UM News
University pediatricians protest against health care veto

University of Miami pediatricians rallied outside Jackson Memorial’s Holtz Children’s Hospital last week to protest against President Bush’s expected veto of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. The pediatricians were dressed in lab coats and holding signs beseeching Bush to sign off on the bill.

The legislation would expand SCHIP by $35 billion, allowing double the number of children from low-income families access to healthcare. By 2012, more than four million additional participants would be covered by the program.

State expansions of the program would simultaneously phase out any adults other than pregnant women. Also, the bill would increase the eligibility of couples earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level to couples earning 300 percent of the federal poverty level, approximately $62,000 for a family of four.

The expansion of the SCHIP program would be financed by a more than one-hundred-percent increase in cigarette and cigar taxes, totaling an increase of 61 cents per pack of cigarettes nationwide.

The Senate passed the bill with a 67-29 vote, which is enough to override the veto Bush signed on Oct. 3. However, the House fell about two dozen votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto.

This is the fourth veto of Bush’s presidency. Of the three others, two were on stem-cell research legislation and one was a war funding bill that included a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Bush argued that the expansion of SCHIP would signal a shift toward socialized medicine and would tempt people to replace private coverage with federally-financed plans. As a compromise, Bush agreed to assign just over $5 billion for the plan, but refused to allow more children to be covered under the expansion.

Democrats are postponing a vote until Oct. 18 in hopes that media coverage and protests will persuade the 15 Republicans needed to override Bush’s veto.

Research on robots may have medical benefits for soldiers in Iraq

The Ryder Trauma Center at the University of Jackson Memorial Medical Center will be conducting research on the RP-7 robotic system to determine if the army will be able to use the robots for medicinal purposes in Iraq.

The robots are five and a half feet tall with a viewscreen mounted on top. Maneuvering on a base of three balls rather than wheels, the robots would connect patients with physicians or the patient’s family by rolling to a patient’s bedside and accessing satellite telecommunication.

Other features include infrared sensors at the robot’s waist that detect obstacles so that it can avoid a collision. However, a human escort is needed to open doors or push elevator buttons. Additionally, the robot includes a high-tech digital camera that can be panned, tilted or zoomed. The high-resolution quality enables the controller to monitor the robot’s activities.

The RP-7 robotic system is currently being used at a number of civilian medical facilities. The Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center is studying how this technology may be used in a military medical setting. For instance, these robots could be deployed to remote locations to relieve the anticipated medical shortages.

The Ryder Trauma Center has five researchers assigned to work with the robots, and every member of the trauma staff will be trained to work with the system. The center expects to receive the robots between mid-November and early December.


Oktoberfest is hosting Graduate Night on Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. The party, hosted at Fritz and Franz Bierhaus on 60 Merrick Way, is part of the largest outdoor German beer festival in South Florida. All UM graduate students are invited to enjoy complementary appetizers and $4 beer specials.