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3 posts from May 2020


The Sabin Center's Michael Burger Discusses the Administration's Dismantling of Environmental Protections (May 29th)

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It should go without saying that we interact with the environment constantly.   It should also go without saying a degraded environment compromises our health and leaves us less resilient.  This explains why Black Americans, disproportionately suffering from chronic conditions resulting from, e.g., poor air quality, are suffering COVID-19 mortality rates upwards of three time that of White Americans.  According to the National Academies of Science, the environment is responsible for 30% of premature mortality while health care is only responsible for, or prevents, 10%.  Despite formally admitting via, e.g., Environmental Impact Statements, the Trump administration has gutted the nation’s environmental protections.  According to the Sabin Center, the administration has unwound, or intends to unwind, approximately 100 environmental regulations ranging from power plant and car and truck CO2 emissions, mercury and hydroflurocarbons emissions, rules protecting wetlands from oil and gas leasing, rules regarding pesticide use, drilling, fracking and coal leasing rules, off shore oil and gas drilling rules, Arctic exploration rules, rules governing natural gas pipeline construction and logging rules and the US’s commitment to the Paris climate accord.  Concerning the climate crisis, as I've noted previously research published in 2016 concluded that the adverse health affects resulting from health care industry’s greenhouse gas emissions is commensurate with upwards of 98,000 deaths annually in the US alone. 

During this 30 minute discussion, Professor Burger explains the Sabin Center's mission, provides an overview of the administration's efforts to moreover unwind air quality standards, discusses related procedural rules the EPA has/is unwinding, e.g., restrict the use of scientific research, and discusses the Juliana decision in light of related climate crisis-related court decisions world wise.  

Profess or Michael Burger is the Executive Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.  He frequently collaborates with researchers across Columbia's Earth Institute, and with local and national environmental groups, government representatives, and international organizations.   Previously,  he was an associate professor at Roger Williams University BurgerSchool of Law.  Previously still he taught in the Lawyering Program at New York University School of Law, served as an attorney in the Environmental Law Division of New York City’s Office of the Corporation Counsel.  He has also lead short courses on climate change and human rights in the Hague.  He is also a co-founder and member of the Environmental Law Collaborative, and is the incoming chair of the New York City Bar Association International Environmental Law Committee.  Professor Burger is a widely published scholar, a frequent speaker at conferences and symposiums, and a regular source for media outlets, including The Washington Post, Newsweek, Time, Forbes, The Guardian, Bloomberg, and Vox.com.  Michael is a graduate of Columbia Law School and of Brown University and also holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Creative Writing program at NYU.

Though not noted during the interview, listeners are encouraged to read, Climate Change, Public Health and the Law (Cambridge University Press), edited by Michael Burger and Justin Gundlach.  At: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/climate-change-public-health-and-the-law/D2DED4C703EBD2F8CBD5B302E0B7AA3B.

Concerning the administration's attack on air quality, see, e.g., S. William Becker and Mary D. Becker, "The Devastating Impacts on the Trump Proposal to Roll Back Greenhouse Gas Vehicle Emissions Standards, "The Untold Story," at http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/files/2019/05/FINALGHGREPORT.pdf.   


Interviewer as Interviewee: David Introcaso Answers Listeners' Questions (May 27th) (Part I)

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Since I've received and answered questions via email concerning podcast interviews and related health care policy questions over the past eight years, I thought it might be it might be useful to attempt answering listeners via a podcast program.  This podcast addresses questions I received via my solicitation a few months ago.  Joe DiLauro, the gentleman whom introduces the podcast and thanks listeners after each interview, and moreover my audio engineer, poses the questions.

During Part I of this discussion, approximately 22 minutes, I address questions concerning the current COVID-19 pandemic and questions concerning health care policy specifics related to Republican and Democratic party approaches to health care reform, Congressional functioning and policy management by Medicare program regulators.    

As for my bio . . . , over approximately the past 25 years I have done health care delivery, financing, policy research and evaluation in Washington DC.  My bio includes having served as Health Policy Adviser to the U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer.  I also spent eight years working in the US Department of Health and Human Services serving as the Evaluation Officer for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and as a Public Health Analyst in the Office of Assistant  Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE).  I have acute care experience having worked at DC General and post-acute experience having worked with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.   My consulting clients have ranged from the American Heart Association and the American Public Health Association to UnitedHealth Group.  Among other awards I received a three-year W. K. Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship.  I have taught as a adjunct at Georgetown and at George Washington universities and over the past eight years, beyond producing over 200 interviews via this podcast, have authored over 50 health policy-related essays.  My BS, MA and Ph.D. degrees were earned at Rutgers and Arizona State.  


Howard Friedman Discusses His Recently Published Book, "Ultimate Price, The Value We Place on Life" (May 12th)

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Considering how the COVID-19 pandemic has been addressed by federal policy makers, e.g., the US, with 4.25% of the world's population, accounts for approximately 30% of worldwide deaths, the question arises to what extent do we value life - literally.  As Professor Friedman notes in his work, lives undervalued are lives unprotected since they are exposed to greater health and safety risks and enjoy far fewer legal protections. 

During this 33-minute conversation, Prof Friedman discusses his motivation or intent in writing the book, what in theory is intended in calculating a monetary value for a life, how value is calculated or the "Value of a Statistical Life," why valuations vary widely, examples of why and when they're employed, for example, the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund (VCF), the infamous Ford Pinto example and others including employer insurance policies on employees (commonly termed "dead peasants" insurance") and lives threatened by the climate crisis and relevance today in context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Howard Friedman teaches at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia's Data Science Institute. He also provides statistical analysis for the United Nations Populations Fund.  Previously, Dr. Friedman served as a Director at Capital One where he led teams of statisticians, analysts and Howard Friedman photoprogrammers in various areas of operations.  He has authored and co-authored over 70 scientific articles and book chapters in areas of applied statistics, health economics and politics.  His recent publications have appeared in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, Current Medical Research & Opinion, Clinical Therapeutics, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, Clinical Drug Investigation, American Journal of Cardiovascular Drugs and Value in Health. Professor Friedman is also the author of the 2012 work, Measure of a Nation and the 2013 work, A Modest Proposal for AmericaProfessor Friedman Friedman received his Bachelor’s degree from Binghamton University in Applied Physics, earned a Masters in Statistics and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins. 

Information on Ultimate Price is at: https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520343221/ultimate-price