Wanna fight?

John Taylor: September 25, 20070 Comments

Some news items sure to get blood boiling or words flying.

Illegal immigrants qualify for emergency medical coverage. However, the federal government has now told New York State that it won't pay the federal share of the costs for those who need chemotherapy. Thus, the New York Times reported, the feds will subsidize a breast screening for poor undocumented women, but won't pay for their treatment.

Can you say court fight? Bureaucrats making medical decisions? Says Dr. Richard F. Daines, New York State health commissioner: "To say they don't qualify is self-defeating in that those situations will eventually become emergencies."

Jumping to the West Coast, the Los Angeles Times reported that nearly two dozen private hospitals in the LA/Orange county region may go belly up because of financial stresses caused by: increasing numbers of uninsured leaving crowded public emergency departments and going to private ERs; the closure of troubled Martin Luther King Jr-Harbor Hospital, which left 47,000 patients looking for news places for care; and nursing ratios, seismic retrofits and a host of other squeezes.

The story noted that 70 hospitals have closed statewide since 1996, with more than 50 of those in SoCal. As more hospitals close, says Lark Galloway-Gilliam of Community Health Councils, "it's inevitable our community's already horrendous statistics of heart disease, cancer and diabetes will rise even more."

Which leads to Hillary Clinton's health care plan, heavily financed on presumed cost-savings from disease prevention and wellness. Among those less-than-convinced is Steve Jacob, of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, whose opinion column in the Sacramento Bee noted:

"Flu shots and immunizations are not pleasant. Annual checkups are inconvenient, and frequently not covered by insurance. Shedding your vices requires an iron will. A lack of urgency invites inaction. ... The real savings in health care is in rationing it, especially among those whose imminent death is inevitable."

If all these controversies make you lose sleep, watch out. People who don't get enough sleep -- their seven hours drops to five or less -- are twice as likely to die of heart disease. That's from a 17-year analysis of 10,000 British government workers, reported by Reuters. If it makes you feel any better, the study also found a higher mortality among those who increased their sleeping to nine hours or more.