Tuesday, May 09, 2006


If this news doesn't enrage you, I don't know what will:

The United States has the second highest death rate for newborns among industrialized nations, according to a new global report.

The death rate for U.S. newborns is 5 per 1,000 live births, the same as Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia, the Save the Children report released Monday showed. Latvia had the worst rate -- 6 per 1,000 -- among industrialized countries, the Associated Press reported.

Japan had the lowest newborn death rate -- 1.8 per 1,000 -- among the 33 industrialized nations. The Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland and Norway tied for second place with 2 per 1,000.

Racial and income disparities are factors in the poor U.S. ranking. Among black Americans, the newborn death rate is 9 per 1,000, which is closer to rates in developing nations than rates in industrialized countries, the AP reported.

A lack of national health insurance and short maternity leaves in the United States may also be factors, the report authors said. [Emphasis mine-SK]

Disparities indeed:
Republicans readied as much as $100 billion in tax cuts for votes in both chambers of Congress, including extending low rates on dividends and most capital gains...


The legislation also would renew for two years a benefit companies such as General Electric Co. and Citigroup Inc. claim when they sell financial products outside the U.S. Lawmakers neared agreement on a second measure that includes continuing a lapsed tax credit for research relied on by companies such as Boeing Co. and Dow Chemical Co.

Wonderful, tax cuts for the rich and powerful, while American babies continue to die at an unconscionable rate.

But wait, simply widening the gap betweeen rich and poor in America isn't the GOP's only tack, they're also seeking to help insurers avoid state requirements for children's healthcare:
Senate Democrats vowed Tuesday to fight provisions in Republican-backed legislation that they charged would reduce health insurance coverage for millions who already have it.

The bill would allow small businesses to join across state lines to buy insurance, which would give them enough clout to negotiate better rates, said Sen. Mike Enzi, the chairman of Senate's health committee and lead supporter of the measure.

"This is something that the small businesses have been asking for for almost 15 years," Enzi said.

But Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said the legislation marked "a retreat from our commitment to cancer. It's a retreat for our commitment to diabetes. It's a retreat from our commitment to mental health parity." He and other critics said it would allow small businesses to purchase insurance that overrode coverage requirements mandated by the states.


Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said he fears the insurance industry would offer plans that exclude childhood immunizations and other important services. They would also be allowed to increase premiums beyond what individuals states now allow.

"What we're doing here is shrinking the amount of benefits offered to people," Dodd said.

In recent decades, it has become common for states to require that insurance companies offer coverage for certain types of cancer screenings, such as mammograms, 49 states; colorectal examinations, 22 states; and cervical cancer screenings, 29 states.

"If you find cancer early and detect it early, you're not only going to save costs, you're going to save a life," said Daniel Smith of the American Cancer Society. "One of the barriers to going to get screened is if your insurance company won't cover it." [Emphasis mine-SK]

Of course all this avoids pointing out what would really help with the US' newborn death rate, as well as myriad other problems: a progressive tax system that rewards work more than wealth, and single-payer health care which takes insurance costs out of the hands of giant for-profit corporations.

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