5 Wild Healthcare Stories Happening Right Now


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In my journal of “healthcare is going to hell in a handbasket” this week, I’ve got a few items that will either make you laugh or cry. Hopefully, after that, you’ll mobilize yourself to fight for equity in health care and for penalizing the crooks. Here are five absurdities in healthcare that you won’t want to miss:

1. Severe Memory Loss. That’s the explanation John Reynolds, former CEO (1997 to 2006) of the illustrious Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, NY, gave in his court appearance. He pleaded guilty to a $300K kickback scheme involving two hospital vendors and a British healthcare organization. Will “severe memory loss” be the avant garde explanation for corruption?  You have to wonder. As the New York Daily News reported, he’ll probably serve no more than 27 to 33 months, according to Federal guidelines.

According to Crains NY Business, the case was puzzling: Reynolds was one of New York City’s top-paid hospital CEOs. In his final year at the Hospital for Special Surgery, his salary was $1.3 million. When he retired, he got $1.4 million in severance.

2. “Choose Life” license plates. I didn’t know much about these until Felice Freyer, from the Providence Journal, Providence, R.I., tweeted earlier this month that the Rhode Island Legislature had authorized “Choose Life” vanity license plates. Here’s one from Texas.

It turns out, that the highly regarded Guttmacher Institute provides a nice overview of these license plates, noting that as of July 2013, 28 states have them. In what I consider a cruel irony, Guttmacher reports: “In some cases, money generated from their sale directly supports the activities of antichoice organizations or crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which often provide biased and medically inaccurate counseling to women seeking a pregnancy test or counseling with regard to an unintended pregnancy.” Think about it: is this constitutional or an acceptable use of state involvement? Is there some murky mix of church and state, endorsement of a political agenda? Reproductive rights groups have challenged the proliferation of these plates in some states, and successfully.

You know what I’d like to see: A “Choose Choice” vanity license plate. But I don’t have a car, and honestly, I don’t want to die because of some anti-nut. Note: since publishing this, Marilyn Mann points out in the comments below that opposing licensing plates have been approved in a handful of states. In addition, Providence Journal’s Felice J. Freyer reports that Governor Lincoln Chafee has vetoed the “Choose Life” license plates. 

3. More abortion regulation insanity (when you thought you heard it all). Here’s a new spin on state abortion-laws that are unconstitutional and outrageous. In Kansas, if you work in an abortion clinic, you cannot chaperone your kid’s class on a school trip, involve yourself in purchase of healthcare books, or in any way represent the School Board. You are drek and better stay away from school kids. The ACLU is fighting this as unconstitutional, along with the numerous other abortion-restrictive laws in Kansas. Carol Joffee does a good job here describing this section of Kansas abortion law.

4. “Obesity stigma du jour” – that’s what @stevesilberman calls this decision by the National Boy Scouts to ban obese Boy Scouts from its annual Boy Scout Jamboree.

Gee, America is the land of excess. I sure wish we’d go after corporate America more for the excesses than to take it out on those low on the food chain. How many more “blame the victim” for excesses are we going to have to see? And. as for the Boy Scouts, how many more fiascoes are they going to be involved in? Add this one to the Gay Boy Scout debacle and the organization could soon be history.

I’ll pass on the macaroons for now.

5. Looking forward to the health exchanges? Think again. This one makes me sad. This just in from today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Large insurers in Missouri are opting out of health exchanges. What anybody who wants decent insurance does NOT want are health plans with absolutely zip experience in insuring large populations.

Plus earlier this year, Trudy Lieberman reported that the model health exchange in Connecticut was deemed unaffordable. Kind of makes me cringe. This is the tip of the iceberg. I am hoping it’s growing pains as Lieberman calls it. The Accountable Care Act was looking like the next big advance after Medicare. But lots of powers are out to sabotage it. Vigilance, my friends!

Do you have an absurd story about U.S. healthcare to tell? Tell me your story. You can send me an email to “patientpov” at gmail dot com. I’ll be sure to credit you.


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