The California Franchise Tax Board has yanked Blue Shield of California’s non-profit status because, surprise, Blue Shield makes lots of profits. Blue Shield, natch, will appeal. Here’s a bit from the story:
The tax board refused to comment on Wednesday. But some experts predicted that pressure would be put on Blue Shield to rebate cash to its customers.
“It also opens the door for us to challenge the tax exemption of a host of other not-for-profit companies that act as though they were for-profit companies by stockpiling cash and paying executives seven-figure salaries and having skyboxes,” said Jamie Court, president of Santa Monica-based Consumer Watchdog.
Court was referring to Blue Shield’s $2.5 million purchase of a skybox at Levi’s Stadium, the San Francisco 49ers’ new home in Santa Clara. Blue Shield has called the skybox a business expense needed to increase sales.
I am mildly surprised that Blue Cross did not justify the skybox at the football palace as a treatment for acrophobia.
Science 2.0 republishes an article by Harvard professor Scott O Lilienfeld exploring fads and myths about autism and the treatment thereof. In it, he attempts to understand the increase in diagnoses of autism and offers this explanation:
In the case of the autism-vaccine link, the soaring increase in autism diagnoses over the past two decades is certainly a contributor. But there is growing evidence that much of this spike reflects two factors: increasingly lax criteria for autism diagnosis across successive editions of the official psychiatric diagnostic manual (DSM), and heightened incentives for school districts to report autism and other developmental disabilities.
There is therefore ample reason to doubt that the “autism epidemic” actually reflects a genuine increase in the frequency of the condition. But the dramatic rise in diagnoses has led many people to believe in shadowy causal agents, such as childhood vaccinations.
He goes on to explore how treatment fads and fraud spread. In the light of the recent measles outbreaks because of the actions of anti-vaxxers, the whole article is worth a read.
The Deseret News skewers the notion of “religious objections” to vaccinations.
And while the question of personal objections to vaccinations remains a hot topic, one aspect seems to be indisputable: No major religion explicitly objects to immunization. The Deseret News identified one faith, with approximately 12,000 members, that has a tenet explicitly rejecting injections or vaccines of any kind.
But the world’s major faiths — Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam — have no explicit prohibitions against oral or injected vaccines. At times, some followers or preachers within a given religion or sect may have spoken against vaccination, but researcher John D. Grabenstein of Merck Vaccines, writing in the scientific journal Vaccine in April 2013, could find no sustained teaching against the practice in any major faith community.
According to the story, even Mary Baker Eddy said that vaccinations were okay.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, lots more people have health insurance.
Click for a larger image.
John Romano comments on those states that still refuse to expand Medicaid so as to take full advantage of the Affordable Care Act:
For instance, what do Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Maine and Kansas have in common besides Medicaid rejection? They’re all in the bottom half of states in median household income, according to the 2013 Census.
How about Florida, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin? They all lag behind the U.S. average for percentage of residents 25 or older with bachelor’s degrees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
And how about Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia? They’re among the states with the highest number of convictions of public officials in federal court from 1976 to 2010, according to the website FiveThirtyEight.com.
Do read the rest.
(Open tag fixed.)
A medical student summarizes the effects on Virginia’s rural poor of Republicans’ partisan rejection of Medicaid expansion. A snippet:
Medical students, are reminded daily of the need for primary care physicians in underserved areas of our state. We are taught the benefits of preventative medicine and how continuity of care contributes to better health outcomes. It is only logical that a healthier population is safer, more productive and more able to contribute to the economy at large.
However, our state legislature has demonstrated their allegiance to partisan politics over the health and welfare of the commonwealth. As a result, chronic diseases are more prevalent here in Appalachia than in any other part of the United States.
For example, disparities in cancer screening between Appalachian and controlled non-Appalachian populations result in significantly higher cancer incidence and mortality here in Appalachia. In addition, five-year survival rates for cancer patients in Appalachian populations are significantly lower than their non-Appalachian equivalents.
Wendell Potter explains the scam. A nugget:
We’ve been told over and over again by politicians and flacks — including me in my previous career — that we have the world’s best health care system. As I explained in Deadly Spin, if you continue to believe that no other country could possibly have a better system than ours, it’s because of the overwhelmingly successful PR campaign my former colleagues and I carried out over decades.
The purpose of that campaign — a campaign that’s ongoing, by the way — is to protect the profitable status quo by obscuring an empirical truth: that when it comes to access to affordable health care, millions of Americans might as well be living in a third world country. And that’s still true today, more than four years after Obamacare became law.
The contagion of hysteria over contagion is nothing new. It has all happened before.
There has been a fascinating exchange in the Roanoke Times, one that illustrates well the mean-spiritedness that underlies wingnuttery. I’ll let it speak for itself.
Part one (which I mentioned here in these electrons).
Jon Stewart tackles the D. C. Federal Court’s fantastickal reasoning for sabotaging the Affordable Care Act.
Below the fold in case it autoplays.
In the Roanoke Times, Randolph Walker expresses his gratitude for the Affordable Care Act. A snippet:
I’m celebrating because I have an appointment with Dr. Ken Tuck.
Dr. Tuck is an ophthalmologist, and a good one. As far as I know, there is nothing wrong with my eyes. However, I’m 53 and have not had a routine eye exam in probably 10 years. I put it off because I had no insurance.
When I was a toddler, my parents nearly died of the mumps, which is quite serious in adults. I’m old enough to remember when parents lived in fear that their children would catch whooping cough and other diseases that, because of vaccinations, have become no longer a worry–at least, not until the recent anti-vax fraud and the hysterical fools who fell for it.
California is in the throes of a whooping cough epidemic, state health department officials announced Friday.
Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, said 3,458 cases of whooping cough have been reported since Jan. 1 — including 800 in the past two weeks. That total is more than all the cases reported in 2013.
I trust that Jenny McCarthy and her ilk are happy about the harm they have done.