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Doctor's report says Elizabeth Warren 'in excellent health'


Elizabeth Warren “is in excellent health,” according to a doctor's report released by the Massachusetts senator on Friday, becoming the first in a trio of top Democratic presidential candidates over 70 to make their medical records public.

Warren's last physical was in January and was conducted by Dr. Beverly Woo, who said she has served as the candidate's primary care physician since 1999. Woo, from Boston, wrote in a one-page letter dated this week that Warren's “only medical condition" is an underactive thyroid gland, which is easily treated by medication, the only kind she takes.

The senator , 70, is up to date on some important protective health steps: She had her annual flu shot in October, and a routine mammogram in January found no sign of trouble. At 5 feet, 8 inches, she weighs 129 pounds, exercises regularly and follows a healthy diet, the doctor wrote. She has never smoked, misused drugs or had a problem with alcohol.

Woo said Warren’s January checkup found no red flags. In fact, her blood pressure was lower than is usual for someone her age — 115 over 57 — and her heart rate was 70, levels that are seen in people who exercise regularly.

“If I were seeing a 70-year-old woman in my clinic with these vital signs, physical exam and lab values, I would tell her that she is quite healthy for her age,” said Dr. Brian Antono, a family medicine specialist at Georgetown University School of Medicine who reviewed the health information released by Warren’s campaign.

Warren underwent a long list of blood tests at that physical, and none signaled any underlying diseases. Importantly, they indicate she’s at low risk of heart disease and stroke. Her blood sugar was normal. Her cholesterol was in the healthy zone, with a total cholesterol of 193 and level of the so-called “bad” subtype, or LDL, at 88. Her level of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, was an unusually high 95. In contrast to the other cholesterol types where a lower number is better, an HDL higher than 60 is considered protective — and Antono said the thyroid condition Warren has sometimes bumps up that number.

“Her normal cholesterol levels combined with the rest of her ‘puzzle pieces’ – normal blood pressure, normal blood sugar and non-smoker status – are all positive contributors to an overall reassuring heart health,” Antono said.

The senator frequently jogs onto stage at her rallies and says she keeps healthy by walking frequently while talking on the phone or listening to audiobooks, with the goal of doing 7 miles (11 kilometers) daily. “But I don’t always hit it," she says.

Warren is among her party's primary front-runners along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, 78, and former Vice President Joe Biden, 77. Also in the top tier is Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who is 37.

Sanders had a heart attack while campaigning in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 and has brushed off complaints his campaign wasn’t fully forthcoming about the extent of his health scare until he was subsequently released from the hospital. But he has promised to release full medical records by the end of the year. Biden says he’ll make his health records public before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

A Pew Research Center poll from May found that about half of Democrats said it would be best for a president to be in their 50s. Another quarter said it would be best for a president to be in their 40s, and 16% preferred a president in their 60s. Just 3% said someone in their 70s would be best — and 6% said the same of a president in their 30s.

Donald Trump, now 73, became the oldest newly inaugurated first-term president in January 2017. He has been criticized for releasing only cursory details on his health while running for the White House.

His doctor, Harold Bornstein, wrote in December 2015 that Trump would “unequivocally” be the healthiest president in history and deemed the celebrity businessman’s condition “astonishingly excellent.” Bornstein later said he wrote the note in five minutes while a limo sent by the candidate waited outside his office.

Last month, on a Saturday, Trump visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a stop that wasn’t listed on the president’s schedule and came just nine months after his last physical. Trump later said he went through a “very routine physical” and blamed the media for sparking unfounded fears that the visit meant he was ill.

Figuring out how fit the septuagenarians — or any candidates — really are can be tricky. No law requires them to disclose their medical records, though doctor’s notes and the records from a most-recent physical, like Warren released, do provide snippets and important clues.

Biden had a brush with death in 1988, requiring surgery to repair two brain aneurysms — weak bulges in arteries, one of them leaking. Medical records released in 2008 during Biden's vice presidential campaign showed he'd made a full recovery, with no trouble since.

———

Associated Press writer Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.


Source: Doctor's report says Elizabeth Warren 'in excellent health'

The Health Care Debate Has Baked Up Some Flimsy Media Narratives


The consensus among wonks is that Democratic politicians who support Medicare for All are saddling themselves with an unpopular policy. Never mind whether they’re supporting an effective policy; it’s considered gauche for savvy pundit types to evince concern over the hoi polloi. No, the tried and true know that the electoral fortunes of political elites is America’s paramount concern. And so, with a certain amount of breathlessness, the end of Kamala Harris’s candidacy and the recent drop in Elizabeth Warren’s poll numbers have been held up as new evidence of this most important dynamic. 

A Daily Beast article in November quoted the always looming and ever-fretful senior Democrats describing Medicare for All as “fucking poison,” adding: “You touch it, you turn to dust.” (As of publication, Bernie Sanders remains in solid corporeal form and in second place in polls nationally.) A Politico article this week referred to the “casualty list” of presidential candidates harmed by having tangled with single-payer. On the left, different explanations have arisen: Harris and Warren were not harmed by endorsing single-payer but by walking back their initial endorsements. A Jacobin article suggested that Harris was actually more harmed by her “flip-flopping” than by supporting single-payer in the first place, as was Warren, and argued that voters “can tell the difference between candidates who are ironclad supporters of a policy because they believe it’s the right thing to do, and candidates who are calibrating their message to avoid criticism and please as many people as possible.” 

The average Democratic primary voter is not paying attention to the online left squabbles about Warren’s and Sanders’s stances on health care; they are not reading Jacobin. They do not necessarily agree with me that Warren’s latter-day proposal to pass a public option before returning to single-payer in her third year represents an obvious, cynical attempt to get out of the Medicare for All fight. They might not even know she has changed her plan at all. Indeed, there’s no real evidence that her declining numbers have much to do with her support for or prevarication on Medicare for All, though it’s perfectly plausible that voters would perceive a certain lack of trustworthiness because of her dodge on how to pay for it. Harris dodged even harder and wavered even more, producing a ridiculous compromise policy; perhaps this is the price Warren pays, perhaps not. It is, however, rather difficult to attribute Warren’s polling dip to her embrace of Medicare for All when her highest poll numbers came at a time when she claimed to be fully “with Bernie” on the issue, and when a significant majority of Democrats still approved of the policy. 

The broader public is not militantly devoted to Medicare for All. It’s unreasonable to expect that most voters are as engaged with the early primary process as its participants are; hence, it’s likely that most don’t fully know what the policy is. We truly cannot yet know how effective a Republican anti–Medicare for All ad campaign would be in swinging independent voters, though we do know that Bernie Sanders, the face of Medicare for All, beats Trump in most polls and that his campaign understands the potency of turning out disaffected voters more than others. 

But while the public isn’t necessarily desperate for Medicare for All, the polls are not as definitive as the headlines would have you believe. In fact, the polls that are most often cited as evidence of public wariness for Medicare for All frequently show the opposite dynamic. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in November showed 53 percent support Medicare for All, which is lower than it was in March but is still a majority. Of Democratic-leaning independents, 39 percent trust Bernie Sanders on health care, which is 21 points higher than the next candidate, Joe Biden. If Medicare for All were anathema, it is unlikely that the candidate most known for it would outpace the field on this question. 

The wording of poll questions is key. The KFF poll describes a scheme in which “all Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan.” An NPR/Marist poll in July found just 41 percent supported Medicare for All, but described the policy as “a national health insurance program for all Americans that replaces private health insurance”—a small but key difference, which places emphasis on getting rid of private health insurance. (In that poll, 55 percent of self-described moderate Democrats supported this proposal.) Other polls show that Americans tend to oppose Medicare for All when they’re told it means getting rid of private insurance, but the fact that more support it when they’re told it means eliminating all out-of-pocket costs and premiums tends not to inform the discourse as much. The assumption is that Republican messaging about it will be the only thing voters will hear; that the more people learn about it, the less they will like it. (There is also the significant possibility that poll respondents say what they think they’re supposed to believe is a reasonable policy, rather than the one they would truly respond to in a politician’s platform.) 

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If prominent Democrats spend all their time road-testing Republican talking points on Donald Trump’s behalf, support for Medicare for All will dip. If nominally supportive Democrats hem and haw in a way that makes them seem sly and untrustworthy—for instance, by asserting that Medicare for All can be done without raising middle-class taxes, instead of just by explaining that taxes would replace health insurance premiums and the wide variety of surprise costs that come with private insurance, and in addition everyone would get health care—then Medicare for All will become unpopular. The party’s fear of bold ideas engenders a public fear of the same. And yet, this fretfulness leads many to attempt to square this circle by promising voters that they will get to keep their insurance, without telling them that their plan is designed to destroy that insurance. This is a recipe for disaster.  

Democrats have for decades tended to chase imagined, perfectly poll-tested policies that will please everyone and rile no one. This kind of policy does not exist; nor would such a policy bring about optimal outcomes. The chase has proven to be a poor long-term political strategy. That is why Bernie Sanders’s candidacy took the party by surprise, and why the burgeoning rise of left-wing politics—not just single-payer, but things like free college and abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement—has shocked and confused the Democratic establishment. Its love for policies that play well in focus groups blinded it to the revolutionary possibility of policies that are actually good. Pundits who seek to project their savviness about political reality, at the expense of any kind of moral commitment to a cause, simply cannot grasp how unprecedented it would be for the Democratic nominee to push something as dramatic as single-payer. 

There is absolutely no substantive policy advantage to a public option over single-payer. Private insurance, particularly of the scale and profitability that exists in America, is a catastrophically bad way to pay for our health care. If the goal is to create a public option that’s better than private insurance, people will switch to the public option. The better the public option is, the faster private insurance will disintegrate. (If the public option you create is worse than private insurance, then you’re just a Republican.) The only argument for doing a public option, if it’s just a slower way to get to the same goal, is political—if you know only a public option can pass, then passing it is clearly preferable to our current health care crisis. But if you make that bet, you’d better be damn sure it pays off. Otherwise, when people continue to die from lack of care and fall into destitution from health care debt, all your sins will be remembered, and your party’s credibility will perish. 


Source: The Health Care Debate Has Baked Up Some Flimsy Media Narratives

Warren Gets Clean Bill of Health in Report: Campaign Update


(Bloomberg) -- Unite the Country, a super-PAC started by former aides of Joe Biden, is launching a $650,000 advertising campaign in Iowa promoting his candidacy.

The group’s first spot features a montage of photos starting with Biden as a young man and excerpts from a speech in which Biden highlights his stance favoring marriage equality, his sponsorship of the Violence Against Women Act and the assault weapons ban enacted as part of the 1994 crime bill he sponsored.

The ad doesn’t mention other Democratic candidates. It also doesn’t mention President Donald Trump, whose attacks on Biden were cited by the super-PAC’s founders as the reason they were forming the group. Trump’s campaign spent $8 million on television and digital ads starting in late October that criticized Biden over his son’s work for a Ukrainian energy firm.

Unite the Country bought air time starting Monday in four Iowa markets, according to Advertising Analytics, which tracks political commercials. Biden is in fourth place in the state, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average.

Warren Gets Clean Bill of Health in Report (9:10 a.m.)

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren is a “very healthy 70-year-old woman,” her doctor said in a medical report released by the campaign Friday.

“Senator Warren is in excellent health and has been throughout the 20 years I have served as her physician,” said Dr. Beverly Woo, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “There are no medical conditions or health problems that would keep her from fulfilling the duties of the president of the United States.”

The records show that she got her most recent physical examination in January and her annual flu shot in October. Warren has “excellent” cholesterol levels and normal blood pressure. At 5 feet 8 inches, she weighs 129 pounds. Her only medical condition is hypothyroidism, for which she takes levothyroxine, which keeps her thyroid hormone levels normal, Woo said.

Warren “has never smoked, used drugs or had any problem with alcohol use,” the report said. “She exercises regularly and follows a healthy diet despite her very busy schedule.”

Warren is the only top-tier candidate to release medical records so far. Bernie Sanders, 78, who had a heart attack in early October, said he will make his available at “the appropriate time.” Joe Biden, 77, has not yet released his information but has said he will do so before the Iowa caucuses in February. Pete Buttigieg, who at 37 is the youngest candidate in the race, has not released any records. -- Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

Sanders Aims to Break Up AT&T, Comcast (8:34 a.m.)

Senator Bernie Sanders’ $150 billion plan aimed at bringing high-speed internet access to all U.S. households would break up Internet service provider and cable “monopolies,” singling out such companies as Comcast Corp., AT&T Inc., and Verizon Communications Inc.

“The internet as we know it was developed by taxpayer-funded research, using taxpayer-funded grants in taxpayer-funded labs,” Sanders said in the plan, which was released Friday. “Our tax dollars built the internet and access to it should be a public good for all, not another price gouging profit machine for Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.”

Sanders said the internet, telecom, and cable companies “exploit their dominant market power to gouge consumers and lobby government at all levels to keep out competition.” He’d mandate providers offer a “basic, quality Internet plan at an affordable price.”

The Sanders plan comes as one of his rivals, Senator Elizabeth Warren, is leading the charge to to break up large tech companies. Warren published an October essay titled “Here’s How We Can Break Up Big Tech,” calling for splitting up Amazon Inc., Facebook Inc., and Google.

AT&T, Verizon and Comcast rose fractionally before regular U.S. trading, with gains of less than 0.5%. -- Elizabeth Wasserman

COMING UP

Joe Biden is on an eight-day, 18-county bus tour of Iowa through Saturday.

Presidential candidates including Biden, Sanders and Pete Buttigieg will participate in a forum hosted by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on Saturday.

Warren, Sanders and Biden are scheduled to take part in town hall meetings hosted by UNITE HERE Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas on Dec. 9-11.

(Michael Bloomberg is also seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)

--With assistance from Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Allison in Washington DC at ballison14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Wendy Benjaminson at wbenjaminson@bloomberg.net, Max Berley

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


Source: Warren Gets Clean Bill of Health in Report: Campaign Update



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