Wednesday, October 28, 2009


From talkingpointsmemo:

On Monday, we reported on the House GOP's plans to target AARP in the health care reform debate. Republican leaders say AARP is supporting changes to the Medicare system included in Democratic health care reform bills because they would result in more sales of AARP-branded insurance. They claim that "backroom deals" between executives of the AARP and Democratic leadership -- deals the GOP say are designed to protect the executives' high salaries -- led to the group's pro-Medicare reform rhetoric.

Yesterday, the message gained traction the right wing commentariat. AARP flatly denies the claims and says it's beginning to feel a little like the GOP's new ACORN.

"Oh, absolutely," an AARP official told TPMDC. "They're using their standard methods to target us."

Yesterday, right wing blogs and publications picked up the story. Michelle Malkin retweetedthe House GOP talking points on the topic andHuman Events published a story echoing the GOP claims. Malkin and the conservative magazine focused on the corruption message, highlighting the "back-room" dealing.

The GOP has gone further than rhetoric as well. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) claims to have launched an investigation into AARP in his home state. Reichert says his "ongoing" investigation focuses on whether AARP should be classified as an insurance company because of its revenue from royalties the group gets from licensing its brand for insurance products. AARP says it's not aware of the investigation, and Reichert suggested to reporters Monday that it was essentially stalled. But the question of whether AARP is an insurance company or not is at the center of the GOP messaging on the group


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10 Reasons Abortion Must Be Covered.

Lynn Harris has an essential piece up at Salon today about why abortion must be covered under any new health care reform plan. My favorite quote?

...Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told Broadsheet, "some very hard-line anti-choice individuals who would like to overturn Roe [but] have been unsuccessful and therefore are using healthcare reform as an opportunity to relitigate the legal right to abortion in the United States."

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Lack of Palliative Care in India.

A new Human Rights Watch report titled, "Unbearable Pain: India's Obligation to Ensure Palliative Care," found that many cancer, TB and HIV patients were untreated for pain during their illness. From the site:

Severe pain is a common symptom among cancer patients, particularly during the last stages of the disease. It is estimated that more than 1 million advanced cancer patients in India experience severe pain in any given year. In addition, many other patients, including those with HIV, TB, or other infections or illness, may face acute or chronic severe pain.

The report identified three key obstacles to improving the availability of pain treatment and palliative care:

  • Restrictive drug regulations. Many Indian states have excessively strict narcotics regulations that make it very difficult for hospitals and pharmacies to get morphine. In 1998, the central government recommended that states adopt modified regulations, but more than half of India's states have not done so.
  • The failure to train doctors. Most medical students and young doctors receive no training on pain treatment and palliative care because the government does not include such instruction in relevant curricula. As a result, most doctors in India simply do not know how to assess or treat severe pain.
  • Poor integration of palliative care into health services. National cancer and AIDS control programs do not contain meaningful palliative care components, thus depriving such care of public funds and relegating it to second-tier status.

"India is one of the world's largest legal producers of opium, the raw material for morphine," Lohman said. "But almost all of it is exported while hundreds of thousands - if not millions - of Indians suffer needlessly."

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Maybe It's The Bad Checks?

Switzerland just announced that they would like to reduce the number of "suicide tourists" traveling to their country to take advantage of their lax suicide laws. (See prior post.)

And on the heels of that news comes this:

Euthanasia Clinic Says No More Cheques! Apparently a prominent clinic in Switzerland has decided to no longer accept checks for their services, instead collecting full payment up front.

‘Usually we’d just ask for another means of payment but these people often come in the Friday before a bank holiday, and by the time the cheque is finally declined all there’s left to contact is a pot of ash, which makes it very difficult to set up a direct debit.’

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Switzerland: Come for the Alps, Not the Assisted Suicide.

Switzerland is considering altering it's laws to prevent or limit "suicide tourism," the practice of those who wish to hasten their deaths from traveling to Switzerland to take advantage of the country's liberal assisted suicide laws.

SwissInfo writes:

The cabinet on Wednesday presented two draft bills defining conditions for organised euthanasia, including medical confirmations of a terminally ill patient's death wish, the use of approved medicines and clear documentation of every case.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf said the purpose of the planned regulation was to slow down the process of assisted suicide and prevent people from travelling to Switzerland only for this specific purpose.

In 2007 there were about 400 cases of assisted death in Switzerland, including 132 people from Britain and Germany.

Assisted suicide and passive euthanasia are currently legal in Switzerland – a policy which makes it one of the most liberal European countries.

Widmer-Schlumpf said it was not up to the state to help people die.

"We believe suicide prevention and palliative care for patients are the priorities," Widmer-Schlumpf told a news conference.

She added that a regulation on assisted suicide remained a very delicate matter not only involving law but also ethics.

The government also published an alternative option that foresees an outright ban on organised assisted suicide.

Political parties and organisations have four months to give their opinion on the two proposals before cabinet prepares a final bill for discussion in parliament.

In an initial reaction, two leading right-to-die organisations have accused the government of trying to deprive citizens of their right to self-determination and responsibility.

This new development in Switzerland may be the result of lawsuits and attention in other countries. Recently the case of Debbie Purdy, a multiple sclerosis patient who successfully sued the British government to allow her husband to help her travel to Switzerland when she decides to end her life, has caused an uproar in Britain. They have since revised their laws on assisting suicide, which is illegal there.

As well, I suspect the country would rather be know for their other fine offerings, like the Alps and chocolate, and those cute barns with wood stacked under the eaves and geraniums spilling out of flower boxes. So maybe it's an image thing?

Read more here: ABCNews

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