Accommodation on Obamacare mandate?

The Obama administration released new guidelines meant to resolve the issue of religious institutions having to provide free contraceptive and abortifacient coverage under Obamacare.  This will have no effect on businesses run by pro-life individuals, who will still have to provide the coverage.  Read details after the jump.  So is this a solution? [Read more...]

Did the Supremes cripple Obamacare after all?

George Will reports on an article by Thomas A. Lambert, a University of Missouri law professor, who argues that the Supreme Court decision to approve Obamacare by defining its penalty for not having insurance as a “tax” may, in fact, ensure its failure:

[Chief Justice John] Roberts invoked what Lambert calls “a longstanding interpretive canon that calls for the court, if possible, to interpret statutes in a way that preserves their constitutionality.” Roberts did this by ruling that what Congress called a “penalty” for not obeying the mandate was really a tax on noncompliance.

This must, Lambert thinks, have momentous — and deleterious — implications for the functioning of the ACA. The problems arise from the interplay of two ACA provisions — “guaranteed issue” and “community rating.” [Read more...]

Having a Neanderthal baby

A Harvard geneticist is seeking a woman to be the surrogate mother of a Neanderthal baby.  From the London Daily Mail:

They’re usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species.

So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?

Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.

Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago. [Read more...]

A Cranacher could use some help

Michael Westfall is a longtime reader and commenter here.  His daughter Lidija is very sick and requires some special treatments.  She is a project for Give Forward.  The goal is to raise $5,000 by January 31st, and they are 73% of the way there.  Please give if you can at the link below.  From the site:

Six year old Lidija is a beautiful and sweet girl, who is loved by many. Two doctors have diagnosed her with Mast Cell Activation Disorder with gastrointestinal and renal involvement. She requires a special diet of a formula called, Neocate Junior, which is costing her family $35/day. They are also trying to have their daughter seen at NIH, Baylor or Mayo for medical treatment. Please do what you can and especially forward this message to anyone you know who may be willing to help.

Here  are the details of her story, and it’s a heart-rending read.

via Michael Westfall | lidijashope.

 

The fines begin for Obamacare abortifacient mandate

The $100 per day, per employee, fines have gone into effect for employers that refuse to provide insurance that includes free contraception and abortion-causing drugs.

Churches are exempt, and non-profit religious organizations were granted a one-year reprieve, but companies owned by pro-life individuals must either comply or start paying the fines.

Meanwhile, court cases have ruled all over the map on this issue.  For where things stand now, see   Courts Issue Contradictory Rulings as Contracepti… | Christianity Today.

Pain medication scandal

One of the biggest drug problems today is addiction to prescription pain medication like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet.  These are “opioids,” derived from natural or synthetic opium. They used to be prescribed for specific cases of acute pain, but back in the 1990s they began to be prescribed longer-term for chronic pain such as back problems.  Most people who get addicted–from celebrities like Rush Limbaugh to untold numbers of coal miners and other physical laborers–got their start from legitimate medical prescriptions for chronic pain.

Doctors started prescribing the opioids for chronic conditions because of research published in the New England Journal of Medicine and other key medical journals that said the drugs posted only “a minimal risk of addiction.”

But it’s coming out now that those scientific studies were not only sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies that sold the drug, but they also systematically failed to consider withdrawal symptoms in the patients they studied.  One participant in the studies now confesses that they were  “trying to create a narrative so that the primary care audience would . . . feel more comfortable about opioids.”

Investigative reporter Peter Whoriskey is digging out the details: Read Rising painkiller addiction shows damage from drugmakers’ role in shaping medical opinion – The Washington Post.

Opium is addictive!  Who knew?  Only 19th century literature fans who know their de Quincy and their Coleridge.  Scientific studies that maintain the contrary should have provoked suspicion.

I think pharmaceutical companies have been unfairly demonized–they are even showing up as stock villains in television and films–since their products do great good.  New drugs require huge investments and the federal approval process demands expensive testing.  Who else can pay for that?  That drug companies paid for a study does not necessarily invalidate it.  Still, scientific research is not always as objective as it appears.  The appearance of commercial bias here, though, in drugs that have become so widely prescribed and that can do so much harm is disturbing.


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