Posts Tagged ‘health care’

I’ve been sick with a head cold which a massive dose of “Emergen-C” has probably prevented from turning worse. To tell the truth, I’m still tired, stressed, and more than a little cranky. I’m also behind the curve in terms of current events commentary, so I’d thought I’d play catch-up by offering my unsolicited opinion on a range of news topics, albeit at a deeply discounted price, given the economy, my general mood, and the fact that the stuff is unsolicited (which makes me just like the other 80 million bloggers across the globe). Anyway:

imagesArmy doctor at Fort Hood kills twelve:  The shooter was commissioned, a loner, a psychiatrist (!) and a Muslim, in no particular order — or maybe the order matters. The location was a military base in Texas. The hero  was a local policewoman. So many stories, so much analysis, so few new angles. Once again, mainstream media is obsessing.

Health care legislation may not solve problem of rising costs: I admit that while championing a solution that would provide health care for the uninsured, I foolishly believed Congress and the White House might also be able to craft legislation that addressed the runaway cost of health care. Was I wrong? Tell me I was wrong. Otherwise, what the hell are we doing? Obama_health-care_Congress_Sept102009

Republican candidates win gubernatorial races in Virginia, New Jersey: First governorsof all, these victories do not represent an indictment of Obama; rather, the Democratic candidates represented an indictment of incompetancy. Second, New Jersey is exceptional; that is, exceptionally corrupt. If the virus is spreading, however, I have to rethink this whole third party thing.

Joe Jackson petitions son Michael’s estate for an allowance:  I have no idea what kind of a fatherJacksonJackson was, except probably a typically show-biz type — all swagger and gaga over the cash cow he produced. Still, he’s now eighty and he’s asking for approximately $180,000 a year, which is probably less than some of the Goldman-Sachs bonuses this year. Give it to him.

Andrea Agassi has “written” a book:  This autobiography apparently contains  shocking revelations about drug use (gasp), fake hairpieces (no) his antipathy for his first wife, AgassiBrookes Shields (oh dear) and his apparent dislike of tennis (oh please). Mostly, it’s noticeable for pull quotes, serialization potential, and the overtly earthly presence of its “ghost” writer. It’s sure to be a best-seller.

Now hand me the Kleenex and turn off the light on your way out.


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The news confounds, the mind boggles. Maybe this is what happens in an all -information world. Or in August. Or when people are unable to distinguish between fact and fantasy or between critical and less so.  Or when they feel disenfranchised. Or hungry. Or tired. Or when they’re married to Bill Clinton. You get the picture.

What I thought I’d do this week is something called: What can you say? Below are tidbits I’ve come across this week in the news. Don’t think there’s necessarily anything that needs to be said; in fact this may be a rhetorical question. To tell the truth, I was stopped dead in my tracks by much of this. NOTE: As usual, this is a mix of the deadly serious, the seriously weird, and the weirdly logical. I apologize for the juxtaposition but that’s what the news is these days.

1. “This is about the dismantling of the country…we don’t want this country to turn into RUSSIA.” images(a woman speaking at a town hall meeting on health care in Lebanon, Pennsylvania).


2. This man

mitchell_190was hired to help structure the United States interrogation program, although he had never carried out a real interrogation, had no relevant scholarship, no language skills and no Al Qada expertise.


 3.  “Children are killed, women are raped and the world closes its eyes.” (comment by a woman in refugee camp on the outskirts of Goma in the DRC where Secretary of State Clinton toured recently) 535a19442c

 4. Yale University Press has determined a new book about the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoons book-3-190depicting Muhammad, a controversy that subsequently incited riots around the world, cannot include those twelve drawings, nor any other illustrations of the prophet.


5.  New research suggests that “the physical stress of marital loss continues long after emotional wounds have broken heartshealed and those who become single… suffer from a decline in physical health from which they never fully recover.



6. Paula Abdul, announcing her departure from “American Idol” on her Twitter feed, insisted her week is “idol-75filled with network meetings” about potential projects.


(I mean really, what can you say?)

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I am sick to death about the health care arguments. I know you are too. In fact, that’s something about which we can all agree, I hope, as it appears not much else is.  Well, wait, there’s something else: we all feel the health care system needs reforming.

The devil is in the details, as always, and there are far too many details for most of us to process. So we argue about generalities or about specifics that are either irrelevant, less relevant or completely  misunderstood by most of us. Now I read that as Congress recesses, partisans are planning attacks on each other and on selective specifics, such as targeting Congressmen who oppose a public health plan option as being in the pocket of the insurance industry (MoveOn) or preventing a public insurance option because it might cover abortion (private conservative group). The DNC will accuse Republicans of trying to kill health care  reform and the RNC will accuse Democrats of trying to foist a risky experiment on the American people. Doctors will show up at Republican rallies to rail against medical malpractice costs and lawyers will show up at Democratic rallies to rail against inadequate protection for consumers. At this rate, Congress will reconvene in September and do nothing because they can’t agree on what they’ll claim are key pieces of the legislation. leonardo_da_vinci_man_in_circle

Where does that leave us? Bluntly, it leaves me with more than adequate health insurance that, at the present time, I can afford, notwithstanding health-related expenses are becoming one of the single highest yearly expenses I have. But it leaves my single mother friend, my 58-year-old consultant friend, and my married friend with two children and self-employed, disabled husband with a lot less.

The insurance companies are promising to reform themselves, which I’d like to believe but unfortunately, I have only to think of the financial industry – well, you get the point. I detest the idea of more regulation but wouldn’t mind a conditional attempt at requiring the private sector to cover preventive health care and alternative approaches, not to mention pre-existing conditions. I don’t like the idea of more taxes but I don’t like the idea that small businesses can’t afford to insure their employees. I know the between forty to fifty million people are estimated to be without health care but I imagine many more are under-insured, and so the idea of a publicly financed option looks good. I think that trying to track down positive or negative examples of how health care works in Great Britain or Canada is asinine because first of all, the systems don’t resemble each other and second of all, neither will resemble whatever the Senate brings out of committee.

The real question all of us have to ask ourselves is whether we believe health care for all our citizens is a right or a privilege, an obligation or a blessing, a guarantee we must make or one we can’t make.  We should have asked and answered it long ago, but we sure as hell better know when we run into our representatives in August.

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Two of the bigger news items this week were the announcement that Medicare would no longer cover hospital errors and the National Intelligence Estimate‘s downbeat assessment of the current strategy in Iraq. Putting the stories side by side is a real eye-opener. Most people (hospital officials notwithstanding) have hailed the Medicare ruling as a first step in improving the quality of patient care. Hospitals will have to pro-actively find ways to reduce preventable occurrences. It makes both economic and moral sense. But no obvious first step presents itself in the NIE report. For every possible “solution” there seems to be a contra-indication. The troops are containing the violence but without the political will amongst the various Iraqi factions, there is no eliminating it. The abrupt withdrawal of American forces could precipitate a bloodbath yet there aren’t enough troops available to sustain the so-called surge. And in this case, we don’t seem to be able to find a way to stop paying for policy errors, and get some party or other to do what makes both economic and moral sense.

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Some people yell at the television, especially during sports events. I yell at the newspaper. This kind of venting is supposed to be good for you, although I’m not so sure. The stories in today’s paper, which I was reading at breakfast, gave me ample opportunity to release my frustrations. For instance, when I read that millionaires in Silicon Valley still felt poor and struggled to “get by,” I said very loudly, “More? You want MORE?” (from the musical “Oliver”), which I thought was clever. I mean, come on people. Anyway, I felt momentarily better but then I read that new rules designed to reduce the practice of earmarking money for pet projects in Congress has instead increased it because our representatives are competing for our tax dollars for their districts and even bragging about snagging the extra dough buried in some appropriations bill or other. “Everybody over to the trough, free pork!” I shouted at the newspaper and shook it a little for good measure. When I got to the piece about about the changed domestic surveillance bill passing despite serious misgivings, I found myself yelling, “Then why pass it?”. By the time I had perused the other headlines (forclosures up, stock prices down, healthcare still insufficient or out of reach for most, elite child athletes are seeing sports psychologists for heaven’s sake!), I was inflicting serious damage to the paper and I hadn’t even finished my first cup of coffee. That’s no way to begin the day so I balled up the front section, along with business and sports sections (I’m cranky about Barry Bonds’ pursuit of my beloved Hank Aarons’ home run record), took a deep breath and with a sigh, picked up the arts page where, by avoiding any references to pop culture celebrities without talent, I was able to sooth my troubled soul and finish breakfast.

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…for the ashes of James (Scotty from “Startrek”) Doohan and Gordon (the Mercury astronaut) Cooper, which ended up falling back to the New Mexico desert from which they were shot into space; for a copy of Michael Moore’s film, which he is hiding while he tussles with the Treasury Department over the trip he took to Cuba with several ill ground zero workers supposedly to get help for them and to illustrate the failing U.S. health care system (there’s a line somewhere that got crossed, I think); for the secret to success and happiness, which you can find either in dozens of self-help books or “Reader’s Digest” articles that have been published over the years, or in the newest fad reading, The Secret, for which you can shell out $34.95 to learn to send out only positive thoughts. I get it: just don’t say no.

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