Rolling Stone blindsided McChrystal, violated journalistic ethics…

Based on facts as presented in an article in today’s Washington Post, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that writers, fact-checkers, and editors responsible for Rolling Stone magazine’s controversial profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal violated the terms under which Rolling Stone’s writer, Michael Hastings, was granted access to McChrystal and his staff.

Addtionally, according to the Post, the Rolling Stone article included inaccuracies, even after fact-checkers were given corrected information, and generally blindsided the general and Pentagon officials who had authorized the access and article by  including off-the-record information without any prior notice, specifically by pointedly not including requests for verification or clarification on many of the most controversial aspects of the article which were apparently collected outside the agreed upon bounds of the reportage process. And, even in some cases where Rolling Stone received corrected information, they  printed the inaccurate version of the facts anyway.


Cuts in Medicare payments backfire as doctors prescribe more unnecessary procedures

The New York Times is reporting on a study that indicates  cancer treatment specialists, who prior to the cuts in allowed Medicare payments  were often making a handy 20% profit on the cancer drugs they prescribed and administered, responded to cuts in the allowed compensation amounts intended to curtail that profit-taking by physicians by prescribing more treatments — increasing volume to make up for a drop in windfall profit.

The study, which will be published in the July issue of Health Affairs, examined changes in payments for certain cancer drugs as part of Congress’s 2003 overhaul of Medicare.

The issue was the large sums that cancer specialists made from the difference between what they paid for the chemotherapy drugs they gave to patients and how much Medicare reimbursed them for those drugs. In some cases, a doctor could buy the drugs for about 20 percent below the price Medicare set for the drugs, which are given intravenously in a doctor’s office.

There was an upside, though. Critics had worried that the change in price structuring might mean that doctors would stop prescribing needed chemotherapies, sloughing them off to clinics.

But what happened was that doctors began prescribing more chemotherapy — apparently to make up for lost revenue.

“In sum, far from limiting access,” the changes under the law “actually increased the likelihood that lung cancer patients received chemotherapy,” the study concluded.

Doctors responded by treating more patients because they had been making so much money under the old system, Professor Newhouse said. “These markups were a substantial portion of their income,” he said.

It wasn’t all upside, though, since some doctors decided to deal with cuts in markups by switching to more profitable treatments — with little or no regard for the efficacy or appropriateness of treatment:

The study found that doctors frequently switched to more expensive options, like increasing their reliance on drugs like docetaxel, where doctors were paid roughly $2,500 for giving a standard monthly amount. “The financial incentive seemed to have an effect where there’s not strong evidence or more than one equally good treatment option,” Dr. Earle said.

But at the same time, Dr. Earle said, he thinks some cancer doctors left private practice for positions in hospitals because of the lower reimbursement rates, which made them no longer able to afford being independent.

“When you squeeze the system in a little place, there is a lot of change,” he said, “but not always the way one would expect.”

Tea Party candidate Sharron Angle hints at armed revolt

Speaking on a conservative talk show, Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle, running for Senate in Nevada and hoping to unseat Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, suggested that — if Congress doesn’t get the Tea Party message — that some will be looking to what she called “Second Ammendment remedies.”

Here are some of her comments, quoted here by ScrippsNews:

She said the purpose of the right to bear arms is to check the federal government. But she stopped short of saying that she would support an armed uprising.

“Our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government,” Angle told conservative talk show host Lars Larson in January. “In fact, Thomas Jefferson said it’s good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that’s not where we’re going, but you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.”

Nev. Senate hopeful Sharron Angle talks of armed revolt

More racist nonsense from Arizona

When the director of Prescott, Arizona’s Downtown Mural Project was overseeing a mural on the side of a school that was designed and painted with the help of students at the school and drawn from images of the children’s faces at the school, he says he and the student artists were continually barraged by racist taunts and insults from those  driving by.

When Steve Blair,  Prescott city councilman and talk show radio host — who says he “can’t stand” the word diversity — mounted a campaign against the mural, calling the mural “graffiti” and complaining that the most prominent face on the mural seemed to be that of a black person, and citizens writing in to the local paper described the mural as “ghetto,” the school had had enough.

They courageously stepped up and did the right thing.

They asked the mural project team to lighten the color of the children’s faces in the painting.

Blair has since been fired from his afternoon radio talk show host job, but continues to represent his constituency on the Prescott City Council.

An island of sanity…

Arizona police officer Martin Escobar, a 15 year veteran of the Tucson police department, is setting out to challenge that state’s not-yet-implemented anti-illegal-immigrant law, which opponents call oppressive and predict will backfire, endangering public safety by causing the state’s large immigrant population to avoid reporting crimes, since doing so will make those reporting crimes subject to arrest and possible deportation.

The new state law mandates that state and local police must ascertain the legal residency of anyone they make legal contact with and act on any illegal immigrants they find, even if the illegals are witnesses or victims.

Escobar is one of two Arizona police officers who have taken it upon themselves to file lawsuits challenging the Arizona law in federal court.