News Capsules (Summer
MSAs: A Real Patients' Bill of Rights
"The Senate and House have passed different versions of the so-called Patients' Bill of Rights which have yet to be resolved, but both versions involve more federal funding and more federal regulations. A real Patients' Bill of Rights would give us more choice and more competition, and would allow individuals to own our health insurance just as we own our automobile insurance.
"Only the House bill (H.R. 2563) contains a provision, which offers that kind of hope to reform our health care system. The Medical Savings Account (MSA) provision in the House bill (passed Aug. 2, 2001 by 236 to 194) is the approach that can simultaneously address the problems of high costs, increasing numbers of uninsured, and prescription drugs. MSAs will also solve the problems of access, affordability and portability...
"MSAs solve the problem of third-party payments by restoring the relationship between buyer and seller (patient and provider) so that the patients can check prices and make their own decisions about whether and whom to pay. When people are allowed to keep the money they don't spend on health care, they can be counted on to keep costs down.
"MSAs will end the current discrimination in the U.S. tax code that permits big businesses to deduct all the money they spend for their employees' health insurance (including 'gold-plated' policies for top executives), while individual workers are denied that same tax advantage.
"Tell your Member of Congress to make sure that the MSA provision passed by the House is included in the final bill, giving patients a real Bill of Rights."
(Phyllis Schlafly, The Phyllis Schlafly Report, February 2002, Vol. 35, No. 7, p. 3, http://www.eagleforum.org.)
President George W. Bush on Patient Empowerment
In his speech before the Medical College of Wisconsin, President Bush disclosed a vision for medical care different from that of the previous administration:
"The solution to the problems of managed care is to empower individuals rather than large, impersonal bureaucracies. Bush proposes to empower people by (1) creating health savings accounts, (2) encouraging individuals to purchase private insurance and (3) creating new options for enrollees in government health programs."
Pres. Bush reportedly would ease restrictions on tax free MSAs: He would lower the required family deductible (from $3,000 to $2,000) and allow all employers to offer MSAs rather than limiting them to firms with 50 or fewer employees.
"The president proposes a refundable tax credit, under which all families up to a certain income level would receive the same tax break if they purchase health insurance.
"Government tax subsidies for employer-provided insurance currently total $141 billion a year. Yet people who purchase their own insurance get virtually no tax relief. "Bush wants to encourage people to voluntarily obtain private insurance. But his proposals also open the door to something desperately needed: personal and portable insurance. Individually-owned health insurance is the only permanent solution to the portability problem inherent in an employer-based health care system."
(John C. Goodman, "Two Cheers for Bush Health Plan," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 389, February 19, 2002)
Some States Removing Health Insurance Coverage Mandates
"Year after year, in all 50 states, legislators have added new insurance requirements covering everything from acupuncture to well-child care. The proliferation of these mandated items of health coverage has driven up premium costs to the point where they have forced many Americans to forgo coverage.
"Last year Arkansas and North Dakota passed mandate relief laws letting insurers offer no-frills coverage at a more affordable price. Now 12 more states are considering relief from the mandates.
"Otherwise, large multi-state employers and people on Medicaid and Medicare are often exempted from the mandates --- leaving about 25 percent of people to bear 100 percent of their extra costs, usually small-business owners and individuals who must purchase their own coverage.
Predictably, "almost two million Americans lost their insurance coverage last year --- the largest increase in the number of uninsured in almost a decade.
"...Mandates have changed insurance from risk protection to prepaid health care."
(Betsy McCaughey, "States Look to Cut Red Tape to Ease Crisis of Uninsured," Investors' Business Daily, March 15, 2002)
United Nations Plotting Global (Income)
"U.N. bureaucrats still believe big government is a magic elixir, whatever the ill. They're peddling the same snake oil to the Third World, but their prescription --- more government handouts --- is a recipe for failure. And they want the United States to pick up most of the tab.
"Consider the recommendations of a panel the U.N. secretary-general appointed to develop proposals for the Mexico conference. The panel, which included former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, called for:
"An International Tax Organization. If you think our tax code is a mess --- and it is --- wait until the same international bureaucrats who rail against 'harmful competition' from low-tax nations get their hands on it. Many of these people make the Internal Revenue Service seem like the taxpayer's bestfriend.
"Global taxes. The United Nations wants the power to levy worldwide taxes, and the panel identifies currency taxes and energy taxes as the most likely targets. Such taxes are designed to do one thing: Redistribute income from developed nations to the Third World. Not surprisingly, they would hit U.S. taxpayers the hardest.
"Tax harmonization. The United Nations wants 'information exchange,' a form of tax harmonization that would let high-tax nations impose their tax laws on income earned in America. This scheme is supported by an unholy alliance of European welfare states and corrupt Third World regimes.
"Emigrant taxes. Last, but not least, the U.N. panel argues that people should be tax slaves to their country of birth. For example, if a computer programmer from the Third World comes to Silicon Valley, the Third World country, rather than America, would have the primary right to tax his income.
"These proposals may sound too ridiculous to be true, but the evidence can be found on the U.N. Web site (links to its report can be found at www.freedomandpros perity.org).
"To make matters worse, it appears the United Nations is moving to adopt these radical recommendations. U.N. officials recently released preliminary language they hope will be in the final report. They promised to 'give careful consideration to the results of the study requested by the secretary-general on possible innovative sources of multilateral finance.'
"Translation: They will expect the U.S. to shoulder the burden. For-tunately, Pres. Bush has rejected this scheme --- at least for now."
(Daniel Mitchell, The Washington Times, February
Jonas Savimbi, RIP
"Dr. Jonas Mahleiro Savimbi, age 67, Angolan patriot, African nationalist, Christian leader and founder and president of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) was murdered by government forces in Moxico, Angola, 480 miles southeast of Luanda.
"It is no small coincidence that Savimbi was killed by Dos Santos forces only days prior to his scheduled visit with President George Bush on Tuesday, Feb. 26, at the White House. It has always been the strategy of the Marxist regime in Luanda to totally consolidate power by systematically exterminating those it could not co-opt.
"In Angola, freedom of worship, association, speech and all the freedoms we hold dear have been denied by the unelected regime of Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. More than 1 million people have been killed in fighting since the resumption of war in November 1992 and 4 million people have been displaced.
"Despite the fact that Angolan oil output is the largest in all of sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of Nigeria, its people are among the poorest in the world.
"In Moxico, where Savimbi was murdered, the government has employed exfoliants and chemical and biological agents to destroy the food supply and 'depopulate' the area, resulting in the displacement and death of some 150,000 people. Savimbi's murder was in coordination with government attempts to stop Angolans from fleeing into Zambia.
"Savimbi was the leader of the only organized opposition to the totalitarian rule in Luanda. He sacrificed his life for more than 40 years in pursuit of liberty and self-determination for his people. He had a following in Angola up until his death because he personified hope for the most marginalized and downtrodden segment of Angolan society, the indigenous non-assimilated African people.
"The son of an evangelical pastor and railway stationmaster, he relied on his Christian faith for strength, courage and wisdom to wage a lifelong struggle for the freedom of the Angolan people.
"Africa has lost one of its best Christian leaders and America has lost one of its most faithful Cold War allies."
(Brad Phillips and Howard Phillips, "Angolan Christian Rebel Leader Assassinated," NewsMax.com, February 26, 2002)
Indeed, the loss of Dr. Savimbi is a great loss to the cause of freedom in the world in general and Africa in particular.-MAF
Pediatrics Group Backs Gay Adoption
"The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed homosexual adoption, saying gay couples can provide the loving, stable and emotionally healthy family life that children need.
"The new policy focuses specifically on gaining legally protected parental rights for gay 'co-parents' whose partners have children, but it also could apply to gay couples who want to adopt a child together, said Dr. Joseph Hagan Jr., chairman of the committee that wrote the policy.
"Citing estimates suggesting that as many as 9 million U.S. children have at least one gay parent, the academy urged its 55,000 members to take an active role in supporting measures that allow homosexual adoption.
"An academy report, based on related re-search, says 'there's no existing data to support the widely held belief that there are negative outcomes' for children raised by gay parents, Hagan said.
" 'Denying legal parent status through adoption...prevents these children from enjoying the psychologic and legal security that comes from having two willing, capable and loving parents,' the policy says.
"Critics say the nation's largest pediatricians group relied on flawed data and is meddling in a political issue.
" 'It's a group of pro-homosexual people...who want to further tear down the one-man, one-woman relationship in America,' said the Rev. Louis Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coali-tion, a Christian lobbying group. He called the policy irresponsible and 'a disservice to medicine.' "
(Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press, February 4, 2002)
The UN and Child (Sexual) Abuse
"At a confidential forum, the U.S. and the international community castigated the U.N. Refugee Agency for the sex scandal surrounding the alleged mass abuse of West African refugee children by aid workers and 'peacekeepers,' according to senior diplomats.
"...The U.S. delegation told a closed-door session of the U.N.: 'These allegations of abuse by the very people entrusted with care of refugee people are deeply distressing and utterly appalling to all of us...' "
A scandal is underway about how U.N. aid agencies have been linked to abuse of youngsters with Save the Children of the United Kingdom and sexual exploitation of children in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea.
"At the end of a 40-day mission in late October and November, the experts returned with alarming allegations of widespread sexual abuse by many of its aid workers locally employed by more than 40 agencies, including U.N. 'peacekeeping' forces, U.N. relief agencies, and national and international humanitarian non-governmental organizations.
" 'The fact that UNHCR knew about the contents of the report for some time without informing the members of the Executive Committee, raises some rather tough questions,' Norway's Ambassador Sverr Bergh Johansen told delegates.
"It was only after the British Broadcasting Corp. publicized contents of the survey report on Feb. 26 that UNHCR revealed some of the contents of the still classified study...
"Despite calls by governments and NGOs to provide them on a confidential basis with the names of the 67 individuals alleged to have taken part, the agency has declined, citing 'legal concerns and fairness...' "
("U.N. Slammed for Refugee Sex Scandal," NewsMax.com Wires, March 8, 2002)
NewsMax Now Leading Conservative News Source in America
"NewsMax Media, Inc. --- which publishes NewsMax.com, one of the fastest-growing sites on the Web, as well as NewsMax magazine --- has become the leading conservative news source in America.
"NewsMax.com receives more than 8 million cumulative monthly visitors to its site making more than 30 million page impressions. NewsMax magazine has a paid readership of over 240,000 monthly readers.
" 'In three short years, NewsMax has come from nowhere to become the #1 read offline/online source for news for Americans seeking an alternative to the liberal press,' said Christopher Ruddy, president of NewsMax Media.
"NewsMax Media's reach has now surpassed many conservative outlets that were operating well before NewsMax launched in September 1998, including National Review, Weekly Standard, the American Spectator, WorldNetDaily and several other sites.
"Nielsen reported this fall that in its News/Newspaper category, NewsMax.com was ranked #11 for all U.S. Web sites, just behind outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Associated Press.
" 'It is a remarkable achievement...' said
Lord William Rees-Mogg, chairman of NewsMax Media."
Assisted Reproduction Carries Higher Risks for Birth Defects
"Babies born through assisted reproduction may have a nearly 1 in 10 risk of major birth defects - twice the risk among babies born naturally...
"Researchers at the Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia in Perth compared the rate of major defects among 301 infants born after two procedures --- in vitro fertilization (IVF) and a variant procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) --- compared to 4,000 babies conceived naturally.
"By the age of 1 year, 8.6% of children in the ICSI group and 9% in the IVF group had at least one major birth defect diagnosed, compared with 4.2 percent of children conceived naturally.
"After accounting for several factors that could have influenced the risk of birth defects, such as the mother's age and the baby's sex, the re-searchers found that children conceived through ICSI and IVF were twice as likely to have one or more birth defects...
"The increased risk of birth defects may be due to the underlying cause of infertility, drugs taken to encourage ovulation...and/or some aspect of the techniques themselves."
(Scott Gottlieb, "Assisted reproduction increases risk of birth
defects, study says," British Medical Journal, March 16, 2002)
Expected Tobacco Windfall Falls Short
"According to a new study from the Council of State Governments, falling cigarette consumption will reduce state revenues from the tobacco settlement by 20 percent, or $14 billion through 2010, from initial projections...
"In theory, the principal purpose of the settlement money was to fund smoking cessation and prevention programs. But a General Accounting Office report last year found that only 7 percent of settlement funds were used for this purpose. The rest went for general government spending.
"Since ancient times, governments have tried to control the consumption of products considered unnecessary or extravagant. They enacted 'sumptuary' laws that primarily restricted food and dress.
"Sumptuary laws were justified by the need to keep the lower classes from wasting their money, but they also helped preserve class distinctions.
"The Puritans first used differential taxation of commodities for sumptuary purposes. A 1676 law in Connecticut appears to be the first that taxed luxuries at a higher rate primarily to reduce consumption, rather than for revenue.
"Today, some want heavy taxes on caffeine, guns and even junk food to discourage their use. But many others just want the money.
"The states supported repeal of Prohibition in large part because they wanted the revenue from taxing legal alcohol consumption.
"Many states are now considering steep increases in tobacco taxes to close budget gaps. However, high rates encourage smuggling and reduce consumption, causing revenue to fall. Eventually, some may actually cut their tax rates to raise revenue, as some European countries have already done."
(Bruce Bartlett, National Center for Policy Analysis, March 13, 2002)
Growing Numbers of Physicians Refusing to Accept New Medicare Patients
"For years, doctors have grumbled about Medicare's complex regulations and reimbursements. But now many are simply refusing to take new patients who are on Medicare --- and the trend is spreading.
"Medicare cut payments to doctors by 5.4 percent this year --- and doctors say payments no longer cover the costs of caring for the elderly. The government estimates that under current law, the fees paid for each medical service will be reduced in each of the next three years --- for a total decrease of 17 percent from 2002 to 2005.
"The American Academy of Family Physicians says that 17 percent of family doctors are refusing new Medicare patients.
"Doctors explain that the cuts come at the same time their expenses are climbing - and that elderly patients require a lot of time and attention.
"Spending for doctors' services accounted for nearly $41 billion of last year's total $238 billion Medicare budget.
"Health policy experts predict the cuts will make it more difficult for elderly patients to find doctors - even as the population ages. Medicare covers 40 million people and the number of beneficiaries is expected to double by 2030.
"Other health care providers like hospitals, nursing homes and health maintenance organizations are also demanding more money.
"Although Medicare can barely support all the benefits promised under current law, some Capitol Hill politicians are seriously considering adding new benefits --- such as coverage of prescription drug costs for the elderly."
(Robert Pear, "Many Doctors Shun Patients With Medicare," New York Times, March 17, 2002)
National Service --- "Compassion Fascism"
"In his State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush proposed the formation of a USA Freedom Corps, calling for every American 'to commit at least two years --- 4,000 hours over the rest of your lifetime --- to the service of your neighbors and your nation.'
"This will require 80 hours per year for every adult American. On Jan. 29, 2002, at another function, Bush further ex-plained the concept and gave a pitch for the 'volunteer' program that will require $560 million from taxpayers by 2003...
"It is evident that National Service (NS) is bureaucratic boondoggle. But it is more perverse than that. When National Service (or Community Service, as we shall see) is directed by the State, it easily becomes perverted into compulsory service, regardless of the purported good intentions behind it.
"And if it is compulsory, then it's not freely exercised or given charitably, but required --- in other words, obligatory. And if it is obligatory, then it cannot be a USA Freedom Corps but is instead an alien form of compulsory fascism. It is not American, or voluntary, or anything remotely associated with our legacy of freedom.
"In its more euphemistic conception, Community Service (CS), or compassion fascism, is already sprouting in many communities, even in private schools. Most independent (private) schools where I live already require compulsory CS for graduation from high school. Depending on the school, students must complete anywhere from 75 to 300 hours of school-based CS...
"National Service and compulsory Community Service have their roots in authoritarianism and collectivism --- e.g., the Total State of Benito Mussolini (compassion fascism), the Soviet Communism of Lenin and Stalin, Nazi Germany (Hitler Youth), the Little Red Book of Mao-Tse-Tung (the Red Guards), and in my native Cuba, the Young Pioneers of dictator Fidel Castro.
"First, NS is about forcing citizens to work for the economic benefit of the State. Likewise, CS is about teaching the young to conform in society --- for the same ultimate benefit of the State.
"Second, when NS and CS are obligatory, the work of citizens is not freely given. It is not charity. It is not even altruism. It is obligatory, and thus deprived of genuine good faith and voluntarism.
"Third, a country that already has an abundance of freely giving volunteers (over 90 million citizens) for humanitarian and other projects and which donates billions of dollars a year to philanthropy does not need to force its citizens to 'volunteer' in NS or its children mandated to undertake CS...
"It's not by chance that Karl Marx's eighth plank of the Communist Manifesto promulgates 'equal liability of all to labor,' and the 10th plank, the establishment of industrial armies and the combination of education with labor for industrial production...
"Certainly National Service was not what our Founding Fathers intended for a free people endowed by their Creator with the precious Natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...
"President Bush should discard this authoritarian notion, this collectivist idea, and instead promote true, genuine charitable acts of individual philanthropy, based at the local level and not micro-managed by Washington.
"As Thomas Jefferson said, 'When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the centre of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.' "
(Miguel A. Faria Jr., M.D., "National Service --- 'Compassion Fascism' by Any Other Name," NewsMax.com, February 22, 2002)
Defining Conservatism Downward
" 'Defining Conser-vatism Downward' accurately describes the state of conservatism today.
"Once upon a time, conservatives stood for limited government, the rollback of the welfare state, strict construction of the Constitution, and traditional morality. Today they merely want their own people to run big government.
"They (conservatives) used to oppose needless military intervention abroad; today they equate militarism with patriotism.
"They used to demand that the U.S. Department of Education be abolished; today they want to expand it. They used to denounce Franklin Roosevelt; today they venerate him.
"Constitutional government? Conservatives have simply dropped the subject. They can live with the status quo, which is not conservatism's legacy but liberalism's. Yesterday's heresy has become today's orthodoxy...
"Former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan has observed, 'The principles conservatives once upheld have been defeated politically, so conservatism has abandoned them, adopting instead the old liberal positions and calling them conservative.' "
(Joe Sobran, www.sobran.com/columns/02013.htm)
AAPS to File Lawsuit to Stop "Privacy" Rules
"The federal Depart-ment of Health and Human Services apparently has bought itself another lawsuit over this anti-privacy approach.
"The feds are already on the wrong end of a legal action filed by the AAPS over the 2,000-plus pages of 'privacy' regulations, which NewsMax.com has determined are actually anti-privacy in their ultimate effect. Now the doctors are preparing a new lawsuit over the additional '186 pages of mud,' as AAPS Counsel Kathryn Serkes defined the rules recently added.
"That additional material gives doctors a green light to reveal confidential and personal medical information about the patient.
" 'We were hoping against all odds that the revisions would alleviate some of the problems,' Serkes told NewsMax. 'But the issues raised in the lawsuit aren't about a problem spot here and there. They are about the big one: constitutionality.'
"Serkes noted that AAPS has problems with other parts of the voluminous regulations as well.
" 'Now that we have seen how the privacy provisions have been bungled,' she said, 'we intend to file another lawsuit about other regulations from the same law.'
"The new lawsuit, she promised, 'will try to stop the government from dictating the information technology for a big chunk of business in the U.S.; the medical profession."
(Wes Vernon, NewsMax.com, March 27, 2002)
Youths Who Watch More Television More Prone to Violence
"A new study linking increased aggressive behavior to adolescent television watching is adding weight to recommendations that parents strictly limit how much time young people spend in front of the tube.
" 'The evidence has gotten to the point where it's overwhelming,' said Jeffrey G. Johnson of Columbia University, lead author of a study that found watching more than one hour of TV daily is followed by increases in the rate of assaults, fights, robberies and other aggressive acts in later years.
"L. Rowell Huesmann of the University of Michigan said he was impressed by Johnson's findings, which expand on earlier studies.
" 'Children who grow up watching more TV violence are at increased risk for aggressive and violent behavior in young adulthood,' Huesmann said.
"Johnson's research team studied more than 700 people for 17 years.
"The increase in aggressive behavior with more TV watched held true both for people who had previous violent incidents and for those who had not shown earlier aggression. That means the findings are not merely the result of people already prone to violence being more avid viewers.
" 'Our findings suggest that, at least during early adolescence, res-ponsible parents should avoid permitting their children to watch more than one hour of television a day,' said Johnson, who is also affiliated with the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
"While other studies have linked watching violent television to later aggressive behavior, Johnson said this is the first to investigate the total amount of time individuals spent watching and to follow those people over many years.
" 'I was surprised to see a five-fold increase in aggressive behavior from less than one hour to three or more hours,' Johnson said in a telephone interview. 'I found that quite remarkable.'
"The study appears in Science, March 29, 2002."
(Randolph E. Schmid, Associated Press, March
(See also http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/3/11/165310.shtml)
Bush Appoints Top Health Officials
President Bush picked a trauma surgeon to be the nation's Surgeon General on March 26, 2002 'after more than a year of searching. He also chose an Algerian-born radiologist to run the government's premier medical research facility.'
"Bush nominated Dr. Richard Carmona, the Arizona surgeon and SWAT team cop, as Surgeon General and Johns Hopkins University medical school administrator Elias Zerhouni to direct the National Institutes of Health.
" 'These are distinguished physicians who have worked tirelessly to save lives and to improve lives,' Bush said
"The president made clear that he expects Zerhouni, who will manage more than $20 billion in medical research grants, to hew to White House opposition to government-sponsored studies on new embryonic stem cells and cloning of human tissue.
" 'Dr. Zerhouni shares my view that human life is precious and should not be exploited or destroyed for the benefits of others,' Bush said.
"Zerhouni, 50, emigrated to the United States from Algeria 27 years ago with his medical degree, 'Little money, no family and no friends.' "
(Sandra Sobieraj, Associated Press, March 26, 2002)
This edition of News Capsules was compiled by Miguel A. Faria, Jr.,
M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel of the AAPS. It appeared
in the Medical Sentinel 2002;7(2):37-42. Copyright©2002 Association
of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).