LSUHSC’s Martin says syphilis comeback could wipe out control gains, gonorrhea more treatment resistant
Highlights include – the number of cases of the asymptomatic Chlamydia trachomatis, the most common reportable infectious disease in the US, is growing; gonorrhea, the second most common reportable infectious disease in the US, is growing more resistant to treatment; syphilis is making a comeback which could wipe out the gains made in syphilis control following the epidemic of the late 1980s; and M. Genitalium has the potential to become a public health target as recent work has now linked it to pelvic inflammatory disease in women along with being a known cause of nongonococcal urethritis in men. Dr. Martin’s complete presentation follows.
The most common
bacterial STD: Chlamydia trachomatis is the most
common reportable infectious disease in the
treatment options for gonorrhea: Gonorrhea is a potentially dangerous
disease, causing complications similar to those from Chlamydia as well as
potential for disseminated infection. While effective treatment options and
aggressive screening for the causative agent, Neiserria
gonorrhoeae, has made it much less common over the
last four decades, it remains the second most common reportable infectious
disease in the U.S. Racial disparities are more pronounced for gonorrhea than
any other infectious disease, with 19 times higher case rates in African
Americans than whites. An emerging challenge for gonorrhea control is
increasing resistance to currently available antibiotics. In the 1970’s
penicillin resistant N. gonorrhoeae was introduced
imitator" makes a comeback: By the year 2000 syphilis incidence rates in
Advances in molecular microbiology lead to the discovery of a new STD: Mycoplasma genitalium was first identified in the early 1980s through the serendipitous isolation and propagation of a single strain isolated from a man with urethritis. Inability to identify subsequent isolates using the methods of classical microbiology foiled research efforts for a decade. In the early 1990’s application of newly developed polymerase chain reaction technology to diagnosis of infections caused by this organism greatly advanced the work. We now know that M. genitalium is an important cause of nongonococcal urethritis in men. Very recent work has shown that there is an association with pelvic inflammatory disease in women. If it is established that this organism is associated with serious adverse health outcomes in women such as infertility and/or that it has consequences for infants born to infected mothers M. genitalium will join C. trachomatis and N. gonorrhoeae as public heath targets.
2 major medical conventions for
The Associated Press
The New Orleans
Convention and Visitors Bureau said Wednesday that the Healthcare Information
and Management Systems Society and the
In 2007, the
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society brought about 24,600
The 2013 meetings
will coincide with
Posted by Daniel Carty
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said President Obama's push for health care reform is more about rhetoric than reality.
"His marketing is the best part of this," the Republican governor said Thursday on CBS' "The Early Show", the morning after Mr. Obama addressed the nation in a prime time news conference aimed at jumpstarting support for his health initiative.
"[Obama] said, he does not want to increase the deficit, does not want government control of health care. He wants people to keep their insurance. He wants to crack down on the abuse, the over utilization. All that's great. The problem is that's not what's in the House Democrat bill. The House Democratic bill increases the deficit by $250 billion [and] increases the burden on employers. Why would we want to do that during one of the worst recessions in decades?"
In his news conference, Mr. Obama emphasized the importance of reform, but pledged that he would not support any plan that increased the federal deficit or placed an economic burden on middle-class families.
Mr. Obama has insisted that a public plan option will increase competition and drive costs down in the private sector. Jindal agreed that the "status quo is not acceptable" but said a government-run plan is not the solution.
"Nobody is defending the status quo," said Jindal, who has been mentioned as a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2012. "We don't want a bureaucrat telling us which treatments we can receive, which providers to go to, how much they'll be paid. We don't want government competition in TV stations, in factories, in stores, in groceries. Why do we think we need government competition in healthcare? Why do we need the government to run a plan to make healthcare work?"
"This is the fundamental issue here. How do you have the government, which is paying for health care, regulating health care, now competing with the private sector?"
Jindal also said the tax penalties for not participating in the plan would place an undue burden on individuals and business owners.
"Look, in the
House plan they're talking about an 8 percent tax on employers who don't want
to participate [and a] 2.5 percent tax on individuals who don't want to
participate. Our top tax rates in many states are going to be higher than
what you see in
White House adviser David Axelrod, appearing on the "Early Show" after Jindal countered the governor's argument, saying the plan would give consumers greater control of their own health care.
"The bottom line here is right now healthcare premiums have doubled over the last decade. Out of pocket costs up by a third. Health care costs are growing three times the rate of wages. It's an unsustainable path, and the government is being crunch the by it, businesses are being crushed by it," he said.
"We have to respond. Mr. Jindal says, 'Well, the government shouldn't interfere in the market.' The bottom line right now is everyone is at the mercy of the insurance industry, and this would reform the system and put consumers in control. That's what we need."
Re: "Government control could be a hazard to your health," Other Opinions, July 11.
Arguments against proposed health care reform, such as this column by Cal Thomas, tend to focus on a theoretical lack of freedom in health-care choices and theoretical long delays for those requiring care. When you have adequate health insurance and a decent income, these arguments may seem reasonable. What is ignored is how perilous the current situation is for an average middle-income worker.
I started out with
a well-paying job and what would be considered decent health benefits. I have
now lost my job due to illness, and in the next few months it is likely I
will not be able to pay my COBRA premiums any longer. Unfortunately, my
illness won't just go away because I have lost my health benefits. I will
just be unable to afford necessary medication, and since almost every private
When my health situation becomes critical enough, I will probably have to be admitted to a hospital on an emergency basis since I can't be refused treatment at that point, and there will be no health insurer to pay the bill. As I am unemployed, it is unlikely that I will have the funds to pay the full bill, which means the cost will be passed on to insured patients.
I did not realize this prior to my illness, but it is almost impossible to qualify for emergency health assistance programs until you have lost all assets, including your home.
I personally would be more than willing to risk any hypothetical future problems rather than continuing with things they way they are.
C. Ray Halliburton
I have followed the current debate regarding national health-care funding reform with great interest. Both national statistics and my personal experience indicate that paying for health care is becoming increasingly problematic for an increasing number of people. I find it difficult to formulate a brief opinion, so I will compose a short (and incomplete) wish list of things that I would like to see happen in this arena.
First of all, I would like to see universal health-care coverage. It seems apparent to me that 99 percent of us already think health care should be a right, at least to those who are gravely injured or ill. We have made laws that prohibit health-care facilities from refusing emergency care because of the person’s inability to pay. We just can’t agree on how to cover that expense. So health-care facilities shift the cost of the nonpaying patients to the paying patients when able.
Therefore, my second wish is to require every citizen (excepting only the truly poor) to pay into health-care coverage to minimize or eliminate the need for cost shifting.
Thirdly, I would like to see more consistency among the payers of health-care services about what they will and will not pay for. Speaking from personal experience, trying to determine what a particular patient’s health-care plan will cover is often like being in a Franz Kafka short story. Though private payers generally compensate better for services compared with Medicare, they are more opaque in terms of knowing if they will pay at all for a specific service for a specific patient.
Fourthly, I think
we have to move away from linking payment for health care to employ-menet status. I believe this is both an impediment to
hiring and a problem for the worker who changes employer. Currently, the
Let us consider what is important in our own lives and what we are willing or not willing to pay for (through either premiums or taxes). With the growing national deficit, it seems that whatever is done should be at least budget neutral.
I hope that many of us will share our thoughts with our senators and congressmen. I think they need our honest input more than clever, partisan catchphrases.
C. Ray Halliburton
physician, internal medicine
Accountability Office reports were a reminder that the federal government's
response to the costliest disaster in
In particular, the
batch of reports, which were released Monday, looked at the inadequate mental
health services for children in the
"Four years after Hurricane Katrina struck, many of its survivors continue to struggle, which means that we must continue to fight for more effective programs to help those in need," Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said on Tuesday about the GAO reports.
Lieberman said Congress, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House "must learn our lessons" to ensure citizens "receive the support they need to rebuild their lives, and taxpayers receive their money's worth."
In one report, the GAO said case management agencies for disaster victims had high turnover and that "some case managers had caseloads of more than 100 clients, making it difficult to meet client needs."
The report said the federal government had spent more than $209 million for "disaster case management services," which helped about 116,000 families affected by Katrina and Rita. The GAO said FEMA was trying to develop better guidelines for disaster case management.
Another GAO report found serious problems with the way children were treated for mental health issues. Child psychiatrists and psychologists were scarce after the storms, funding was unreliable, and families were often unwilling or unable to get their children treated, the report said.
semiannual screenings of children, the
An LSU researcher said the 2008 data "showed that 16 to 21 percent of children screened had a family member who had been injured in Hurricane Katrina, and 13 to 18 percent of children screened had a family member who had been killed in the hurricane," the GAO said.
That rate was better than the 2005-2006 school year screening, but "the rate of decline was slower than experts had expected," the GAO report said. "The effects of a traumatic event can persist for years," the GAO said.
The GAO report on
children did not offer recommendations. Two other GAO reports dealt with the
federal government's handling of Community Disaster Block Grant funds and the
Department of Health and Human Services' $100 million in health care grants to
The GAO said the
Department of Housing and Urban Development should develop guidelines for
future disasters to spell out how the community block funds can be used,
guidance was insufficient to address
Congress has appropriated about $26.2 billion in CDBG funds to help the
As for health care
funds spent in
"From strengthening case management, to untangling housing funds from bureaucratic red tape, to increasing access to mental health and other primary health care services, these GAO reports shed light on several concrete steps our government must take to improve response and recovery," said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who chairs the Senate's subcommittee on disaster response.
There are more than 47 million Americans who lack any form of health insurance, so they mostly do without. Some of them have even lost their lives due to an inability to get treatment for certain treatable conditions.
According to a University
of Maine study, our country has the most costly health care system in the
industrialized world, being twice as expensive as average. But the CIA World Factbook says the
The ignorant blame physicians for living too high on the hog and overcharging their patients. That is simply because doctors are more visible than other health care players. It is true that education is usually their justification for their high fees, but that is a shallow argument until doctors of music make as much as doctors of medicine. But as members of the local economy, it makes little difference, because they contribute heavily to taxes and the general welfare of the community.
Even if doctors practiced for free, the cost of medical care would still be astronomical. But one should point out that it makes sense to educate more doctors. But this is where the American Medical Association controls supply and demand by limiting seats in medical schools. In this regard, they are an un-American institution by indirectly, but effectively, restraining free trade. And publishing national cost averages for medical procedures also is distasteful when almost every other businessman gets prison time for even discussing the subject of price fixing.
Our local public hospital is probably typical of others and is a prime culprit when it comes to the cost of health care. A bill from the hospital makes the doctor's charges seem like a bargain, which they are by comparison. Physicians are at least doing something while hospitals are just following orders and warehousing. In a normal year our hospital doubles its money on every patient that rolls out of there, and considering that their base price is ridiculous to start with, doubling it is especially reprehensible, even if common. The giveaway that they are riding a good horse to death is that they made as much money from investments as they did from medicine in past years.
The pharmaceutical companies' management ought to wear black ski masks. Probably the most lucrative segment of the health care pie is wolfed down by them. Their excuse is that research is expensive and they deserve consideration for undertaking what others call "business investment." It is just another "cost of sale" according to accountancy. But if new drugs are profoundly risky and rarely as useful as they would have us believe, give them some legislative relief from frivolous lawsuits while requiring that they sell their product for the same price here as they do in other countries.
And then there are the insurance companies. Their story is that they facilitate their policyholders for averages up to 15 percent of the billing. Of course, that presumes that they allow the billing or the procedure to be performed in the first place. We probably all know at least one friend who went to the graveyard because he or she lacked the legal fees to fight an insurance company when a procedure was arbitrarily disallowed by some clerk. Conversely, they try to practice medicine by dictating what the doctor may or may not do. But their worst disservice to the industry is by inserting themselves between the buyer and the seller, the patient and the system. Nothing encourages gouging or soaring charges like two people deciding how much a third person should pay for something.
The bottom is "out of the tub," and only the government is big enough to fix it. It will be a tremendous job, but even a blind man can see that now is the time.
By CHARLES BABINGTON
WASHINGTON — After weeks of urging lawmakers to embrace his health care agenda, President Barack Obama is taking his case back to the road Thursday as the public's qualms about the plan seem to be growing.
In his comments Wednesday and at scheduled events Thursday in Cleveland, the president is speaking directly to families about their pocketbook and medical concerns, urging them to ignore political opportunists and naysayers in order to achieve sweeping changes, which previous administrations could not attain.
"If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket," Obama said Wednesday night, looking past the dozens of reporters assembled for his White House news conference and peering straight into the TV cameras. "If we do not act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day."
On Thursday in
For all his efforts, which have included public statements each weekday for the past few weeks, Republican lawmakers and other critics sense momentum building against Obama's plan. They particularly cite nonpartisan cost projections that have not predicted the savings the White House promises.
"What I heard last night was a president that seems somewhat frustrated that people do not understand what this government health care plan is all about," Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, said Thursday on NBC's "Today" show. "I think people still have a lot of questions about what a (new) health care plan means for them and their families."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, another leading Republican, said on CBS's "The Early Show" that he "liked a lot of what he (Obama) had to say last night."
"I think he's actually ... his marketing is the best part of this," Jindal added. "You listen to what the president said. He said he does not want to increase the deficit, does not want government control of healthcare. He wants people to keep their insurance. He wants to crack down on the abuse, the over-utilization. All that's great. The problem is, that's not what's in the House Democrat bill."
The number of Americans who disapprove of the president's health care plan has jumped to 43 percent, compared with 28 percent in April, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. Obama still holds a strong hand, with most Americans favorable to him in general, and half supporting his health care agenda.
But it's the negative trend that worries his supporters, and some want the president to be even more forceful and visible in pushing his top domestic priority.
great communicator," said Rep. Jim Cooper of
"The White House needs to assert more authority," said Cooper, who has focused on health care for years. "I'll be relieved when they take over the marketing of this, because Congress has done a terrible job."
It's hard for Obama, or anyone, to succinctly advocate health care changes just now because multiple versions are slowly moving through the Democratic-controlled House and Senate.
"The case has not been made" for a particular version because the eventual legislation is unclear, said Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala. With critics seizing on the confusion to attack the Democratic proposals' costs, enhanced government role and uncertain benefits, Davis said Wednesday, the administration soon must decide whether to accept a partial victory that might leave room for a later push for the rest.
For now, Obama keeps insisting on all the major elements of his far-reaching proposal and warning of dire consequences if they are not enacted.
He cited a
by Sharon Theimer, The Associated Press
Tauzin, a former
Richard Umbdenstock, president of the American Hospital Association, was at the White House on Feb. 4 and has been back at least a half-dozen times since then, most recently May 22. Other industry executives making February visits included health insurance company chief executives Angela Braly of WellPoint Inc. and Jay Gellert of Health Net Inc.
Gellert, a $500 donor to Obama's presidential campaign, was there Feb. 10, twice in March and May 11, while Braly visited on Feb. 13.
Obama released a
list of White House visits by health care executives after a government
watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
So far, the Obama administration is following a Bush administration policy of refusing to release the logs, which are maintained by the Secret Service.
In recent weeks, the White House has announced agreements under which hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry promised cost savings in return for an expanded base of insured patients. The deals were struck in private meetings, drawing comparisons to Vice President Dick Cheney's secret talks with the energy industry as he helped President George W. Bush draft a national energy policy. Cheney's 2001 meetings drew criticism from Democrats throughout the Bush years.
"The president has decided to exercise his discretion and release the following information, which is reflected in the relevant visitor logs," Gregory Craig, White House counsel, wrote to CREW. "We are continuing to review your specific FOIA request, as well as the White House's general policy governing the discretionary release of visitor records."
During his presidential campaign, Obama promised to hold lobbyists at arm's length and make his administration the most transparent in history.
Obama was asked at a news conference Wednesday night about his administration's refusal to say who has been to the White House to discuss a national health care overhaul.
"On the list of health care executives who visited us, most of time you guys have been in there taking pictures, so it hasn't been a secret," he said in response. "And my understanding is we just sent a letter out providing a full list of all the executives. But, frankly, these have mostly been at least photo sprays where you could see who was participating."
CREW said it was pleased the White House had provided the list but that it didn't consider it a sufficient response to its Freedom of Information Act request for the visitor logs themselves. It plans to continue pressing for them.
"The actual visitor records likely would indicate with whom each official met, the administration official who requested clearance for the visitor, the time of the meeting, the duration of the meeting and, in some cases, the purpose of the meeting. In addition, no information was provided regarding any visits to the vice president's residence," CREW said in a written statement.
"Finally, transparency is not situational. It is not sufficient for the White House to release certain visitor records shortly before a press conference to avoid distraction," the group said.
Other health care industry representatives named in the list released by the White House and the dates they visited are:
lobbyist Billy Tauzin, a former
--Registered lobbyist Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry trade association; March 5, 6 and 11, May 11 and June 30.
--Dr. J. James Rohack, who became president of the American Medical Association in June; March 25, May 11, and June 22 and 24.
--William Weldon, CEO of Johnson & Johnson health care product and pharmaceutical company; May 12.
--Jeffrey Kindler, CEO of drugmaker Pfizer Inc.; March 5, May 6 and June 2.
--UnitedHealth Group Inc. chief executive Stephen Hemsley; May 15 and 22.
--George Halvorson, head of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc.; March 27, May 11 and June 5.
--Thomas Priselac, chief executive of the Cedars-Sinai Health System; April 3 and May 11.
--Richard Clark, CEO of the Merck & Co. pharmaceutical company; March 24 and May 11.
--Wayne Smith, chief executive of Community Health Systems; June 4.
--Registered lobbyist Rick Smith, a senior vice president of PhRMA; May 11 and 19 and June 2.
--David Nexon, senior executive vice president with trade association AdvaMed; May 11.
By Richard Wolf,
Three years after
mandating that residents get health insurance and requiring employers,
insurers and taxpayers to chip in,
Dealing with cost and quality has proved trickier. Higher health care costsfueled a combined $9 billion gap in the state's 2009 and 2010 budgets that had to be closed last month, leaving less for education, public safety, the environment and other services.
"There are a few other things people want us to pay for," quips Leslie Kirwan, state secretary of administration and finance.
Quality has been an issue, too. Because more people have insurance, some doctors and safety-net hospitals are overwhelmed. A study by the non-partisan Urban Institute found one in five adults in the state have been turned away by a doctor's office or clinic.
Still, Massachusetts offers lessons for national policymakers as they debate the biggest change in health care delivery since Medicare and Medicaid were created nearly a half century ago:
• Peddle the plan to the public. A Republican governor at the time, Mitt Romney, and a Democratic Legislature sold it to state residents as both a moral imperative and a common-sense addition to the requirement that residents have automobile insurance.
• Don't alienate
powerful interest groups. Insurers and businesses, rebelling in
• Prepare for years of trial and error. Government officials, providers and consumers here say they expected a lengthy, often troublesome implementation.
"This is never over," says John McDonough, who ran the statewide advocacy group Health Care for All when the law passed and is now a senior adviser to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "It is always messy."
The demand for insurance didn't take long to materialize.
No sooner did
The state plan is set up so that those who receive government subsidies pay no premium if their income is below 150% of the federal poverty level — $16,620 for individuals and $33,084 for a family of four. Others pay premiums based on a sliding scale and choose from an array of plans chosen by the state.
Nearly everyone is required to get insurance, unless the state deems all the available premiums too expensive. Those who don't comply face penalties up to $1,068 per year if they are at least 27 years old and earn three times the poverty level.
Exemptions can be sought by individuals earning up to $54,600 if they can't find monthly premiums below $342, and by families earning up to $114,400 if they can't find premiums below $820.
Overall, nearly 430,000 residents out of about 600,000 who were uninsured now have coverage. Virtually every type of insurance has increased: Medicaid, the new Commonwealth Care subsidy program, unsubsidized plans and those provided by employers, state data show. About 163,000 residents have taken advantage of government subsidies. Another 150,000 have chosen employer plans.
Most of those who
got insurance under the
Cost is 'somebody's income'
The major task
Expanding access to insurance has made that problem tougher by adding more than $700 million in annual costs, split evenly with the federal government, according to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. The annual cost to care for those who were uninsured in 2006 has risen from $1 billion to $1.7 billion.
The state saved money by reducing payments to hospitals for uncompensated care and increasing the cigarette tax by $1 per pack to help pay for the expansion. Then came the recession, forcing thousands of laid-off residents to sign up for subsidies.
Phone counselors at Health Care for All are fielding 1,100 calls a week — a demand not seen since the program's inception.
"The only thing that went wrong is we ramped up faster than we anticipated," says Jonathan Gruber, a health economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a board member of the agency that runs the state's new health insurance program.
Jon Kingsdale, that agency's executive director, says putting access before cost was intentional. It made covering the uninsured a moral imperative without forfeiting the support of providers, insurers and employers — many of whom could lose money when costs are cut. "It's a lot harder to do cost and access together," he says. "Everybody's cost is somebody's income."
The problem was punted to the payment commission, which last week recommended a system in which health care providers would be paid a set amount for each patient, with adjustments for health status and other factors. Doctors, nurses and hospitals would work as a team to manage the patient's care.
If you offer it, they will come
Once people had insurance, the state reasoned, they would flee emergency rooms for neighborhood doctors and drug stores. As a result, state funds intended to pay safety-net hospitals and community health centers for serving the uninsured have been reduced by $660 million.
But if anything, demand has increased as the newly insured seek more medical attention. "The funding levels are not keeping pace with the volume that we're seeing," says William Halpin, CEO of South Boston Community Health Center. "There's been a little bit of robbing Peter to pay Paul."
"We kept the patients, but we didn't keep the money," says Thomas Traylor, vice president for federal, state and local programs.
The situation is
even worse at Cambridge Health Alliance, the second largest such provider.
Six health centers have closed, mental health and substance abuse services
As the state faced a budget crisis this spring, other health care services were threatened, including dental care for 92,000 residents and all care for 28,000 legal immigrants with fewer than five years in the country. The cuts were put on hold last month, but funding still must be found.
"The message is wrong," says Eva Millona, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition. "We have been a model in the country. We should sustain that."
Infant Inhalation Of Ultrafine Air Pollution Linked To Adult Lung Disease
ScienceDaily (July 23, 2009) — Stephania
Cormier, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences
Center New Orleans, has shown for the first time that early exposure to
environmentally persistent free radicals (present in airborne ultrafine
particulate matter) affects long-term lung function. She recently presented
her latest research data at the 11th International Congress on Combustion
By-Products and Their Health Effects at the
Dr. Cormier, a 2006 National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Outstanding New Environmental Scientist awardee, is conducting research to determine how inhalation exposure to environmental factors such as allergens, pollutants, and respiratory viruses during infancy leads to pulmonary inflammatory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma later in life.
Using protein profiling techniques, Dr. Cormier’s lab was able to determine that early exposure to these ultrafine pollutants caused genes to produce a number of proteins, including one associated with COPD and steroid-resistant asthma, and also caused proteins to misfold, rendering them dysfunctional. These genetic defects are linked to structural changes in the lung, airflow limitations, and permanent changes in immune responses.
“It is no surprise that elevations in airborne particulate matter (PM) are associated with increased hospital admissions for respiratory symptoms including asthma exacerbations,” notes Dr. Cormier. “What has come as a surprise is that early exposure to elevated levels of PM elicits long-term effects on lung function and lung development in children.”
These results could be especially important because the US Environmental Protection Agency does not currently regulate ultrafine PM emissions.
According to the
National Institutes of Health, more than 12 million Americans are currently
diagnosed with COPD and another 12 million probably have it and don’t know
it. Asthma is now the most common chronic disorder of childhood, affecting an
estimated 6.2 million
“Glucocorticoid (steroid) treatment is the foundation of asthma treatment; however, while the majority of patients with asthma respond to glucocorticoid treatment there are a number of patients who do not,” says Dr. Cormier. “In cells, a protein called cofilin-1 appears to inhibit glucocorticoid function. We are currently testing whether cofilin-1 also does this in the body. If it does, then it is possible to envision the development of therapeutics aimed at inhibiting cofilin-1 for use in steroid-resistant asthmatics.”
Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News
Video: Watch the Story
The latest happened in May, when the K-9 Primo died of heat-related stress after it was left unattended in a police vehicle.
Flowers and dog biscuits mark the site of a memorial for Primo in front of NOPD Headquarters.
"I've been on a number of scenes where K-9 Primo was very successful in making apprehensions, detecting narcotics, so it will be a great loss, he will be a great loss," said New Orleans Police Asst. Superintendent Marlon Defillo.
A necropsy report shows Primo died of shock, brought on by heat. Pictures from inside the vehicle show ripped up seat cushions – the damage the dog inflicted, shortly before he died.
Riley: We don't neglect our animals
Officer in anguish over death of NOPD dog; investigation ongoing
"At no time, would we neglect any of our animals," said NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley.
At a news conference on Wednesday, Riley said all K-9 vehicles are outfitted with a special ventilation system, meant to prevent dogs from overheating. It is designed to kick in when, the temperature reaches 87 degrees.
"We want everyone to know, let our citizens know, that we take great care and concern for our animals," he said.
A veterinarian said it is possible for dogs to overheat and die, even in moderate temperatures.
dogs in 75 degree weather come in with all the same symptom of heat stroke,"
said Dr. Gary Levy, with
Primo is the third member of the NOPD's K-9 unit to die within the last few months. A 14-year-old K-9, known as Carlos, died of what Riley called "natural causes," but it was also discovered that he had heartworms.
Another dog, Phantom, died during a
training exercise at the shuttered
"So, a third of their K-9 unit dying in a little over a month's period of time, under facts and circumstances that, at least on their face, could've been prevented, we believe cries out for a thorough investigation, not just into Primo, but into the policies and procedures that are in play right now, in the K-9 division, to make sure they represent best practices," said Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
The NOPD is still investigating the deaths of both Primo and Phantom. Each K-9 dog costs the department between $11,000 and $15,000. Riley said the department will acquire more K-9's. Two new ones are undergoing training right now.
Ben Feller / Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Six months in office, President Barack Obama sought Wednesday night to rally support for sweeping health care legislation he's struggling to push through Congress, expressing support for a surtax on families making more than $1 million a year to help pay for it.
Obama responds to questions during a news conference in the East Room of the
White House in
Under pressure from Democrats to weigh in personally on the details of legislation, Obama also vowed at a prime-time news conference to reject any measure "primarily funded through taxing middle-class families."
While the session
was dominated by health care, Obama said in response to one question that
"Now I don't know, not having been there, what role race played in that," the president said. But he added that blacks and Latinos often are stopped by authorities in disproportionate numbers. Police have dropped charges initially lodged against Gates.
Obama stepped to the microphone looking grayer than the man who ran for president and took office in January and immediately began confronting the worst economic recession in decades.
He defended his decision to set a midsummer deadline for the House and Senate to act on health care, even if it isn't met. "I'm rushed because I get letters every day from families that are being clobbered by health care costs, and they ask me can you help," he said.
If the consequences are high for nearly 50 million Americans who lack insurance, the political impact is huge for Obama, who is putting much of his credibility on the line to gain congressional passage. His stepped-up public role comes as he faces rising criticism from Republicans, sliding public approval ratings and divisions within his party. Obama acknowledged that many people are uneasy about growing federal budget deficits and the fast-rising government debt.
He said that without a deadline for action, a recent proposal to curtail the growth in Medicare costs would not have materialized "until who knows when." He said in the past few days, leaders in both houses had agreed to incorporate it into legislation taking shape.
Asked if it was his job to produce a deal on legislation, the president said: "Absolutely it's my job. I'm the president. And I think this has to get done."
He said that since he moved into the White House, "we have been able to pull our economy back from the brink."
Yet, he said, "of course we still have a long way to go." Obama didn't say so, but unemployment, currently 9.5 percent, is expected to remain stubbornly high for many months to come.
He was eager to
talk about health care -- an issue that now towers above all others -- and
has led at least one Republican to say that it could prove to be the
"This isn't about me. I have great health insurance and so does every member of Congress," he said.
The president said that in addition to helping millions who lack coverage, the health care legislation is central to the goal of eventually rebuilding the economy stronger than it was before the recession that began more than a year ago.
He said Medicare and Medicaid, government health care programs for the elderly and the poor, are the "biggest driving force behind our federal deficit."
Unless they are tamed, he said to a national TV audience, "we will not be able to control our deficit. If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket."
The president said he believed it was possible to fund more than two-thirds of the cost of health care legislation by eliminating waste and redirecting federal funds already being spent. The rest must come from higher taxes, he said.
The administration proposed last winter a plan to raise taxes on upper-income wage earners by limiting their ability to claim deductions.
Congress looked unfavorably on the proposal, and Obama said he was open to alternatives -- with one notable exception.
"If I see a proposal primarily funded through taxing middle-class families, I'm going to be opposed to it," he said.
It was not immediately clear whether the president was signaling he would accept at least some higher taxes on middle-class families as the price for winning passage.
As a candidate he vowed repeatedly that no one earning under $250,000 would face higher taxes if he won the White House.
Obama's remarks about a proposed tax on million-dollar families aligned him with Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Draft legislation in the House calls for the surtax on individuals making $280,000 and families with $350,000 income or more, but she suggested earlier in the week those levels should be increased.
The president stepped to the microphone as Congress labored over his call for legislation to expand health care to millions who lack it, as well as control the costs of medical care generally.
In his opening statement, he stressed the second of those two goals.
"In the past eight year, we saw the enactment of two tax cuts, primarily for the wealthiest Americans, and a Medicare prescription program, none of which were paid for."
He vowed anew that he wouldn't sign health care legislation that wasn't paid for, although his administration has exempted from that pledge an estimated $245 billion to raise Medicare fees for doctors.
"This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to wait for reform any longer," Obama said. "They are looking to us for leadership. And we must not let them down."
The president said he was pleased banks are returning to profitability. But he added, "What we haven't seen I think is the kind of change in behavior and practices on Wall Street that would ensure that we don't find ourselves in the fix where we've got to bail out these folks again." He said legislation he has proposed to Congress includes new regulations to control executive compensation and limit excessive risk taking.
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