Archive for the ‘ Health Care ’ Category

Michele Bachmann: Let’s repeal clean air and clean water for our children | ThinkProgress

By Joe Romm on Jun 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Last night at the GOP debate in New Hampshire, Michele Bachmann R-MN said of the Environmental Protection Agency:What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills, but it’s the repeal bill that will get a job killing regulations. And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.

It may not be a big surprise that a tea party extremist like Bachmann wants to undo the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, exposing our children to countless toxic pollutants.

What is a little more surprising is that the video shows the other presidential contenders start nodding in agreement with this radical attack on public health… More

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Where is the sanity in repealing the EPA, an agency that is responsible for safe-guarding the water we drink and the air we breathe?

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After Voting To Slash Funding For The EPA, Rep. Barletta Now Outraged It’s Not Doing More In His District

Three months after voting to eliminate fundingfor the Environmental Protection Agency, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) now says he’s outragedthat the EPA isn’t doing more to protect the health of residents in his district. Barletta is insisting that the agency pay special attention to an area in Pittson, PA, after one resident alleged that a tunnel near a Superfund site gave him cancer. The EPA held an open house and information session to address the concerns of residents in the area, but said it did not plan to conduct further testing. This outraged Barletta, who called their decision “unacceptable”:

On Wednesday, Barletta sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson asking the agency to perform additional testing in the Carroll/Mill Street neighborhood.[…]“Frankly, this is unacceptable. The EPA’s own Web site indicates that one of the agency’s primary reasons for existence is to ensure that ‘all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work.’”[…]

“I was surprised to hear an EPA official basically tell the residents of the Carroll/Mill neighborhood that they would not conduct soil and water testing to find answers. It is absolutely the EPA’s job, and I’m going to make sure that job is done. The residents are scared, and they deserve answers and peace of mind.”

That’s an ironic position for Barletta, considering how often he’s tried to prevent the EPA from doing its job. In February, Barletta voted with the rest of the Republican-controlled House for an amendment that slashed funding for the EPA. Republicans were retaliating against the agency for its efforts to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), one of the authors of the amendment, said, “The era of EPA overstepping its authority by imposing over-burdensome and unnecessary regulations at the expense of American businesses is over.”

Barletta’s vote to gut funding for the EPA flew in the face of popular opinion in his own district. A survey by Public Policy Polling found that 70 percent of voters in Barletta’s 11th Congressional District opposed Barletta’s vote to block the EPA from setting limits for carbon dioxide pollution. Those opposed included 58 percent of independents and 53 percent of Republicans. Voters also opposed Barletta’s votes to “prevent the EPA from reducing arsenic, mercury and other toxic pollution from cement kilns, or from collecting any data about carbon and other pollutants.”

It’s pretty audacious to attack an agency for not doing enough mere months after attacking them for doing too much. Barletta should hope his constituents have short memories and forget his attempts to stop the EPA from upholding health standards that Republicans insisted were a “burden” to business.

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Congressman Barletta, as is characteristic of all Republicans, does not think before he commits to something that he eventually regrets.  Following the cutting of funding to an agency that affects the well-being of your constituents and then complaining that they are not doing anything is ‘poetic justice’ Congressman!

First Read – Fact Check: Ryan on the Ryan plan

What Ryan Paul won’t tell you could kill you…

Would Medicare continue to exist?

It’s true that anyone 55 and older would not be affected under Ryan’s plan, so a video depicting someone currently older than 55 being thrown off a cliff is misleading.

But Ryan claimed that Medicare would continue to exist. The more important question, however, is in what form?

When asked by one of the Morning Joe panelists, “For people who are 54 years of age or younger, when they’re 70 years of age, are they dealing and negotiating with an insurance company?”

“No,” Ryan responded.

“Or are they dealing with Medicare?”

“It’s Medicare.”

But as the Congressional Budget Office wrote in its analysis of Ryan’s plan:

“People who turn 65 in 2022 or later years and Disability Insurance beneficiaries who become eligible for Medicare in 2022 or later would not enroll in the current Medicare program but instead would be entitled to a premium support payment to help them purchase private health insurance.”

In other words, traditional Medicare would, in fact, be phased out for those 54 and younger. They would be significantly impacted. Lost in the back and forth of the exchange with Ryan was that in the same answer, he went on to outline just how much Medicare would change – albeit not explicitly.

Fracking Chemicals Cited in Congressional Report Stay Underground

report released Saturday confirmed details about what many already knew was happening: gas drillers have injected millions of gallons of fluids containing toxic or carcinogenic chemicals into the ground in recent years. The report, by congressional Democrats, lists 750 chemicals and compounds used by 14 oil and gas service companies from 2005 to 2009 to help extract natural gas from the ground in a process called hydraulic fracturing.

That list includes 29 chemicals that are either known or possible carcinogens or are regulated by the federal government because of other risks to human health. As we reported more than a year ago, most of the fluids now used in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” are left underground when drilling ends.

The report notes that while the fate of these fluids “is not entirely predictable,” in most cases, “the permanent underground injection of chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing is not regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.”

The amount of fluid that remains in a well varies depending on local geology. But in some states, including Texas and Pennsylvania, regulators do not know precisely how much of the fluid returns to the surface for each well. In many cases, particularly in the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast, more than three-quarters of the fluid is left underground.

In 2005, Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. That law allows the EPA to regulate the injection of hazardous fluids into underground wells, a practice widely used to dispose of drilling wastewater. As we wrote back in 2009:

If another industry proposed injecting chemicals — or even salt water — underground for disposal, the EPA would require it to conduct a geological study to make sure the ground could hold those fluids without leaking and to follow construction standards when building the well. In some cases the EPA would also establish a monitoring system to track what happened as the well aged.”

But the oil and gas industry lobbied to protect fracking from such regulation, arguing that most of the fluid remains underground only temporarily. Stephanie Meadows, then a senior policy analyst for the American Petroleum Institute, told us in 2009 that, “Hydraulic fracturing operations are something that are done from 24 hours to a couple of days versus a program where you are injecting products into the ground and they are intended to be sequestered for time into the future.”

When they approved the Safe Drinking Water Act exemption, lawmakers believed only about 30 percent of the fluids remained underground. Subsequent reports and interviews with drillers show the amount can reach 80 percent or higher.

The Democrats’ report, which provides the most comprehensive list of the chemicals used to frack natural gas wells, also highlights ongoing gaps in knowledge. It says drillers injected 94 million gallons of fluid — about 12 percent of the total amount used over the five years — containing at least one chemical deemed a trade secret.

“In most cases the companies stated that they did not have access to proprietary information about products they purchased ‘off the shelf’ from chemical suppliers,” the report says. “In these cases, the companies are injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot identify.”

Much is still unknown about what happens to that fluid when it’s left inside the well, or whether it threatens drinking water. The industry says that multiple layers of rock protect groundwater from the fluid, but opponents have said water and chemicals might be able to follow natural fissures through the rock. The EPA has recently embarked on a multiyear study to look at this question as well as whether any part of the fracking process poses a threat to drinking water.

A spokesman for the group Energy in Depth, which represents natural gas drillers, said the Democrats’ report was unconvincing that fracking represents a real risk to drinking water.  More

Fracking, and Ground Water Contamination

Inhofe Claims Fracking Has ‘Never’ Contaminated Water Supply One Day After Spill Contaminates Stream

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is perhaps Congress’ most reliable defender of dirty energy and evangelizer against the “hoax” of global warming. This morning, he took his message to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade’s radio show, where he extolled the virtues of hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas known widely as “fracking.” Fracking is a relatively new and untested technique, but Inhofe insisted that there’s nothing to worry about, as he claimed fracking has “never poisoned anyone” nor ever contaminated groundwater:

INHOFE: [There’s] never been one case — documented case — of groundwater contamination in the history of the thousands and thousands of hydraulic fracturing. […]

KILMEADE: Senator, has it ever poisoned anybody?

INHOFE: It’s never poisoned anyone.

Listen here:

While fracking has the potential to create vast new American energy supplies, Inhofe’s claim that it is completely without risk is either stunningly ignorant or intentionally dishonest. Just yesterday, a blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas well engaged in fracking spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemical-laced water, “contaminating a stream and forcing the evacuation of seven families who live nearby as crews struggled to stop the gusher,” the AP reported. Inhofe referenced the Pennsylvania spill in his interview, but said that it has “nothing to do with fracking” because it was a stream, not groundwater that was contaminated.

But fracking has contaminated groundwater. As a recent New York Times investigation confirmed, waste from fracking has contaminated groundwater and even drinking water with toxic and radioactive chemicals. The process relies on pumping toxic chemicals deep underground to break rock, and between 2005 and 2009, “hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals” have been pumped into wells. Large amounts of radioactive material have been found in water supplies near fracking sites, many Pennsylvanians have gotten sick, the tap water in homes near fracking sites have caught on fire, and a home in Celveland, Ohio blew up.

It’s worth noting that the oil and gas industry has been Inhofe’s top contributor over his political career, giving him over $450,000 in the last election cycle alone, even though Inhofe wasn’t up for reelection. Inhofe’s single largest campaign donor is oil conglomerate Koch Industries.

via Think Progress

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Senator Inhofe… isn’t he the one that tried to land on an airport runway that was under repair – yeah… I think so!

Anytime you have the Koch Brothers involved with an industry, there is bound to be something shaky going on!

Medicare’s Costs and Funding Challenges

The costs of Medicare doubled every four years between 1966 and 1980.[47] According to the 2004 “Green Book” of the House Ways and Means Committee, Medicare expenditures from the American government were $256.8 billion in fiscal year 2002. Beneficiary premiums are highly subsidized, and net outlays for the program, accounting for the premiums paid by subscribers, were $230.9 billion.

Medicare and Medicaid Spending as % GDP

Medicare spending is growing steadily in both absolute terms and as a percentage of the federal budget. Total Medicare spending reached $440 billion for fiscal year 2007 or 16% of all federal spending and grew to $599 billion in 2008 which was 20% of federal spending.[48] The only larger categories of federal spending are Social Security and defense. Given the current pattern of spending growth, maintaining Medicare’s financing over the long-term may well require significant changes.[49]

According to the 2008 report by the board of trustees for Medicare and Social Security, Medicare will spend more than it brings in from taxes this year (2008). The Medicare hospital insurance trust fund will become insolvent by 2019.[49][50][51][52] Shortly after the release of the report, the Chief Actuary testified that the insolvency of the system could be pushed back by 18 months if Medicare Advantage plans that provide more health care services than traditional Medicare and pass savings onto beneficiaries were paid at the same rate as the traditional fee-for-service program. He also testified that the 10-year cost of Medicare drug benefit is 37% lower than originally projected in 2003, and 17% percent lower than last year’s projections.[53] The New York Times wrote in January 2009 that Social Securityand Medicare “have proved almost sacrosanct in political terms, even as they threaten to grow so large as to be unsustainable in the long run.”[54]

Spending on Medicare and Medicaid is projected to grow dramatically in coming decades. While the same demographic trends that affect Social Security also affect Medicare, rapidly rising medical prices appear a more important cause of projected spending increases. TheCongressional Budget Office (CBO) has indicated that: “Future growth in spending per beneficiary for Medicare and Medicaid—the federal government’s major health care programs—will be the most important determinant of long-term trends in federal spending. Changing those programs in ways that reduce the growth of costs—which will be difficult, in part because of the complexity of health policy choices—is ultimately the nation’s central long-term challenge in setting federal fiscal policy.” Further, the CBO also projects that “total federal Medicare and Medicaid outlays will rise from 4 percent of GDP in 2007 to 12 percent in 2050 and 19 percent in 2082—which, as a share of the economy, is roughly equivalent to the total amount that the federal government spends today. The bulk of that projected increase in health care spending reflects higher costs per beneficiary rather than an increase in the number of beneficiaries associated with an aging population.”[55]

[edit]Financial viability

Richard W. Fisher, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has remarked that in order to “cover the unfunded liability” for the Medicare program today over an infinite time horizon,[clarification needed] “you would be stuck with an $85.6 trillion bill” which is “more than six times the annual output of the entire U.S. economy”, and noted that “Medicare was a pay-as-you-go program from the very beginning.”[56]

The present value of unfunded obligations under all parts of Medicare during FY 2009 over an infinite horizon is approximately $36 trillion. In other words, this amount would have to be set aside today such that the principal and interest would cover the shortfall assuming the program continues indefinitely.[57]

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I am in total agreement that Medicare and Social Security cost pose daunting obstacles to support of the elderly at a time when reducing those cost numbers would be the prudent thing to do.  However, to do so by the means proposed in the Ryan Paul Budget proposal is ludicrous!

I see the inclusion of all citizens under a Single Payer Health Care Plan as the ultimate solution.  The Single Payer Plan spreads the cost of health care over a larger group of subscribers, requires less in subsidies from the government, and with regulation of pharmaceuticals, fees, and test, could be the long term solution.

Jeffry Life, M.D., Ph.D.: Erectile Dysfunction? What Might Be Causing Your Declining Libido

Men, don’t blow it this year. If you are experiencing performance anxiety or a declining libido, it might not be stress or fatigue that’s keeping you from sharing your passion. Your body may be sending you a signal that all is not right with your heart.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is not a natural part of aging; men can have loving, fulfilling, and active sex lives well into old age. It is a serious vascular disorder that can also be a red flag to heart disease. In fact, one of the first signs of heart problems is a reduction in penile hardness; men can experience declining sexual function as many as four to five years prior to their first heart attack. 

The good news is that ED can be corrected, and often times, reversed. A lack of blood flow to the penis is the root of the problem. Your endothelium (the thin lining of blood vessels around the heart) forms a dynamic interface between your blood and body. Its cells secrete substances to regulate vital chemical reactions, keep blood moving smoothly, control blood pressure, ensure vascular tone, control the inflammatory process, and much more. A problem with endothelial function affects coronary circulation and penile hardness during arousal.

Another common vascular problem is cholesterol. The same plaque buildup that can occur in your coronary arteries can occur throughout the body. So, if the arteries supplying your heart with blood are becoming clogged, the smaller arteries of your penis may experience the same problem, only sooner. This dysfunction causes ED, and links it directly to your heart health.

Yet too often physicians treat ED with erectile enhancement drugs and ignore the underlying problem. Considering that 70 percent to 90 percent of men are not treated properly, this strategy is more than a little dangerous.

We also know that those pills may not be all that they claim to be. According to research, Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra have less than a 50 percent refill rate, despite the happy guys that you see on the television commercials. And for those that continue taking them, these erectile-enhancing drugs impact your whole body and can produce dangerous side effects outside of the much talked-about four-hour erection. A 2010 study from the Archives of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery demonstrated that men over age 40 who were taking erectile dysfunction drugs had a doubled risk for hearing loss.

So if things in the bedroom aren’t quite what they used to be, first see your doctor to rule out other underlying health concerns. Then, even if your doc hands you a prescription for those little blue pills, I recommend that you try out these more natural options:

Use It Or Lose It

The penis is not a muscle, but it is connected to your pelvic floor muscles, which really do the work of great sex. And like any other muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it gets. Kegels, once thought of only for women, are an amazing way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which will in turn make your erections stronger and harder with more ejaculatory power and control.

Urologist Dr. Frank Sommer led a study that demonstrated that men doing PC exercises had 80 percent stronger, harder erections — performing better than those taking erectile dysfunction medications. Dr. Grace Dorey found that 40 percent of men who did Kegels were completely cured of ED and another 35 percent had significant improvement.

The next time you have to urinate, stop your flow midstream. The muscles you use to do that are part of your pelvic floor muscles. Then, when you aren’t urinating, you can do 10-20 reps of this same squeeze, repeating several times a day.

Continue Working Out The Rest Of Your Body

Resistance training, cardio workouts and functional fitness can all improve your sexual function. Active men over 50 report better erections and have a 30 percent lower risk for impotence than their couch-potato, or mouse-potato friends. And you also may want to throw in some yoga or Pilates since they help increase blood flow to the penile area. Like I tell my patients, a flexible man is a sexual man.

The Sleep Factor

If you are chronically experiencing bad sleep, you may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a common disease that’s largely undiagnosed. OSA has also been linked with ED because it disrupts your rapid-eye-movement (REM) part of the sleep cycle, which is when erections while sleeping normally occur. The REM disruption causes fewer erections, which affects your overall sexual health. Dr. Charles Atwood of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Sleep Medicine Center believes that it’s possible that men need to experience REM erections in order to maintain optimal sexual functioning. He has also found that men who are diagnosed and treated for OSA often see an improvement in sexual functioning.

Celebrate With Dark Chocolates

Look for the Valentine’s heart that is filled with dark chocolates, which have fewer calories and more antioxidants than milk chocolate. According to Dr. Eric Braverman and his new book, Younger Sexier You, these sweets also contain phenylethylamine (PEA), a nutrient that gives you a natural feeling of well-being and excitement. The darker the chocolate, the more PEA. It also contains epicatechins, the plant flavonoids that benefit your blood vessels. But don’t indulge too often: slimmer men definitely have a sexual advantage (especially if you’re single).

Talk To Your Doctor About Natural Hormone Therapies

Low testosterone is linked to a higher degree of atherosclerotic obstruction, greater heart disease risk, and ED. You’ll be doing your entire body a favor by determining whether or not you are experiencing andropause, and by treating it effectively, you can restore your sex life.

Jeffry Life, M.D., Ph.D. has a thriving age management medicine practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. His first book, THE LIFE PLAN, will be published by Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, in May 2011. For more information, visit his website at http://www.drlife.com.

Jeffry Life, M.D., Ph.D.: Erectile Dysfunction? What Might Be Causing Your Declining Libido.

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