Sunday , January 19 2020
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Articles by run75441

News and Words that Caught My Eye this Week

1 day ago

“Teacher of the Year‘ kneels during college football championship attended by Trump,”ABC News, January 16, 2020
During a ceremony honoring the 2019 “Teachers of the Year,” one in particular stood out.
The honoree from Minnesota, Kelly Holstine, chose to kneel during the national anthem at the NCAA football championship game on Monday, where the ceremony took place, “to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people,” according to a tweet she wrote, which included a photograph of her kneeling.
“Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during Nat’l Anthem because, ‘No one is free until we are all free,’” she wrote, referencing former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and citing a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Virginia school board

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Coming for Your Coverage, Trump’s Plot Against Health Care Continues

4 days ago

Adapted from; “Trump’s Plot Against Health Care Continues, He is still coming for your coverage and lying about it.,NYT Opinion, Paul Krugman, January 13, 2019.
Trump in a tweet: “Mini Mike Bloomberg is spending a lot of money on False Advertising. I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now, while at the same time winning the fight to rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate…..”
As one reporter noted, President Trump was not in office when the PPACA established a unpenalized right to healthcare even if you had pre-existing conditions. Much of Trump’s efforts since taking office has been to wipe away President Barack Obama’s legacy of which the PPACA was a major accomplishment in

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Sales Income for Drugs have Exceeded Risk Adjusted R & D Costs

6 days ago

I have been beating the drum for transparency of cost information before granting exclusivity for drugs via patents. With a patent, companies can charge what the market  will bear and have demonstrated they will do so on particular drugs such as insulin, Vimovo, EpiPens, etc. as well as other drugs identified in recent papers on Drug Pricing also. The following chart depicts cancer drug Sales Income as it relates to R & D Costs. It is an example of how quickly R & D costs can be recouped for Cancer drugs with the median being 2 to 5 years.
To get to the point quickly,  of the 156 US FDA-approved cancer medicines identified, 99 had data for more than half of the years since approval and were included in the WHO (Page 23) analysis. Total sales from this set

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Preventing Surprise Medical Bills

8 days ago

The idea I have is not to be surprised. I am a careful patient who asks a lot of questions and also advocate for myself. I have refused treatment when they use drugs which may threaten my health further (Heparin). I am also not well liked by the bloodsuckers who come in to draw blood and stab me through the vein for two weeks and destroyed my left arm in the process. Ask them questions and do not be so willing to accept treatment (if cognizant) until they answer your questions and then get their name. Take names and dates. It is ok to be a forceful advocate for yourself. When all is said and done, the bill will come to you alone.
If you are on Medicare, do not stay for observation unless you have a Plan G or Plan F. If you are on Plan N Supplemental to

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Pharma Price Increases 2020

12 days ago

As reported by Market Watch and Axios, drug prices are on the rise the beginning of 2020. The increases exceed the 2% inflation the nation has been incurring and the 3.4% growth in wages recently incurred by nonsupervisory labor. According to Market Watch, overall drug pricing will rise 5.8% at the start of 2020 due to price increases. This is about the same as Medical CPI.
Fortune Magazine; “The price hikes are almost all below 10%, with the median price increase hovering around 5%, though more price increases could come in the following weeks.
The increases are lower than the 2019 average price increase at 6.3% and it is within the 10% annual limit many Big Pharma companies have pledged to honor while politicians zero in on drug pricing as a key talking

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PPACA Healthcare Information

15 days ago

Of the 16.7 million uninsured people who could be shopping on the Marketplace whether or not they are eligible for a subsidy; a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis estimates 4.7 million of the uninsured Americans are eligible for free ($0 premiums) Bronze plans in the ACA marketplace. The 4.7 million is also a bit less than half of the uninsured who are eligible for marketplace subsidies, according to a 2017 Kaiser estimate.
Bronze plans have an average deductible of $6,506, and many people eligible for a $0 bronze premium would also be eligible for significant cost-sharing assistance by instead purchasing a silver plan. Single individuals with incomes below 250% of the poverty level can purchase benchmark silver plans with cost-sharing reductions (CSR) for

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Michigan Senate and House Majority Republicans Will Usurp the Public’s Right to Vote on an Abortion Ban

16 days ago

As I pointed out in a public meeting, Republicans have had control of the Michigan Senate since 1992, the House two-thirds of the time, and the governorship two of 3 times up till Gretchen Whitmer came to office. Yet under the control of Republicans, the state’s infrastructure is crumbling, its economy has decreased when compared to other nearby competitive states, and employment Participation Rate still has not returned to what it was pre-2008 when the Republicans left a nation’s economy in shambles and a large deficit.
The one thing Republicans are good at is attacking the rights of everyday citizens,  a woman’s right to birth control and information, the rights of minorities to societal equality, and the rights of those living homeless and in poverty.

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NAFTA Revision, H.R. 1865, and Biologics (Pharma) Switcheroo

17 days ago

Sigh . . .
If the general public has not caught it, there are some of us who watch the political mechanizations by commercial healthcare to improve their lot in Congress. I know the public has not caught this switcheroo in Congress causing them to look good (and boast of it) in removing new drug exclusivity from NAFTA. What we have missed is it was granted in H.R. 1865 instead and for a longer period of time to boot. Read on to see how this was accomplished.
Addressed to Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin:
The Good:
Yes with the revision of NAFTA, Democrats “removed a provision giving the makers of ultra-expensive biologic drugs 10 years of protection from less expensive knockoffs. This is up from 5 years.
Democrats opposed what they called a giveaway to the

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Summing Up the Last Decade

18 days ago

To steal from Sandwichman’s excellent commentary on 2020 Hindsight and use a quotation from it which does give the magnitude of the last 10 years in financial terms;
“A fourth wave of debt began in 2010 and debt has reached $55 trillion in 2018, making it the largest, broadest and fastest growing of the four” (since 1970). There is a cost to this and one which can be seen in the US as this debt formation is not going to “meet urgent development needs such as basic infrastructure, as much of the current debt wave is taking riskier forms”
akin to what we began to see in 2000 and culminating in 2007/8 with a disastrous economic collapse.
The Atlantic’s Anne Lowry also writes about the last decade. Perhaps, she is the wrong author to pick upon and use to

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The criminalization of homelessness

19 days ago

Poverty is the worst form of violence.  Mahatma Gandhi
This particular Baltimore Sun commentary goes hand in hand with Paul Krugman’s commentary on making life more difficult for the

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Paul Krugman: The cruelty of a Trump Christmas Medicaid, Work Reqmts, and Food Stamps Edition

19 days ago

This sets the tone in Michigan as the richest Republican controlled County of Livingston continues its attack on women along with the State of Michigan House and Senate using a petition to pass a veto-proof law limiting abortion without putting it forward on a ballot initiative. A tyranny of a minority imposing its will upon others.
“By Trump-era standards, Ebenezer Scrooge was a nice guy.
It’s common, especially around this time of year, to describe conservative politicians who cut off aid to the poor as Scrooges; I’ve done it myself. But if you think about it, this is deeply unfair to Scrooge.
For while Dickens portrays Scrooge as a miser, he’s notably lacking in malice. True, he’s heartless until visited by various ghosts. But his heartlessness consists

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How to Privatize the Post Office: Piece by piece, step by step

20 days ago

Steve Hutchins, a literature professor who teaches “place studies” at the Gallatin School of New York University. A few days ago, the Trump administration announced that one of its goals is to privatize the Postal Service. A private postal system, says the White House proposal, would deliver mail fewer days per week, shift to cluster boxes instead of door and curb delivery, adjust prices and negotiate wages and benefits without government interference, and “shrink its physical and personnel footprints,” i.e., close post offices, consolidate processing facilities, sell buildings, and shed jobs. According to Trump’s proposal, before privatization can happen, the Postal Service must show that it can be profitable, so it needs to cut costs on delivery, wages,

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Focusing on Congressional Efforts to Control Healthcare Pricing, They Do Not

21 days ago

Perhaps, I am on the wrong side of the argument on how to control healthcare costs of which one proposed solution is a part of the latest budget bill passed in a bipartisan effort in Congress on December 19, 2019. Others may disagree with me on my thoughts.
What was passed was superficial and will not fix the rising cost of healthcare which drives increased healthcare insurance deductibles and premiums. Oh, and surprise billing in hospitals still lives! Fixing surprise billing was set aside by Congress.
The latest bill (H.R. 1865) to impact the ACA passed the House 297 to 120 and the Senate 71 to 23. In the bill, the Health Insurance tax will be repealed in 2021, the Cadillac tax in 2020, and the Medical Device tax in 2020. The repeal of the three taxes

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Merry Christmas Bears and Others

26 days ago

2019 has been a strange year. I hope for  a better 2020 with  a Happy Landing later in the year.
In the spirit of Christmas; Be Safe, Enjoy Family, Be Thankful for Life, Give Freely to Others, Eat Hearty and Drink some good Beer, Wine, or Liquor of your choice, and Relax.
The appropriate saying for the time?
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps… means a little bit more!”

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The field was rigid and closed until Mark Thoma’s Economist’s View opened the debate to all comers

December 18, 2019

Noah Smith’s The End of Econ Blogging’s Golden Age, Bloomberg Opinion. December 17, 2019.
“If someone asked you to name the greatest economics blogger of all time, you might name Paul Krugman, or my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Tyler Cowen. But there’s a third name that deserves to be on that short list: Mark Thoma, an economics professor at the University of Oregon. On Friday, Thoma announced a well-deserved retirement. But the changes his blog made in the economics profession will endure.
Thoma’s blog, Economist’s View, began in 2005.”
The rest of the article can be found on the link provided above. As I was told, Angry Bear Blog linked to Economist’s View in the beginning.
Mark announced his retirement Friday, December 13, 2019. Best of luck going

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Trump’s Six Page Letter to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

December 17, 2019

Amazing . . .
President Trump’s Letter to the Speaker of the House Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
The first clue that much of the six pages of this letter was not written by Mr. Trump is the salutation; “Dear Madam Speaker.” Then it goes through a series of rants. You can catch a version on Politico also.

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“Ignorance has Won”

December 11, 2019

“I didn’t find half a dozen people,” John Richards (96) said on his website about the past in his search for associates to join him.
Mr. Richards started a society after seeing the “same mistakes over and over again” in the usage of the Apostrophe. He had hoped he would find half a dozen people who felt the same way and join him.
“Instead, within a month of my plaint appearing in a national newspaper, I received over 500 letters of support, not only from all corners of the United Kingdom, but also from America, Australia, France, Sweden, Hong Kong and Canada.”
And the rules?
Apostrophes are used to denote a missing letter or letters and are used to denote possession. Apostrophes are never ever used to denote plurals.
John Richards started the Apostrophe

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Something to keep in Mind when you enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans

December 7, 2019

It is not a dirty or hidden little secret. Insurance companies offering MA plans do not tell you that once you are in their plan, you are there potentially forever. Returning to traditional Medicare is ok but, getting a Medigap Plans to supplement the gap may lead to rejection or much higher premiums if you choose to come back and especially if their are pre-existing conditions.
The same as the Commercial MA companies, Medicare.gov websites are not always clear about the process of transferring out of MA to traditional Medicare and obtaining a Medigap plan. Being unconditionally accepted by a Medigap plan is guaranteed only within the first 12 months after enrolling in Medicare at age 65.
In 2019, one-third (34%) of all Medicare beneficiaries, 22 million

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The New Pharmacy Price Transparency Rule Put Forth by President Trump

December 5, 2019

“The New Hospital Price Disclosure Rule Is Important, But Only A First Step,” Health Affairs, James C. Capretta, August 26, 2019
The new proposed regulation on hospital price transparency is an important step toward consumer-friendly price information. The regulation introduces into federal price transparency, requirements such as the concepts: of service standardization, consumer-friendly organization and terminology, and bundling of which all of are crucial for a marketplace to become price competitive.
As the administration acknowledges, this regulation by itself will not fully address the opacity of today’s market. Additional disruptive changes will be necessary to give consumers usable pricing information. Among which, meaningful transparency requires

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Mapping the Land

November 29, 2019

I looked at this at first, wondered what it depicted, thought it might be a piece of art, and puzzled over it a bit. It is a topographical depiction (Lidar) of the Mississippi River. If you look closely, you can see roads and various plots of land in addition to the movement of the river bed over time and the various elevations.
One of the key techniques used in modern cartography has its beginnings in 17th century map-making. Relief shading techniques as shown by the darker and lighter areas give dimensions such as height (lighter) and depth (darker) areas to maps so a viewer of the map could understand the terrain. For a hiker, an army, someone buying a piece of land, or building a fence, etc. could understand the area depicted and prepare for and not be

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Good Morning

November 29, 2019

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving with family, friends, or strangers.
My young and pretty 20 – something year-old wife and I were traveling years ago. We were standing in a long line into the only restaurant at O’hare airport. It was a couple of days before a holiday and the airport was packed.
If you frequent O’Hare today, you must be thinking; “What is he thinking? O’Hare has many assorted places to dine.” Like I said this was years ago. O’Hare was not as big then as it is today.
The line was moving slow and we finally arrived at the front. There were two men dressed in suits behind us, a rarity today, unless you are traveling for business and doing a meeting that same day . . . which I have done at times. The restaurant greeter came to get us.
I

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Plastic: Part of the Problem . . . Part of the Solution – Part 4: Efficient Use of Recyclates

November 26, 2019

The problem of plastic waste seems insurmountable. The good news is plastic recycling is on the rise and that is good for the circular economy. In parts 1, 2 and 3, we delved into the role of the waste management and recycling industry and how material sorting technologies can help. Part 4 is all about the increased use of recyclates as an essential part of properly closing the plastic cycle.
[embedded content] The plastics industry is facing a great many challenges. Harvesting recyclates from waste is only worthwhile if the plastic has been properly sorted and does not contain any metal, and if the products made from the secondary raw material are similar in quality to those made from new plastic.
Manufacturing recyclates from plastic waste is the first

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Plastic: Part of the Problem . . . Part of the Solution – Part 3: Sorting Technology

November 25, 2019

As I mentioned, this 4 part presentation is being done by Sesotec GmbH, a company which manufactures recycling equipment. Even so the information given by Sesotec is to the point on the topic of pollution by man made packaging and products which can be sued again and again and in some cases up to 8 times. Fair warning as the pitch comes with regards to Sesotec’s abilities.
Around 70 years after the first plastic product hit the market, a world without plastic waste now seems like a distant vision. It’s time for a new perspective on this supposed waste. In the third instalment of our series, we focus on how we must all manage how we deal with plastics in future, and the role materials sorting technologies and contaminant detection systems play in

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Plastic: Part of the Problem . . . Part of the Solution – Part 2: the European Union’s Solution

November 22, 2019

As you can read for yourself, this is the second part  of the series. This part will introduce the EU’s proposed solution to plastic waste material of which Sesotec is to be a part of the solution. Since I am using Sesotec’s information, I will be stating their name as owner’s of this information from time to time.
Some 70 years after the first plastic products hit the market, a world without plastic waste still appears far off. We need a different approach to dealing with what many consider to be rubbish – and we need it fast. In this multi-part series, we will take a look at the role that the waste management and recycling industry can play in the process. Part I took us to China. Now it is time to take a look at Europe.
[embedded content] China is no

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SECURE Act Up for Consideration in the Senate – A Rehash

November 21, 2019

I covered the House SECURE Act and the Senate RESA version last July. The House RESA Act is up for consideration in the Senate now. It does not look like it is going to make it due to the impeachment process going on and a potential trial in the Senate. There is also a small matter of a budget needing to be passed. It was to be considered under an unanimous consent vote; however, three Republican Senators (Mike Lee of Utah [unidentified reason], Ted Cruz of Texas (529 Accounts), and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania [Gold Star tax exemption]) put holds on the bill (reasons in parenthesis). Then there is McConnell, who will not bring it to the floor for a vote.
Congress has been working on a much-needed improvement for “Middle Class” savings and growth over the

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Plastic: part of the problem . . . part of the solution – Part 1 (of 4): A Global Problem

November 20, 2019

Introduction: I am still on the mailing lists of quite a few resin and plastics companies. This particular presentation is from Sesotec GmbH (“company with limited liability”). Sesotec was an exhibitor at the K trade fair in Düsseldorf and now is reflecting on an exciting and positive trade fair appearance (for them) with its topic of a “Circular Plastics Economy.” This is part 1 of a 4 part presentation which I believe to be done in an exemplary manner and worthy of repeating.  Having cost modeled plastic parts at SY and Yazaki NA and purchased resins for Marquardt, Flex, and Stoneridge, I enjoyed the presentation.
This is why I thought this was worthy of presentation  at Angry Bear: “The K trade fair is held every three years and is an optimal

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Italy to make climate change study compulsory in schools

November 18, 2019

Reuters: Italy will become the first nation to require all schoolchildren to study climate change and sustainable development.
Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement: “The entire ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the center of the education model. All state schools would dedicate 33 hours per year or almost one hour per school week to climate change issues from the start of the next academic year in September 2020.
I want to make the Italian education system the first education system that puts the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school.”
Fioramonti goes on; “The entire education ministry is being changed to make sustainability and climate the center of the

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Some Election Results

November 6, 2019

I am not quite sure how to begin other than say I am angry at why it has to come to this , and still not enough, before people react.
Loudoun County, Virginia: One election event ended positively for a woman who had given Trump’s motorcade (and supposedly Trump) a message of defiance, a one finger salute, as it passed her while she was riding her bike. Former government contractor Julie Briskman won a seat on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Ms. Briskman defeated eight-year Republican incumbent, Suzanne Volpe and this is her first time in elected office.

Virginia House: Gaining 15 seats in the House in 2017; in 2019, Democrats added another five seats and perhaps a few more as other races are still to be decided. Democrats in Virginia

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Another Look at Drug Pricing, Costs, and Why

November 5, 2019

Median total costs Table for the most common prescriptions of each of the 49 high-volume brand-name drugs from 2012 through 2017 as detailed in JAMA Network Open’s “Trends in Prices of Popular Brand-Name Prescription Drugs in the United States” 2019.”
A Bit of A Summary: This particular table relates back to a post I wrote; Trends in Prices of Popular Brand-Name Prescription Drugs in the United States, JAMA Network Open, Nathan E. Wineinger; Yunyue Zhang; Eric J. Topol, May 2019
Unsupported Price Increase Report, Institute for Clinical and Economic Review; David M. Rind, Foluso Agboola, Varun M. Kumar, Eric Borrelli, Steven D. Pearson; October 2019
Technical Report, Pricing of cancer medicines and its impacts; World Health Organization; 2019
While

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DC Circuit grants Postal Watchdog’s challenge to PRC’s approval of rate hike on Forever stamps

November 1, 2019

An introduction to Save the Post Office and Steve Hutkins. I am not quite sure how I got to Steve; but, I do remember chatting with Mark Jamison who also wrote at Save the Post Office and posting his words up at Angry Bear (Asking the Wrong Questions: Reflections on Amazon, the Post Office, and the Greater Good earlier this year. Mark and I still exchange emails and I owe him a trip out to western North Carolina. Steve is the blog owner, a Prof. of Literature teaching “place studies” at the Gallatin School of New York University. Prof. Steve Hutkins has been writing about the Post Office for at least a decade and the attempts of government, UPS, Fedex, etc. to close it down or limit its operations.
“Save The Post Office” has been writing about the last 5

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