Healthcare reform

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Anaphylaxis is frightening — it can and does kill people. It is an acute allergic reaction that affects about 0.5  to 2% of the population, at some point in life, and the frequency seems to be rising as we speak. Symptoms include hives and itches and swelling, which about 20% of the time can affect the upper breathing system and close the windpipe.

In theory any substance that is not included as part of the body can cause it.  I have heard about it being caused by bee stings, snake bites, foods and drugs and such. I have actually treated people for post-traumatic stress disorder caused by an allergic attack.  It is a serious stress to find your windpipe closing up and not know why. The lifesaving immediate emergency treatment is injected epinephrine (adrenaline) and getting the victim to a medical center to follow up with antihistamine and steroids as needed. My own allergies have given me some weird things over the years — lots of positive skin tests.  I used to suffer through “desensitization” protocols — allergen injections that made me sick, and prize-winning hay fever attacks. Read more on The EpiPen Mess and How To Work Around It…

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Doctors at a hospital chain in Los Angeles have complained about pressure to make unnecessary hospital admissions.  It takes a lot to make doctors complain.  These sorts of actions are rare enough that my gut reaction is to believe that where there is smoke, there is probably fire.

A long time ago, a preceptor, or teaching doctor, in psychopharmacology told me to read business newspapers like the Wall Street Journal if I really wanted to know what was going on in drug development.  I never seemed to have the time, but he certainly did. He had a nice family and a fairly large home.  A little more recently, my husband told me if I was ever approached by Mike Wallace, then the star reporter of 60 Minutes on CBS, with a microphone and a camera, I should probably run like hell.

I am delighted this group of doctors complained.  The health care company has denied the allegations.  They say the data, collected by a third party, does not support the allegations. They don’t provide a link to the data, and I can’t locate it anywhere, so I guess I’ll just have to take their word for it. Cute, huh?  One thing I have learned about all allegedly scientific data, whether it is a result of pouring things in test-tubes or a lot of people counting numbers, is not to judge the results until I know who paid for them.  This hospital apparently paid someone to check if their admissions were appropriate.  Can anybody possibly trust this data, especially knowing it is unavailable and its collection was paid for — if not supervised — by the hospital in question? Read more on Did Anyone Actually Believe That Medical Care Companies Were Honest or Ethical?…

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By every measure, America is hanging onto its first world status by a thread.  And even that is arguable.  We have been in slow decline toward third world status for the last 30 years.  And nothing speaks to this reality more than this country’s poverty rates. It is sad that poverty is measured in percentages and indices that are debatable at best.  As in many news stories, an effort is made to personalize — to render concrete — these elusive numbers.  The happiness of the person who found free fruit but could not afford it at Walmart, cited at the end of the article, is a touching story. These are the stories of real poor folks, who have seen me as patients, in rural northern California. Folks like the married couple, both of whom were on active army duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  They left their kids with their parents while they served.  They wanted to continue serving, but were informed they could not because of “military cutbacks.”  They asked for job direction from VA counselors who were no help, and finally both found minimum wage jobs.  Their new wages combined total less than 1/4 of their military salaries, but they still make too much to qualify for insurance.  They own some land — from the family – where they are living with their children in their parents’ houses.  They are wondering how they are going to pay for their children’s medical care. Like the young man who has impacted wisdom teeth and back pain from a serious accident at a saw mill.  Something ran amok and tons of wood fell on his back. He cannot pay for either dental care or an operation on his back.  His family has chipped in for medical marijuana.  He has no idea of how to do anything except stay home, in pain, depressed, and stoned. Or there’s the older woman on oxygen who cannot lift her tank and has a bag of pills she cannot lift either.  She needs me to hold her hand while she limps with great pain into my office.  She has a broken hip but until she is old enough for Medicare — a year or so — mostly her friends shop for her and bring her everything she needs.  What she really needs is an operation on her hip but has no idea how to pay for it.  I tell her to ask her doctor for some kind of a device to assist ambulation.  She says a cane is not enough and nobody will pay for a walker; certainly not for a wheelchair. Some people think Obamacare might help but have no idea what to do until then.  I have seen unemployed young people who are glad they are still on their parents’ health insurance. The kinds of things I am seeing are the kind of things that missionaries see in third world counties.  I know some physicians who have been discouraged from that kind of work, simply because people need basic food and shelter before they can be cured or managed.  From what the people above tell me, they do not seem to have these things, either. Hanging on by a thread to our first world status?  No.  The thread has broken and we are third world. Now.

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I happened to be watching CNN when Mr. Buckley, the father of an unarmed Marine killed in  Afghanistan, was sharing his story.  He was fighting tears and so was the CNN reporter.  I was not doing too great myself.

I started the American Natural Health Initiative because I think American social behavior simply does not value human life.  It’s not hard to find instances that support this — ridiculous profits for big corporations, the sorry state of our healthcare system, industrial toxins that persist despite knowledge of their danger, or genetic engineering that puts profit above human health.  I am and will continue to be against all of these nefarious anti-human forces. These concerns are dwarfed, however, by the urgency to fight my own country about what the military is doing.  As I say this, please remember that I am an honorably discharged veteran.

First, I openly send condolences to the family of Lieutenant Buckley of Long Island.  I applaud his father’s courage, for it was obviously difficult for him to come forward.  I must thank him for doing so and assure him that his son’s death — which his son saw coming — was not in vain. Lieutenant Buckley was gunned down in the heinous manner of an execution.   An Afghan soldier, armed with an AK47, shot him on a basketball court where there were witnesses.  The Afghan soldier had informed Lieutenant Buckley — as he apparently had in the past — that he did not belong where he was.  For all intensive purposes, the perpetrator has “disappeared.” The stated purpose of the Marines – the unarmed ones in Afghanistan — is to help train our “ally” in police and military operations.  As far as I can figure, the unarmed Marines are supposed to be doing things like playing basketball with our Afghan friends — who are armed.  They even share a barracks. Read more on Marine Killed — But Was It A Casualty Of War?…

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Poverty, illness and desperation are a tragic trio and destroy unknown numbers of lives.

One story that broke my heart was that of a sweet young thing, age 23, who had inherited nothing from her father but a disease.

She needed a “specialty medicine” for it — one of those medicines that is so expensive that nobody seems to want to pay for it.  But she lost her job due to “downsizing” so she had no insurance and no money. Read more on US Healthcare Is A Tragedy, Not A Success…

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I never paid a great deal of attention to politics, until I realized that health care had become politics.

I may be the last of a generation that learned, in medical school in France, that the responsibility of a doctor was to keep a record of cash transactions, something best done in a bound notebook with no pages ripped out, and only a single line to cross out errors, so that integrity would not be questioned.

The same year I entered medical school, President Richard Nixon signed the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973.

Wealthy industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, billionaire shipbuilder, and steel and aluminum magnate (as well as staunch Republican and major contributor to the Nixon campaign) was the first person to establish a “for-profit” hospital. Read more on Don’t Tell Me You Think Insurance Will Actually HELP…

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Despite what some consider excessive education, I regress to using primitive expressions from a very deep and fairly primitive part of my brain when I’m frustrated.  So excuse me a moment while I wail, “Oy Vay!” Thank you – I feel much better now.

You might wonder what brings such an expression to my lips.  And you deserve an answer for faithfully continuing to read while I ventilate some steam.

Every discussion of public health care in this year which is winding down has been totally misguided – and I believe intentionally aimed at misleading the public. Read more on What Good Is Access Without Quality?…

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“Innovative Health Care Programs?”

This seems to be the era of backwards-definitions.  “No Child Left Behind” means a diminished budget and fewer programs for child education. “Compassionate Conservatism” means cutting programs for the unemployed, the medical indigent and the hungry. “Strategic Defense” means a full-speed-ahead attack.

The “Innovative Programs” article talks about are mostly supplied by The Greenfield group, where improved medical care is provided if people  fork in some cash to get it.  Also “Harvard Vanguard,” who loves to be the first to do things.

Since there is nothing but Harvard hospitals on the reality TV show  Boston Med, I wonder if the Harvard Public relations people have descended to some all-invasive biological state, to infiltrate all media, and to try to get us to believe that they do things medically and surgically that are more advanced than other providers.  Read more on Walls and Barriers To Providing Health Care…

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I’m often asked for my opinion of and reaction to our new healthcare reform.

My immediate reaction is to correct the concept that this legislation has anything to do with healthcare. It is more properly insurance reform.
I stopped accepting insurance payments in 1996. In the intervening years, I’ve successfully operated a cash-only practice and in the past few years have been drawn into coaching other doctors in how to operate such a practice and consulting with people who are tired of insurance tyranny.
The term bandied about in the recent debates about healthcare reform is “access.”

Can't Wait For Healthcare

The talking heads — both media and governmental — claimed a large number of people were uninsured. I recall numbers in the range of 40 million, and I’ve heard such numbers debunked.
Read more on Access Is A Null And Void Concept…

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While so-called “Universal Health Care” can have tremendous advantages in the primary care field, it is totally unable to deal with specialized care.  A case in point — and an all-too-common case — is cancer treatment.  Time is of the essence when dealing with cancer, as the chance of recovery and survival is best if it is caught and treated early.

This video is not an isolated case.  A very dear friend of mine could tell you a very similar story about her thyroid cancer and the frustrations of the Canadian Public Health system — but without the happy ending.


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