Tag Archives: Health

Five Things to Know About the Latest Gene Editing Breakthrough

By Ben Panko – In this study, scientists worked with the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system, which is kind of like cut and paste on for genes. It’s based on a naturally occurring immune system found in many bacteria species in which the microbes keep a “hit list” of virus DNA in their genomes so they can recognize future dangerous intruders.

If any of that DNA is present, the bacteria deploys enzymes called Cas (CRISPR-associated proteins), which precisely and efficiently snip out that DNA.

This research was notable for its use of viable embryos, or embryos that could likely develop into a baby if allowed to grow, reports Dina Fine Moran for Scientific American.

This is the first time this has ever happened on U.S. soil, but scientists in China have already been pushing the envelope for years. more> https://goo.gl/oxtpXQ

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Decades of Data on World’s Oceans Reveal a Troubling Oxygen Decline
By Takamitsu Ito, Shoshiro Minobe, Matthew C. Long and Curtis Deutsch – A new analysis of decades of data on oceans across the globe has revealed that the amount of dissolved oxygen contained in the water – an important measure of ocean health – has been declining for more than 20 years.

The majority of the oxygen in the ocean is absorbed from the atmosphere at the surface or created by photosynthesizing phytoplankton. Ocean currents then mix that more highly oxygenated water with subsurface water. But rising ocean water temperatures near the surface have made it more buoyant and harder for the warmer surface waters to mix downward with the cooler subsurface waters. Melting polar ice has added more freshwater to the ocean surface – another factor that hampers the natural mixing and leads to increased ocean more> stratification.

Falling oxygen levels in water have the potential to impact the habitat of marine organisms worldwide and in recent years led to more frequent “hypoxic events” that killed or displaced populations of fish, crabs and many other organisms. more> https://goo.gl/3F17TB

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The American healthcare system is for profit, not patients

BOOK REVIEW

An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, Author: Elisabeth Rosenthal.

By Elisabeth Rosenthal – Everyone knows the healthcare system is in disarray. We’ve grown numb to huge bills. We regard high prices as an inescapable American burden. We accept the drugmakers’ argument that they have to charge twice as much for prescriptions as in any other country because lawmakers in nations like Germany and France don’t pay them enough to recoup their research costs.

But would anyone accept that argument if we replaced the word prescriptions with cars or films?

The current market for healthcare just doesn’t deliver. It is deeply, perhaps fatally, flawed.

Imagine if you paid for an airplane ticket and then got separate and inscrutable bills from the airline, the pilot, the copilot, and the flight attendants. That’s how the healthcare market works.

In no other industry do prices for a product vary by a factor of ten depending on where it is purchased, as is the case for bills I’ve seen for echocardiograms, MRI scans, and blood tests to gauge thyroid function or vitamin D levels.

The price of a Prius at a dealership in Princeton, New Jersey, is not five times higher than what you would pay for a Prius in Hackensack and a Prius in New Jersey is not twice as expensive as one in New Mexico.

The price of that car at the very same dealer doesn’t depend on your employer, or if you’re self-employed or unemployed. Why does it matter for healthcare? more> https://goo.gl/5oBK5k

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

BOOK REVIEW

The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Author: Peter Temin.

By Lynn Parramore – America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future.

They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don’t partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt.

They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. more> https://goo.gl/LKhYy6

Is Singapore’s “miracle” health care system the answer for America?

By Ezra Klein – This is a key difference between Singapore and America. The bulk of the American government’s intervention into the health care system is done through health insurance, and so American analysts often look at Singapore’s insurance system and stop there. But the bulk of the Singapore government’s intervention into the health care system is through the health care system itself

Take the way the two countries subsidize medical care. In America, insurance is often subsidized — by paying the bills of Medicare or Medicaid enrollees, by giving tax credits to Obamacare enrollees and employer-sponsored health plans. In Singapore, medical treatment itself is subsidized.

More than 80 percent of the hospital beds in Singapore are in public hospitals, and those hospitals are cut into different “wards” with different levels of amenities: A-class wards provide unsubsidized care but have single rooms and air conditioning, while C-class wards are overwhelmingly subsidized but are set up like shared dormitories with common toilets.

There are a number of ward levels in between, too, all with a sliding scale of comfort and subsidization. So both A-ward patients and C-ward patients are paying for their own care, but the prices they’re paying are very, very different, because the government is absorbing the direct cost of care in the C-wards. more> https://goo.gl/Gc4oy1

What Is Single-Payer Healthcare and Why Is It So Popular?

By Alicia Adamczyk – Single payer—or Medicare for All, as it’s sometimes referred to in the U.S.—is a system in which all healthcare financing is provided by one entity, such as (but not always) the federal government.

All residents receive core coverage regardless of income, occupation, or health status.

The U.S. is one of the only countries in the developed world that does not have such a system in place, but in other countries like Canada and England, the care itself is still provided by private organizations and doctors. But that care—everything from hospital visits to prescription drugs to mental health care—is covered for all residents by the state, via taxes determined by the state. In other words, public financing pays for private care.

Healthcare financing in the U.S. is an often complicated web of hospitals, doctors, and other care providers, middlemen like insurance and pharmaceutical companies, and public programs like Medicaid, Medicare, and state-run marketplaces. As many Americans know, it’s incredibly confusing and expensive for most parties involved.

According to Friedman’s report, Americans spend nearly four times as much on billing and insurance-related activities as doctors in Ontario do, where a single entity is in charge of billing and repayments. more> https://goo.gl/hdH62x

Updates from Georgia Tech

New Projects Create a Foundation for Next-Gen Flexible Electronics
By Josh Brown – Four projects set to move forward at the Georgia Institute of Technology aim to lay the groundwork for manufacturing next-generation flexible electronics, which have the potential to make an impact on industries ranging from health care to defense.

Researchers at Georgia Tech are partnering with Boeing, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, General Electric, and DuPont as well other research institutions such as Binghamton University and Stanford University on the projects.

Flexible electronics are circuits and systems that can be bent, folded, stretched or conformed without losing their functionality. The systems are often created using machines that can print components such as logic, memory, sensors, batteries, antennas, and various passives using conductive ink on flexible surfaces. Combined with low-cost manufacturing processes, flexible hybrid electronics unlock new product possibilities for a wide range of electronics used in the health care, consumer products, automotive, aerospace, energy and defense sectors.

“Flexible electronics will make possible new products that will help us address problems associated with food supply, clean water, clean energy, health, infrastructure, and safety and security,” said Suresh Sitaraman, a professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, who is leading Georgia Tech’s flexible electronics activities. more> https://goo.gl/qjx3UT

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From bedroom to boardroom, Supreme Court is in your business

By Nancy Benac – The influence of the court’s nine justices is hard to overstate. So pay attention as Congress prepares to take up the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to join the high court.

From the time Americans roll out of bed in the morning until they turn in, the court’s rulings are woven into daily life in ways large and small.

“From the air you breathe and the water you drink to the roof over your head and the person across from you in bed, the Supreme Court touches all of that,” says Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center.

A walk through daily life on the lookout for Supreme Court fingerprints … more> https://goo.gl/ykUXDt

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No easy answers: why left-wing economics is not the answer to right-wing populism

By Zack Beauchamp – Since World War II, Western European politics has been structured by the ideals of social democracy. From Germany to France to Sweden to Italy, every nation adopted some version of the basic social democratic vision — a mixed-market economy defined by both private property and deep government involvement, with high levels of taxation and sometimes stifling government regulation of the private sector, in exchange for a generous social welfare system that offers things like universal health care and free or heavily subsidized education.

By most measures, though, Europe’s social and economic programs provide their citizens with better standards of living than can be found in the US. That, however, hasn’t kept the parties that advocate and defend those policies most vigorously from steadily losing votes.

The American welfare state has always been weaker than its counterparts around the West. Correspondingly, you see the highest rates of inequality in the developed world, with 3 million American children living on less than $2 a day and a health care system that ranks dead last in the respected Commonwealth Fund’s measures of performance among 11 developed countries.

The uncomfortable truth is that America’s lack of a European-style welfare state hurts a lot of white Americans. But a large number of white voters believe that social spending programs mostly benefit nonwhites. As such, they oppose them with far more fervor than any similar voting bloc in Europe. more> https://goo.gl/nfAZ7s

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The Republican Health-Care Bill Is Not Designed to Actually Work

By Jonathan Bernstein – In other words, it’s not exactly designed to pass and become a law that actually works.

Speaker Paul Ryan might get the necessary 218 Republicans to close their eyes, hold hands, and jump over a cliff in order to get the bill to the Senate. It’s still unlikely that the bill will pass in the Senate, where Republicans have a much slimmer majority. And that majority includes some senators who simply won’t vote for significant cuts in Medicaid, since that would mean stripping health care away from people (voters!) who currently have it.

Indeed, the bill is hardly certain to pass the House, where many Republicans want (among other things) much deeper Medicaid cuts.

So, as Ezra Klein asks, what’s the point? What’s the problem the bill is supposed to solve? more> https://goo.gl/uDcmwc

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