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Sunday, March 21, 2010


As predicted last week, the House of Representatives tonight approved, 219-212, House Bill 3590 with Senate amendments (which passed the Senate on Christmas Eve). President Obama will quickly sign this bill, so, regardless of what happens in the Senate for that coming stage two, the universal health plan will then be law. But, while this is certainly confusing, there remains a follow-up requirement providing adjustment details. Bear with me.

First, there was a further gumming up technique used by Republicans to re-commit the bill, and, of all the ironies (and, maybe in smart anticipation), beaten back with a far more convincing vote by Congressman Stupack's impassioned rebuttle. Finally, we had that second electronic roll call vote on House Resolution 4872, the reconciliation package (the one with the latest House adjustments, all of 183 pages, so not exactly only technical). This is the legislation that moves to the Senate, and there will be considerable histrionics still to be orchestrated by Senate Republicans.

But the mechanics of reconciliation will sufficiently limit the debate so that passage can be expected before the Spring break, say on Saturday, for President Barack Obama's concluding signature. Good thing he did not go to Indonesia and Australia. Mind you, there could be an incessant passing back and forth between the Senate and House of this reconciliation measure, but, ultimately, barring the specter of unconstitutionality, we will have a health plan for most Americans.

Regarding that last minute agreement, what's the value of a White House Executive Order on abortion to satisfy Representative Bart Stupack's coalition? Well, if the Catholic nuns can interpret the language of abortion satisfactorily, unlike the Pope and male sector of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, then Presidential intent on how he will administer the program was accepted by these few anti-abortionists in the House.

Secondly, what is the constitutionality of deeming and reconciliation? The former is not a factor anymore because electronic voting was utilized and the latter has been applied 22 times already, mostly by Republicans. Of course, Congress sometimes uses nonsensical language for public consumption, because there is no bipartisan agreement, in fact, the term reconciliation means that the party in the majority just does what it wants to do. Any opposing legal opinions have only come from conservative observers, as would be expected. And about those states that opined that they would not obey the law...they are all Republican dominated.

In any case, a thousand cheers for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama. Yes, they did it.

While on this subject, here are some latest summaries of matters related to life and death:

1. It has been a whole year this past week when the swine flu was first reported. Of course, there is no pandemic, but this specific bug will linger like other flu types for a long time. Approximately 12,000 have died from H1N1 since April of last year when I first reported on this possible epidemic. As approximately a million each year are killed by some form of flu and after effects, this death rate from swine flu is about 1% of all flu fatalities since this began in Mexico on March 18, 2010. This means that of all the circulating flu strains, H1N1 is way down the list of those others that can kill you. There was never a threat of a serious pandemic, so I remain almost amused and certainly confused as to why the World Health Organization of the United Nations issued its highest ever pandemic alert, for the UN is known to mostly dither. I've given this some serious thought, and have come to the conclusion that people react and administrators actually make decisions, when personal life is at stake. Airport security is another of those areas where we expensively overreact.

2. Hospitals have been implicated in infecting patients with MRSA, C-Diff and VRE, and most recently, the middle one, Chlostridium difficile, has become an issue, for this intestinal bacterium seems to thrive when antibiotics are used to control another "germ."

3. Yes, propofol killed Michael Jackson.

4. The death toll from the Haiti earthquake is estimated to be more than 200,000, four times higher per capita than any recent natural disaster. The property damage should exceed $10 billion. Deaths from the more recent Chile earthquake was probably around 350, with people still missing. 500,000 homes were damaged. The resultant tsunami was less than 10 feet in the near field and around 3 feet in the Pacific Basin, although two sites in Japan curiously indicated amplitudes exceeding 4 feet.

Tropical Cyclone Ului made landfall today in Central Queensland as a Category 3 storm, causing property and crop damage, with a lot of rain. There is a minor depression not appearing to be a serious threat east of the Philippines.

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