Archives for November, 2008

Healthcare Costs: What Hospitals Are Up Against

Yesterday’s Boston Globe features an interesting article on the vastly different fees that different Massachusetts hospitals charge to insurance companies. The Globe reporting team – Scott Allen, Marcella Bombardieri, Michael Rezendes, Liz Kowalczyk, and Jeffrey Krasner, with editor Thomas Farragher – analyzed private insurance data and found that one hospital can earn two or three…

“Microwave safe”: Not

by revere, cross-posted at Effect Measure The team of investigative reporting team of Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel just keeps rolling along, this time with an amazing story about how microwave safe plastics are leaching bisphenol-A (BPA) at potentially unsafe levels. We are saying potentially unsafe because we really know little…

OMB reviewing two MSHA rules

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) is under a congressional deadline to complete final rules by December 31 on safety refuges and on conveyor belt flammability and ventilation practices.  MSHA sent those documents to OMB on Friday, Nov 14 for final White House review.   Deaths of underground coal miners in 2006 led Congress to pass the MINER…

Friday Blog Roundup

This week Senator Max Baucus, chair of the powerful Finance Committee, released a policy paper on healthcare reform. Ezra Klein notes that it’s not a reform proposal, but “the beginning of Max Baucus’s attempt to create a health care reform process” – and he explains the plan and the politics surrounding it in two separate…

Cong. Review Act is bad public policy

Last night, I read a bunch of posts in the blogosphere and then watched a segment on MSNBC’s Keith Olberman talking about the Congressional Review Act of 1996 (CRA) and how it could be used to undue regulations issued in these final weeks of the Bush Administration.  Some people seem to be chomping at the bit thinking that the CRA…

Occupational Health News Roundup

 CBS’s 60 Minutes sent a news crew to Guiyu, China to capture the terrible conditions under which many of the discarded electronics from the U.S. are recycled. Here’s a description from 60 Minutes producer Solly Granatstein: Through the smoke, workers could be seen dismantling electronic components by hand, or melting them down over coal fires,…

Members of the media are gravely enumerating all the challenging circumstances that President-Elect Obama faces (financial collapse, two wars, global climate disruption, etc), so it’s worth noting that this is also a tough time for product safety. Recent problems with lead in children’s toys, contaminated food, and tainted drugs have demonstrated how many holes exist…

Aracoma Coal Miners “Died Over Money”

A wrongful-death lawsuit related to Massey Energy’s Aracoma Alma coal mine commenced yesterday in West Virginia courthouse.  Mr. Donald Bragg, 33, and Mr. Elvis Hatfield, 46, died in a mine fire on January 19, 2006.  According to an Associated Press account (here) the widows’ attorney Bruce Stanley told the jury that Massey Energy’s CEO, Don Blankenship urged the mine’s managers to focus on…

Farewell Letter from OSHA’s Foulke

OSHA’s Asst. Secretary Edwin G. Foulke Jr sent a farewell letter to the staff, dated Election Day Nov 7, recounting his goal on taking the job in March 2006: “I just want OSHA to be the best Agency it can be” Reading his 4-page farewell letter, he thinks he accomplished it.  He asserts: “without a doubt, we…

A former Department of Labor career employee who is expert in administrative law offers three simple steps for the Obama Administration to revitalize the federal rulemaking system.  Pete Galvin’s open letter to President-elect Obama provides thoughtful insight and recommendations that, if implemented, would go a long way to get our public health agencies (OSHA, MSHA, EPA) back…