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Donald Trump Chooses Tom Price as Health Secretary

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Price has led efforts to craft a GOP alternative to the spectacularly unpopular Affordable Care Act.

WASHINGTON— Louise Radnofsky and Peter Nicholas report: President-elect Donald Trump has chosen House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R., Ga.) as his nominee for secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, according to a transition team adviser, putting the six-term congressman in charge of the sprawling agency that will likely dismantle Democrats’ 2010 health-care overhaul.

“We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care. The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best.”

Mr. Price, a 62-year-old former orthopedic surgeon, is one of several GOP physicians who sought to carve out a leading role in shaping the party’s health policy and, in particular, the party’s alternative vision to Democrats’ Affordable Care Act. Much of his criticism of the law has centered on the authority it gives to the federal government, and to the agency that he may now head.

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“There’s a genuine desire to have us coalesce around a single plan so that the American people can see who’s trying to solve these challenges. I wouldn’t draw any lines in the sand other than that the path that we’re on doesn’t work.”

“We think it’s important that Washington not be in charge of health care,” he said in an interview this summer. “The problem that I have with Obamacare is that its premise is that Washington knows best.”

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

He has championed his own legislation, the Empowering Patients First Act, since 2009, taking a position on a number of hot-button issues for conservative health policy thinkers. In its latest iteration, the proposal includes refundable, age-adjusted tax credits for people to buy insurance if they don’t have access to coverage through an employer or government program. People in a government program, such as Medicare, Medicaid or Tricare, would also be allowed to opt out of it and get tax credits toward the cost of private coverage instead.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attends an event held in observance of World AIDS Day at the White House in Washington December 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama and his HealthCare.gov website face another critical test starting this week, as Americans who have been unable to enroll in health coverage under Obamacare rush to a site that continues to face challenges. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attends an event held in observance of World AIDS Day at the White House in Washington December 2, 2013. U.S. President Barack Obama and his HealthCare.gov website face another critical test starting this week, as Americans who have been unable to enroll in health coverage under Obamacare rush to a site that continues to face challenges. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Mr. Price had previously included tax deductions in his plans, a tool typically favored by harder-line conservative health policy thinkers, but said he had “moved towards credits because we felt it was cleaner.”

The plan offers a one-time credit aimed at boosting health savings accounts, long described by supporters as a way of bringing down medical spending, and derives part of its funding from capping how much employers can spend on providing employee health care before being taxed. The plan seeks to make health insurance available to individuals with pre-existing medical conditions by helping states set up new “high-risk” pools or other programs for such enrollees, and sets new rules allowing insurers to sell policies across state lines.

At every turn, he is confronted by the irrationalities and inconveniences of his own health-care law

At every turn, he is confronted by the irrationalities and inconveniences of his own health-care law

But Mr. Price, whose rise in the congressional ranks began at the conservative Republican Study Committee and then steadily climbed, has already said he is open to compromise with fellow GOP lawmakers on many points. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] The Alternative Medicine Racket: How the Feds Fund Quacks

Behind the dubious medical claims of Dr. Mehmet Oz and Deepak Chopra is a decades-long strategy to promote alternative medicine to the American public. Twenty-three years ago, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began to investigate a wide variety of unconventional medical practices from around the world. Five-and-a-half billion dollars later, the NIH has found no cures for disease. But it has succeeded in bringing every kind of quackery—from faith healing to homeopathy—out of the shadows and into the heart of the American medical establishment.

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Go here to read the full article and for downloadable versions of the video. Subscribe to ReasonTV’s YouTube Channel to receive notifications when new material goes live. Read the rest of this entry »


Commentary: ‘I Don’t Vaccinate My Child Because It’s My Right To Decide What Eliminated Diseases Come Roaring Back’

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The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child’s parent. Never.

90Andrea Martin writes: As a mother, I put my parenting decisions above all else. Nobody knows my son better than me, and the choices I make about how to care for him are no one’s business but my own. So, when other people tell me how they think I should be raising my child, I simply can’t tolerate it. Regardless of what anyone else thinks, I fully stand behind my choices as a mom, including my choice not to vaccinate my son, because it is my fundamental right as a parent to decide which eradicated measlesdiseases come roaring back.

“The bottom line is that I’m this child’s mother, and I know what’s best. End of story. Politicians, pharmaceutical companies—they don’t know the specific circumstances that made me decide to breathe new life into a viral infection that scientists and the nation at large celebrated stamping out roughly a century ago.”

The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child’s parent. Never.

“It’s simple: You don’t tell me how to raise my kids to avoid reviving a horrific illness that hasn’t been seen on our shores since our grandparents were children, and I won’t tell you how to raise yours.”

Say what you will about me, but I’ve read the information out there and weighed every option, so I am confident in my choice to revive a debilitating illness that was long ago declared dead and let it spread like wildfire from school to school, town to town, and state to state, until it reaches every corner of the country. Leaving such a momentous decision to someone you haven’t even met and who doesn’t care about your child personally—now that’s absurd!

University Of Iowa Begins Vaccinating Students For Mumps

Maybe I choose to bring back the mumps. Or maybe it’s diphtheria. Or maybe it’s some other potentially fatal disease that can easily pass among those too young or too medically unfit to be vaccinated themselves. But whichever highly communicable and formerly wiped-out disease that I opt to resurrect with a vengeance, it is a highly personal decision that only I and my family have the liberty to make. Read the rest of this entry »


Government Experts Going Into Battle Facing The Wrong Way: The Last Anti-Fat Crusaders

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Experts now designing the next set of dietary recommendations remain mired in the same anti-fat bias and soft science that brought us the low-fat diet in the first place

For WSJ, Big Fat Surprise author Nina Teicholz writes: The top scientist guiding the U.S. government’s nutrition recommendations made an admission last month that would surprise most Americans. Low-fat diets, Alice Lichtenstein said, are “probably not a good idea.” It was a rare public acknowledgment conceding the failure of the basic principle behind 35 years of official American nutrition advice.

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Yes, it’s good for you

“The USDA committee’s mandate is to ‘review the scientific and medical knowledge current at the time.’ But despite nine full days of meetings this year, it has yet to meaningfully reckon with any of these studies—which arguably constitute the most promising body of scientific literature on diet and disease in 50 years.”

Yet the experts now designing the next set of dietary recommendations remain mired in the same anti-fat bias and soft science that brought us the low-fat diet in the first place. This is causing them to ignore a large body of rigorous scientific evidence that represents our best hope in fighting the epidemics of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

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“Instead, the committee is focusing on new reasons to condemn red meat, such as how its production damages the environment. However, this is a separate scientific question that is outside the USDA’s mandate on health.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans—jointly published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) every five years—have had a profound influence on the foods Americans produce and consume.

Since 1980, they have urged us to cut back on fat, especially the saturated kind found mainly in animal foods such as red meat, butter and cheese. Instead, Americans were told that 60% of their big-fat-surprisecalories should come from carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta, bread, fruit and potatoes. And on the whole, we have dutifully complied.

[Order Nina Teicholz’s bookThe Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet” from Amazon]

By the turn of the millennium, however, clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were showing that a low-fat regime neither improved our health nor slimmed our waistlines. Consequently, in 2000 the Dietary Guidelines committee started to tiptoe away from the low-fat diet, and by 2010 its members had backed off any mention of limits on total fat. Read the rest of this entry »


Susan Page: Obama Administration Most ‘Dangerous’ to Media in History

At some point, a compendium of condemnations against the Obama administration’s record of media transparency (actually, opacity) must be assembled. Notable quotations in this vein come from former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramsonwho said, “It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering”; New York Times reporter James Risen, who said, “I think Obama hates the press”; and CBS News’s Bob Schiefferwho said, “This administration exercises more control than George W. Bush’s did, and his before that.”

“It is the most secretive White House that I have ever been involved in covering.”

— Jill Abramson

USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page has added a sharper edge to this set of knives. Speaking Saturday at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) seminar, Page called the current White House not only “more restrictive” but also “more dangerous” to the press than any other in history, a clear reference to the Obama administration’s leak investigations and its naming of Fox News’s James Rosen as a possible “co-conspirator” in a violation of the Espionage Act.

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The WHCA convened the event both to strategize over how to open up the byways of the self-proclaimed most transparent administration in history, as well as to compare war stories on the many ways in which it is not. Peter Baker, the veteran Washington reporter from the New York Times, provided perhaps the best instance of White House-administered madness. In covering a breaking story recently, Baker received a note from a White House handler indicating that President Obama had been briefed on the matter in question.

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That information came to Baker “on background.” The gist: Not from me — a meeting has occurred..

Other gripes: Correspondents took aim at large-scale “deep background” briefings — attended by up to 40-odd reporters — at which ground rules specify no names for the officials in attendance and no quotations of anything they say. ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl spoke of covering the Boston Marathon bombings. As the story developed, Karl noted that the White House wasn’t giving out any information at all. So he went around it and found out that the feds were sending their high-value interrogation team to Boston. “No way I would have gotten that out of the White House,” said Karl. Read the rest of this entry »


On/Off Switch for Aging Cells Discovered

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editor-commen-deskI wonder if primatologist has read this yet. Before the era of fairy tales, superstition and nonstop Global panic — back in the milk & honey days of late 20th century–he was our Matt Drudge of science news, kept everybody up on the latest life extension research. This should come as welcome news, if it can deliver benefits fast enough. Read the full text here.

Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off “switch” in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing and generating, for example, new lung or liver tissue, even in old age.

“Previous studies had suggested that once assembled, telomerase is available whenever it is needed. We were surprised to discover instead that telomerase has what is in essence an ‘off’’ switch, whereby it disassembles.”

— Senior author Vicki Lundblad

In our bodies, newly divided cells constantly replenish lungs, skin, liver and other organs. However, most human cells cannot divide indefinitely–with each division, a cellular timekeeper at the ends of chromosomes shortens. When this timekeeper, called a telomere, becomes too short, cells can no longer divide, causing organs and tissues to degenerate, as often happens in old age. But there is a way around this countdown: some cells produce an enzyme called telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres and allows cells to divide indefinitely.

In a new study published September 19th in the journal Genes and Development, scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered that telomerase, even when present, can be turned off. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Following the Government’s Nutritional Advice Can Make you Fat and Sick

RADIUS IMAGES/CORBIS

RADIUS IMAGES/CORBIS

For City JournalSteven Malanga writes:

Last October, embarrassing e-mails leaked from New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene disclosed that officials had stretched the limits of credible science in approving a 2009 antiobesity ad, which depicted a stream of soda pop transforming into human fat as it left the bottle. “The idea of a sugary drink becoming fat is absurd,” a scientific advisor warned the department in one of the e-mails, a view echoed by other experts whom the city consulted. Nevertheless, Gotham’s health commissioner, Thomas Farley, saw the ad as an effective way to scare people into losing weight, whatever its scientific inaccuracies, and overruled the experts. The dustup, observed the New York Times, “underlined complaints that Dr. Farley’s more lifestyle-oriented crusadesshakedown are based on common-sense bromides that may not withstand strict scientific scrutiny.”

[Steven Malanga’s book Shakedown: The Continuing Conspiracy Against the American Taxpayer is available at Amazon]

Under Farley and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York’s health department has been notoriously aggressive in pursuing such “lifestyle-oriented” campaigns (see the sidebar below). But America’s public-health officials have long been eager to issue nutrition advice ungrounded in science, and nowhere has this practice been more troubling than in the federal government’s dietary guidelines, first issued by a congressional committee in 1977 and updated every five years since 1980 by the United States Department of

A British physician calls for an end to the war against saturated fat that began in the 1970s after saturated fat intake was linked to heart disease. Among the research cited is evidence that the saturated fat in dairy products may be protective against heart risk. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Agriculture. Controversial from the outset for sweeping aside conflicting research, the guidelines have come under increasing attack for being ineffective or even harmful, possibly contributing to a national obesity problem. Unabashed, public-health advocates have pushed ahead with contested new recommendations, leading some of our foremost medical experts to ask whether government should get out of the business of telling Americans what to eat—or, at the very least, adhere to higher standards of evidence.

Until the second half of the twentieth century, public medicine, which concerns itself with community-wide health prescriptions, largely focused on the germs that cause infectious diseases. Advances in microbiology led to the development of vaccines and antibiotics that controlled—and, in some cases, eliminated—a host of killers, including smallpox, diphtheria, and polio. These advances dramatically increased life expectancy in industrialized countries. In the United States, average life expectancy improved from 49 years at the beginning of the twentieth century to nearly 77 by the century’s end. Read the rest of this entry »


Is the Scientific Process Broken?

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Scientific research has changed the world. Now it needs to change itself

A simple idea underpins science: “trust, but verify”. Results should always be subject to challenge from experiment. That simple but powerful idea has generated a vast body of knowledge. Since its birth in the 17th century, modern science has changed the world beyond recognition, and overwhelmingly for the better.

But success can breed complacency. Modern scientists are doing too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity.

Too many of the findings that fill the academic ether are the result of shoddy experiments or poor analysis (see article). A rule of thumb among biotechnology venture-capitalists is that half of published research cannot be replicated. Even that may be optimistic. Last year researchers at one biotech firm, Amgen, found they could reproduce just six of 53 “landmark” studies in cancer research. Earlier, a group at Bayer, a drug company, managed to repeat just a quarter of 67 similarly important papers. A leading computer scientist frets that three-quarters of papers in his subfield are bunk. In 2000-10 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on research that was later retracted because of mistakes or improprieties.

Read the rest of this entry »


Researcher controls colleague’s motions in first human brain-to-brain interface

University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao, left, plays a computer game with his mind. Across campus, researcher Andrea Stocco, right, wears a magnetic stimulation coil over the left motor cortex region of his brain. Stocco’s right index finger moved involuntarily to hit the “fire” button as part of the first human brain-to-brain interface demonstration. Images: Univ. of Washington

University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao, left, plays a computer game with his mind. Across campus, researcher Andrea Stocco, right, wears a magnetic stimulation coil over the left motor cortex region of his brain. Stocco’s right index finger moved involuntarily to hit the “fire” button as part of the first human brain-to-brain interface demonstration. Images: Univ. of Washington

University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao, left, plays a computer game with his mind. Across campus, researcher Andrea Stocco, right, wears a magnetic stimulation coil over the left motor cortex region of his brain. Stocco’s right index finger moved involuntarily to hit the “fire” button as part of the first human brain-to-brain interface demonstration. Images: Univ. of WashingtonUsing electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other side of the UW campus, causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard.

While researchers at Duke Univ. have demonstrated brain-to-brain communication between two rats, and Harvard researchers have demonstrated it between a human and a rat, Rao and Stocco believe this is the first demonstration of human-to-human brain interfacing.

“The Internet was a way to connect computers, and now it can be a way to connect brains,” Stocco said. “We want to take the knowledge of a brain and transmit it directly from brain to brain.”

The researchers captured the full demonstration on video recorded in both labs. The following version has been edited for length.

Read the rest of this entry »