Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cold Wednesday. Labor unrest. Medical costs. Statins. Dietary advice. Government/Private partnerships.

Temperatures here are in the low 20s and high teens.  Coldest we have had in many a month.  The snow is still on the lawns and roofs but has disappeared from paved areas.  But 'tis the season of roller coaster temps.  We expect a warming that will put us back into the 50s in a couple of days.

I am entirely on the side of the workers here.  I was surprised only because I found the article on  Usually we don't get such stories on our (s)news media.  Of course, I notice NBC picked it up from Reuters.  Not good timing for Wal-Mart and other western clothing vendors with Christmas coming up.

This item belongs in the "Well, duh!!" file.  The drivers of health care costs are the chronic diseases and most of those afflicted are not the elderly.  And the medical "marketplace" is anything but transparent with respect to prices for services.

The news this morning noted that American doctors are being encouraged to expand the number of patients for whom they prescribe statins.  They estimate that as many as one-third of adults may be put on the drugs.  My first thought was that Christmas has come early for the drug companies.  My second thought was to wonder how many people who will be put on statins could control their risk without the drug if they followed the diet and exercise recommendations.  I also wonder how many people who will take the drugs to reduce their risk of heart disease will contract type-2 diabetes instead thanks to the statin.  Of course, those people will be prescribed insulin or other diabetes drugs in addition to the statins so the drug companies will make even more money.

Gene Logsdon at the Contrary Farmer has a humorous take on our various and contradictory dietary advice.  We have pretty well taken all of the advice with a ton of salt and reject most of it.  eLately the FDA has issued directives demanding food manufacturers remove trans-fats from their products.  We started that a good while ago.  When it comes to what we eat I think we have lost any kind of common sense a long time back.  Instead the American public seems to slew from one diet guru to another without any thought of what said gurus are really telling them and whether it make any sense at all.

A thought occurred to me as I read (and heard) stories that claim the government's ACA signup web site won't but fully functioning by the end of this month as promised.   That in conjunction with the totally (expletive, expletive) rollout of the VENTRA payment system in Chicago leads me to wonder about the efficiency of such government/private business partnerships.  In the case of the ACA the government partnered with private software companies to construct the web site and it has been a fiasco from the start.  In the case of the Chicago CTA, the CTA partnered with a company which promised to take the burden of collecting fares from the CTA for a cut of the profits.  It has been a catastrophe from its beginning also with lost cards, cards the customer can't activate, cards for the dead, and cards that bill multiple charges for each ride.  In each case the partnership has not worked at all well and the ones who suffer the most from the mess are those who depend on it to work efficiently.  I am sure both the Federal government and the CTA have good techs in house and could have developed the systems on their own.  The systems might have been a lot cheaper and might have  worked a lot more efficiently.  At least the CTA is demanding that the company responsible for the VENTRA system fix the damned thing before any more payments are made.  All I have heard about the ACA site is that more "experts" are coming in at who knows what cost to make it all better--sometime, maybe.

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