and undermine the public health efforts of their communities warrant investigation and intervention. There are a number physicians and other licensed healthcare professionals who trivialize and discourage immunization, whether it be for philosophical, financial, or self-promotional reasons.

“When the patients they influence contract preventable disease and have bad outcomes or they cause the spread to a vulnerable population, they should be held liable for malpractice. If it is in the midst of an outbreak or epidemic, medical boards need to sanction or suspend licenses.”

 

I’ve spent quite a bit of time — especially over the last week – attempting to educate interested people (including a family member) about the safety and usefulness or efficacy of vaccines.  My motto for these arguments has always been that, “Truth will out,” and, “If we’re right, we should be able to teach and convince.”

However, within the last week, an irresponsible Texas radio host trotted out the discredited and un-licensed doctor who fabricated the MMR/autism fraud and a Canadian newspaper published a hit piece on Gardasil. (You can find them easily on Google – I won’t give them “hits” from my page.)

When licensed physicians – men and women who should know better – spread demonstrable lies, even after being found guilty of fraud or when demonstrably spreading harmful misinformation, there should be consequences.

Boards of Family Medicine and Pediatrics in Collusion?

You’ve got to see this! From the blog, rebel.md:

“The same boards that treat doctors like criminals during our “secure board examinations” blatantly copy each other’s press releases. They’re more than “fellow members of the community of medical boards”, they’re in collusion against their own diplomats. Each board claims they are independently responding to their individual specialties, but they are clearly well-organized as a single entity against us. I’m not sure what the CEO of the ABP does for that $1.2 million salary, but writing original press releases doesn’t appear to be within his scope.”

You’ve heard it said that Doc So-and-So is “Board Certified,” right? That means that he (or she) has taken a test or two – the Board exams for his (- assume I’ve said, “or she,” from now on) specialty  – and maintains a certain level of credentialing and Continuing Medical Education (CME). While not mandated by law, in many cases, it’s a necessary hoop through which to jump if a doc plans to get hospital privileges or insurance contracts.

For Family Physicians, that used to mean that we took 50 hours of CME each year and re-took our Boards each 6 or 7 years. (The “security” around those “secure board examinations” became so onerous that I was fingerprinted several times on the day I took my third set: Once on entry to the exam room, once when I returned from lunch and then when I returned from a trip to the bathroom. They graciously supplied facial tissues, since we weren’t allowed to bring in our own into the room. In fact, we were required to place purses, wallets, etc., in a locker during the exams!)

Over the last 7 or so years, the American Board of Family Physicians has phased in a convoluted system of make-work and extra tests to assure our “Maintenance of Certification” or “MOC.” (Believe it or not, that’s a trademarked name, belonging to the American Board of Medical Specialties, the overlord of all Certifications.) It’s expensive and time consuming and frankly, is of no practical use other than as a source of the CME, which we were getting anyway.  That didn’t stop the Boards from attempting to convince the Feds that our licenses and/or pay should be tied to their certification.

And the profit is a big deal. MOC is a great source of revenue for the Boards, which used to only receive our $1000 or so when we took the Boards. Now, they make much more.  In 2010 (according to the latest tax form I can find), the ABFM took in $24Million from family docs, paid the President of the Board just shy of $800,000, socked away $12M in “excess” revenue, and has over $72 M in assets. Family docs who work hard don’t earn 1/4 of what Dr. Puffer is paid.

Many of us refuse to play any more. When I resigned from the American Academy of Family Physicians, I decided to drop the pretense of Board Certification, also.  The MOC process was impossible for my practice as a locum tenens, working in other doc’s offices.

And I’m not alone in my dissent. See Dr. Charles Kroll’s video on the corruption within the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), here,  and the letter from Dr. David D Fitzpatrick at the Authentic Medicine blog.

Well, the ABIM, unlike the ABFM which jumped on MOC before all the other specialties, sort of heard its members and has pledged to hold its fees stable (and struggle along on $43 Million a year in revenues) and delay a couple of requirements. The ABIM even apologized!

Well (again), the ABFM and the American Board of Pediatrics  (ABP) certainly heard that! And they evidently were in the same meeting when it happened. How else to explain the fact that each sent out nearly identical letters to their members, including 120 matching words in phrases from 9 to 31 words long?

Plagiarism?

 

 

 

“How Government Killed the Medical Profession”

Contrast the Hippocratic ethic in which a physician recommends treatment to his patient, based on his best medical judgement in the patient’s interest, with that of the “veterinary ethic,” where decisions are made by the “payor” — or owner. Now, consider the effect of Government regulations which arbitrarily force doctors to learn protocols and guidelines (rather than adjust to the patient’s course of illness), to fit a patient’s illness into International Clinical Diagnoses (out to the nth decimal place) and which withhold payment when a patient becomes ill enough to need readmission to the hospital within 30 days of the last admission.

In an article published online by Cato, Dr. Jeffery Singer lays out the history of the destruction of Medicine as  a profession. In the past, Dr. Singer described the ethical transition toward the “veterinary ethic.”

Each of these articles is worth your time and consideration. The first article gives one of the best explanations of the Government move to “coding” of medical diagnoses in exchange for payment “reimbursement,” on through the forced move to Electronic Medical Records without evidence that patients will benefit and Accountable Care Organizations which assign patients to employee “providers.” The second, earlier article, reviewed the necessary change in medical ethics to allow doctors to practice without – or in contradiction to – their conscience.

Forget patient autonomy, long elevated by the lawmakers, lawyers and  Ph.D’s (in the name of “Bioethics”) above the traditional physician Hippocratic values of beneficence and its foundation, non-maleficence. In the world of Government medicine, your life is in the hands of the “payor:” the Golden Rule of “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

 

 

 

NEJM admits “ObamaCare” isn’t “Affordable” without subsidies

The New England Journal of Medicine has some free articles you might want to read this week. (I’m afraid you will have to register – will you let me know if you do?)
The first asserts that we’re stuck with ObamaCare – but it calls ObamaCare, “ObamaCare.” The author, Jonathan Oberlander, Ph.D, also acknowledges that the only way the ACA (the Affordable Care Act) is “Affordable” is if the Federal government hands out cash subsidies. In fact, if the Supreme Court rules that the language of the law forbids subsidies in States that don’t have their own exchanges,

Here’s an excerpt:
“The calendar cannot be turned back to 2009. The ACA has made some irreversible changes in U.S. health care.

“Even if they have unified control of the federal government in 2017, Republicans will confront the reality that Obamacare has redefined U.S. health policy and the terms of the debate. In practice, future repeal legislation would probably not scrap the whole ACA, but rather remove specific provisions and remake other policies to conform to a more conservative vision. A Republican President could, through waivers and other means, undermine Obamacare in important ways, but he or she could not eliminate it.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case (King v. Burwell) challenging the legality of providing premium subsidies in federal exchanges is crucial to the GOP precisely because the chances for legislative repeal of Obamacare are so remote. The Court can seriously damage the ACA in a way that congressional Republicans cannot. A decision to prohibit subsidies for helping the uninsured to purchase coverage in the 34 states that have federally run exchanges would destabilize the health insurance marketplaces and unravel the individual and employer mandates in those states, exacerbating the already large disparities in insurance coverage among states. It would cause both a sizable increase in the uninsured population and sizable losses for the insurance industry and medical care providers as millions of Americans lost their health coverage.  Such a ruling could, in turn, produce enormous pressures on affected states and Congress to adopt measures to stave off those outcomes. Yet the ACA’s shaky political foundations would complicate policymakers’ responses, and Obamacare’s opponents would be emboldened to resist any fixes. A ruling against federal subsidies could have a spillover effect, dampening the chances for Medicaid expansion in some states. (Emphasis mine)

 

The ACA appears to be on track to destroy the financing of health care in our country, whether or not it is fully implemented.

 

The Ethics of Quarantine

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . .”

Yes, I’m using the Declaration of Independence to explain the ethics of quarantine. In fact, I suggest that the inalienable rights to life, liberty and “the pursuit of happiness” actually requires that a “just government” quarantine people who endanger the life of others, while doing as much as possible to preserve the rights of those who are quarantined.
The threat of the Ebola virus has spurred the discussion about quarantine in the United States, due to the high mortality rate of the disease. We’ve forgotten the quarantines of the past and most people are unaware of the existence of Presidential Executive Orders concerning formal lists of “Quarantinable Diseases.”
Inalienable or fundamental rights are negative rights. Consider the proverb that “Your (inalienable) right to swing your fist ends at my nose.”
Negative rights are limited to prohibiting action, in contrast to positive rights, which would force others to act for our benefit. That means that we have the right not to be killed, enslaved, or coerced into acts by others – you have the right to swing that fist as long as you don’t hit anyone else by intention or accident.

However, when a third party’s action or negligence threatens to infringe on our fundamental rights we have the right to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens, in the form of government, have a duty to assist us.
This protection should involve the use of the least force possible, for the least time possible, and we must take care not to become guilty ourselves of unnecessarily infringing the inalienable rights of others by abusing the government enforcement of quarantine. When government acts to limit the liberty of people by quarantine, it is imperative to ensure that there is a real threat to the lives of others, to limit the time of quarantine to the time the person is a possible threat, and to protect the lives of those people by providing food, shelter and medical assistance for those who can’t provide for themselves.
Not only is it ethical to implement restrictions on people coming to this country from areas where the disease is epidemic, it is the duty of government to protect the right to life of our citizens by implementing procedures for involuntary quarantine within our borders.

The Insider – FeatureID 383

Read this article for a history (you probably don’t know about)  of the many attempts and failures in healthcare reform over the last 20+ years.

In 2001, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, brought a tax credit bill to the House floor and passed it over objections of congressional liberals favoring Medicaid expansion. In the Senate, however, Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) blocked the tax credit bill twice. Nonetheless, as a political matter, conservatives were playing offense on health care policy for the first time in memory. While small, the proposal was a psychological victory for those who wanted to fix health care with more free markets.

via The Insider – FeatureID 383.

I say “fertilization,” you say “conception”

Forty years ago the words “fertilization” and “conception” meant the same thing to doctors, lawyers, and embryologists alike: the joining of the 23 chromosomes in the sperm with the 23 chromosomes in the oocyte (“egg”) to form a new complete, unique human organism. “Contraception” was defined as any method that worked before the existence of the embryo by preventing fertilization. These were the hormonal treatments and devices that prevent ovulation of the egg and condoms, diaphragms and sterilization that serve as “barriers” between the sperm and egg.   Drugs and devices that may or may not end the life of the embryo after fertilization were legally and correctly called “abortifacients.”

 

However, legalized abortion and the ability to accomplish fertilization through in vitro methods led to new legal definitions of “pregnancy” and “conception” as beginning at implantation rather than fertilization.   Even in vivo, healthy human embryos in healthy mothers were deprived of legal protection as human beings for at least the first 5 – 10 days of their lives, the window of opportunity for implantation when the developing embryo grows to hundreds of cells organized in 2 or 3 recognizable tissue layers and interact with the mother’s body in ways that may affect the timing of birth or risk of diabetes and other health concerns. Possible abortifacients that work after fertilization but before implantation were redefined as “emergency contraception.”

 

In spite of what you may have heard on the news, the June 30, 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) didn’t deny birth control for anyone. Everyone may still purchase his or her own FDA-approved birth control.  SCOTUS simply ruled that the government can’t force some employers to buy things that they believe are immoral.

 

In fact, Hobby Lobby only asked to be exempt from purchasing insurance plans that paid for specific drugs and devices used for “emergency contraception.” Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare” or ACA), the company purchased insurance that included true forms of contraception, including,

  • Those that prevent ovulation by preventing the normal ups and downs of the hormones estrogen and progesterone, such asBirth-control pills with estrogen and progestin (“Combined Pill”),Birth-control pills with progestin alone (“The Mini Pill”),Birth control pills (extended/continuous use), Contraceptive patches, Contraceptive rings,Progestin injections, andImplantable rods

and

  • Those that act as “barriers” to fertilization by preventing the union of sperm and egg: Male condoms, Female condoms, Diaphragms with spermicide, Sponges with spermicide, Cervical caps with spermicide, Spermicide alone, Vasectomies, Female sterilization surgeries, and Female sterilization implants.

The problem is that regulations written by the Obama Administration mandated that all insurances pay for all pregnancy “preventatives” approved by the FDA, including drugs and devices that may function after fertilization to end the life of the new human embryo:

  • Pills that mainly delay ovulation but may impair implantation and development of the placenta if fertilization takes place, such as over-the-counter Plan B and generic levonorgestrel tablets, and ella, which requires a prescription, and
  • Devices that mechanically and hormonally make the uterus inhospitable to implantation by the embryo, such as intrauterine devices like the copper-T, Mirena, and ParaGuard. These are inserted up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse to prevent implantation and then left in place to prevent fertilization and implantation for as long as 5-10 years.

 

 

Although the words we use do not change the fact that the human embryo is the same human life before implantation as after, they can change his or her legal status.

 

 

 

 

 

Wider impact of Hobby Lobby ruling? : SCOTUSblog

Remember, no one is forbidden to buy anything.  However, the US Government will not force people or their companies to pay for devices and drugs they believe are immoral.

 

The Affordable Care Act regulations issued by the federal government, however, required twenty different preventive methods or services, including sterilization and pregnancy counseling. Depending upon how lower courts now interpret the Hobby Lobby decision, companies that fit within the Court’s “closely held company” bracket and offer religious objections could be spared from having to provide any of those services through their employee health plans.

In three cases in which a federal appeals court had rejected the challenges to the mandate, the new Supreme Court orders told those courts to reconsider, applying Monday’s decision. The companies or their owners had taken those petitions to the Court.

On three petitions filed by the federal government, involving appeals court rulings rejecting the challenges by corporations. their owners, or both, the Justices simply denied review.

via Wider impact of Hobby Lobby ruling? : SCOTUSblog.

Protect the Privacy of Your Medical Records |

I’ve had privately insured and Medicare patients – and at least two families visiting our town from Canada – ask me to keep records about one or another history or ailment. I told them I’d do my best, but explained the legal problems with Medicare laws. Since 1997, doctors have been prosecuted for refusing to allow Medicare auditors to see everything in the office. One woman doctor was arrested for refusing to unlock a drawer in her (private?) desk.

 

And now, the IRS wants control of your medical care.

 

The confidentiality of the medical relationship and records has to be maintained or patients will not disclose the true nature of their problems. This results in harm to the patient and prevents the physician from truly helping the patient.

via Protect the Privacy of Your Medical Records |.

Do you feel male, female, American, other?

It's all in your headCan’t help worrying that I might be prosecuted for hate speech for insisting that physical evidence matters, but . . .  if a person can demand a corrected birth certificate based on his/her subjective feelings about his/her gender, why can’t an illegal alien access his/her own new birth certificate if they feel American?

And if it’s all in our heads, why make Medicare pay for surgery?

The same month that the American Medical Association voted that the physical body is irrelevant to gender, President Obama uses his pen to award physical privileges to those people who claim/decide/are born to be transgendered. But he’s doing it very, very quietly.

The latest wins came this month, when the Office of Personnel Management announced that government-contracted health insurers could start covering the cost of gender reassignment surgeries for federal employees, retirees and their survivors, ending a 40-year prohibition. Two weeks earlier, a decades-old rule preventing Medicare from financing such procedures was overturned within the Department of Health and Human Services.

Unlike Obama’s support for same-sex marriage and lifting the “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on openly gay troops, the White House’s work to promote transgender rights has happened mostly out of the spotlight.

Some advances have gone unnoticed because they also benefited the much larger gay, lesbian and bisexual communities. That was the case Monday when the White House announced that Obama plans to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

In other instances, transgender rights groups and the administration have agreed on a low-key approach, both to skirt resistance and to send the message that changes are not a big deal, said Barbara Siperstein, who in 2009 became the first transgender person elected to the Democratic National Committee.

 

 

 

Sen. Deuell challenges Texas Right to Life over “slanderous” ads | Dallas Morning News

Remember: Senator Bob Duell was instrumental in convincing the medical community to adopt voluntary procedures to protect patients and families affected by the Texas Advance Directive Act, even though actual amendments to the law have been blocked by the very people attacking him.

How much “freedom” does a third party Political Action Committee have in their paid ads? Is it wrong to challenge them legally when the ads are blatantly false?

In this case, the ad opens by implying that Senator Duell is responsible for the too-short 10 day period allowed to find alternate care when the family or patient disagrees with the doctor at the end of life.

Senator Duell was not in the Senate when the Texas Advance Directive Act was passed in 1999. Members of the PAC, Texas Right to Life, were present and lobbied in favor of the Act.

In contrast, Senator Duell has for years been a strong advocate for amendments that would have increased the power of families to protect their loved ones in the case of disputes with the doctor.  The amendments would have changed the waiting period to at least a month before any disputed decisions by the doctor would take effect.

As to the challenge, Senator Duell has excellent support for his case:

The Texas Catholic Conference and Catholic Bishops of Texas, who supported Deuell’s bill, have debunked the claims. They said that Texas Right to Life “has tried to stoke fear through ridiculous claims of non-existent death panels and assertions that doctors are secretly trying to kill patients. Both claims are absurd.” The Catholic Conference also ripped Texas Right to Life for spreading “fabrications” about the position of Catholics on the issue.

via Sen. Deuell challenges Texas Right to Life over “slanderous” ads | Dallas Morning News.

American Academy of Family Physicians resignation

AAFPI wrote a very difficult letter today. I  resigned from the organization that is supposed to support Family Physicians in our education, practice management and good medical care of our patients. Instead, the American  Academy of Family Physicians too often strays toward forcing its members to be complicit with controversial policies such as condoning gun control and over-the-counter contraceptive drugs, and condemnation of “reparative therapy” for homosexual patients, even when those patients are unhappy with their sexuality. I write about my main conflicts and the “final straw” in the letter:

 

It is with great regret that I write this letter as notice that I have decided not to renew either my Texas or American Academy of Family Practice membership. While I am still a family doctor, neither the Texas Academy of Family Practice (TAFP) nor the American Academy of Family Practice (AAFP) represent my political or ethical views.

The political, social and ethical controversies were the main reason I remained in the Academy for the last few years since I left full time practice. I hoped that I could make a difference by volunteering my time and money as an active participant in the Texas Academy, the National Conference of Special Constituencies, the AAFP list serves, the Academy Legislative meetings in DC and our annual AAFP Congress of Delegates.

From the time of Hillary Clinton’s closed meetings on healthcare to the endorsement of the passage of the ACA before it was written, the political actions of the AAFP leaders has disappointed me in Washington, DC. Our practice hassle factors have grown and grown, too often with the blessings of – and sometimes due to the experiments with alternative methods of practice by – the Academy.

The AAFP advocated for elective abortion before I joined as a Student member and I accepted that the burden of persuasion was on those of us who disagreed.

However, the Academy’s decision to advocate for the redefinition of marriage in 2012 and the refusal to reconsider the extracted Resolution on marriage neutrality at the 2013 Congress of Delegates in San Diego were the final proof that there’s no tolerance for family doctors who hold conservative politics or traditional ethics in the Academy.

Unfortunately, our TAFP spokesperson to the 2013 AAFP Reference Committee on Advocacy misrepresented the Texas Delegation’s instructions from the Directors on marriage. As I remember the discussion and vote, the intention was to allow the Texas delegates wide latitude in voting on any final form of the Resolution.

I hereby resign from the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians and as a Fellow of the AAFP.

 

I waited to resign after nearly 30-year membership until the last minute before being dropped (for lack of paying my annual dues). There were several reasons for my hesitancy. For one thing, I didn’t want to be an undue influence on other members when they considered whether or not to write that hefty annual check to the Academy. For another, while I will continue to work with the AAFP and the Christian Medical and Dental Association to protect the right to life, marriage, the conscience rights of doctors within the profession of medicine and the specialty of Family Medicine, I do believe that it is important to work to persuade from within the organization. The biggest problem with finally writing the letter was that I was looking for a way to somehow keep my integrity while allowing the Academy to claim to represent me.

However, now that I’ve resigned, please consider sharing my letter with your family doctor. Many of them are unaware of the policies that our professional organizations push on good doctors of today and the students and residents who will be our doctors of tomorrow.

Fifth Circuit Paves Way for Supreme Court Showdown on Chemical Abortion Regulations | National Review Online

The Fifth Circuit pointed out that Planned Parenthood offered no real evidence to support its challenge to the Texas provision. On the other hand, the State provided ample medical evidence to support the regulation. Citing the State’s expert Dr. Donna Harrison, the court noted that the FDA approved the RU-486 regimen with restrictions, including a patient agreement that requires the woman (and the physician) to confirm that she is no more than 49 days pregnant.

Further, the court rejected Planned Parenthood’s claim that chemical abortion is necessary for some women who cannot undergo surgical abortion—noting that the abortion giant provided no real evidence for that claim. To the contrary, Dr. Harrison testified that 6 percent of chemical abortions fail and eventually require surgery, meaning that it would be medically irresponsible for a physician to administer a chemical abortion to a woman for whom a later surgical abortion might be contraindicated.

It’s important to note that the decision marks one of the most straightforward applications of the Supreme Court’s 2007 Gonzales v. Carhart decision. Citing Gonzales, the Fifth Circuit concluded that the Texas chemical-abortion regulation does not require an exception for the life and health of the woman because the group of women who allegedly “need” chemical abortions (those for whom Planned Parenthood claimed surgical abortion is contraindicated) was vague and undefined, because Planned Parenthood failed to provide any evidence that such a group of women even exists, and because, as highlighted by Dr. Harrison’s testimony, there is disagreement regarding whether chemical abortions are “safer” for these women when subsequent surgical abortion—alleged to be dangerous for such women—may be necessary.

via Fifth Circuit Paves Way for Supreme Court Showdown on Chemical Abortion Regulations | National Review Online.

Texas abortion restrictions withstand legal challenge – San Antonio Express-News

Great news. If there must be abortion, and it’s “between a woman and her doctor,” shouldn’t the doctor have hospital privileges to care for complications? Or does he cease being “her doctor” when she needs him most?

A federal appeals panel on Thursday overturned a lower court decision that had deemed a portion of Texas’ controversial sweeping abortion restrictions as unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had already temporarily lifted a district court injunction that blocked a state provision requiring abortion doctors to get admitting privileges at nearby hospitals from going into effect.

Thursday’s ruling gives Texas the green light to continue enforcing the provision on a permanent basis.

via Texas abortion restrictions withstand legal challenge – San Antonio Express-News.

The battle over Medicaid expansion

When people have the facts, they oppose ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion.

When Virginia voters learn that ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion slashes seniors’ Medicare, gives taxpayer-funded Medicaid coverage to former prison inmates and could deplete funding for critical state priorities, their support for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion plummets; this according to a new poll released today by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA), a multi-state free-market think tank based in Florida.

The 10-question poll was conducted between March 7 and March 9, 2014, with 469 likely Virginia voters responding to all 10 questions.

via The battle over Medicaid expansion.

Lies, Damned Lies and “ScoreCards”

It takes a long time to write the hard posts, so I’ve been putting this one off for a while. But with Primary season off and running, conservative groups are turning on conservative legislators and using political “score cards” to attack.

Let’s start with the most manipulated “scorecard” of all, especially now that someone else has stepped up to explain so much better than I ever could.

Texas Right to Life, the organization which was criticized by the Texas Catholic Conference for their “misstatements and fabrications” concerning HB303 and HB 1444, continues to make up whatever they wish, this time with their arbitrary  “Legislative Scores.” Their scorecard is so “Unconventional” and “perplexing” that it prompted the following letter, signed by all the Texas Catholic Bishops:

December 9, 2013

The Honorable Dan Huberty Texas House of Representatives P.O. Box 2910 Austin, Texas 78768

Dear Representative Huberty:

I am writing at the behest of the Roman Catholic Bishops of Texas to share their concerns about a recent “pro-life scorecard” released by Texas Right to Life (TRTL). This “scorecard” purports to declare which Texas legislators are “pro-life” based on a selective number of votes during the 83rd Legislative Session.

Unfortunately, the unconventional methodology and subjective scoring of the TRTL scorecard produced a number of perplexing results–including assigning low scores to pro-life lawmakers who have worked long and hard to protect and preserve life.

As you know, the Texas Catholic Conference does not use scorecards. Instead, our bishops encourage parishioners to fully form their consciences through prayer and education about issues. Scorecards are a poor substitute for that level of thoughtful policy engagement. Perhaps the most faulty implication of the scorecard is that, in its current form, it casts the tradition of Catholic teaching as being insufficiently pro-life–which is a patently absurd notion. TRTL does not have license to publicly define who is sufficiently pro-life or not.

Some legislative scorecards, when created objectively and appropriately, can be informative. If not, they stop being about informing the public and become more about advancing political agendas, with the unfortunate result that some citizens end up being misled about the issues and misinformed about the voting records of their legislators.

The recent TRTL scorecard selected only three bills (and assorted amendments) to calculate the scores out of the thousands of bills considered during the 83 rd Legislative Session. Several pro-life bills were excluded from consideration. For example, the TRTL scorecard did not include or minimized support for bills that would have prohibited abortion coverage from insurance plans provided in the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchanges (HB 997); prohibited sex selection abortions (HB 309); strengthened parental rights to reduce judicial bypass for teen abortions (HB 3243); or criminalized coerced abortions (HB 3247). All these proposals were unquestionably pro-life, yet were not scored equitably on the TRTL scorecard.

As a result of this selective vote counting, several legislators, who have spent their careerscommitted to pro-life issues, were said to “reject opportunities to protect the sanctity of innocent human life” when that is clearly not the case. For example, Senator Bob Deuell was responsible for requiring abortion facilities to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers (SB 537)—a key provision of the landmark prolife legislation that ultimately passed during the Special Session. However, the TRTL political action committee gave him no credit for authoring this pro-life bill. In another instance, State Rep. Bill Callegari was given no credit for his authorship of the parental rights bill (HB 3243).

The method by which the scores were assigned was haphazard and confusing. Some legislators were awarded more points than others for the same legislative action, while other legislators’ contributions were completely ignored. For example, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg and Rep. John Smithee both authored pro-life bills during the session, but Laubenberg was awarded 25 points for authorship of HB 2, while, Smithee was awarded only six points for authoring another pro-life bill that sought to remove abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges. In another example, Rep. Tracey King, who voted against both pro-life omnibus bills (HB 2 and SB 5) received a higher pro-life score than Rep. J. D. Sheffield, who voted FOR both HB 2 and SB 5.

Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. was not scored as pro-life, despite his co-sponsoring and voting for HB 2 and SB 5 and twice crossing party lines to be the final necessary vote to suspend Senate rules and debate on these bills.

What was most troubling to the Texas Catholic Bishops was that the scorecard appears to attack those legislators who supported perhaps one of the most pro-life bills during the 83rd session: protecting individuals and families at the end of life by reforming the Texas Advance Directives Act. Advance directives reform not only would have given families more tools to protect their loved ones at the end of life, but would have provided conscience protections to medical providers to refuse inflicting burdensome and unnecessary procedures on patients. The advance directives law would have changed current law to:

 prohibit the involuntary denial of care to critically ill patients, including food and water;

 prevent doctors from making unilateral “Do Not Attempt Resuscitation” orders without consulting families; and,

 require treating all patients “equally without regard to permanent physical or mental disabilities, age, gender, ethnic background, or financial or insurance status.”

The advance directives reform bill was a moral and compassionate approach to end-of-life care that was opposed by TRTL, but supported by a broad coalition of groups, including the Texas Catholic Conference, the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission, the Texas Alliance for Life, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, the AARP, the Texas Pro-Life Action Team, the Texas Conservative Coalition, and the Catholic Hospital Association of Texas. Advance directives reform was important to the Catholic Church–and to many legislators–because we recognize human life as a gift from God that is innately sacred–from conception to natural death. We have taken this position after much reflection to ensure that the law respects the natural dying process.

The implication to be drawn from this scorecard is that TRTL opposed the advance directives reform bill, and appears to have taken to punishing those pro-life legislators who disagreed with them by inaccurately casting them as not being sufficiently pro-life. That is plainly inaccurate.

In the case of the advance directives reform bill, legislators who supported the law were strongly pro-life; they merely opposed the TRTL’s position. These are not necessarily the same thing. It is unfortunate that so many members who continue to fully stand for life are being attacked for doing just that. We hope that this letter has clarified what would otherwise have remained an unfair and confusing characterization.

Sincerely,

Jeffery R. Patterson Executive Director

@GovernorPerry: Supreme Court Declining to Block HB 2 | Texans for Rick Perry

This is great news!

Government, as a tool of and with the consent of the governed, has one job: to protect the inalienable rights of humans. If some – the powerful, the ones with the most votes or most guns – can decide that some humans aren’t human enough to have the right not to be killed, then no one is safe. Our state has determined that we will license doctors and medical technology — therefore, we must restrict the single instance where one human being may decide that another is not human enough and enlist the aide of our licensed doctors and technology to end a life.

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry today issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow Texas abortion restrictions to remain in effect:

“This is good news both for the unborn and for the women of Texas, who are now better protected from shoddy abortion providers operating in dangerous conditions. As always, Texas will continue doing everything we can to protect the culture of life in our state.”

via Statement by Gov. Perry on Supreme Court Declining to Block HB 2 | Texans for Rick Perry.

Drs discover that sick people use health care!

Ezekial Emanuel is Rahm’s brother. He has been one of the Obamacare pushers for years.

The new goal, according to Emanuel, should be per-capita annual health care costs by 2020 that increase no more than the annual gross domestic product.

“It’s clear and easily measured,” he said. “But it’s not going to happen overnight.”

It would require a “renewed, systemwide focus on transforming the delivery system to improve the way we care for the chronically ill,” said Emanuel, because 10% of the population with chronic illnesses now consumes nearly two-thirds of health care dollars.

Another recipe for reform was offered by Joanne Lynn, MD, of the Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness, Altarum Institute, Washington.

“We almost all get to grow old; it’s the terrific success of modern medicine,” she said, but the system hasn’t evolved to cope with this reality.

via Physicians outline critical issues facing US health care | Healio.

Untested Waters (TMA on ObamaCare)

From the Texas Medical Association website:

Both Texas Oncology and ARC, for example, already participated in most major health plans in Texas before the launch of the exchange. Because not all of those insurers explicitly invited Texas Oncology to join their new marketplace networks, the group was combing through its contracts and contacting carriers to find out how to opt out of the exchange plans. All of ARC\’s existing contracts require insurers to renegotiate with the group before including it in any new products or networks. Some payers never approached the group; others came back with lower fee schedules, which ARC declined. On the other hand, 27 percent of respondents in the MGMA survey said they are participating in the exchange because their existing contract terms required them to participate in all of an insurers\’ products under so-called \”all products\” clauses.

Because a number of Dr. Buckingham\’s contracts include such clauses, the six-physician practice, Eye Physicians of Austin, faces the prospect of renegotiation in order to opt out of certain exchange plans.

\”To me, my hands are tied, and they are making me jump off of a plank I don\’t want to jump off of. And it\’s an expensive process, and it interrupts patient care,\” she said.

via Untested Waters.

You say “Mispoke,” I say “Lie” – NYTimes.com

“That, they say, violates President Obama’s pledge that if you like the insurance you have, you can keep it.

“Mr. Obama clearly misspoke when he said that.”

via Insurance Policies Not Worth Keeping – NYTimes.com.

Fifth Circuit Stays Yeakel Ruling: Court of Appeals says HB 2 abortion restrictions go forward – News Blog – The Austin Chronicle

Court of Appeals says HB 2 abortion restrictions go forward

By Michael King, 7:53PM, Thu. Oct. 31

Fifth Circuit Stays Yeakel Ruling

In a decision released late Thursday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the motion of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, overturning the ruling of federal District Judge Lee Yeakel and allowing enforcement of the restrictions that will likely leave thousands of Texas women without access to abortion care.

Specifically, the three-judge panel stayed Yeakel\’s injunction against the law — specifically the provision that will require doctors administering abortions to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital – pending an appeal to the whole Fifth Circuit that will not be heard until at least January. That means many clinics will close, because most doctors will not be able to get admitting privileges to hospitals where they do not normally practice. The ruling left in place, in part, the judge\’s ruling that medication abortions could be performed in certain circumstances, when the mother\’s life or health is in danger.

via Fifth Circuit Stays Yeakel Ruling: Court of Appeals says HB 2 abortion restrictions go forward – News Blog – The Austin Chronicle.

Texas abortion clinic not safe

Who’s surprised that the abortionists aren’t concerned about sterile instruments, monitoring patients’ heart rates or keeping up with their life saving skills or equipment? They’re not in the business of saving life. They kill.

The October 3 inspection at Whole Woman\’s Health of Beaumont turned up potential health issues.

The report says the facility failed to provide a safe environment for patients and staff. The suction machines which were used on patients had numerous rusty spots which, \”had the likelihood to cause infection.\”

The report also says, \”the facility failed to have the EKG monitoring equipment ready if an emergency situation occurred…\”

Fatima Gifford, the spokeswoman for Whole Woman\’s Health, said Tuesday that at this time, the clinic did not have a comment

via Inspection of Beaumont abortion clinic raises health concerns – 12 News KBMT and K-JAC.

At least this news organization reported on the local facility. You won’t find much coverage, even among the “journalists” who are all over the lawsuit news.

From LifeSite News, here’s the rest of the story:

Whole Women’s Health facilities all over Texas failed inspections for the last two years, time and again. There were holes in the cabinets, rust on machines used during the procedures, and the staff didn’t know the proper method of sterilization or checking that supposedly sterile tools actually are sterilized in the autoclave. Where they were found to be lacking last year, they made no changes, no improvements.

Their focus and skills lie in taking life, not preserving or saving it.

 

PolitiFact Texas Defends – and Interprets – Davis On Abortion

If I were being exceptionally kind, I’d interpret Texas Democratic Governor candidate (and portable urinary catheter user) Wendy Davis’ position on abortion restrictions as, “Whatever the Supreme Court rules is good enough for me.”  When not so generous, I’d say she’s not answering the question.

What Wendy Davis said,

 “Davis, while addressing the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Aug. 5, 2013, was asked, “Could you discuss what legal limits on abortion you do support?”

She replied, “You know, the Supreme Court has made that decision. And it’s one of the protected liberties under our Constitution. And I respect the constitutional protections that are in place today.”

.”

Politifact’s interpretation:

 

So in her response in Washington, Davis signaled that she both accepts letting states limit abortions after the first trimester and limit or ban abortions after fetuses are viable, unless the mother’s life is at risk.

via PolitiFact Texas | Davis opposes late-term abortions, with certain exceptions.

How refreshing it would be if one of the “fact-checkers” actually asked the hard questions of a pro-abortion Dem!

Study compares panhandle teen pregnancy and Planned Parenthood – KFDA – NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

It appears that Planned Parenthood doesn’t change teen pregnancy rates – it’s neither necessary nor effective:

The study uses pregnancy rates reported by the Texas Department of Health State Services.

In 1996, a year before opposition to Planned Parenthood began, the teen pregnancy rates across the panhandle was more than 43.6 per 1,000 girls.

Two years after all facilities had closed, teen pregnancy was at 24.1 per 1,000 girls. Researchers are claiming that this is a significant confirmation that Planned Parenthood\’s presence and its sex education programs are not a necessary tool in reducing teen pregnancy.

But that doesn\’t seem to be the case everywhere across the state.

NewsChannel 10 has done some more research of it\’s own. In other areas of Texas where Planned Parenthood is a part of sex education and teen pregnancy rates have also dropped.

via Study compares panhandle teen pregnancy and Planned Parenthood – KFDA – NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports.

Unions to win delay of ObamaCare tax (Not the rest of us, tho’)

Labor unions are poised to score the delay of an ObamaCare tax in the bipartisan budget deal emerging in the Senate.

The bargain under negotiation would make small adjustments to the healthcare law, including delaying the law\’s reinsurance fee for one year. The three-year tax is meant to generate revenue that will stabilize premiums on the individual market as sick patients enter the risk pool.

via Unions poised to win delay of ObamaCare tax in budget deal – The Hill’s Healthwatch.

“Welcome to the Party, Pal” | The Northern Right

Amen to this:

“So what do we Americans do with a feral, out of control administration, misusing and abusing their authority? Well, we can start transferring power and authority out of Washington DC back to the many states. Doing this with all public lands, National Parks, National Forests, Wilderness Areas, National Monuments and everything else the feds own and operate would be a good first start. Follow it up with moving all licensing and permitting back to the states.”

“Welcome to the Party, Pal” | The Northern Right.

A tax for doing nothing

From a blurb on Taranto’s The Best of the Web Today, today:

After the court’s ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius, the mandate, of course, is not an actual legal command, but, as Chief Justice John Roberts put it, merely the establishment of a “a condition–not owning health insurance–that triggers a tax–the required payment to the IRS.”

Every time I think of Justice John Robert’s declaration that the ObamaCare individual mandate is does not carry an individual penalty, but rather, a tax, I become angry. It makes as much sense as his messing up the Oath of Office on January 20, 2009 followed a day later with the “real” oath.

I still don’t get Robert’s logic. It’s a tax, because you only pay fines when you commit an act. Or is it a tax because you pay the IRS?   Whatever, in order to not pay, you have to sign up for the exchanges, which then “ping” the IRS to find out about your income.

Luckily, I have a bit of an attention deficit.*  So, then I start thinking about how much Congress should owe the rest of us because they do nothing – or at least not what we want. The motto ought to be, “It ain’t fine!”

* (: It’s not a disorder if it helps you get through the day.)

 

ObamaCare begins to “Ping” the IRS for information

What might have been missed in all the emotional media coverage about the troubles people are having with the ObamaCare exchanges and the news that the IRS official shared tax information with the WhiteHouse:

Hall Ingram said a key piece of the healthcare law’s new infrastructure — the federal “data hub” — is working well.

When consumers apply for insurance and tax subsidies through an exchange, the exchange uses the data hub to draw information from several state and federal agencies to confirm applicants’ identity and calculate the subsidies they can receive.

Exchanges have successfully pinged the IRS’s servers to request income information about applicants, and the IRS has been able to respond, she said.

“As far as we can tell, and we are looking on a daily basis, it\’s operating well,” Hall Ingram said.

via GOP grills IRS’s ObamaCare chief – The Hill’s Healthwatch.

BOR: Lies from the Left (I know, it’s redundant)

And BOR is a much better acronym than anything I could make up.

The Burnt Orange Report is Texas’ own quintessential leftist blog, spinning and twisting any stories or facts to make conservatives look bad.

Good little far-left Democrat media tool that the BOR is, it seems almost superfluous to note that the blog is pro-abort. However, the reason I’m bringing BOR to your attention is Part 1 and Part 2 of “Why Texas Women Need Access to Later Term Abortions by someone named Natalie San Luis.

The BOR enjoys bold exaggeration in its fonts, to highlight the most emotional rants. There are the usual facetious arguments that women need abortions after 5 months such as, “wealthy women who have the means can jump over the barriers, but more and more women can’t” and “Amniocentesis, which tests amniotic fluid for fetal abnormalities and genetic problems, is sometimes performed as late as 22 weeks.” (The babies of less than wealthy women and their mothers deserve protection, too. And amniocentesis is usually done much earlier  and is still legal, just as it is at 30 weeks or 35.)

Ms. San Luis would also have us develop sympathy for doctors who fear the liability of making a decision about whether a baby’s birth defect is compatible with life.

After. 20. weeks.

Because: ” Accounting for factors like the woman’s health history and future complications, it is almost impossible to accurately guess the likelihood of fetal survival in each of these cases. “

(Maybe that’s why they can’t get local hospital privileges.)

While I can mock the poor logic of the author, it’s better to catch her repeating easily checked, but false “facts.”

The founder, President and CEO of the San Antonio Abortion facility, Whole Woman’s Health, Amy Hagstrom Miller, is quoted as saying, “We’ve seen a 10 percent increase in second trimester abortions just since the sonogram bill has passed,”.

Besides the fact that there’s only one year of data available “since the sonogram bill has passed” and went into effect in late 2011, the numbers don’t back up that statement, unless it’s local to the San Antonio facility.  According to numbers from the Texas Department of State Health Services, there were 136 fewer 2nd trimester abortions in Texas in 2012 than in 2011.

Year      Total Abortions      2nd Trimester Abortions  1st Trimester Abortions   %1st

2012       66098                          5204                             60882                          92.1
2011       72470                          5340                             67121                          92.6
2010      77592                           5542                             72042                          92.8

(I couldn’t resist showing the steady decrease in abortions in Texas, even though it horrified me to put those large numbers into the calculator.)

Did anyone else notice that there’s no obvious way to make comments on BOR?

 

Edit 10/10/13 – correcting punctuation, removing my own redundancies — BBN

Obama Stumbles Despite Friendly Press « Commentary Magazine

After explaining his “history,” of posturing and hiding unpopular legislation by attaching it to another Bill, President Obama truly stumbles:

“And you know, we don’t get to select which programs we implement or not.”

via Obama Stumbles Despite Friendly Press « Commentary Magazine.

Iguess it depends on the meaning of “select,” because as the article notes,

“Obama chooses which parts of which laws he wants to implement and enforce at will, as if Congress were a supercommittee brainstorming ideas rather than a coequal branch passing laws . . “

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