I realized sometime yesterday that I’d been neglecting the news, so I’ve been doing some binge-reading of the New York Times and there were a few items that caught my interest enough to warrant comment:
- The city of Chicago is already preparing for effects of climate change that won’t even come about till the end of the century. Seriously. It’s an effort begun by former mayor, Richard Daley — and by all indications will continue under the new Emanuel administration — and it really blows my mind in terms of the sheer ambition and comprehensiveness of the plan. Everything from repaving alleyways to be more conducive to water runoff, to planting Southern trees more able to handle what are expected to be significantly warmer temperatures. They’ve even got consulting firms — working pro bono! — to develop plans for making the city a zero-waste community. The article mentions that Chicago intends to be a national leader, and I hope that intention is realized. There truly is no excuse for further delaying efforts such as these to accommodate the changes in our planet’s climate, and Chicago deserves a lot of credit for taking the lead.
- There was an understandable uproar here in Indiana when Gov Daniels and the Republican-led legislature flouted federal law and declared Planned Parenthood ineligible for Medicaid reimbursement. Beyond the baldly opportunistic support of this bill by Daniels (remember when he declared a “truce” on social issues?) is the utter hypocrisy shown by the Republican Party. At the very same time that Congressional Republicans are trying to defund health care reform in order to “protect a patient’s choice and ensure personal health care decisions are made by the individual, their families, and their physicians“, Indiana’s own Family and Social Services Administration is making clear that “Medicaid clients who went to Planned Parenthood will have to go to someone else. This is not a change in services. It’s a change in providers.” See, Republicans want patients to have their choice of medical care providers, as long as that provider isn’t one that devotes all of three-percent of its resources to the still-legal procedure known as abortion. And they have the gall to suggest that “Obamacare” is a government intrusion…
- Speaking of health care, cardiologist Rita Redberg had a fantastic Op-Ed in yesterday’s Times in which she outlines just one of the ways money can be saved from Medicare: ending the coverage of unproven and ineffective practices, such as the use of cardiac stents and unnecessary implantation of cardiac defibrillators. While defending the right of the doctor and patient to freely make decisions, and also recognizing the political difficulty of discussing care-appropriateness in the context of a patient’s age (recall the row when US Preventive Services Task Force advised against annual mammograms in women over forty, for instance), she strongly argues for administrative changes within Medicare that would allow it to save taxpayer money by not spending it on tests and procedures proven to be useless. There is no easy way to have this kind of discussion, but we must have it if we truly care about keeping Medicare sustainable rather than using it as a blunt political instrument.
- Finally — and I normally skip over these things — this week’s Home section had an intriguing article on the concern designers and such have over impending light-bulb changes and the near-paranoid collecting of incandescent bulbs it has prompted. Apparently, there is widespread confusion over the actual impact of the bill, in spite of repeated efforts by various manufacturers’ associations to clarify, and, not surprisingly, there’s no help to be had from conservative commentators (ie, Glenn Beck) who are more than happy to decry the “nanny state” law and encourage the hoarding of the endangered lighting instruments. They ignore the fact — I assume by not actually bothering to read the bill — that it, quite reasonably, requires an increase in bulb efficiency and that a wide range of bulbs (including my beloved three-way bulbs) are totally exempt. But what really got me was this quote from Joseph Higbee, spokesman for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association: “My hope is that the media can help the American people understand the energy-efficient lighting options available, as opposed to furthering misconceptions.” I feel like I can almost hear the resignation in his voice, and it breaks my heart.