Saturday, October 24, 2009

Swine Flu Emergency - UPDATED

AP is reporting Obama has declared Swine flu a national emergency:
President Barack Obama declared the swine flu outbreak a national emergency and empowered his health secretary to suspend federal requirements and speed treatment for thousands of infected people.

The declaration that Obama signed late Friday authorized Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to bypass federal rules so health officials can respond more quickly to the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,000 people in the United States.
Since when has the Obama administration been concerned about bypassing federal rules?   Sebelius uses the HHS website to promote the health care agenda of the President, something even the very moderate Megan McArdle found disconcerting.  Call me cynical but I am having trouble seeing this story as anything other than a distraction from a really lousy week for the White House.

According to the AP the goal is to remove bureaucratic roadblocks from Medicare and Medicaid to allow sick people to receive treatment.  There is concern, however, for the potential "to overburden health care resources."  Well lets add 30 million to the system and see what happens, shall we?

Of course it is terrible that 1000 people have died from this flu and certainly they should receive treatment.  I have trouble, however, with the declaration of a national emergency.  According to the CDC 36,000 people die annually from complications from the flu, why do these 1000 constitute a national emergency?  The CDC has a graph of flu epidemics and there was clearly an epidemic in 2008:

The trend looks to have just crossed a threshold barely, but it seems a bit premature to declare a national emergency.  Will update with any additional information.  

UPDATE:  A potential explanation for at least part of the emergency might be that the administration was overly optimistic in its projections of the number of vaccines that would be available at this point.  The Obama administration had projected 120 million would be available at this time.  Currently, there are 11 million vaccines ready.  I don't need to add the usual disclaimer do I?  What if the Bush administration had been so unprepared? 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails
Web Analytics