Archive for hospitals

The Perfect VA Secretary Replacement For Shinseki

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VA Veteran's Administration

Okay, there's a big job opening now in the Washington area -- a cabinet post. It's the position of running the Department of Veterans Affairs.

There's probably not a less desirable position right now as the scandals and systemic problems have blown wide open. There's trouble in this most important Veterans division and it's not going to be solved by the normal political appointment to someone who's been faithful to the president and gets tabbed onto the cabinet to fulfill a political favor.

This time it's different. Whoever takes this job is most likely going to fail. At best, he or she will be under such scrutiny that they'll be tested beyond most mortal breaking points.

Let's face it, the VA is on life support. Without a heart transplant, the patient will never recover.

So what's a president to do? Fortunately President Obama is getting a lot of suggestions. Here are the top five, according to a report from The Hill: (abridged)

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) A member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal who was forced to resign from his position as a top commander in Afghanistan [because he couldn't control his personal staff], Retired Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli who served in the Obama administration as the former vice chief for the Army, Retired Admiral Michael Mullen who chaired the Joint Chiefs of Staff in both the Bush and Obama administrations and finally, Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) who is the highest-ranking enlisted soldier to ever serve in Congress.

All of these folks are serious contenders to replace VA Secretary General Shinseki. And all of them are WRONG.

First off, the problems with the department are not military. They are organizational. They require a man or woman who can handle the demands of building a corporate structure from the ground up. The new leader doesn't need to know how to handle a weapon or understand the horrors of war. They need to understand a monetary bottom line and hospital administration. We saw what a stellar job General Shinseki did during his stint. He may have been a terrific military general and leader, but he didn't have a scintilla of skills in hospital administration. He was clueless as are the other military leaders on this list. So strike off McChrystal, Chiarelli and Mullen. Brave military personnel, sure. But knowing how to build a hospital's cost-effective flow chart, not so much.

That leaves Reed and Walz. Start with Reed. A lawyer, he might be able to see some of the issues but again, this isn't a legal problem, it's structural. And even more important, the control of the Senate is in the balance this year. No reason for another Democratic-held senate seat to be put in play. So Reed's out.

Finally that gives us Walz. He's a good guy, a military background capping out at sergeant. Hardly admiral or general, but again, rank isn't the issue here. This is a hospital and health care problem. When Walz wasn't in the army, he was teaching history. Good for him. And good for us. But not good for the job at hand.

So where should Obama turn? Why to the Republicans, of course. As this is a thankless job and there's really no one outside of the political realm with the skill set to handle it, there are two choices. One is grab a hospital administrator from a flourishing medical organization or... wait for it-- pick a sitting GOP senator. Even one not up for reelection this year. Put their seat into play to increase the chances for the Democrats to keep control over the Senate.

Here are a few names --Roy Blunt. Maybe take him out of the Senate and his state's Democratic Governor, Jay Nixon will appoint a Democrat there. Or how about a lady like Kelly Ayotte? Maybe this whole thing needs a woman's touch. And coming from New Hampshire, with a Democratic Governor, she could be replaced with a Democrat. Certainly John McCain and Lindsay Graham would be losing their shadow, but if it's for the good of the country they could never vote against her. The same could be said for Senator John Boozman from Arkansas or Mark Kirk from Illinois. Both their states have a Democratic governor.

Obama should see this opening as a legacy opportunity. He can save the back half of his second term if the Senate stays blue. The VA isn't going to be fixed over night, but with a Republican in the position of having to fix things, it's never going to work and yet the GOP won't be able to stymie any legit chances to make changes, even if it's going to cost money. Remember, 44 senate Republicans voted against increasing the VA's budget.  So this becomes a win-win for Democrats and more importantly, for our brave veterans.

Hopefully Obama and his advisers are listening.

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Damn, It's Tough To Be A Pregnant Woman In Tennessee

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Tennessee

Soon it's going to be a crime in Tennessee for a pregnant woman to take medications of any kind while pregnant.  In seeking to curb illicit use of drugs and alcohol by pregnant women, the Hog and Hominy State threw out the baby with the bathwater (pardon the pun) .

The bill will criminalize pregnant women from using all medications including those for nausea, flu, mental health, pain, anxiety, high blood pressure, heart rate, or even alcohol or drug dependency meds. Sound crazy? Not so much in the eyes of Governor Bill Haslam who just signed the bill into law.

The Tennessean:

Tennessee women who use drugs while pregnant can be criminally charged for harm done to their infants beginning July 1.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the legislation Tuesday after “extensive conversations with experts including substance abuse, mental health, health and law enforcement officials,” he wrote in a statement. “The intent of this bill is to give law enforcement and district attorneys a tool to address illicit drug use among pregnant women through treatment programs.”

The governor’s decision comes after a week of mounting nationwide opposition from civil and reproductive rights groups. They argued that criminalization would drive vulnerable women away from drug addiction treatment.

In targeting illicit drugs Governor Haslam cast the net openly and now all medications, even those written and monitored by licensed physicians could result in an expectant mother being fined or even doing time in jail. And forcing women into costly state-run drug rehabilitation programs may cause women to even avoid revealing their dependency problems to their obstetricians for fear they may get reported.

bite the bullet

So bite the bullet and suck in the pain, ladies of Tennessee. Your Republican-run state moves to the forefront of the anti-woman's movement with outrageous and outlandish laws. I guess the lesson in Tennessee is if you're a woman, don't get sick and go to a doctor when you're preggers, because there's nothing they can do for you other than say, tough it out.

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California Governor Signs New Abortion Bill

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Hooray

Finally, while so much of this country is consumed with making women's access to safe, legal abortions harder and harder to find, California leads the way -- again -- in allowing women to be responsible for their own bodies and their reproductive rights. Instead of moving backwards, the Golden State is moving forward. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law abortion provider legislation yesterday.

The gist of the legislation, as reported by Breitbart:

The bill, AB 154, passed both houses of the state legislature withstrong support from Planned Parenthood and pro-choice groups. Planned Parenthood stands to benefit most directly from the bill, as non-physician staff at its clinics would be able to obtain abortion licenses.

The bill permits licensed non-physicians to perform two kinds of abortion in the first trimester--by medication, and by aspiration, which requires the insertion of medical instruments into the uterus.

According to Fox Channel 5 in San Diego, 53% of California counties don't currently have access to certified abortion providers. That meant that a large number of women had the legal right to the procedure, but not the access. With the signing of the bill, a majority of Califorina women will now have a likelier chance of receiving this safe procedure and at a lower cost, easier access and with shorter wait times.

It comes down to this. Women have the legal right to their own bodies. Fair and reasonable access should never be the issue. That will be lessened now in California.

Want to see how important this decision is? Watch this:

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At long last, Republicans have a health care plan of their own!

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problem solved

go back start again back to drawing board

House Republicans have tried 40 times to repeal/defund the Affordable Care Act, despite knowing their efforts would go nowhere, despite knowing that the Senate would never pass it, and despite knowing that President Obama would veto it. Their priority was catering to their base instead of trying to pass laws that would benefit all Americans, help create jobs, improve education, and protect our civil rights.

And every time the GOP persists in their redundant, time-wasting stupidity, they're asked, "Okay, geniuses, what exactly will you replace Obamacare with?"

Their response? *Crickets.*

Now Heritage president and former South Carolina senator Jim DeMint has finally come up with the answer! Yes, at long last Republicans have a health care plan of their own to offer America!

He announced the Big New Idea at a town hall in Tampa, Florida: Uninsured Americans “will get better health care just going to the emergency room.”

smack forehead4

Of course! Brilliant! Why didn't we think of that?!

Oh wait, we did. Because that's what people without insurance have been forced to do for years.

Think Progress:

The so-called “free” care at emergency rooms is a result of The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act or (EMTALA), which requires hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid funding to treat patients for emergency medical conditions regardless of legal status or ability to pay. But EMTALA only applies to medical emergencies like heart attacks or serious injury. It does not offer any treatment for chronic conditions, leaving the millions of Americans with diabetes who need regular access to medication to stay alive, or asthma patients, or women diagnosed with breast cancer without access to care.

Studies also show that not all emergency room patients have equal outcomes. The uninsured who suffer “traumatic injuries, such as car crashes, falls and gunshot wounds, were almost twice as likely to die in the hospital as similarly injured patients with health insurance.”

GOP motto: If at first you don't succeed, fail, fail again.

back to drawing board2

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Can HIV Be Good For You?

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Amazing -- the disease that took so many from us may be the solution to keeping so many more with us.  Want to be amazed?  Watch this.

And the next time cuts for scientific research come up in Congress, send your representative this video.  It's because of progressive thinking and scientific experimentation that advancements will be made.

Keep education funding alive -- it will keep all of us alive too.

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Arizona may require hospitals to check citizenship

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First the lovely, Jan Brewer-led, welcoming, big tent state of Arizona came up with that thing we like to call the Papers Please law. You remember that one, it required local police to question the immigration status of anyone they thought maybe, sort of, possibly could be in the country illegally... but only if they stopped the brown not white person to enforce a different law.

Thankfully, a judge put an end to that little stunt.

But Arizona lawmakers were just warming up. The altered SB 1070 law was just the opening act, because as you'll see, there's a sequel:

The proposal ...by the Arizona Senate's judiciary committee would require hospitals to contact immigration authorities if a patient is an illegal immigrant.

Nothing says "get well" like cuffing you in your hospital sickbed.

get well soon Pictures, Images and Photos

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New Hospital Visitation Regulations for LGBT Families Go into Effect Tuesday

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Some good news to start the day here on the west coast (please follow the link for more info about the HEI, as well as resources for hospitals and LGBT patients):

On Tuesday, federal regulations regarding patients’ hospital visitation rights will go into effect.  These new regulations require all hospitals participating in Medicaid and Medicare programs – virtually every hospital in the country – to permit patients to designate visitors of their choosing and prohibit discrimination in visitation based on a number of factors, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

I wish every day could start on a positive note like this. And how sad is it that by "positive note" I mean treating all people equally?

H/t: Adam Bouska, Greg Ostravich

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