August 10th, 2009

Maryland

More Metro mayhem

"The crash-avoidance system suspected of failing in the recent deadly accident on Metro's Red Line malfunctioned three months earlier, when a rush-hour train on Capitol Hill came 'dangerously close' to another train and halted only after the operator hit the emergency brake, newly obtained records show."

and

"Before June's deadly subway crash, no federal agency stepped in to ensure that Metro found and fixed the electrical circuits now suspected of contributing to the worst accident in the system's history. That's because none is authorized to. Although the federal government regulates the safe operation of buses, Amtrak, airplanes and even ferries, it cedes primary oversight of subway safety to local panels - in the case of Metro, a little-known organization known as the Tri-State Oversight Committee. The committee has no direct regulatory authority over safety and cannot order Metro to make changes. It has no employees of its own and no dedicated office, phone or Web site. It borrows space for its monthly meetings, which officials said no member of the public has ever attended. 'No one knows we exist,' acknowledged vice chairman Matthew Bassett."

News

interesting read

"You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?

"If you can afford it, you probably would pay that much, or more, to live longer, even if your quality of life wasn't going to be good. But suppose it's not you with the cancer but a stranger covered by your health-insurance fund. If the insurer provides this man — and everyone else like him — with Sutent, your premiums will increase. Do you still think the drug is a good value? Suppose the treatment cost a million dollars. Would it be worth it then? Ten million? Is there any limit to how much you would want your insurer to pay for a drug that adds six months to someone's life? If there is any point at which you say, "No, an extra six months isn't worth that much,' then you think that health care should be rationed."