Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Friday, June 10, 2005

More news that isn't fit to print

I'm willing to bet a month's supply of Lisinopril that 90% of Americans -- and sadly, that includes you -- don't know what's going on with Medicaid funding right now. It's another four bowler.

But you're in luck, I don't have to worry about covering the stuff you really care about, like Michael Jackson and how we're turning the corner in Iraq. Here's the deal: the Congressional budget resolution requires $10 billion in entitlement cuts in the next five years, and it's pretty much assumed that it's coming out of Medicaid. the Senate Finance Committee and, for some odd reason, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, have jurisdiction over Medicaid, and in the next two months or so, they will come up with the specifics about which poor kids won't get to see a doctor and which old folks won't get their diabetes medication.

To quote Medicaid Matters,

A new Medicaid commission, due to report on September 1, was also created as part of the budget agreement. However, the commission is entirely controlled by the administration and includes no voting members from Congress or consumer representatives. Advocates and Medicaid supporters in Congress have concluded that it has been designed to merely rubber-stamp harmful administration proposals that would undermine benefits, eligibility and affordability in Medicaid and shift costs to the states.

Medicaid Matters has considerably more info and ideas about how the damage can be contained. So check it out, and get on the horn to your prostitutes -- sorry, I meant representatives -- in Congress.

On another matter, regarding the previous post, here's an example of what I'm trying to get at. A few years ago I was hired to help a Haitian community based organization develop some programs. They were interested, among other initiatives, in setting up a soccer league for their kids and they asked me to find published literature on the benefits of sports -- you know, all that character, and teamwork, and keeps 'em out of trouble stuff. It turns out there isn't any. We know exercise is good for you but of course you can get that without competitive sports.

It's just something we take for granted. Kids should be on teams, kids should engage in competitive sports. In fact we know very little about the role of competitive sports, good or bad, in child development. I have seen some recent sociological work that finds that most kids largely stop competing after junior high, mostly because they just aren't very good at sports. Do the jocks then end up better off in life? If so, what is the causal story behind that? If competing in sports is good for you, does that mean we should have more levels of competition, so everyone can play? What would that cost? Would it be worth it? If competing doesn't have any social benefits, why do we spend so much public money on competitive sports programs? If it does have benefits, is it right to spend all that money on the few kids who happen to have athletic ability?

Nobody is really asking these questions. Again, scientists can't answer them, only the citizens of a democracy truly have that right. But we can give people information they need to make up their own minds. So far, not enough people have looked.

I'll be away from your internets until Sunday. Hard work and parties in the back woods await me.

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