Archives for December 3, 2003

The Twelve Sexual Diseases of Christmas

British NHS STD songBlack Triangle points to a very funny and educational song entitled “The Twelve Sexual Diseases of Christmas“. Warning: not for the kids!
It’s an actual production of the British National Health Service. So, this is what nationalized medicine gets you: funny websites.

Fred and Ethel, and their new neighbor

A long long time ago, I played bass trombone in the High School band. We were good, and I still have fond memories of it, now more than half my life away from those marching musical times.

I’m back there now, at least in spirit, after learning I’ve been there all along.

I have one of those names that both names can be first or last, and everyone, especially my band director, used to get it wrong. After some small debate, my friends and I decided I should be known as ‘Fred’, a nickname that stuck. Because I was in the band, and we travelled a lot, I put “FRED” in big masking tape letters on the side of my trombone case, the better to find it after we returned from a band trip (and ego, too).

When I graduated, the year or so behind me knew that I was Fred, not the trombone, but in one of those interesting twists of life, the trombone got named Fred, and it has kept that name. A second bass trombone was procured, and was named “Ethel”, the perfect partner for Fred.

Now they’re to get a third bass trombone, and they’ve been soliciting names. My suggestion is Ricky, but I’ve already named one in this series, and I’m not too proud to think there should be a better name.

What would you name it?

West Nile close-up – West Nile ready for its close-up – Dec. 2, 2003
Gumball of Evil

The first high-resolution images of the West Nile virus reveal a tiny microorganism that looks something like a bumpy gum ball.

The three-dimensional images obtained by Purdue University researchers give scientists their most detailed look yet of the virus and could help them design drugs to disarm it.

The Purdue team found the virus to be about two millionths of an inch wide — small even in the minuscule realm of viruses.

“It’s small as viruses come, but that doesn’t diminish in any way its ability to infect and kill cells,” said Richard J. Kuhn, a professor of biological sciences in Purdue’s School of Science.

Pretty picture, ugly virus.

Insurers Are Another Problem

Reading my Texas Medical Association email update I found the following heartening, and disheartening, news (full text):

Montemayor Rejects JUA Rate Hike Request
An attempt by the Texas Medical Liability Insurance Underwriting Association, also known as the Joint Underwriting Association (JUA), to increase its professional liability premiums was turned down last month by Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Commissioner Jos? Montemayor. The commissioner said the rate proposal did not adequately consider the effect of Proposition 12 on future anticipated losses.

JUA wanted to raise premiums for physicians by 35.2 percent and for hospitals by 67.9 percent. In September, Texas voters approved the TMA-backed Proposition 12, a constitutional amendment that ratified the legislature’s authority to set limits on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases.

“I am very troubled that any carrier of medical malpractice insurance would consider raising rates for Texas physicians,” the commissioner said. “This rate filing by the JUA flies in the face of sound data that demonstrate future rates should be dropping as a result of passage of Proposition 12. . . . With the Texas Medical Liability Trust already agreeing to lower its rates, it seems illogical that any carrier would consider doing otherwise.”

TDI is examining the rates of all regulated professional liability carriers in Texas to determine if they have accounted for the effects of Proposition 12 in their premiums. “Texas consumers expect that passage of Proposition 12 should bring rate relief to Texas physicians,” Commissioner Montemayor said. “Any future rate that comes before TDI should reflect these savings.”

Gov. Rick Perry praised the rate hike rejection. “With the passage of Proposition 12, Texans expect medical malpractice insurance rates to drop, and any request for a rate increase should be met with severe skepticism by the Department of Insurance,” he said.

Well, now. We got tort relief, and some of the insurers wanted to raise doctor rates 35% and hospital rates 68%! What?

I said it earlier and I’ll say it now, step one is tort reform, step two is Insurance reform. And a big thanks to a nameless bureaucrat who now has a name, Jose Montemayor!