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16%, 15,000/day, and a First

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a collection of the planet’s most developed 30 countries, released their annual Health at a Glance Report last week. The report compares a number of measures of health between countries, including outcomes, quality and expenditure. The highlights for the United States remain consistent with previous measurements, where we do relatively well in cancer treatment but quite poorly in primary care, avoidable hospital admissions, life expectancy, infant mortality, and obesity. Most alarmingly, we spend a far greater portion of GDP on healthcare at 16% (seen in the graph) and nearly two-and-a-half times greater dollars per person compared to the OECD average. Peruse an interesting interactive map here. Meanwhile, new reports show that over 4.2 million people lost their health insurance in the first 3/4 of 2009 at a rate of 15,000 individuals per day. Bernie Sanders offered his single payer amendment today, and in what some would call a somewhat nonconstructive or even obstructionist nature, Republicans used an obscure procedure to force the Clerk to read the 767 page bill in its entirety before holding a vote. After several hours of reading, Sanders asked for the amendment to be withdrawn in order to remove what would have been a 10-hour process. This marks the first time a single payer amendment was brought to the Congressional floor. Later in the day, Sanders exhibited ‘major concerns’ over cost controls in the bill given the removal of the public option and Medicare buy-in, but a pending amendment to strengthen the Medicare Commission from Senators Whitehouse, Rockefeller, and Lieberman could calm his worries.