The coming Supreme Court vote on Obamacare

Sometime this month, the US Supreme Court will issue their opinion on whether the subsidies offered by the health exchanges set up by the federal government are consistent with the wording of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the official name of what has come to be better known as Obamacare). If they rule that they are not and invalidate the subsidies, this will result in tens of millions of people who now have affordable health insurance abruptly losing them. The elimination of the federal subsidies would be a serious, and some argue fatal, blow to Obamacare and thus on the surface Republicans should welcome an adverse Supreme Court opinion.
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Mississippi shows the way on vaccinations

Mississippi is a favorite punch line of comedians whenever they need to point to a state that is the worst in terms of almost any social measure such as poverty, teen pregnancies, education, and so on. But interestingly, Mississippi has the highest vaccination rates. How did it get that way? Melissa Bass and Austin Vitale explain how a state that is usually last came to be first in something good.
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What Britons think of US health care system

Boosters of the US health care system often claim that the British system, in which the government’s National Health System actually employs doctors and owns and runs an extensive system of hospitals that provide most of the care though there is a private system overlaid on top of it, is inferior to what we have here. They are aided in the claim by the fact that successive Conservative governments in the UK are underfunding the system causing some problems.
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The collapsing health care system

The journalist Steven Brill appeared on the program Fresh Air to talk about why the US health system. He said it is unsustainable and heading for a crash because there is no price control mechanism. He lays the blame squarely on the hospitals, drug companies who are allowed to price-gouge, and medical device manufacturers, all of whom rake in huge profits that enable them to pay their top executives high profits.
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Absurd costs of health care system

Reporter Elisabeth Sullivan looks at how echocardiogram testing has become a lucrative source of money for medical practices in the US and is done even when there is no reason to do it but just because the machine is there. As Dr. Eric J. Topol, a cardiologist at Scripps Health in San Diego who studies echocardiography says, “At many hospitals, the threshold for ordering an echocardiogram is the presence of a heart.”
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Paul Farmer on The Colbert Report

I have long been a contributor to Partners in Health, the group founded by Paul Farmer that takes high quality health care to areas of great need around the world. It began when I read the book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a man who would cure the world by Tracy Kidder that I wrote about here back in 2005, and listened to a talk by Farmer around the same time when he visited my university.
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Obamacare’s successes create problems for Republicans

The Republican party’s determination to repeal, or at least undermine, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) by throwing roadblocks in its path was obviously predicated on their fear, not that it would fail, but that it would succeed. They rightly guessed that despite its clunky structure and its pro-health care industry tilt, if it succeeded in providing health care access to large numbers of people at a reasonable cost, then it would become harder to get rid of the program. So it had to be stopped early.
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