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Wednesday, 5 September, 2007

Quads' Montana birth give Americans ammo

When the Calgary Health Region , they probably didn't expect to invite the kind of razzing they've brought upon not only the Calgary hospital system, but also the Canadian healthcare system as a whole.

The Canadian Press provides a round-up of :

  • "We've heard much talk about Canada's `free' health-care system, glorified in Michael Moore's documentary Sicko. But the birth of the Jepp sisters are case in point that Canada's medical system is as flawed as ours, just on the other end. As our congressmen debate the future of our health-care system, we urge them to keep cases such as the Jepps' in mind." - Great Falls Tribune
  • "I'm sure Canadians like their health system. Just remember, though, that Canada's backup system is in Montana. Great Falls has enough neonatal units to handle quadruple births and a `universal health' nation doesn't." - Charleston (West Virginia) Daily Mail
  • "Canadians love their health care – in Montana. [...] Universal health care is a pretty edifice to cover the ugly reality of rationing treatment within a bureaucratic monstrosity. Great testimony for single-payer health care: Can't handle a C-section, can't find any room at neonatal intensive care units, has to fly mothers in labour to a small town in the savage land of only half-governmentalized care just so they can bear children." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  • "More proof socialized health care doesn't work." - Powerline News blog
  • "The precious gift of American citizenship comes to the Jepp quads because there were no hospital facilities anywhere in Canada able to handle four neonatal intensive care babies. Not in Calgary, a city over a million people, the wealthiest in Canada, or anywhere else in Canada. However, Great Falls, a city of well under 100,000 people, apparently had no problem." - Blue Zeus blog

The Calgary Health Region made a rather meek protest in the CP article: "They don't have all the facts and information, obviously," said Don Stewart.

Jack Goldberg of the Canadian lobby group Friends of Medicare put it better: "I think we need to appreciate that it's because of our publicly insured system that this couple was able to get access to a hugely expensive service in the United States that may very well be denied to tens of millions of Americans. So even what happened there is a point in favour of our system – that these people were able to get there."

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In a rather surreal twist, the quadruplets have also attracted the attention of none other than Art Garfunkel. The proceeds from , both part of the Jepp father's company's Green Planet Concert Series, .

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Tuesday, 4 September, 2007

US cancer patient woos Canadian gents - for medicare

"Assertive, adventurous 52-year-old woman, living with incurable cancer, would like to meet a marriage-minded Canadian gent who is a cancer survivor or living with the disease."
That's how Jeanne Sather's , published last week on her blog , begins. Ms Sather (right), a former journalist for Newsweek and Reuters, decided to look for a Canadian husband in order to join the ranks of those whose healthcare is provided by the government.

Ms Sather, a Seattle resident, pays about $20,000 annually for her medical insurance and other costs. A move to Vancouver, with a Canadian spouse, would solve her health-cost problems, she says. Her ad continues:
Me: Writer, artist, teacher, well-known cancer blogger. Mother of two almost-grown sons (22 and 17). Vegetarian (but you don’t have to be). Loves animals (two large dogs and three cats), gardening, house projects. The beach. Books. Travel. Financially solvent except for absurdly expensive health insurance premiums and medical costs. Dislikes: Pink ribbons, chemotherapy, and unsolicited advice.

You: Age 45 to about 57. Canadian citizen living in Vancouver, B.C., or willing to relocate there. Cancer patient or survivor. Open-minded. Bit of a risk taker. Warm hearted but not clinging. Bald OK.

I’m not looking for a caretaker, and you shouldn’t be either. I am looking for a lover and new best friend.
The approach may be a tad unorthodox, but Ms Sather's no beggar -- she told the Victoria Times-Colonist that : she's got to fall in love with the man. So, don't forget to send along a snapshot:
Contact: jeanne.sather@gmail.com with photo.
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Bad science in Medical Hypotheses

The Guardian's "Bad Science" correspondent Ben Goldacre recently to an article published in the journal called "Down subjects and Oriental population share several specific attitudes and characteristic:"

You'd be right to experience a shudder of nervousness at the title alone, since this is an academic journal, from 2007, and not 1866 when John Langdon Down wrote his classic "Observations on the Ethnic Classification of Idiots". [...]

Flash forward to 2007 - I think that's where we are - to two Italian doctors. They offer their theory that the parallels between Down syndrome and "oriental" people go beyond this fleeting facial similarity.
Here's the doctors' proof for the connection:
  • "Down subjects adore having several dishes displayed on the table, and have a propensity for food which is rich in monosodium glutamate."
  • "The tendencies of Down subjects to carry out recreative-rehabilitative activities, such as embroidery, wicker-working, ceramics, book-binding, etc., that is renowned, remind [us of] the Chinese hand-crafts, which need a notable ability, such as Chinese vases, or the use of chopsticks employed for eating by Asiatic populations."
  • "Down persons during waiting periods, when they get tired of standing up straight, crouch, squatting down, reminding us of the 'squatting' position ... They remain in this position for several minutes and only to rest themselves. This position is the same taken by the Vietnamese, the Thai, the Cambodian, the Chinese, while they are waiting at a bus stop, for instance, or while they are chatting."
  • "There is another pose taken by Down subjects while they are sitting on a chair: they sit with their legs crossed while they are eating, writing, watching TV, as the Oriental peoples do."
Generally medical journals publish articles that are based in what those of us in journalism refer to as "facts" and "data" -- but not this one, apparently.

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Alberta won't follow Ontario's lead on pharma-policy

Health Minister Dave Hancock (right) tells the Calgary Herald that although Alberta needs a drug-costs reform plan, he :

"We're looking at other models across the country. I'm not satisfied the Ontario model will do the trick."
He says possible solutions include expanding the bulk-buying strategy (agreed upon with BC recently) and reducing the price of generics.

Alberta's reforms could be implemented as early as this fall, reports the Herald.

For some background on Bill 102, see , when the law came into effect.

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