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06/16/2009. USA Health Atlas. Try the report function by clicking on a State

The USA Hospitals Atlas let you explore hospital trends between 1999 to 2006. Several indicators like admissions, number of beds and ER visits are available. When you are on the map, click on to play a movie that shows the trend.

USA Health Atlas

Geo-Stat Atlases demonstrate the ability of Géoclip to present cartographic data. Graduated color or proportional symbols, see the power and user friendliness of Géoclip for yourself. >>>

[from -]

The USA Hospitals Atlas let you explore hospital trends between 1999 to 2006. Several indicators like admissions, number of beds and ER visits are available. When you are on the map, click on to play a movie that shows the trend.


Geoclip presents on its website a Continental USA Atlas by state and county. This Atlas presents many indicators (demography, education, employment, income, etc.).


My Response to a comment about the health care system and pharmaceuticals from the last few days –


Rather than being intellectually lazy about this – the real problems with pharmaceuticals is not that the public can’t have a live interaction on a social networking site about them – it is that the drugs are being manufactured in a way that causes preventable complications with them and they are being mis-prescribed on top of that. Unless the companies making these drugs want to talk with customers in the way used car salesmen would when passing off a lemon – how about tackling the real problems in a way that would yield solutions that work?

One problem is that doctors are prescribing the exact same dosages regardless of weight, blood volume, liver health or capacity because of previous liver damage, age, sex, and regardless of other medications being given at the same time.

Since you are involved in IT and probably know a bunch of tech-head geeks, why don’t you design a fail-safe software that pharmacies and doctors / hospitals could use that would take known factors like those in the list above and flag prescription combinations that are lethal, dangerous or debilitating at the point of sale or at the point of diagnosis? That could be helpful and a much more valuable use of your specialized skill sets. The volume of blood for different age groups, sexes and dependent on specific health conditions could be found – there is certainly enough study of it by medical schools and morticians. Obviously, the same strength of dosage does not belong in the body of someone with poor circulation, elderly, generally sedate, and with only 50% liver function, as would be appropriate for someone much younger, male, active and with no liver damage. But, right now, many drugs are being given in the same dosages and strengths across various populations, even when a number of other drugs are already having to be processed by the liver, bloodstream and internal organs simultaneously.

And that is only one problem, but it would be a damn good start. And if you know anybody with enough brains and authority to make a decision about anything at the pharmaceutical companies, you might let them know that around 90% of the side effects in the last eight generations of drugs they’ve been producing are the direct result of a manufacturing process which could very well be changed. But, they probably already know that since they made the profit-driven choice of doing it that way. (The 90% figure does not include those side effects which are occurring as a result of poor diagnosis, drugs being mixed together in quantities and varieties that are dangerous, or as a result of drugs being administered which were wrong entirely or not needed in the first place – those are a whole separate category.)

The second problem that you might consider putting all this energy into successfully creating solutions to fix, is that when a patient has a known set of side effects that have occurred or are occurring as a result of taking a medication or combination of medications – the pharmacy ought to have a record of it. That ought to be able to be entered into the file of the pharmacy or pharmacist that is tracking those medications in their computer and it ought to automatically be emailed to someone intelligent enough to enter it into the patients’ file at the doctors’ office or at the nurses’ station at the hospital. And, an annoying alarm should be made that hits the cellphone of their doctor the moment that side effect is reported, whether it is not being able to take a shit or feeling dizzy or having nervousness and insomnia or nausea or shaking or incontinence or heart palpitations or sweating or whatever the side effect may be.
And – while you are at it – how about finding a way to get the jackasses’ names and affiliations published on the bills they’ve written who are working at pharmaceutical companies or being sponsored by pharmaceuticals or insurance companies, rather than having been elected to do that by the people of the United States. That is actually a project that I know a lot of people would pay to have available to them and then you can put it on social networking sites so it is easy to find and easy to understand whose work we’re having to suffer when that legislation or policy is put in place.

And, a quick little tech-head request – don’t ever assume that there is a legitimate condition that a medication treats, it isn’t realistic. Also, there are some specific things about pharmaceuticals and medical doctors generally in our lifetimes, that are absolutely true – first, they make money only if we stay sick or get sicker; second, they could’ve failed durn near every class in med school or college because they were hung-over, on drugs, sleeping, high or just not very good at it and we would have no way of knowing it; third, the ones who have a vested interest in our health and quality of life are each of us individually, – not them – they will be at the golf course enjoying tomorrow whether we are dead or are suffering by their hands or directly from their poor decisions for us; and fourth, not even an illegal drug dealer would poison the people they are selling their drugs to – but doctors, hospitals, nurses, pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies do not have the same level of direct accountability when they screw up, so there is nothing to prevent or dissuade them from doing just that.

– cricketdiane, 08-18-08



Chocolate linked to stronger heart

Published: Aug. 14, 2009 at 10:29 AM
(UPI Photo Files)

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 14 (UPI) — Chocolate eaters in a study of heart attack survivors had lower blood pressure and were less likely to die of heart disease, scientists in Sweden said.
Of the 1,169 patients studied, those who ate chocolate two or more times a week cut their risk of dying from heart disease nearly threefold compared to those who didn’t eat chocolate at all, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Imre Janszky of Karolinska Institute.

Jansky’s study also suggested antioxidants in cacao cut the risk of death from heart disease in healthy older men and post-menopausal women, The Local reported.


The research built upon earlier work which suggested a strong link between cocoa-based products and improvement in blood flow.



Army plans emotional resiliency training
Published: Aug. 18, 2009 at 12:57 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18 (UPI) — The U.S. Army, in an effort to improve combat performance and stave off post-traumatic stress disorder, plans emotional resiliency training, officials said.

The $117 million program is an effort to transform a military culture that has generally considered talk of emotions to be so much hand-holding, a sign of weakness, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the U.S Army’s chief of staff told The New York Times in an interview.

[ . . . ]

The new program is to be introduced at two bases in October and phased in gradually, starting in basic training, but officials plan to require all 1.1 million of soldiers to take intensive training in emotional resiliency.

The program, designed to help people cope better with stressful conditions, is usually taught in weekly 90-minute classes. It seeks to defuse or expose common habits of thinking and flawed beliefs that may develop into anger, frustration and a tendency to assume the worst — such as, My wife didn’t answer the phone; she must be with someone else.



Commentary: How insurance firms drive debate

* Story Highlights
* Wendell Potter: In my former job, I helped shape public opinion on health care
* He says insurance companies quietly seek to counter reform measures
* Potter: Industry worked to kill the Clinton health reform plan
* He says he didn’t want to be part of another effort to kill a health care plan

updated 11:16 a.m. EDT, Mon August 17, 2009

By Wendell Potter
Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Wendell Potter has served since May 2009 as senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy, a nonprofit organization that says it seeks to expose corporate spin and government propaganda. After a 20-year career as a corporate public relations executive, Potter left his job last year as head of communications for one of the nation’s largest health insurers, CIGNA Corporation.
Ex-insurance company spokesman Wendell Potter says the industry seeks to drive the health care debate.

[ . . . ]

If the radio report had carried more of my remarks, he might have a better understanding of how the health insurance and its army of PR people are influencing his opinions and actions without his even knowing it.

Until I quit my job last year, I was one of the leaders of that army. I had a very successful career and was my company’s voice to the media and the public for several years.

It was my job to promote and defend the company’s reputation and to try to persuade reporters to write positive stories about the industry’s ideas on reform. During the last couple of years of my career, however, I became increasingly worried that the high-deductible plans insurers were beginning to push Americans into would force more and more of us into bankruptcy.

The higher I rose in the company, the more I learned about the tactics insurers use to dump policyholders when they get sick, in order to increase profits and to reward their Wall Street investors. I could not in good conscience continue serving as an industry mouthpiece. And I did not want to be part of yet another industry effort to kill meaningful reform.

I explained during the press conference with Rep. Slaughter how the industry funnels millions of its policyholders’ premiums to big public relations firms that provide talking points to conservative talk show hosts, business groups and politicians. I also described how the PR firms set up front groups, again using your premium dollars and mine, to scare people away from reform.

[ etc.]

The industry has been engaging in these kinds of tactics for many years, going back to its successful behind-the-scenes campaign to kill the Clinton reform plan.

A story in Friday’s New York Times about the origin of the absurdly false rumor that President Obama’s health care proposal would create government-sponsored death panels bears out what I have been saying.

The story notes that the rumor emanated from many of the same pundits and conservative media outlets that were central in defeating Bill Clinton’s health care proposal 16 years ago, including the editorial board of The Washington Times, the American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 health care critique made her a star of the conservative movement (and ultimately, the lieutenant governor of New York).

The big PR firms that work for the industry have close connections with those media outlets and stars in the conservative movement. One of their PR firms, which created and staffed a front group in the late ’90s to kill the proposed Patients’ Bill of Rights, launched a PR and advertising campaign in conservative media outlets to drum up opposition to the bill.

[ . . . ]



And just who is behind those commercials and advertisements we are seeing on tv against the health care reform and against health insurance reform –


Who’s behind health care reform ad wars?

  • Story Highlights
  • More than $57 million has been spent on ads trying to influence health care debate
  • Ads span the political spectrum with some nonpartisan
  • Click on the ads to see the message and what groups are paying for them


updated 10:53 a.m. EDT, Mon August 17, 2009



New Directions says there are more than 15,000 homeless vets in Los Angeles, the largest such population in the United States. Most of the vets are from the Vietnam War era. A small but growing number of veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq are starting to hit the streets.



By August 2008, the total debt was $9.6 trillion.[25]

Budgeted net interest on the public debt was approximately $239 billion in fiscal years 2007 and 2008. This represented approximately 9.5% of government spending. Interest was the fourth largest single budgeted disbursement category, after defense, Social Security, and Medicare.[54]During 2007, the government also accrued a non-cash interest expense of $194 billion for intra-governmental debt, primarily the Social Security Trust Fund, for a total interest expense of $433 billion.[55] This accrued interest is added to the Social Security Trust Fund and therefore the national debt each year and will be paid to Social Security recipients in the future.

from wikipedia entry about the US budget (above and below) –

Since recommendations of the Greenspan Commission were adopted in the early 1980s, Social Security payroll taxes have exceeded benefit payments. In FY2008, Social Security received $180 billion more in payroll taxes and accrued more interest than it paid out in benefits. This annual surplus is credited to Social Security trust funds that hold special non-marketable Treasury securities. The Social Security surplus reduces the amount of U.S. Treasury borrowing from the public. The total balance of the trust funds was $2.4 trillion in 2008 and is estimated to reach $3.7 trillion by 2016. At that point, payments will exceed payroll tax revenues, resulting in the gradual reduction of the trust funds balance as the securities are redeemed against other types of government revenues. By 2037, according to some estimates, the trust funds will be exhausted. Under current law, Social Security payouts would be reduced by 24% at that time, as only payroll taxes are authorized to cover benefits.[11]

[ . . . ]

Understanding deficits and debt
Deficit and Debt Increases 2001-2008

The annual budget deficit is the difference between actual cash collections and outlays during a given fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30. The national debt represents the outstanding obligations of the government at any given time, comprising both public and intra-governmental debt, which was $10.9 trillion as of March 1, 2009.[16] While the difference between the deficit and the annual change in debt has been small, some extraordinary actions taken in FY2008 and FY2009 (such as the federal conservatorship of the mortgage guarantee agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) have led to a divergence between the deficit and the increase in federal debt.

These differences can make it more challenging to determine how much the government actually spends relative to tax revenues. The increase in the national debt during a given year is a helpful measure to determine this amount. From FY 2003-2007, the national debt increased approximately $550 billion per year on average. For the first time in FY 2008, the U.S. added $1 trillion to the national debt.[17]In relative terms, from 2003-2007 the government spent roughly $1.20 for each $1.00 it collected in taxes.

Budgetary treatment of Social Security
Comparison of Deficits to Change in Debt 2008

Social Security payroll taxes and benefit payments, along with the net balance of the U.S. Postal Service are considered off-budget. Administrative costs of the Social Security Administration (SSA), however, are classified as on-budget. The total federal deficit is the sum of the on-budget deficit (or surplus) and the off-budget deficit (or surplus). Since FY1960, the federal government has run on-budget deficits except for FY1999 and FY2000, and total federal deficits except in FY1969 and FY1998-FY2001.[18] In large part because of Social Security surpluses, the total federal budget deficit is smaller than the on-budget deficit.

The surplus of Social Security payroll taxes over benefit payments is invested in special Treasury securities held by the Social Security Trust Fund. Social Security and other federal trust funds are part of the intergovernmental debt. The total federal debt is divided into intergovernmental debt and debt held by the public.

For example, in FY2008 an off-budget surplus of $183 billion reduced the on-budget deficit of $642 billion, resulting in a total federal deficit of $459 billion. Media often report the latter figure. The national debt increased by $1,035 billion between the end of FY2007 and the end of FY2008.[19]

[ . . . ]

2010 Budget: Total Debt $ and % to GDP

GDP is a measure of the total size and output of the economy. One measure of the debt burden is its size relative to GDP. In fiscal 2007, U.S. public debt was approximately $5 trillion (36.8 percent of GDP) and total debt was $9 trillion (65.5 percent of GDP.)[23] Public debt represents money owed to those holding government securities such as Treasury bills and bonds. Total debt includes intra-governmental debt, which includes amounts owed to the Social Security Trust Funds (about $2.2 trillion in FY 2007)[24] and Civil Service Retirement Funds. By August 2008, the total debt was $9.6 trillion.[25]





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Taxation in the United States

Taxation in the United States is a complex system which may involve payment to at least four different levels of government and many methods of taxation. United States taxation includes local government, possibly including one or more of municipal, township, district and county governments. It also includes regional entities such as school and utility, and transit districts as well as including state and federal government.

The National Bureau of Economic Research has concluded that the combined federal, state, and local government average marginal tax rate for most workers to be about 40% of income.[1][2]

[plus social security (FICA) and unemployment insurance] ?

Each state also has its own tax system.

Typically there is a tax on real estate, usually called property taxes . Real estate taxes are often imposed on the value of real estate by reason of its ownership. For example, in Texas the real estate tax is imposed on the real estate and in particular on the owner of the real estate as of January 1 of each tax year. The tax is computed by applying a tax rate to the appraised value of the real estate as of the tax date. Some states like New York also have a real estate transfer tax.

There may be additional income taxes, sales taxes, and excise taxes (including use taxes). Taxable income for state purposes is usually based on federal taxable income with certain state specific adjustments. For example, some states tax municipal bond interest derived from other states that are otherwise exempt from federal income tax. Thus, this income must be added to the federal taxable income to compute the income amount for state income tax purposes. Oil and mineral producing states often impose a severance tax, similar to an excise tax in that tax is paid on the production of products, rather than on sales. Similarly, most New England states have yield taxes on timber/firewood cutting, payable as a percentage of the value cut, not the profit. Taxes on hotel rooms are common, and politically popular because the citizens will often approve such a tax while the taxpayers will come from other areas.

Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming do not levy an individual income tax. New Hampshire and Tennessee only tax interest and dividend income. Delaware, Oregon, Montana and New Hampshire have no state or local sales tax. Alaska has no state sales tax, but allows localities to collect their own sales taxes up to a state-specified maximum.

Many states also levy personal property taxes, which are annual taxes on the privilege of owning or possessing items of personal property within the boundaries of the state. Automobile and boat registration fees are a subset of this tax; however, most people are unaware that practically all personal property is also subject to personal property tax. Usually, household goods are exempt; but virtually all objects of value (including art) are covered, especially when regularly used or stored outside of the taxpayer’s household.


List of taxes

Taxes and fees imposed by federal, state or local laws.

* Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
* U.S. capital gains tax
* Corporate income tax
* U.S. estate tax
* U.S. excise tax (includes taxes on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages)
* U.S. federal income tax

* Federal unemployment tax (FUTA)
* FICA tax (includes Social Security tax and related programs)
* Gasoline tax
* Generation Skipping Tax
* Gift tax
* IRS penalties

* Local income tax
* Luxury taxes
* Property tax
* Real estate tax
* Recreational vehicle tax
* Rental car tax
* Resort tax (also known as Hotel/Motel tax, occupancy tax)
* Road usage taxes (Commercial Vehicle Operators)
* Sales tax and equivalent use tax

* School tax
* State income tax
* State unemployment tax (SUTA)
* Tariffs
* Telephone federal excise tax
* Vehicle sales tax
* Workers compensation tax



Agency chief reiterates support for public health care option

* Story Highlights
* NEW: Health and Human Services secretary: Absolutely nothing has changed
* Sen. Kent Conrad: Co-ops could cut costs but wouldn’t be chief way of doing so
* Rep. Anthony Weiner, another Dem, calls public option crucial, co-op idea weak
* Lawmakers divided over whether public option has votes to pass in Congress

NEW YORK (CNN) — The Obama administration is not backing away from its support for a public option as part of health care reform, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stressed Tuesday.
We continue to support the public option, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

Here’s the bottom line: Absolutely nothing has changed, she said.

We continue to support the public option. That will help lower costs, give American consumers more choice and keep private insurers honest. If people have other ideas about how to accomplish these goals, we’ll look at those, too. But the public option is a very good way to do this.

She made her remarks during an address at a Medicare conference.




2009 Congressional and Presidential Transition

[And a lot of other nifty stuff including -]

Topic Collections

[And – ]

4. Food and Drug Administration

Food and Drug Administration: FDA Faces Challenges Meeting Its Growing Medical Product Responsibilities and Should Develop Complete Estimates of Its Resource Needs
GAO-09-581, June 19, 2009


[From Summary – ]


Twenty years ago, GAO reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was concerned that it lacked resources to fulfill its mission, which includes oversight of the safety and effectiveness of medical products–human drugs, biologics, and medical devices–marketed for sale in the United States.

Since then, FDA, GAO, and others have raised concerns regarding FDA’s ability to meet its oversight responsibilities. GAO was asked to review the resources supporting FDA’s medical product oversight responsibilities. GAO examined trends in (1) FDA’s funding and staffing resources for its medical product oversight responsibilities from fiscal years 1999 through 2008, and (2) FDA’s medical product oversight responsibilities during this same period.

GAO analyzed FDA data on the agency’s resources and workload, reviewed relevant federal laws, and interviewed FDA officials. GAO also examined more-detailed data on FDA’s fiscal year 2004 through 2008 resources and workload in four key areas, representing a range of FDA’s oversight responsibilities, both before and after a medical product is marketed in the United States.

Funding and staffing resources for FDA’s medical product programs increased between fiscal years 1999 and 2008, primarily as a result of increased user fees paid by industry, which are made available through appropriations acts to support the agency’s processes for reviewing new medical products. Total funding increased from about $562 million in fiscal year 1999 to about $1.2 billion in fiscal year 2008, with user fee funding accounting for more than half of this increase.

[My Note – so the pharmaceutical companies, and medical / health industry and manufacturers have been paying to get these reviews – hmmmm . . . now, isn’t that a little cozy relationship?]