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CDC Warns: Border Crossers May Expose US Population To Infectious Diseases Such As Tuberculosis

Picture overlooking El Paso border with microscopic picture of tuberculosis overlayed

Borders, Budgets, and the Rising Risk of Disease

Is there a perfect storm brewing along our nation’s southern border?  Let’s take a look at the numbers in El Paso, Texas where I recently visited:

  • There are 27 million crossings per year alone at the El Paso Point of Entry (POE)
  • Cuts to federal funding including a 50% reduction in the  Early Warning Infectious Disease Program as well as 12.5% cuts to critical preparedness and response funding;
  • Texas is second in the nation for number of tuberculosis cases, the majority of which are found near the border  and many of the cases involve tuberculosis strains that are drug resistant
  • The bordering country, Mexico, was the source of the last global influenza pandemic

So is this a bad situation getting worse or a ticking bomb? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Public Health Matters Blog*

Health And Life Insurance Companies Invested In Fast Food

A new article published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that U.S., Canadian, and European insurance firms hold $1.88 billion of investments in fast food companies like Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s/Arby’s Groups. Both health insurers and life insurers have substantial holdings in these companies.

A person just needs to read “Fast Food Nation” or watch the documentary “Food, Inc.” to understand the negative impact of processed foods on the health of our country.

The evidence is so compelling that the new health reform legislation is requiring fast food and chain restaurants to disclose calorie counts on their menus. Ironically, the new legislation will also add millions of customers to the health insurers. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

American Obesity And Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

We are a nation stricken with an epidemic of obesity, which contributes to the incidence of diabetes and heart disease. Each of these has been linked to consumption of sugar intake, and in particular, sugar-sweetened beverages.

There’s nothing evil about sugar — it’s just that too much of it in certain forms is bad for you. For the purpose of definition, sugar-sweetened beverages contain added, naturally-derived caloric sweeteners such as sucrose (table sugar), high-fructose corn syrup, or fruit juice concentrates. Read more »

This post, American Obesity And Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

The US Is Number One…

… in national health care expenditures, that is. This, of course, is nothing new: spending on health care in the U.S. has long out-paced any other industrialized country. What is noteworthy is “the largest one-year increase in [health care's] GDP share since the federal government began keeping track in 1960″ blogs Chris Fleming, of Health Affairs. He writes that a new study shows that health care spending increased by an estimated 5.7 percent since 2008 despite a projected decline in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the same period.

The recession is having a big impact on respective roles of the public and private sectors. “Health spending by public payers is expected to have grown much faster in 2009 (8.7 percent growth, to $1.2 trillion) than that of private payers (3.0 percent growth, to $1.3 trillion)” Fleming writes, which is attributable to an increase in “projected growth in Medicaid enrollment (6.5 percent) and spending (9.9 percent) as a result of increasing unemployment related to the recession. Conversely, enrollment in private insurance is expected to have declined 1.2 percent in 2009, despite federal subsidies for Americans who have lost their jobs to extend their private insurance coverage via the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) that increased participation in these plans.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Dr. Val’s Take On The Medical Ethics Debate: America’s A Funny Place

god-bless-americaDr. Rich recently posted a 3-part series on the shortcomings of medicine’s new ethics. While I personally find Dr. Rich’s writing style both nuanced and entertaining, there is no doubt that his posts require some focused attention. And so I thought I’d provide a “Cliff’s Notes” version for my regular readers (since Google analytics tells me they are unlikely to spend more than 2 minutes here at a time). ;-)

Advances in science and technology have provided us with valuable new treatment options for many diseases and conditions. Unfortunately, these new drugs, devices, and procedures are so expensive that we cannot (as a country) afford to make them accessible to everyone who could benefit from them. Medical technology has outpaced our ability to pay for it. This leaves us with an ethical dilemma: how do we ration access to modern medicine? Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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