Public Health

New problems emerge in Japan's nuclear power emergency

Freedom Sampling of ocean water 30 km off Japan's coast found radioactive "iodine concentrations at or above Japanese regulatory limits," as well as amounts of cesium-137 below regulatory limits. Some of the contamination may be due to recycled sea water used to cool down the reactors and spent fuel ponds. Still, the volume of water thus contaminated suggests that the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant complex has already released massive quantities of radionuclides over the past two weeks. More massive releases are a disturbing possibility, experts say.

Obama's great choice for Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The New York Times is reporting what had been until now a rumor too good to be true. Dr. Tom Frieden, currently the hard-driving activist NYC Commissioner of Health, will be the new head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Disclaimer: I have personal history with Tom.

Action Needed: Senate to Vote to Save Hospitals!

Over the past several months, I have diaried attempts by the Bush administration to gut our public health safety net through a proposed set of arcane rules changes. If implemented May 25 as planned, the rules changes will limit federal subsidies to public hospitals, indigent hospital care, emergency rooms, outpatient clinics, school-based health care, graduate medical education, case management, rehabilitation services, and children'a Medicaid enrollment. I have also diaried the efforts of health care activists to prevent these rules from going into effect. It is coming down to the wire now. The moratorium on the rules goes before the full Senate this week, probably as an attachment to the Iraq spending bill. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Charles Grassley (R-IA), and administration officials have vowed to kill the moratorium. Find out how you can help below the break.

Video Diary: Fighting to Save Public Hospitals, Clinics

Are we witnessing a hostile corporate takeover of the United States of America? The Bush Administration has been quietly and incrementally liquidating our public health safety net in a manner reminiscent of the hostile takeovers so prevalent among corporations in the 1980s and 1990s.

A proposed set of arcane regulation changes unilaterally imposed by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) will go into effect between now and May 25, if not stopped by Congress. CMS estimates that the new rules will result in a "cost savings" of $15 billion dollars over five years. But who will benefit from these "savings"?

The rules changes will cause widespread cutbacks and closures of the emergency rooms, hospitals, and outpatient and school-based clinics currently serving most Americans. The cash raised by liquidating America's public health safety net is, according to the Washington Post, equivqalent to five weeks of war in Iraq. It represents just 3% of the $500 billion dollar bail-out the president has promised to financiers. It is money and effort taken from the American people and redistributed to wealthy corporate interests.