Today, Kevin delves deep into the obesity epidemic in America. Plus, find out how Kevin Trudeau would run The United States of America if he were president!
The Worst Food In America
Worker Dies at Cubicle, Found a Day Later
Light Bulbs Advertised as ‘Green’ Contain Arsenic and Lead
The Weight-Loss Industry Makes Huge Gains
111 Health Care Professionals Charged in $225 Million Medicare Scam
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April 13, 2012
By Kurt Nimmo
Earlier this week, Federal Reserve boss Ben Bernanke again warned that out of control borrowing and spending will eventually destroy the country.
Said Ben to the the Budget Committee:
Sustained high rates of government borrowing would both drain funds away from private investment and increase our debt to foreigners, with adverse long-run effects on U.S. output, incomes, and standards of living. Moreover, diminishing investor confidence that deficits will be brought under control would ultimately lead to sharply rising interest rates on government debt and, potentially, to broader financial turmoil. In a vicious circle, high and rising interest rates would cause debt-service payments on the federal debt to grow even faster, resulting in further increases in the debt-to-GDP ratio and making fiscal adjustment all the more difficult.
But here is something Bernanke didn’t mention – a large chunk of that debt is owed to the Federal Reserve. In February, the corporate media fessed up to this undeniable fact. From CNBC:
That’s right, the biggest single holder of U.S. government debt is inside the United States and includes the Federal Reserve system and other intragovernmental holdings. Of this number, The Fed’s system of banks owns approximately $1.65 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities (as of January 2012), while other U.S. intragovernmental holdings – which include large funds such as the Medicare Trust Fund and the Social Security Trust Fund – hold the rest.
The bankers that own the Federal Reserve love debt and that’s why they continually expand the money supply.
April 11, 2012
The Washington Post
By Lori Montgomery
President Obama’s landmark health-care initiative, long touted as a means to control costs, will actually add more than $340 billion to the nation’s budget woes over the next decade, according to a new study by a Republican member of the board that oversees Medicare financing.
The study is set to be released Tuesday by Charles Blahous, a conservative policy analyst whom Obama approved in 2010 as the GOP trustee for Medicare and Social Security. His analysis challenges the conventional wisdom that the health-care law, which calls for an expensive expansion of coverage for the uninsured beginning in 2014, will nonetheless reduce deficits by raising taxes and cutting payments to Medicare providers.
April 5, 2012
“Big pharma’s #1 goal is to make money – they are not interested in making you well and healthy – in fact they want you sick and diseased so you buy more of their drugs.” –KTRN
Investing is a time-honored American tradition. Millions of Americans have some sort of investment, and the stock market is an honored cultural institution. But investing your money in a publicly traded company isn’t the only way to make a buck. Let’s say you’re a powerful industry that wants to make a lot of money with an enormous Return On Investment (ROI). One way you could do so is by investing in lobbyists.
We here at United Republic have put together some stats about the sort of ROI Big Money expects for its lobbying dollars in Washington. As one example, an average American can expect a ROI of 11 percent for investing in one Blue Chip stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2010. Meanwhile, Big Pharma has a ROI of 75,500 percent for the lobbying dollars it spends to bar the government from bargaining for cheaper drug prices through Medicare:
January 24, 2012
By Paul Craig Roberts
If Ron Paul’s libertarian handlers and support base could escape their ideology, Ron Paul could be much better positioned to win the Republican nomination.
Here are some suggestions.
Ron Paul should be making the point that Social Security and Medicare are threatened by multi-trillion dollar wars that are funded by debt, by bailouts of a deregulated banking system, and by money creation to keep the banks afloat. Libertarians support deregulation, but their position has always been that deregulated industries must not be bailed out with public subsidies, much less subsidies that are so extensive that they threaten government solvency and the value of the currency.
Instead of hitting hard on the serious threat to Social Security and Medicare posed by Obama and Republican candidates for the nomination, all of whom serve Wall Street, the military/security complex, and the Israel Lobby, Ron Paul has been positioned both by his supporters and his opponents as the danger to Social Security and Medicare. This is an amazing strategic mistake by the Ron Paul campaign.
The mistake is somewhat understandable. Ron Paul’s supporters are mainly among the young. The importance to them of Social Security and Medicare will not register for many years, but for the vast majority of the population Social Security and Medicare are essential for survival. A candidate who is positioned as the destroyer of what scant economic protection the American elderly have is not positioned to win an election for president.
Many libertarians regard Social Security and Medicare as welfare handouts and as Ponzi schemes, when in fact these programs are a form of private property. People pay for these programs all their working lives, just as they pay premiums for private medical policies and make their deposits into private pension plans. Libertarians are great defenders of private property, so why don’t they defend the elderly’s private property rights in Social Security and Medicare benefits? Social Security and Medicare are contracts that government made with citizens. These contracts are as valid and enforceable as any other contracts. If Social Security and Medicare are in dire trouble, why is the government wasting trillions of dollars in behalf of private armaments industries, a neocon ideology, and Israel’s territorial ambitions? Why isn’t this question the most important issue in the campaign?
Instead, in a decade that has seen two massive stock market crashes and an amazing amount of financial fraud, libertarians prattle on about privatizing Social Security and about how much larger the retirement pensions would be. They speak about delaying the Social Security retirement age to 70 without any thought to what a person does who is retired by his employer at 65. People who suggest making Social Security and Medicare off limits until people reach 70 need to have a look at the cost of private medical plans for older people. A group plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield Florida for a 64-year-old woman has a $18,000 premium, large deductibles per medical issue, and a 20% co-pay. Even a person with private insurance faces potentially ruinous health care expenses.
December 2, 2011
Los Angels Times
By Melissa Healy
“You do not need a doctor to help you lose weight. It’s SO easy. Exercise and eat healthy (or try the HCG diet) – that’s all you have to do.” -KTRN
Medicare, the nation’s medical safety net for seniors, on Wednesday announced it would extend its coverage for obesity screening and “intensive behavioral therapy,” ensuring that roughly 30% of the 42 million people insured by the program can undertake a weight-loss program supervised by their doctor.
The decision by the federal government to cover face-to-face doctor visits as an aid to weight loss is likely to prod private insurers, many of whom have been reluctant to cover medically supervised obesity treatments, to follow suit.
Medicare’s decision will permit beneficiaries — typically those 65 and older — to see a physician once a week for a month for obesity counseling, then once every other week for an additional five months if they have a body mass index above 30 — the standard definition of obesity. If the beneficiary loses three kilograms or more — 6.6 pounds — in that period, Medicare will approve an additional six monthly doctor visits for further counseling.
The federal decision “is an important step in aligning Medicare’s portfolio of preventive services with evidence and addressing risk factors for disease,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, chief medical officer of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It comes as obesity and obesity-related diseases threaten to drive healthcare cost increases for the nation’s most costly health insurance funded by taxpayers, with current yearly expenditures of more than $325 billion.
November 25, 2011
The Fiscal Times
By CHAD TERHUNE
“A government program that wastes money? Really? Why do I not find this hard to believe? They just can’t seem to do anything right. What really stinks is that Medicare should be helping people – instead they waste billions of dollars every year.” — KTRN
Improper payments – to the wrong person, in the wrong amount, or for the wrong reason — cost Medicare $48 billion last year, or nearly 10 percent of the $516 billion spent on care for seniors, according to federal estimates. And others suggest that the total number for Medicare fraud and waste is close to $100 billion a year.
Whatever the tally, the inability to stop the bleeding at Medicare represents another lost opportunity to wring substantial savings from the federal budget, and it puts additional pressure on Congress and President Obama to cut Medicare benefits as part of the effort to shrink the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade.
Beyond that, the losses at Medicare call into question the efficacy of contracting with some of the nation’s largest insurance companies to process Medicare claims, spot suspicious billing, and refer cases to law enforcement.
The contractors are primarily subsidiaries of big health insurers, such as WellPoint and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Government auditors have criticized these companies for poor performance in the past and faulted Medicare officials for not holding them accountable. A report last year by the Health and Human Services inspector general said one group of 18 contractors identified just $835 million in overpayments in 2007, and 16 of them referred $54 million or less for collection. Medicare is now consolidating that work in seven regional contracts. Overall, in the last fiscal year (2010), Medicare paid $956 million to these contractors for claims processing and fraud detection, according to government figures.
November 18, 2011
The New York Times
By: Andrew Pollack
The commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration on Friday revoked the approval of the drug Avastin as a treatment for breast cancer, ruling in an emotional issue that pitted the hopes of some desperate patients against the statistics of clinical trials.
The commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, said that the drug was not helping breast cancer patients to live longer or control their tumors, but did expose them to potentially serious side effects such as severe high blood pressure and hemorrhaging.
“This was a difficult decision,” Dr. Hamburg, said in a statement. The F.D.A. “recognizes how hard it is for patients and their families to cope with metastatic breast cancer and how great a need there is for more effective treatments. But patients must have confidence that the drugs they take are both safe and effective for their intended use.
“After reviewing the available studies,” she continued, “it is clear that women who take Avastin for metastatic breast cancer risk potentially life-threatening side effects without proof that the use of Avastin will provide a benefit, in terms of delay in tumor growth, that would justify those risks. Nor is there evidence that use of Avastin will help them live longer or improve their quality of life.”
Avastin will remain on the market as a treatment for other types of cancers, so doctors can use it off-label for breast cancer. But some insurers might no longer pay for the drug, which would put it out of reach of many women because it costs about $88,000 a year.
Medicare, however, has said it would continue to pay for the drug’s use in breast cancer.
The decision is a setback for the drug’s manufacturer, Genentech, which fought long and hard to keep the approval.
Analysts had previously estimated that loss of the breast approval could reduce sales at Roche, the Swiss company that bought Genentech in 2009, by about $1 billion. It appears that much of this decline has already occurred and Avastin appears to have lost its status as the world’s best-selling cancer drug to Roche’s own Rituxan, a medicine for lymphoma.
Genentech said in a statement that it was “disappointed with this outcome.” It said it would continue with plans to conduct another clinical trial in an effort to regain approval. It also said it would continue to provide help through its patient-support programs to breast cancer patients who might not be able to afford the drug.
Dr. Hamburg’s decision, outlined in a 69-page memorandum, agrees with the unanimous recommendation to revoke the approval made by an F.D.A. advisory committee in June, after an emotion-packed two-day hearing. The fact that it took Dr. Hamburg nearly five months to make a final decision attests to the sensitivity and complexity of the issue.
Some women who say the drug has been keeping them alive have pleaded desperately for the approval to be retained. So the revocation risked subjecting the Obama administration to criticism of being cruel. In addition, some Republicans had cited the possible action as an example of rationing under health care reform. (The F.D.A. has insisted that cost issues were not considered.)
Yet pressure came from the other direction as well. The administration had pledged to make scientific decisions on the basis of science. That made it difficult for Dr. Hamburg to go against the conclusions of the F.D.A.’s own staff and the strong recommendations of the outside experts on its advisory committee.
October 31, 2011
By S. D. Wells
Doctors and hospitals in the United States have a financial incentive to perform surgery on dying seniors because Medicare is guaranteed to pay for it, and most of the procedures fail to improve the patients’ lives at all.
Several colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health recently reported that 1.8 million Medicare beneficiaries age 65 or older died in 2008, and over 34% were operated on during their last year, 25% in their last month, and 10% in their last week of life.
Other studies show that just the stress of surgery and poor conditions of hospitals is adding to mortality rates, including post surgery pneumonia and heart attacks. To throw salt in the wound, the nation’s 175 lowest quality hospitals are actually the highest cost institutions.
Doctors simply are not having conversations with patients about what they want out of their last days, and probably don’t care because of the guaranteed revenue increases they receive from surgery. Most of the unnecessary surgery is a distraction from what is really important to patients, like being able to spend time with their loved ones and have some “quality of life.”
The Medicare website for reporting unnecessary and inappropriate surgery describes it as being an operation for a condition that could effectively be treated with medication or physical therapy. Unfortunately, there is nothing listed about nutrition, vitamins, or supplements of any kind. In fact, there is no doctor in the country who can mention natural remedies without endangering his or her license to practice medicine. The FDA outlaws any natural remedy from claiming it can cure a disease, so the general public still believes surgery and chemotherapy are their only options.
Doctors in the United States are trained to do mainly three general procedures for the sick and dying; operate to surgically remove the problem, administer chemotherapy, and prescribe pharmaceuticals to mask or relieve symptoms and pain. The effort to remove cancer that surrounds or invades organs is one of the most popular surgical procedures. Unfortunately, clipping off the “tops of weeds” doesn’t change the fact that they’ll grow back, and since the chemicals in food and overall bad nutrition fuel the issues, most of these cases return as life-threatening situations within a few years, if not a few months.
In one case where an elderly man had pancreatic cancer, the doctors did an endoscopy and a colonoscopy because they said they were, “Trying desperately to find something we could fix.” But surgery can be painful and debilitating, and pancreatic tumors are rarely discovered early enough to save the patient, so the surgery was a complete waste.
October 28, 2011
The Daily Ticker
By Daniel Gross
Most of the coverage of today’s economic difficulties focuses on older folks. How will the mid-career people who lost their jobs during the deep recession of 2008-2009 find new posts? Will the Baby Boomers, and whether they will be able to rely on Social Security and Medicare? What can be done to help homeowners and families caught up in the mortgage mess?
In a recent cover story in New York, Noreen Malone offers a sharply reported take on a demographic group that is often overlooked: twenty-somethings. As Malone and I discuss in the accompanying video, today’s twentysomethings, while they may have fewer financial and familial obligations than their parents, and more time to prepare for a straightened future than the Baby Boomers, face their own unique challenges.
Here are some of the tough economic data points facing the “It Sucks to Be Us” generation:
Entering the workforce in a tough time has long-term impacts. Since the average workers get 70 percent of total raises in their first decade as a worker, “having stagnant or nonexistent wages during that period means you hit that springboard at a crawl,” Malone writes. Seventeen years after entering the workforce, people who graduate college during a recession earn 10 percent less than those embarking on their careers during good economic towns. “In hard, paycheck-shrinking numbers, the salary lost over that stretch totals around $100,000.”
Students today leave college with far more debt than they did in past years. The Class of 2009 had an average of $24,000 in student loans. “I almost don’t even blink when someone says I have $100,000 in debt, just from undergraduate.” According to one measure, “student loans have surpassed credit cards as the largest source of debt in the country.”
Tough economic times mean twenty-somethings have a difficult time launching into independence — and that has an economic impact. They’re more likely to rely on families and parents for support, thus cutting back on the old folks’ ability to save, spend, and invest. ” Thirty-nine percent of us in a 2010 National Journal poll were getting financial help from relatives, including a full quarter of those with full-time jobs,” Malone writes.
The slow formation of households is holding back recovery in the housing market: “The median age of first marriages has crept up by about a year since 2006—a statistically huge increase—and the overall marriage rate is at an all-time low. The number of women between 20 and 34 rose by about a million between 2008 and 2010, but the number of children born to the group dropped by 200,000.”
A college degree used to be insurance against a tough job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for college graduates over the age of 25, the unemployment rate is about 4.5 percent. But for recent college grads, Malone says, the rate is closer to 14 percent.