PJ Media has just published my latest column, “Will Tomorrow’s Medical Innovations Be There When You Need Them?

My basic theme is that we must protect the freedoms necessary for the advancement of medical technology.

I start with a pair of vignettes:

How much has American medicine changed in the past 30 years?

Let’s turn the clock back to 1983. A middle-aged man, Dan, is crossing the street on a busy midday Monday. An inattentive driver runs a red light and plows into Dan at 45 mph, sending him flying across the pavement. Bystanders immediately call for help. An ambulance rushes Dan to the nearest hospital. In the ER, the doctors can’t stabilize his falling blood pressure. They prep him for emergency surgery. The trauma surgeon tries desperately to stop the internal bleeding from his badly fractured pelvis but is unsuccessful. Dan dies on the operating table.

The surgeon gives Dan’s wife the sad news: “I’m sorry, but your husband’s injuries were too severe. We did everything we could. But we weren’t able to save him.”

Fast forward to 2013. Dan’s now-grown son Don suffers the same accident. But within minutes of his arrival in the ER, he’s sent for a rapid trauma body CT scan that shows the extent of the pelvic fractures — and more importantly, shows two badly torn blood vessels that can’t be easily reached with surgery.

An interventional radiologist inserts a catheter into the femoral artery in Don’s right leg. Watching live on the fluoroscopy screen, the radiologist skillfully guides the catheter through the various twists and turns of the arterial system and positions it at the first of the two “bleeders.” From within the blood vessel, he injects specially designed “microcoils” into the torn artery and stops the bleeding. He then guides the catheter to the second bleeder and repeats the procedure. Don’s blood pressure recovers. The surgeons now have time to repair Don’s pelvic fractures and other internal injuries.

The surgeons give Don’s wife the good news: “Your husband’s injuries were pretty bad. But we were able to fix everything. He’ll still have to go through recovery and physical therapy. But he should be back to normal in six months”…

For more, read the full text of “Will Tomorrow’s Medical Innovations Be There When You Need Them?

(The material for the opening vignettes was drawn from two excellent presented last month at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Society of Emergency Radiology. )

Update #1: A great example of medical innovation coming from unexpected places was this 11/14/2013 New York Times article describing how an Argentinian car mechanic saw a Youtube video on how to extract a stuck cork from a wine bottle and realized it could also be used to help extract babies stuck in the birth canal.

His idea will be manufactured by Becton, Dickinson and Company and has already undergone initial successful safety testing in humans. It could save the lives of many babies in Third World countries and also reduce the need for Caesarean section in industralized countries.  (Via Gus Van Horn.)

Update #2: For those interested in the real-life technology used in the fictional scenario I discussed, here’s a nice medical slideshow from UCLA interventional radiologist Dr. Justin McWilliams, “Life-saving Embolizations: Trauma and GI bleeding“.

Nov 062013
 

PJ Media has posted my snarky column, “Obamacare and the Wages of Spin“.

The basic theme: Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining.

Here is the opening:

Many years ago, the writer Ayn Rand noticed a curious kind of backpedalling from the political Left. First, they’d claim that socialism would provide enough shoes for the whole world. But when economic reality caught up with them, and they failed to deliver on their promises, they’d turn around and claim that going barefoot was superior to wearing shoes. In modern parlance, those broken promises weren’t a bug, but a feature!

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen precisely this pattern coming from defenders of ObamaCare. For example…

Read the full text at: “Obamacare and the Wages of Spin“.

 

Tonight, I’ll interview Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Timothy Sandefur about occupational licensing — how it works, what it’s supposed to do, and what it’s real-life effects are. We’ll also talk about “Certificates of Need” (CONs) regulations that allow existing businesses to squash any newcomers. I kid you not.

If you’re not familiar with CONs, check out Sandefur’s 2011 article, CON Job: State “certificate of necessity” laws protect firms, not consumers. Here are the open paragraphs:

When St. Louis businessman Michael Munie decided to expand his moving business to operate throughout the state of Missouri, he thought it would be a simple matter of paperwork. After all, he already held a federal license allowing him to move goods across state lines. But when he filed his application, he discovered that, under a 70-year-old state law, officials in Missouri’s Department of Transportation were required to notify all of the state’s existing moving companies and allow them the opportunity to object to his application. When four of them did file objections, department officials offered Munie the choice of withdrawing his application or appearing at a public hearing where he would be required to prove that there was a “public need” for his moving business. The law is not clear on how exactly he would do this — “public need” is not defined, nor are there any rules of evidence or procedure in the statute. And even if he managed to prove a “public need,” the department would take anywhere from six months to a year to make a final decision. In the face of such complications, Munie chose to withdraw his application and ask instead for limited permission to operate within a portion of St. Louis. His competitors had no objection to that, and he was given the restricted license.

Bizarre as this law might seem, it is only one of dozens of such requirements, generally called “certificate of necessity” (CON) laws, that exist across the country, governing a variety of industries, from moving companies and taxicabs to hospitals and car lots. A legacy of the early 20th century, CON laws restrict economic opportunity and raise costs for products and services that consumers need. Unlike traditional occupational licensing rules, they are not intended to protect the public by requiring business owners to demonstrate professional expertise or education. Instead, these laws are explicitly designed to restrict competition and boost the prices that established companies can charge.

Go read the whole article.

 

October 2013 is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Hence, it’s apropos that Forbes has just published my latest OpEd on this topic, “Why The Federal Government Wants To Redefine The Word ‘Cancer’“.  Here is the opening:

The federal government wants to reduce the number of Americans diagnosed each year with cancer. But not by better preventive care or healthier living. Instead, the government wants to redefine the term “cancer” so that fewer conditions qualify as a true cancer. What does this mean for ordinary Americans — and should we be concerned?…

I discuss the reasons behind the proposed redefinition, why it could matter from a political (as well as medical) standpoint, and implications for patients and doctors.

I’d like to thank Dr. Milton Wolf for providing the quote at the end!

(Read the full text of”Why The Federal Government Wants To Redefine The Word ‘Cancer’“.)

 

PJ Media has published the final segment of my 4-part series on the changing face of American medicine under ObamaCare, “How Patients Can Protect Themselves Against Big Medicine“.

Earlier segments include:

Part 1: “Your Future Under Obamacare: Big Medicine Getting Bigger” Part 2: “How Big Medicine Will Affect Patient Care” Part 3: “The Eyes of Big Medicine: Electronic Medical Records

[Crossposted from the FIRM blog.]

Sep 272013
 

Whoops! I forgot to post this when it was published. — DMH

PJMedia published part 2 of my 4-part series on changes in American health care: “How Big Medicine Will Affect Patient Care

Here is the opening:

The first article of this series described how the ObamaCare law is fueling the rise of government-controlled Big Medicine. This second article will take a closer look at how Big Medicine will control how what medical care patients can receive.

I discuss how government controls over health spending will lead to controls on the health care you may be able to receive. These controls interpose the government between the doctor and the patient, endangering the doctor-patient relationship.

Voter Fraud: Jon Caldara’s “Stunt”

 Posted by on 24 September 2013 at 10:00 am  Election, Law, Politics
Sep 242013
 

Wow. Jon Caldara was allowed to vote in Colorado’s recent recall election due to Colorado’s flimsy election laws. He blogs:

I committed an act of civil obedience.

I’ve lived in Boulder for nearly 30 years, yet I just cast a ballot in the Colorado Springs recall election. I did so by legally using the irresponsibly lax new election law.

Now, we might not agree on policy or even political candidates, but I hope we all agree that everyone should know their full voting rights. Our election law changed drastically when Governor Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 13-1303. And everyone, not just the political team that concocted and rushed it through the process, should know how the law works and their new rights under it.

My act of civil obedience proved a simple truth – under this law voters can now be legally shuffled around in the last moments of a campaign, to any district around the state where their votes are needed most.

If this law stands, the future of Colorado elections will be decided by which campaign has the most buses.

Notably, HB-1303 forced elections to use mail-in ballots. Meaning if you are registered to vote, your ballot will be flung through the mail like a grocery store coupon, whether you want it to or not. As sloppy as that is, that’s not the worst part.

HB-1303 permits you to register and vote the same day in any district in Colorado you like, no matter where you were living just moments before. Basically anyone who has been, well, anywhere in Colorado for 22 days (a pleasant 3 week vacation), has an address in the district, and is over 18 can now vote in any district, anywhere in the state on election day if they affirm they have the “intention” of making that district their permanent home.

To educate voters of their new voter rights we created www.BringInTheVote.com, where you can get more details. But to drive the point home, I went to a polling location in the Springs, told them I’m living there now and I’d like to vote. I signed the form, they gave me a ballot, and I cast it.

While I cast a blank ballot as a new Colorado Springs resident, I could have just as easily voted “yes” for the recall. Thankfully, enough of my new neighbors did that for me.

The Denver Post covered the news and published an editorial too.

Amazing. I’m glad we have a stuntman like Jon in Colorado!

 

PJ Media has published Part 3 of my 4-part series on the changing face of American medicine under ObamaCare, “The Eyes of Big Medicine: Electronic Medical Records“.

I discuss the ObamaCare mandate for physicians to implement electronic medical records (EMRs), how this can harm patient care, and the government’s agenda in using EMRs to control doctors.

Earlier articles in the series:

Part 1: “Your Future Under Obamacare: Big Medicine Getting Bigger“.

Part 2: “How Big Medicine Will Affect Patient Care“.

 

Many liberals think that they’re smarter, more compassionate, and more sophisticated than conservatives — and they prance around as if they’re something special.

Many conservatives think that they’re more righteous, more upright, and more educated on economics than liberals — and they prance around as if they’re something special.

As as outsider, let me say, (1) such attitudes might make you feel warm and fuzzy, but they just seem silly and offensive to people outside your in-group and (2) you need to get out more, because political views don’t predict a person’s decency or honesty or intellect or knowledge.

Of course, many libertarians and Objectivists are guilty of the same kinds of offenses, including myself on occasion. Still, I try to avoid being smug just because I hold political beliefs that I regard as right. That way, I hope to actually reach people — to convince them to rethink their assumptions. And in return, I’ll check my own assumptions in face of a good argument or new evidence. The process is — or should be — a two-way street.

Mostly though, *le sigh*

P.S. This message was inspired by Greg Proops. Paul and I attended the live taping of his “Proopscast” last night. (That was accidental: we wanted to hear him do stand-up comedy.) The episode isn’t yet posted, but it will be soon, I imagine. Parts were funny, but the smug liberal shined through a bit too brightly at times.

 

Forbes has published my latest piece, “How Much Will Your Life Be Worth Under Obamacare?

Here is the opening:

How much will your life be worth to the federal government under ObamaCare? Less than you might think. We can make an educated guess by looking at which medical screening tests the government U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) considers worthwhile…

I also discuss problems with one-size-fits-all government medical recommendation, and how President Obama and his doctor knowingly violated guidelines set by his own federal task force.

(For more details, read the full text of “How Much Will Your Life Be Worth Under Obamacare?“)

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