The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 58.0°F | A Few Clouds and Breezy
Article Tools

Hospitals Seeing Decline In Paying Patients

In another sign of the economy’s toll on the nation’s health care system, some hospitals say they are seeing fewer paying patients even as greater numbers of people are showing up at emergency rooms unable to pay their bills.

While the full effects of the downturn are likely to become more evident in coming months as more people lose their jobs and their insurance coverage, some hospitals say they are already experiencing a fall-off in patient admissions.

Some patients with insurance seem to be deferring treatments like knee replacements, hernia repairs and weight-loss surgeries — the kind of procedures that are among the most lucrative to hospitals. Just as consumers are hesitant to make any sort of big financial decision right now, some patients may feel too financially insecure to take time off work or spend what could be thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses for elective treatments.

Tolerance Over Race Can Spread, Studies Find

This was supposed to be the election when hidden racism would rear its head. There was much talk of a “Bradley effect,” in which white voters would say one thing to pollsters and do another in the privacy of the booth; of a backlash in which the working-class whites whom Sen. Barack Obama had labeled “bitter” would take their bitterness out on him.

But lost in all that anguished commentary, experts say, was an important recent finding from the study of prejudice: that mutual trust between members of different races can catch on just as quickly, and spread just as fast, as suspicion.

In some new studies, psychologists have been able to establish a close relationship between diverse pairs — black and white, Latino and Asian, black and Latino — in a matter of hours. That relationship immediately reduces conscious and unconscious bias in both people, and also significantly reduces prejudice toward the other group in each individual’s close friends.

This extended-contact effect, as it is called, travels like a benign virus through an entire peer group, counteracting subtle or not so subtle mistrust.

Catholic and Muslim Leaders Pledge to Improve Relations

Roman Catholic and Muslim leaders worked Thursday to deflate suspicion between the two faiths, pledging at a high-level seminar here to work together to condemn terrorism, protect religious freedom and fight poverty.

The meeting was long in coming, a year after 138 Muslim leaders wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI after he offended many Muslims by quoting a Byzantine emperor who called some teachings of the Prophet Muhammad “evil and inhuman.” In turn, top Vatican officials have worried about freedom of worship in countries with a Muslim majority, as well as immigration that is turning Europe, which they define as a Christian continent, increasingly Muslim.

But on Thursday, both sides said that they hoped the seminar would open a new and much-improved chapter in Catholic-Muslim relations, as the two groups said they might establish a committee that could ease tensions in any future crisis between Catholics and Muslims.