The U.S. health care system “prizes the length of a patient’s life over the quality of that life in a person’s final years,” writes TCF fellow Harold Pollack at the Washington Post’s Wonkblog. Pollack interviews author Atul Gawande, whose new book argues that those priorities are wrong. Says Gawande:
If you look at the studies, they find that having a palliative care doctor or geriatrician more closely involved in care can lead people to forego aggressive therapy sooner and have better outcomes--not only less suffering but even improved survival. But we don’t have enough of these doctors to go around.
Read the full interview at WonkBlog.
Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish quotes TCF fellow Harold Pollack’s defense of the CDC.
Despite the CDC’s budget problems and its recent stumbles, it is a more effective, better-led organization than it was during the Bush years, when five out of six former agency directors publicly criticized the CDC’s managerial hijinks, low morale and lapses from scientific integrity. At that time, the CDC ranked 189th out of 222 federal agencies in workforce morale. It now ranks 49th out of 300 federal agencies on such measures. That’s a striking improvement.
Read the full article.
TCF fellow Harold Pollack writes in Politico that while Ebola is a disaster in Africa, but a pretty containable threat here in the United States that "requires a calm, methodical response."
The words “calm and methodical” don’t quite match what we’re seeing. If you’re just tuning in, you might believe that America has lost its mind. Consider:
Cable TV and social media repeatedly fuel collective stupidity and fear.
Read the full article at Politico.
Remember in 2009 when everyone was dodging blame for the financial crisis? Depending on who you asked, it was the bankers, the federal regulators, Fannie Mae, fraudster mortgage companies, the ratings agencies and the sub-prime borrowers themselves. The favorite claim of excuse makers was that no single group was to blame -- it was a cluster-f*** as one journalist friend put it.
If everyone did it, no one could be held accountable. But it wasn't true. Bankers and regulators were the major creators of the crisis, for their neglect and single-minded self-aggrandizement that often involved bending the rules.
But let me single out one group that avoided blame and deserved plenty of it: mainstream economists. The deeply held ideas of the nation's most elite economists from the Right and the Left were direct causes of the crisis, justifying perverse behavior on Wall Street and in Washington, and careless and ignorant behavior at the Federal Open Market Committee of the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve.
Read the full article.
On Nov. 1, barring the medically unexpected or a change of heart, a young woman named Brittany Maynard will ingest a lethal prescription and die by suicide.
Maynard is 29, recently married and is suffering from terminal brain cancer. After deciding against hospice care - fearing, she wrote in a CNN op-ed, a combination of pain, personality changes, and the loss of basic mental and physical functions - she and her husband moved from California to Oregon, one of five states that permit physician-assisted suicide. In the time remaining to her, she has become a public advocate for that practice’s expansion, recording testimonials on behalf of the right of the terminally ill to make their quietus.
Read the full article.
Edward Kleinbard knows as much about taxation in America as anyone alive. He was a tax partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, then chief of staff of U.S. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, and is now a professor at the University of Southern California’s law school. But when he set out to write a book about how to fix the American tax system, it made him realize that the problem wasn’t the tax system; it’s everyone’s fixation on the tax system.
Republican obsession with taxes is the more explicit: They want simply to cut them. Kleinbard is a staunch Democrat, and his new book, We Are Better Than This, has little patience with the economic and philosophical tenets of modern American conservativism. But Democrats have their own tax obsession, as he sees it: They want to aim taxes at the wealthy, to make them pay a greater share of the take. They rail against companies that figure out ways to minimize their corporate taxes. That focus, Kleinbard argues, is misguided.
Compared to other advanced nations, America’s retirement security and health care systems offer weaker protections against risks we all face. The Century Foundation’s work focuses on ideas for strengthening Social Security, pensions, and health care – including steps for building on the Affordable Care Act.
Sign up for our mailing list and stay up to date on the latest happenings at The Century Foundation