The Pulse: Citizens League Issues Scan

"The Pulse", the Citizens League issue scan looks at topics of interest to members of the Citizens League (

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Saturday, October 12, 2002
Health and Human Services: Mental Health and Prison Populations. Elizabeth Daigneau writing in the September 2002 issue of Governing magazine describes a massive issue: very large numbers of people with severe mental health issues who are in our state prisons. An estimated 16 percent of incarcerated persons nationwide are identified as mentally ill. In the state of Florida, for example, mentally ill prison inmates outnumber patients in state mental hospitals by nearly 5 to 1. ”There is a pretty broad perspective that the problems facing the mentally ill need to be addressed,” says Marc Mauer, assistant director of the Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C. “People want to see the problem corrected. Prison is a severe option, and it’s an expensive one.” A major policy question will be how to address these needs and what role mental health issues might have had in the commission of crime in the first place. The full article may be viewed at: (176)

Friday, October 11, 2002
Healthcare. Web Pharmacies in Canada Doing Land Office Business. Joel Baglole writing in the October 10, 2002 Wall Street Journal describes a pharmacy in Manitoba, Canada ( that processes more than 1,500 prescriptions daily for US customers from a list of more than 1,000 medications. The firm now has 170 employees including 12 pharmacists and works out of a small town of 2,400 people in Minnedosa, Manitoba. Even though it is illegal for Americans to import pharmaceuticals from Canada, the web-based pharmaceutical business in the province of 1.1 million people has created 700 jobs and generates about 157 million dollars (US) per year. Price differentials are substantial between US and Canadian online pharmacies. Claritin an allergy medication is $239 for 100 tablets in the US and $89.99 in Canada and Pravachol cholesterol reducer is $229.80 in the US and $119.67 in Canada. (Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2002, p. B3). (175)

Thursday, October 10, 2002
Energy and Environment. DaimlerChrysler Announced Hydrogen Fuel Cell Fleet. As reported in the October 9, 2002 edition of USA Today, DaimlerChrysler will launch a fleet of hydrogen powered fuel-cell vehicles in the US and Europe in 2003. The vehicle based on the Mercedes-Benz A class cars on sale in Europe. The car will be called the F-Cell. (USA Today, October 2, 2002, p. B1.) A photo of the car and another story on hydrgen-fueled cars is at: (174)

Wednesday, October 09, 2002
Energy and Environment. The Hydrogen Economy by Jeremy Rifkin. Peter Coy reviewed the new book by Jeremy Rifkin on the hydrogen economy for the September 30, 2002 issue of Business Week. While the book waxes eloquent on the hydrogen future, 2% of the US electric energy supply is from renewable sources so there is a long way to go. Coy closes with “such a future (hydrogen economy), however promising, is likely to be a long time coming.” A description of the book may be found at: (173)

Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Energy and Environment: The Hydrogen Economy. L.A. Is First Customer for Honda's Fuel-Cell Cars. John O'Dell wrote in the October 8, 2002 issue of the Los Angeles Times that the city of Los Angeles on Monday became the first retail customer in the U.S. for fuel-cell-powered passenger vehicles, announcing that it will lease five of the hydrogen-fueled, zero-emission cars from Torrance-based American Honda Motor Co. by the end of the year. The complete article can be viewed at:,0,5064123.story. (172)

Monday, October 07, 2002
Healthcare: Bigger Role for Web in Treatment Decisions and Patient Education. In a front-page story in the Monday, October 7, 2002 Pioneer Press entitled: "Health Web sites' tools improving" Tom Majeski outlined a number of new tools for treatment decision-making and for patient education using the web. University of Minnesota journalism professor Gary Schwitzer analyzed five web sites related to healthcare on the web:

• The Mayo Clinic's new Health Decision Guides can be found at; click on "Healthy Decision Guides." The guide offers a lot of solid information, but it doesn't offer viewers community or chat rooms so they can discuss treatment options with other viewers.

• A British site, Database of Individual Patient Experiences, or DIPEx, is at It excels in delivering Web stories from a wide variety of patients, but it doesn't give a lot of detail about treatment options and outcome probabilities.

• NexCura, a company that develops "treatment profilers" and then sells them to other sites, can be found at You can find the "profilers" in use at the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization's site at (click on the area for newly diagnosed patients, and then on "breast cancer profiler") and on the American Heart Association's site at and click on "New Tool for People Managing Their Cholesterol. NexCura focuses exclusively on data, which may simply overwhelm some viewers.

• A site created by the partnership between the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making and Health Dialog Inc. is at These two companies were the pioneers in creating Web-based treatment decision-making tools. They have a proven record of delivering top-notch video patient interviews and information tailored to individual patients. However, they don't deliver their innovative videos over the Internet; you have to order them online.

• CHESS (Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System), a site based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is at It does a little bit of everything except tailor the data to individual patients. Another major drawback: You cannot access the information unless you are a member of a health plan that belongs to the consortium formed by the site owners.

The full article may be found at: (171)

Sunday, October 06, 2002
Transportation: Road Pricing. First Road Pricing Launched in the UK. Ahead of the planned launch in London, the northern English town of Durham launched a two pound access charge for the central business district from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Saturday starting October 1, 2002. Payment may be made in a number of ways and there are exclusions for residents of the targeted area. The full story may be found at: (170)