Archive for October 20th, 2008

HHS: A Call to Action

October 20th, 2008 | 1 Comment | Source: Lexington Herald Leader



Chronic diseases affect 100 million Americans, cause 70% of all deaths and chew up two-thirds of the money we spend on health.


We can avoid much of the burden, both financial and physical, by getting off our collective duffs. More than half of us don’t get enough exercise, and a quarter of us don’t get any. The unhealthy lifestyle becomes a death sentence via obesity, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer and breast cancer.


That’s why the Department of Health and Human Services just released the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, a set of concrete recommendations about what we need to do and how long we need to do it.


The Guidelines assure us that we don’t have to join health clubs, and that most of us don’t need to consult with a physician before starting up. They state that we need at least 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity like fast walking or raking leaves.


We should also undertake bone and muscle strengthening activities twice a week. Lifting weights, doing pushups or even gardening does the trick.


Furthermore, once someone gets into decent shape, he or she can replace moderate activity with vigorous activity (e.g. swimming, jogging) which provides the same benefit in about half the time.


Importantly, the Guidelines state that just 10 minutes of activity every day is enough to start seeing benefits. Something really is better than nothing!




ACORN’s Boneheads Casting a Pall

October 20th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Economist

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has signed up 1.3 million new voters this year in areas likely to vote Democratic.

Registered Democrat

Registered Democrat

ACORN’s registrants include Mickey Mouse, the entire starting line-up of the Dallas Cowboys (who signed-up in Nevada no less), a 7-year old girl in Connecticut, Jimmy Johns (which is actually the name of a sandwich shop in Indiana), and one Ohio man who admitted signing 70 forms in exchange for cigarettes and cash.

Including these, ACORN has turned in at least ten thousand applications that are fakes. And since the Big O once ran training sessions for ACORN and his campaign has links to it, Republicans are crying foul. They have registered legal complaints in several states.

It’s a good issue for Republicans. ACORN should not permit local officials to reward workers for exceeding their quotas. And probably a handful of ACORN workers took liberties on their own, but that’s where the story ends. Seriously, does anyone think we’ve stumbled upon a conspiracy to steal the election?

There is no evidence for systematic voter registration fraud at ACORN and even if there was, that’s still not voter fraud, which would require that thousands of impersonators vote on November 4.

Still, the Big O should get in front of the mess. Denounce the mismanaging few and sound a trumpet for fair elections! Right now the Big O wins a fair election, and let’s not forget what happened last time a swing state got settled in court.


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Now’s the Time for Health Care Reform

October 20th, 2008 | No Comments | Source: Chicago Tribune

Revered health care economist Victor Fuchs has said that America will never achieve serious health care reform until there is a depression, a war or civil unrest.

Well, we’ve pretty much hit the trifecta in 2008, and it’s an election year no less. We might just be staring at the best opportunity in generations to overhaul our cockamamie health care system.

That’s the conclusion of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Chair of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, whose editorial on the subject appeared in last week’s Chicago Tribune.

Emanuel argues that people are desperately concerned about financial security, and to achieve that we must control health care costs. As for businesses, things have gotten so bad lately that that tens of thousands of them, big and small, will be wiped out if they can’t off most or all these costs, and soon.

And whether Republicans like it or not, a new era of interventionist government has arrived. In fact thanks to recent (and necessary) interventions by a Republican administration, you and I now own US banks. We own insurance companies. We own mortgage lenders like Fannie and Freddie, and we may soon own housing securities.

Now to be sure, even the most radical single-payer plans do not suggest that the US government should own health care in the same way. No one proposes that we employ physicians or that we own hospitals, drug stores and pharmaceutical companies, so let’s knock-off the scurrilous, fear-mongering rumors that comprehensive health care reform means socialized medicine.

In one day a few weeks ago, US politicians committed $700 billion to shore up the banking system. It would take about a third as much to overhaul the US health system so that it covers everyone while delivering a higher level of quality than it does now. The upfront spending would include IT platforms and quality measurement systems that position us to save hundreds of billions of dollars down the road while continuously and forever improving health system performance.

Has anyone proposed legislation that could do this? Actually, yes. The Healthy Americans Act (S. 334), also known as the Wyden-Bennett health care bill  has bipartisan support and is awaiting action by the Senate Finance Committee. It calls for more sweeping changes than the plans proposed by either candidate for president.



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