Category Archives: Health

Medicare for All could have prevented more than 338,000 US Covid deaths: Study

"Healthcare reform is long overdue in the U.S.," said the lead author of a new study. "Americans are needlessly losing lives and money."

Covid-19 has killed more than one million people in the United States over the past two years, but more than 338,000 of those lives could have been saved if the country had a universal single-payer healthcare system such as Medicare for All. Continue reading

How Medicare Advantage scammers get away with it

In my multiple writings on the Medicare Advantage scam, the most common two responses I get (besides, “Thanks, you may have saved my life!”) are, “I’ve never had a problem with my Advantage plan,” and “If it’s so bad, how come so few people are saying so?” Continue reading

Court’s draft ruling a part of a bigger right-wing strategy

WASHINGTON—A draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion eliminating abortion rights angered women and pro-choice advocates and sparked a political war on both sides of what anti-abortionists have made their cultural issue keystone for 49 years. Continue reading

Unsafe at any exposure

The human body has to be robust. It would have to be, considering the toxins that pervade our existence. It would have to be, considering that government fails to protect us from fungicides, pesticides, pollutants. It would have to be, considering that plastics have been found in our blood, in our lungs, in breastmilk, in babies’ urine. Continue reading

The ongoing COVID disaster

Pollsters have advised Joe Biden to declare COVID over. But the pandemic revealed all the shortcomings of a political system which is dedicated to austerity and to protecting capitalist interests.

Nothing shows the abject failure of the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris administration like the continuing toll of COVID-19 deaths in this country. A pledge to end the COVID pandemic was a centerpiece of their 2020 campaign. They promised to improve upon Donald Trump’s disastrous handling of the crisis which resulted in the deaths of 385,000 people in 2020. Biden and Harris had 446,000 COVID deaths as of their first anniversary in office. The total COVID death toll is expected to reach 1 million by the end of March 2022. Now an Omicron subvariant, known as B.A.2, is becoming the dominant variant. The U.S. usually follows Europe in its COVID rates, and, on that basis, scientists are predicting a new wave in the next two to three weeks. Continue reading

New mental health book hides institute director’s sordid past

It has been several years since Dr. Thomas Insel left his post as director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to collaborate on mental health solutions with Google Life Sciences, an arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, now known as Verily. Insel is not the first or last government official to treat himself or herself to the riches of the industry revolving door (Louisiana Rep. Billy Tauzin surfaced at PhRMA after overseeing Medicare legislation; CDC director Julie Gerberding surfaced at Merck ). But Insel has a disturbing former cronyism record that should not be forgotten. Continue reading

Four factors contributing to a generation of obesity

While obesity is growing around the world, it is especially evident in younger generations, who used to be thinner than their thick-around-the-middle elders. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 1 in every 3 college-age Americans is now obese—the “freshman 15” has morphed into the “freshman 30.” Continue reading

Will Biden resurrect the conflict-ridden Robert Califf as FDA commissioner?

In 2011, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, an Obama nominee, lamented that the government could not find enough experts who were not funded by drug makers to serve on advisory committees and recommended that the FDA’s conflict of interest rules be loosened. Continue reading

Compassion for moms who kill their children

When we think of those who harm children, we usually think of men. Child molesters of various stripes are overwhelmingly male. Continue reading

Are you making these medication mistakes?

Drugs can help us, but not when we use them too long, for the wrong things, or when better treatments are available.

Americans might be the most medicated people in the world thanks to aggressive drug-maker marketing and favorable regulation. But drugs can be over-prescribed, conditions over-diagnosed, and less expensive non-drug treatments slighted. Here are common dangers to watch for in your and your family’s medication use. Continue reading

To protect women’s health, pass the Equal Rights Amendment

The Supreme Court may soon overturn half a century of legal precedent on abortion. Here’s one idea to protect their rights.

Late January marked the 49th anniversary of Roe. V. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. It could very well be the last. Continue reading

Theranos verdict: In the U.S., it is fine to lie to consumers but not to investors

Hyper-capitalism has systematically weakened regulations to help capital at the cost of consumers. The verdict on the Elizabeth Holmes case simply illustrates the growing post-’90s disregard for consumers.

The verdict on Theranos founder and former CEO Elizabeth Holmes, who was tried for fraud in a U.S. court, was guilty. Theranos was a company set up by Holmes and her former partner Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani and had promised to revolutionize blood testing. Their advanced biotech equipment—they claimed—would provide results for a whole battery of tests with just a few drops of blood. In its heyday, Theranos was worth more than $9 billion, and Elizabeth Holmes was looked at as “the next Steve Jobs.” She was also the face that launched $724 million in stock sales to private equity firms and venture capitalists. Holmes figured in Time’s 2015 list of the 100 most influential people of the year and was feted by Wall Street as the “world’s youngest self-made female billionaire.” Continue reading

California could be on the verge of passing single-payer health care

If passed, a new bill would establish a streamlined, publicly funded single-payer health care system in California, paid for by progressive taxes—in the face of dogged opposition from corporate profiteers.

Imagine living in a society where a medical diagnosis does not trigger crippling fears of the cost of treatment and prescription drugs, where switching jobs or being laid off didn’t include considerations around health insurance coverage, where trips to the emergency room don’t generate thousands of dollars in bills, and where the out-of-pocket cost of seeing a doctor is zero. Continue reading

It’s time to expand the COVID-19 exception to all American health care

While the federal government only seems to consider care for COVID-19 patients and protection against the coronavirus to be its responsibility, those struggling with other ailments and lacking insurance are on their own.

There has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde quality to American health care over the past two years. The federal government under the previous administration of Donald Trump, as well as the current one of Joe Biden, has carved out what can be characterized as the “COVID-19 exception,” inconsistently intervening to help people avoid the virus or recover from it, while standing by as Americans struggle with other ailments. In doing so, it has exposed the vast fissures of a broken system into which millions of Americans routinely fall, some, never to emerge. Continue reading

Have we learned nothing from the COVID-19 pandemic?

New animal epidemics ignored

You would think as COVID-19 has now killed 5.54 million, there would be greater vigilance about other brewing zoonotic epidemics. Yet even as 41 countries now have outbreaks of avian influenza, called HPAI or H5N1, including the US, there is little to no reporting on the threat in the US press. The attitude still seems to be “wait and see” as it was with COVID-19 though cases surfaced six months before any action was taken; have we learned nothing? Continue reading

My disabled life is worthy

The loss of disabled and chronically ill lives due to COVID-19 is no less tragic or preventable.

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, there’s been a disturbing caveat to the casualty reports. Many of the dead, the reports say, had “comorbidities”—other conditions that left them especially vulnerable to the virus. Continue reading

Gorsuch refuses to mask while backing forced pregnancy for women in Texas

"I feel like we're entitled to expect our Supreme Court justices to be better role models. Or, at least, to have an ounce of decency," said one observer.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s refusal to wear a mask at in-person proceedings—forcing his colleague and liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor to take part remotely due to health concerns—sparked backlash Tuesday, especially given the court’s current attack on women’s reproductive health. Continue reading

Congress ‘asleep at the switch’ as Biden continues Trump-era ploy to privatize Medicare

More than 1,500 physicians warn that the experiment threatens "the future of Medicare as we know it."

A Trump-era pilot program that could result in the complete privatization of traditional Medicare in a matter of years is moving ahead under the Biden administration, a development that—despite its potentially massive implications for patients across the U.S.—has received scant attention from the national press or Congress. Continue reading

Greed is prolonging the pandemic

The longer it takes the world to get vaccinated, the more variants we’ll see.

Stop me if this sounds familiar. Continue reading

Biden nominates two industry shills to “regulate” their industries

In 2011, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, an Obama nominee, lamented that the government could not find enough experts who were not funded by drug makers to serve on advisory committees and recommended that the FDA’s conflict of interest rules be loosened. Continue reading

GOP, Big Pharma plotting to convince Senate parliamentarian to help kill drug price reforms

The pharmaceutical industry and its allies in the Republican Party are reportedly teaming up to craft challenges to congressional Democrats’ drug price reform plan in the hopes of convincing the Senate parliamentarian—an unelected functionary—to help tank the proposal. Continue reading

Treat “early and often” and other drugmaker ruses

I have often reported on the drugmaker ruse of “disease mongering” or “selling sickness”—floating symptoms of scary diseases that you may have right now with convenient online, “symptom quizzes” for you to self-diagnose and verify. Long gone are the days when the medical establishment assured you that you were well (“take two aspirins and call me in the morning”) thanks to direct-to-consumer advertising. Continue reading

The health of your eyes can be restored

Earlier this year I felt I was going blind and decided that I might have to give up the love of my life, writing, since I could no longer stare at a computer screen. Living alone, I would not be able to drive a car and thereby get groceries or take care of the many other things necessary for survival in the modern world if my eyesight diminished further. I considered suicide. Continue reading

Prescription drug safety risks hidden; hypochondria created by marketing

If you’re like most people, you never heard of the prescription drug Humira until 2013. That’s when Abbott Laboratories spun off AbbVie, to aggressively market the rheumatoid arthritis (RA) drug which went on to become the top selling drug by 2019. Continue reading

Baby food alert: Interview with Asian-based food processing consultant

Last year, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation found almost 6,000 food items contaminated with microbes, excessive food additives and agricultural/veterinary drugs –– and memories of melamine in milk and U.S. pet food heighten concerns. Continue reading

“Race norming” and health care Jim Crow

Health care disparities are inevitable when notions of white superiority are guiding principles in every sector of society.

The term “race norming ” ought to be immediately suspected as having a nefarious intent. Anything referred to as norming in a racist society invariably ends with Black people getting the short end of the stick. The concept that Black bodies are anatomically different may be known as “race correction”, “ethnic adjustment”, or “race adjustment” and causes Black people to be undertreated for pain, undiagnosed for serious illness, and denied life saving treatments because of an idea which is inherently white supremacist and very much unscientific. Continue reading

Big Pharma corporate lobby vs. everyday Americans

Organizers take to the streets to call on Big Pharma to halt its assault on popular reforms to lower prescription drug prices.

Armed with a “STOP PHARMA GREED” banner and a large, menacing image of a greedy industry executive, member leaders from People’s Action rallied in front of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Washington, D.C., headquarters last week to protest drug companies’ relentless pursuit of profits at the expense of everyday people. Continue reading

‘Political malpractice’: House Democrats’ bill wouldn’t add dental to Medicare until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

House Democrats’ 2,465-page reconciliation package includes a plan to add dental benefits to Medicare, a proposal that is overwhelmingly popular with U.S. voters and—according to advocates—urgently needed to assist the tens of millions seniors who have been forced to go without crucial care. Continue reading

Spreading vaccine misinformation is dangerous and wrong

People can disagree about vaccine mandates, but the science on vaccines is clear: They’re safe and effective.

In the late 19th century, people protested against mandatory smallpox vaccines. Despite them, today we live in a world without smallpox. Continue reading

Prescription drug prices: Politicians are all talk, no action

On July 26, 2020, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order under which the US government’s Medicare Part D program would have negotiated lower prescription drug prices based on an “International Price Index.” Continue reading

Have drug makers created a generation of hypochondriacs?

A month before the COVID-19 shutdowns, the Wall Street Journal reported that many young people are seeking “accommodations” such as greater time allotments at work for their anxiety, PTSD, depression and other mental conditions. Of course there is much less anxiety zooming from your couch but the issues will no doubt return when workers do. Continue reading

Time to end the Medicare Advantage scam

Over 100 Democratic lawmakers last week introduced legislation to lower the Medicare eligibility age to 60. There is one small problem that needs fixing, though: so-called “Medicare Advantage.” Continue reading