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Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for December, 2010

A POTPOURRI OF ITEMS LEFT OVER FROM 2010.

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

The Christmas/Hanukah celebrations are for family and friends and every statement of one’s religious beliefs. It is a time for reflection and peace. Therefore, I decided to leave the cannon balls for 2011. Nevertheless, so many things occurred since my last postings that I decided to take a few shots before the new year.

1. TURNCOATS ON START.

In the lame duck session, I want to draw attention to 13 Republican U.S. senators who voted with the Democrats on a key issue. I should remind those up for re-election of the possibility of primary challenges to their re-nomination.

The START treaty concedes a permanent edge in nuclear weaponry to Russia. While the treaty provides for equal and reduced stockpiles of strategic warheads, it did nothing to address the vast stockpiles of tactical nuclear warheads held by the Russians. They have 10,000 of these battlefield nuclear weapons piled up, much of them in Europe, while we have only a few hundred.

Also, START’s preamble blocks the U.S. from developing missile defenses, now especially important in light of North Korea’s and Iran’s expanding capacities.

Two senators, in particular, deserve to have primary challengers take them on in 2012 & 2014. Tennessee’s Bob Corker and Mississippi’s Thad Cochran. Corker and Cochran face re-election in 2012 and 2014 respectively. They should both be challenged for the nomination by men who put our need for national security above appeasing the Russians.

Bob Corker sits on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee along with Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. Thy are both on the Republican minority on the committee, led by Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking GOP member on the panel. All three voted for START.

Unfortunately, Isakson is not up for re-election until 2016. When he does come up for re-election, we hope that the citizens of Georgia’s Republican party hold him to account.

Lamar Alexander, also of Tennessee, backed START and faces re-election in 2014.

So who all sold out? Which Republicans vote for this Treaty? Well, here are the Republican turncoats:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Bob Bennett (R-UT)
Scott Brown (R-MA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

Should Republican Senators Voting for START Ratification be Punished by The Voters?

There is little point in focusing any animosity against those Republican senators who are retiring from the Senate this year. However, what if anything can be done about the remaining Republican senators who voted for the Treaty. These Senators, especially, should be made to face a primary opponent in their bid for a new Senate term in 2012/2014:

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Scott Brown (R-MA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Olympia Snowe (R-ME)

Five of these should be vigorously opposed in their states by the TEA Party and by Republican conservatives. I urge conservative Republican activists in Tennessee, Indiana, Mississippi and Maine to find strong opponents to run against Bob Corker, Richard Lugar, Olympia Snowe, and Thad Cochran respectively.

In particular, Richard Lugar must be defeated. In the Senate since 1977, now in his sixth Senate term, he’ll be 80 years old in 2012. Enough already! The people spoke on November 2nd. It’s too bad everybody hasn’t listened. But we, the voting public have. Keep a close eye on all of these politicians, keep a fire under them, and vote out those who are turncoats.

2.DEATH PANELS

End of life planning touched off a political storm over so-called “Death Panels.” While this proposal was part of the House of Representatives Bill, it was dropped in the Senate bill, which became essentially the final version of ObamaCare. But now the Obama administration looks to achieve the same goal by regulation starting January 1, 2011. Under the new policy outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which might include advanced directives to avoid aggressive life-sustaining treatment. Those in Congress who support this new regulation are pleased by have kept it quiet because they are afraid of lighting a fire of revived opposition.

The final ObamaCare legislation authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations or so-called wellness visits. This new regulation has been injected into this benefit indicates that Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning” to discuss end-of-life treatment as part of the annual visit.

The new law does not mention advance care planning but the Obama administration is now able to achieve its policy goal through the regulation-writing process, a strategy that could become more prevalent in the next two years as the president deals with the strengthend Republican opposition in Congress. This new regulation was included in a huge Medicare regulations setting setting payment rates for thousands of services including arthroscopy, mastectomy, and x-rays.

The rule was issued by Dr. Donald Berwick, interim administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. He is a cancer specialist who has long advocated end-of-life care. According to him, “Using unwanted procedures in terminal illness is a form of assault.” He has also said, “in economic terms, it is waste.” The new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, in the past has said, “Obama’s death panel would decide who was worthy of healthcare. This provision may start us down a treacherous path toward government encouraged euthanasia.”

Eternal vigilance is necessary. This Administration is willing to do almost anything to thwart the will of the people. This behind-the-scenes effort to get around both the people and the Congress is the modus operandi of the Obama regime. As expected, once the news was leaked, denials and half truths came from an Adminisration spokesperson. The Wall Street Journal in its report on this matter on 12/27 indicated that the White House was quick to distinguish the new regulation from the system envisioned originally in the healthcare reform legislation. White House spokesman Reid Cherlin is quoted as saying, “The only thing new here is a regulation allowing the discussions…to happen in the context of the new annual wellness visit created by the Affordable Care Act”( ObamaCare).

3. INTERQUAL

I suggest everyone read the article “Inpatient or Outpatient? The Battle to Control Costs.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, Sunday, December 26, 2010. www.philly.com). The article discusses the problems Abington Memorial Hospital (an excellent Philadelphia suburban Hospital) is  encountering in its emergency department regarding admission of patients for inpatient status or observation status. Payment to the hospital by insurance companies for inpatient status is about 2 to 3 times higher than for observation status. This is determined not by the physician but by InterQual.

InterQual was developed in the 1970s but has grown in influence and has been the primary tool that many insurers and hospitals use to determine if a patient qualifies for admission. For almost every ailment, InterQual has two categories: severity of illness (is the patient sick enough to warrant and mission?); and the intensity of service (is the hospital doing enough to warrant admission?). In other words, are you sick enough and is the hospital doing enough?InterQual is absurdly rigid. If the heart rate must exceed 100 beats a minute for inpatient admission, 99 beats are not enough.
This problem is not confined to Abington Hospital. This is a nation-wide problem. The bean counters are beginning to determine life-and-death issues. Welcome to the New Age of American Medical Care.

4. OVER THE COUNTER DRUGS

Because of an Obamacare provision taking effect on Jan. 1, Americans won’t any longer be able to use their flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

Under current rules, health consumers can use these pre-tax accounts to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines. But on 1/1/11, the 40 million Americans who use FSAs and HSAs won’t any longer be able to use their accounts to buy over the counter medicines like the following:

* Aspirin
* Antacids
* Laxatives
* Menstrual pain relievers
* Antihistamines
* Stimulants
* Anti-ulcer medicines
* Athlete’s foot cream
* Cough medicine
* Motion sickness medicine
* Anti-diarrheal medicine
* Decongestants
* Hemorrhoid cream
* Anti-flatulence medicine

This provision is just one of Obamacare’s 24 new or higher taxes that total almost $600 billion over this decade.

The tax increase will affect any family with an HSA or FSA. There is no medical insurance program that gives patients freedom of choice in health care that the Obama regime doesn’t want to destroy. Oh, yes, and I forgot Obama’s promise not to raise taxes on any family making less than $250,000/year.

5. A NEW FILM

However on the pleasant side of life, I recommend everyone see “THE KING’S SPEECH. It is superb. Don’t miss it.It’s a story about someone acting like a grown up, someone doing his job, someone taking on enormous responsibility. It’s about a time when someone could take on the mantle of leadership as a great and important challenge, someone who was willing to sacrifice his comfort for his country. Someone who was old-school, someone who wasn’t cool. Someone, unfortunately, who is an avis raris in our society, an avis raris in the western world today.

The World Cup Follies

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

With a federal jury finding a terrorist not guilty of all but one charge, with a Somali teenager arrested for trying to blow up Americans at a Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, with the Wikileaks debacle, and with more and more to preoccupy the Attorney General of the United States, we thought Eric Holder would be holed up in his office for the next year. But, we were wrong.

Obama sent his Attorney General to Switzerland TO LOBBY FOR THE WORLD CUP! Apparently the most important job for the American Attorney General was to make sure we get a soccer tournament in 2022. Don’t you think we should all feel safe and secure in that knowledge? At least Obama didn’t go himself given his success at getting the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.

Oh, and by the way, another great accomplishment on the world stage by the Obama Administration. The World Cup was awarded to Qatar, one of the Arab Emirates.

The Wikileaks Follies and the New York Times

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

By now, almost everyone has heard about the Wikileaks Follies now playing all over cable TV and the newspapers (and of course, how poorly the Obama administration is dealing with it . . . that for another time). What I would like to point out here is my amusement at the temerity of the NEW YORK TIMES in its handling of the Wikileaks news.

This so-called “newspaper of record”  is so terribly left wing , biased and anti- American that their editors can’t even understand how stupid and outlandish they appear in their reporting. Please note the following:

“The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.” –– New York Times, on the Climategate emails, Nov. 20, 2009

“The articles published today and in coming days are based on thousands of United States embassy cables, the daily reports from the field intended for the eyes of senior policy makers in Washington. . . . The Times believes that the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match.” –– New York Times, on the WikiLeaks documents, Nov. 29, 2010.

The Political Follies Are Now Playing At The Lame Duck Theater

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

The political follies (the errors, the absurdities, and what appears to be the performance of a play without any rehearsals) are upon us even in the so-called “lame duck” status that the Congress is in.

Let’s start with “extending the Bush Tax Cuts.” This means keeping federal tax rates at their present levels––income tax, taxes on dividends, taxes on capital gains, etc.. If these are extended beyond 12/31/10, no one will be getting “extra money.” Everyone’s tax bill will be calculated at the 2010 rate. No financial bonanza for anyone.Taxpaying Americans will just fail to lose lots of money to our spendthrift government, which failure to extend the so-called Bush tax rates will do, since all tax rates on everyone will rise.

The Republicans wish to extend these tax rates for everyone, whatever their income, for at least 2-3 years since we’re still in a very ragged economy.

The Democrats, despite their recent electoral debacle, continue to play the class warfare card and wish to keep the tax rates the same for those with incomes of  $200-$250,000 per year, and raise them for those above this income level, most of whom are the job creators in the private sector.

Raising taxes on anyone during a recession, or a very slow recovery, is madness. It always worsens the economy and increases the unemployment rate. But Obama and his Congressional Democrat statist allies, who are still in power until 2011, are either too stupid to understand this or wish to see the economy destroyed. You decide which.


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