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   Vol. 69/No. 14           April 11, 2005  
 
 
Great Society
 
BY HARRY RING  
NYT to elderly
—“Drop dead”—The February 27 New York Times business section offered a think piece by Daniel Altman. He presented a step toward reducing the cost of Medicare, which he regards as a major factor in the Social Security “crisis.” He suggests, “How can Medicare’s ballooning cost be contained? One idea is to let people die earlierů. End-of-life care may also be a useful focus because, in some cases, efforts to prolong life may end up only prolonging suffering.”

If you’ll pardon the irony—We pondered the Times suggestion to curb Medicare costs by letting elderly people die earlier. Maybe the next idea that pops into their heads might be that seniors be denied flu shots.

Medicare gold—Utilizing a racketeering statute, the state of Florida is suing the Tenet hospital chain for $1 billion. It charges Tenet with filing crooked Medicare claims, creating a lack of Medicare funds for state public hospitals. Meanwhile, a foot-dragging federal probe estimates Tenet has overbilled Medicare by about $1.9 billion. And that’s just one pig at the trough.

‘Right to life’?—LONDON—“Four million newborns die every year but three-quarters of them could be saved, researchers said. Most of the deaths occurred in 10 countries in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and are caused by infections, prematurity and breathing problems related to birth complications.”—Reuters news agency.

In a word, imperialism—“The plight of newborns is not just a medical issue. It is also a moral issue of our times, a measure of our values and our feelings for others.”—Richard Horton, editor of Lancet, the medical magazine that published the findings.

Social Security “owners”?—“North Carolina: Greensboro—Layoffs of North Carolina’s textile and apparel workers have continued at such a rate that 2005 may be recorded as the second-worst year ever for the industry, some economists say. Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wachovia Corp. in Charlotte, said there may be 20,000 layoffs this year, second only to 2001 when the industry lost 25,000 jobs.”—USA Today.

It figures—“Charlotte, North Carolina, shelters say they’re trying to make room for teenage boys. They’re too young to sleep in rooms with adult men they don’t know and too old to share space with single women. The Salvation Army emergency shelter in Charlotte opened a new dorm down the hall from the women’s space where eight teen-age boys sleep in a small room. Of the 200 people on any given night at the Salvation Army shelter, children total nearly 50 percent.”—USA Today.  
 
 
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