November 2nd, 2010

ct || looketh at my face

Medicare payments at risk... again...

AMA reminds lawmakers: Doc cuts are coming soon

By Mike Lillis - 11/01/10 11:00 AM ET


With all eyes on the politics of Tuesday's elections, the nation's largest doctors lobby is reminding Congress of an imminent policy battle: how to prevent a looming Medicare cut for the country's physicians.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is warning of "a catastrophe" if lawmakers don't step in to block the 23 percent cut, which is scheduled to take effect Dec. 1, and another 6.5 percent cut that's due a month later.

"If physicians cannot keep their doors open because Medicare now only pays about half the direct cost of running a practice, then we're going to lose access to care," AMA President Cecil B. Wilson said in an interview with Kaiser Health News. "It will be gut-wrenching for physicians to say, 'I can no longer continue to see new Medicare patients.' … But that's where we are, and if you're talking about a 30 percent cut if Congress does nothing by Jan. 1, this will be a catastrophe."

But fixing the so-called Sustainable Growth Formula (SGR) won't be easy. Delaying the cut until the start of 2012 would cost about $15 billion, Kaiser reports, citing an April estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, while a 10-year fix would require lawmakers to come up with $276 billion. 

The AMA, under pressure from anxious members, is urging Congress to provide a 13-month fix in the lame-duck session.

"Our strategy is to say to Congress, 'What we want from you is to stabilize Medicare payments to physicians for the next 13 months to get us through 2011,'" Wilson told Kaiser. "That will give us an opportunity working with the new Congress to develop a means of getting rid of the formula, putting in a formula or a payment mechanism that recognizes increased costs of care."

House lawmakers last year passed a bill that scrapped the SGR and erased the cuts dictated under the formula, but the measure wasn't offset by budget cuts or revenue increases elsewhere in the budget. Fiscal conservatives in the Senate killed a similar bill a few days later, leaving lawmakers to return to the perennial game of passing short-term updates instead.  



WaPo article is slightly longer.

This has come up yet again, and will come up in the future. Medicare payments to physicians are already terrible-- I don't know if they're even across the board, but the last physician office I worked at received ~40% reimbursement for the cost of treatment, and placed 20% on the patient (the senior patient, who is generally on a fixed income, btw). Getting only 60% of the cost of treatment is difficult for doctors to run a business on anyway; having Medicare reimbursements cut still further will mean turning away patients if they wish to keep the office open.

Good luck, gurl!

Brazil elects Dilma Rousseff as first female president
Dilma Rousseff said she had been given the most important mission of her life

Dilma Rousseff has been elected president of Brazil to succeed Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, electoral officials have confirmed.

Ms Rousseff, 62, who has never before held elected office, becomes the country's first woman president.

She promised to "honour the trust" Brazilians had put in her and work to eliminate poverty.

Ms Rousseff was the preferred successor of President Lula, who is leaving after two terms with record popularity.

Thousands of supporters of the governing Workers' Party took to the streets across Brazil to celebrate her victory.

The Superior Electoral Court said that with almost all the votes counted, she had won 56% against 44% for her rival, Jose Serra of the Social Democratic Party.

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Dilma Rousseff: From fugitive guerrilla to Brazil's new president

(CNN) -- Dilma Rousseff, who was elected as Brazil's first female president on Sunday, once told reporters that as a typical Brazilian girl in the 1950s she dreamed of becoming a ballerina.

But as the 1960s saw the emergence of a brutal military regime in her country, she had to make some hard choices.

"I quickly discovered that the world had no place for debutantes," Rousseff told reporters.

The daughter of a well-educated Bulgarian emigre, Rousseff took piano lessons as a child and was educated in a French-speaking Catholic school.

But as a fighter for Brazil's left-wing guerrilla movement in 1969, she exchanged a wedding dress for fatigues and went underground, taking on names such as Luiza, Wanda and Estela to avoid the authorities.

With her trademark pixie-short hair style and thick glasses, she became one of most Brazil's most wanted fugitives, branded by some as a "subversive Joan of Arc."

Charged with subversion by the right-wing military government, she suffered through the disappearance and torture of her Marxist companions, some of whom died.

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Man, I'm young. And still, I was born before we could vote and I witnessed so many historic elections and so much change already... Brazil is complicated, I wish her the best =).

Stop the Execution of Sakineh Astiani.

The Islamic Republic Intends to Execute Sakineh Immediately

According to the news received by the International Committees against Execution and Stoning this evening, November 1st, the Islamic regime’s officials in Tehran have sent the order to implement Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani’s execution sentence to the office of sentence implementation at Tabriz prison. It has been said that they mean to execute Sakineh on Wednesday, November 3rd.

We have previously reported that the regime has stolen the murder files of Sakineh Mohammadi’s husband from the office of Houtan Kian and from the court of the city of Oskoo in order to make the necessary fabrications that would show Sakineh as being guilty. Sajjad and Houtan had warned about this eventuality many times. With the arrest of Sakineh’s lawyer and her son, and holding Sakineh herself incommunicado, on the one hand, and by tampering with the case files on the other, the Islamic Republic’s “human rights” entity has declared in a press release that “according to existing documents, Mrs. Ashtiani’s guilt is proven.” Indeed, [despite their best efforts,] the Islamic Republic has created a whole scenario against Sakineh’s execution.

We call on all concerned international organizations and people of the world to do all they can to prevent the killing of Sakineh. Sakineh, Sajjad, Houtan Kian and the two German journalists should be freed immediately and unconditionally.

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I realize today is election day in the US and people may be rather busy, but the suggestions above would take no more than a few minutes. If at least one life can be saved, it's worth it.

lost // jack

Berlusconi: Better to love women than gays

ROME — Premier Silvio Berlusconi dismissed calls Tuesday to resign over his involvement with an underage Moroccan runaway — and even created a new uproar by claiming it was better to love beautiful girls than gays.

His comments sparked outrage from gay rights groups and fueled new calls for him to step down.

Opposition politicians have charged that Berlusconi abused his office by calling Milan police in May when the then-17-year-old runaway nicknamed Ruby was detained for alleged theft. Newspapers have reported that Berlusconi told police that a local party official would take custody of the girl, who had visited Berlusconi's Milan villa on at least one occasion.

Even center-right commentators in Berlusconi's family-owned newspapers have criticized him for intervening in a possible criminal case. Berlusconi's now-estranged ally, Gianfranco Fini, said his antics had embarrassed the country.

But Berlusconi again defended his lifestyle and fondness for young women, telling a trade fair in Milan on Tuesday it was "better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay."

Gay rights group Arcigay demanded an apology for causing offense to both women and gays.

The premier's comments "represent a dangerous incitement to prejudice and helps legitimize discrimination, injustice and suffering," Arcigay president Paolo Pantane wrote in a letter to Berlusconi's minister for equal opportunity, Mara Carfagna.

In response, Carfagna defended Berlusconi's record on anti-discrimination measures and said he had just been joking.

"(He) absolutely never intended to offend women or homosexuals," she said.

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Donna and the Doctor

All Patriots 'Know' That Moses Wrote the Constitution

The subject of today's class is the Constitution, but the discussion keeps veering to various methods of sending Mexicans back where they came from.

Not surprising: Our instructor is Lester Pearce, Arizona Justice of the Peace and brother of Russell Pearce, author of that state's harshly anti-immigrant Senate Bill 1020 1070. Lester Pearce can't stop mentioning that Mexicans have begun leaving Arizona since the official persecution began. In fact, Pearce says, he wants to send some Americans to Mexico too. "I wrote a bill when I was in the legislature to give [the Gadsden Purchase] back to Mexico, because we had people in Tucson who were socialists." Mexico didn't want them, he says.

We are in the basement of Our Savior's Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Va. It is Saturday, October 23, ten days before the midterm elections. A group of 50 patriots has gathered for a seminar of "The Making of America," presented by the National Center for Constitutional Studies. NCCS, headquartered in Malta, Idaho, sends speakers across the country to reveal the truth that liberal elites have hidden about the American form of government. The seminar is sponsored by four local groups--a Constitution-oriented meetup in Purcellville, Va., the Loudoun Patriots Organization, the Virginia Conservative Party, and the Loudon County Republican Women's Club.

The atmosphere reminds of me of a church pancake supper. The 50 people attending are mostly at or near retirement age, and overwhelmingly white, though there is a young Asian-American woman in killer boots, and several fashionably dressed moms with their young children in tow. By and large, these seem like people who would make wonderful neighbors--civic-minded, polite, outgoing. The conversation at the tables, however, doesn't center around the pastor's last sermon but on which Democratic politician the speaker hates most ("Obama claims to be a constitutional scholar. He knows just enough to undermine it") and the viciousness of media bias against good candidates like Christine O'Donnell ("She'd be fine elsewhere, but in Delaware she's not going to win").

But what's striking is how much these people hunger to understand America and its Constitution. "I have a master's degree," one man said to me, "and nine-tenths of this information I never got in any formal education. That's not good when you live in a country that you don't understand." There's a palpable yearning for tools to understand and change the terrible mess we're in.

Given that curiosity, it's quite striking that the seminar, which begins at 8:30 a.m., takes until 1:30 to get to the actual Constitution.

That's because we have to learn the basic truth about the Constitution: God wrote it. It comes directly from the government instituted by Moses when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt. That system was re-instituted in England around 450 A.D. by the Anglo-Saxon rulers Hengist and Horsa. The Founding Fathers, led by Thomas Jefferson, copied the Constitution directly from the "ancient constitution" of the Anglo-Saxons.

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Yeah, I got done reading it and all I could manage was: o.0

  • foveaux

Meanwhile, in New Zealand

Out and proud
As the United States continues its wrangle over the ban on gays serving openly in the military, gay and lesbian personnel from the New Zealand Defence Force talk about their lives.

Major Brendan Wood's office is heavily laden with books and art - mainly war art with medical themes, but also a portrait of the Queen Mother and a Don't Mess With Texas poster signed by George Bush Sr.

Lucas, a miniature schnauzer, sleeps on a camouflage-covered cushion in the corner. His owner considers himself "profoundly gay".

As chief instructor of the joint services health school, Wood turns new recruits from army, navy and air force into "operationally deployable medics".

"My staff relate to me as their major, their boss. I'm not their gay major, or their gay boss," he says.

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Source: The Press /

Student guilty of attempted murder of MP Stephen Timms

A student has been found guilty of attempting to murder MP Stephen Timms because he voted for the Iraq war.

Roshonara Choudhry, 21, stabbed the Labour MP for East Ham twice in the stomach at a constituency surgery in Newham, east London, in May.

Choudhry, of Central Park Road, East Ham, was also convicted of two counts of possessing a knife.

Police sources said the young Muslim student had become radicalised, BBC correspondent Jane Peel said.

She was said to have watched online sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American Muslim cleric of Yemeni descent, our correspondent added.

Mr Awlaki has been linked to a series of attacks and plots across the world.

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Source: The Beeb

Not that I'm approving of her actions (stabbing is naughty no matter what the reason), but how is her religion of any significance to the story, BBC? Also, possessing kitchen knives is an offence now? I'd better be careful next time I go to Ikea - I'm needing a new set and would hate to get caught with them on the way home.

DADT: And, no one could have known...

Before we hear the breathless, inevitable, "No one could have known!" excuse, maybe we need to review? For the past year countless national gay organizations, and AMERICAblog Gay, has warned that if the Obama administration did not expend a little political capital and move on our civil rights legislation, then it would not happen period. First, Dan Savage from a recent CBS news article,
"F*** you, you pack of co-opting cowards," he wrote. "You can do a more than offer hope. You have the power to make it better. Right now." He said the White House should immediately suspend enforcement of DADT. The administration wants the repeal to occur legislatively, after reviewing a Pentagon study on the matter.
and then John's quote,
Prominent gay rights blogger John Aravosis of Americablog also took Jarrett to task for lifting Savage's "it gets better" slogan without results, calling it "distasteful."

"The President who repeatedly promised to be our 'fierce advocate' has been pretty much business as usual," he wrote. "He pays lip service to our civil rights, but doesn't seem terribly interested in spending any political capital to help make them a reality... When exactly is it going to get better, Valerie? 2017?"
What a shock, with heavy sarcasm intended, that the inside the beltway newspapers are now starting to publish the political realities of what Obama's lack of "Fierce Advocacy" will mean for our civil rights.
If, as expected, the House swings Republican and the GOP gains strength in the Senate, the chances of don't ask, don't tell being repealed in the next Congress are slim to none. Republican opposition to this year's House-passed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that could have lead to the repeal of DADT early next year is proof that a GOP-enhanced Congress spell's death to repeal.

Unless Senate Democrats make a last-ditch effort to push through repeal during the lame duck session, before the new Congress is seated in January, the legislative route appears doomed. Given the short time frame before adjournment and the heat such a tactic would generate, don't ask, don't tell is likely to remain the law of the land, at least for the next few years.

No one could have ever known? I would further extrapolate that the "Don't Ask Don't Give" campaign is justified by the realities warned about and we now face. If the Democratic Party wants our energy and financial support then they can't continue to use us, but then throw us under the bus like it is still 1993. The world continues to move forward on LGBT civil rights while our country remains mired in the past.

Source: AMERICAblog Gay
Gwen Stefani - Pretty in Pink

Is Obama Really a Big Loser?

Sixteen years ago tonight, I was in the newsroom of The New York Post, where I was the deputy editor, preparing the front-page wood (headline) for the next day’s paper. For the early edition, we went with the news that George Pataki had defeated Mario Cuomo in the race for the governorship of New York, but by ten o’clock it was clear that an even bigger story was unfolding on the national stage: the Republican party, led by the firebrand Newt Gingrich, was regaining control of Congress, delivering a stunning rebuke to President Bill Clinton.

After tossing around a few ideas, I settled on a simple one-word headline—”LOSERS”—imposed on a picture of the Clintons smiling. It was a cruel design that personalized the election result in a provocative way, but it was cruelly accurate. Although they weren’t on the ballot that night, the two-for-one Clintons, who two years previously had swept to power largely on the strength of their (comparative) youth, novelty, and inspiring rhetoric, were the biggest casualties by far, or so it seemed at the time. In the days that followed, many commentators wrote their obituary—only to see Team Clinton rebound and trounce Bob Dole in the 1996 election.
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Mods, this is a post-election analysis, not election coverage.