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Inquirer Daily News

Archive: June, 2013

POSTED: Friday, June 28, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Katheryne Lawrence

No matter how the organs are distributed, organ donation in the United States is a win-lose equation. When one person on a waiting list receives a lung, another person who is also on that list does not. As of Tuesday June 25, 2013 at 1:59am, 75,945 people across the United States were on active waiting lists for organs.

America has been rooting for 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan through her successful battle to receive a lung transplant. Throughout her struggle, the spotlight has been on the appropriateness of the rules for organ allocation. While those rules attempt to ensure fairness, they do not change the fact that there are not enough organs for everyone.

Eighteen people die every day waiting on the list. To solve this organ shortage crisis we need more organ donors. In the wake of Sarah’s story, many people have signed up. However, only about 45 percent of adults in the United States are registered organ donors. 

POSTED: Monday, June 24, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Robert I. Field
Holding a sign saying "We Love ObamaCare" supporters of health care reform rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, March 27, 2012, as the court continued hearing arguments on the health care law signed by President Barack Obama. Go ahead, call it Obamacare. Obama’s re-election campaign has lifted an unofficial ban on using the opposition’s derisive term for his health care law. Democratic activists have been chanting, "We love Obamacare," in front of the Supreme Court. And the campaign is selling T-shirts and bumper stickers that proclaim: "I like Obamacare." (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Is Obamacare on the ropes? The Government Accountability Office recently reported that it is falling behind schedule. Insurance exchanges, which are the centerpiece of its coverage expansion, may not be ready by the planned October 1 start date. 

The exchanges will be marketplaces through which individuals and small businesses buy policies. The law directs that they open for business on October 1 with the policies they sell becoming effective on January 1. But they may not be ready in time.

The GAO blamed much of the delay on the refusal by 34 states to establish their own exchanges. This has left the federal government with the burden of creating them. The law’s drafters had expected all but a handful of states to operate exchanges themselves. This unanticipated task is straining federal resources. (To read the full report, click here.)

POSTED: Thursday, June 13, 2013, 5:05 PM
Filed Under: Robert I. Field

Should a private company be allowed to own the information in your genes? The Supreme Court today said no when it ruled unanimously that genes cannot be patented.

Medical researchers and patient groups are rejoicing. But they may be celebrating a bit too soon. 

Genes are the chemical messengers that direct the functioning of every cell in your body. They are composed of DNA, a molecule that comes in long strands, known as chromosomes. Each one contains thousands of genes in a sequence.

POSTED: Friday, June 7, 2013, 6:00 AM
Filed Under: Katheryne Lawrence
In this photo taken Thursday, March 25, 2010, Dr. Carlos Ruvalcaba, left, examines Paula Medrano, one of the many patients he treats, at the Clinica Sierra Vista Elm unit in Fresno, Calif. Medrano is an undocumented immigrant. One of the 7 million uninsured people living in the United States who were explicitly excluded from the legislation, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office. The question of whether to extend coverage to illegal immigrants was so politically contentious that, under the approved legislation, they will not even be able to buy health insurance in the newly created purchasing pools called exchanges if they pay entirely out of their own pocket. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

While Congress debates immigration and health reform, one aspect of care for undocumented immigrants is not likely to change. That is the often invisible hospital practice of transporting sick and sometimes comatose patients to other countries. Stephen Colbert recently covered the issue after the story broke of two undocumented but insured immigrants in Iowa being deported back to Mexico while unconscious.

Stories like this seem like nightmares. In one instance, an Arizona hospital processed the deportation of a two-day-old American citizen born with Down’s syndrome from the neo-natal unit because his parents were undocumented. In another, a nineteen-year-old girl died after being wheeled out of a hospital’s back entrance used for garbage disposal and transferred to Mexico.

The practice of deporting hospital patients after discharge is called medical repatriation. Hospitals send patients back to their home country because of the cost of treating them as inpatients. This occurs with the tacit approval of American immigration authorities, although without their overt involvement. Two public interest organizations, the Center for Social Justice at Seton Hall University School of Law and New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, have cited more than 800 cases of attempted or actual medical reparations in recent years.  

About this blog

The Field Clinic reports and analyzes health care laws, government policies, and political trends that are transforming the care we receive and the way we pay for it. Read more about our panel of bloggers here.

This blog is produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health-policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. Portions of this blog may also be found on and in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

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Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. Professor, School of Law & Drexel School of Public Health
Jeffrey Brenner, MD Founder of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, Medical Director of the Urban Health Institute at Cooper University Healthcare
Andy Carter President & CEO, The Hospital & Healthsystem Assoc. of Pa.
Robert B. Doherty Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs & Public Policy American College of Physicians
Neil I. Goldfarb President & CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health
David Grande, MD, MPA Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Tine Hansen-Turton Chief Strategy Officer of Public Health Management Corporation
Drew A. Harris, DPM, MPH Director of Health Policy Program at the Jefferson School of Population Health
Antoinette Kraus Director of the Pennsylvania Health Access Network
Laval Miller-Wilson Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Law Project
David B. Nash, MD, MBA Founding Dean of the Jefferson School of Population Health
Howard J. Peterson, MHA Managing Partner of TRG Healthcare, a national healthcare consulting firm
Donald Schwarz, MD, MPH Deputy Mayor for Health & Opportunity and Health Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia
Paula L. Stillman, MD, MBA Healthcare consultant with special expertise in population health and disease management
Elizabeth A. W. Williams Senior Vice President & Chief Communications Officer for Independence Blue Cross
Krystyna Dereszowska A third-year law student concentrating in health at Drexel
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