Category Archives: Our Health System

Health Care Reform!

healthLast week I spent an afternoon going through printouts of my hospital bills from the last few years. After wearing out a few of the keys on my trusty TI-84 calculator, I confirmed what I had only suspected previously: that since May 1, 2005 Medicare, along with a potpourri of state medical assistance programs, has spent just over 1.1 million dollars keeping me alive.
Whether or not this 1.1 million dollar raid on the Social Security Trust Fund, as well as the State of New Mexico’s oil and gas royalties, represents a bargain is a matter of personal opinion. I mention it only to call attention to the promises regarding health care “reform” made by then-candidate Obama during the recently concluded campaign season.

The only problem I foresee regarding health care “reform” is that, in political terminology, “reform” is Orwellian Newspeak for “government meddling.”

Depending on who you talk to, the Obama Administration or some other equally partisan group, “reform” will probably add around 40 million people to an already over-extended health care system. If you think that having to wait 12 hours just to get into an Emergency Room or Urgent Care Clinic is bad, try to think about what adding another 50 people to the line ahead of you will do for your attitude.

I realize that there will be some who believe that more government involvement in health care will lead to cost control through “greater efficiency.” If you believe that line, just talk to any veteran that uses their local Veterans Administration Hospital and see what kind of testimonial to government efficiency that you get. Better yet, visit my old stomping grounds at the Indian Health Service Hospital in Gallup, New Mexico to see what kind of a bureaucratic mess that government supervision of health care can make.

Under Obama’s proposed Economic Recovery Plan, or whatever it’s being called this week, the government proposes to spend $87 billion for the state-run Medicaid programs, $20 billion to improve health information technology, and about $4 billion for improvements in preventative medicine. While this may look good on paper I must ask what the cost will be next year, or in its third year. I can assure you that the 50 states will run through that $87 billion of Medicaid funding in a matter of months! Does Obama’s proposed spending include funding these programs 5 years down the road? And the part about “preventive care” may look like a good idea, but it’s an even bigger joke.

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Discovery Health Channel!

Discovery Health has begun taking registrations for its National Body Challenge 2009, billed as a free, comprehensive weight loss and fitness challenge. The National Body Challenge 2009 aims at providing weight loss tools and inspiration, as well as expert advice and recipes. Discovery Health Channel programming is an integral part of the National Body Challenge 2009.

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The January 5-9, 2009, kickoff will feature two competing teams of severely overweight people working with Bally Total Fitness personal trainers, a nutritionist, a therapist under the guidance of fitness expert Dr. Lydie Hazan. The teams’ goal will be to shed a lifetime of unhealthy habits in the span of six months, replacing them with healthy ones.
The National Body Challenge 2009 is not the latest fad diet or reality tv show. What the challenge aims for is educating and supporting viewers on healthy lifestyle changes that can reduce their risk heart disease, stroke and cancer.
This is the 6th annual National Body Challenge so naturally potential participants will want to explore the effectiveness of past year’s challenges.
According to Dr. Pamela Peake, a Discovery Health Channel spokesperson, the 2005 National Body Challenge resulted in a cumulative weight loss of 395,000 pounds (or 197.5 tons) for participants nationwide, almost double the amount lost in 2004.
The National Body Challenge generates a lot of enthusiasm for lifestyle management changes even among those who are not ultimately up to the challenge. On the 3fatchicks blog, 3 bloggers who tried the National Body Challenge in 2007 applauded it as fun and worthwhile, even though 2 of the 3 dropped out.
Testimonials on the Discovery Health Challenge website also praise the benefits of the National Body Challenge. One woman wrote that she lost 65 pounds in 2008, dropping from 208 pounds to 143, and dropping from pants size 19 to 8. Another lamented regaining the 40 pounds lost in the 2008 challenge but expressed determination to lose weight and keep it off as part of the National Body Challenge 2009.
Among the tips from those who have participated in past National Body Challenges: it is not necessary to join Bally’s Total Fitness when the 8 week trial membership expires or to avoid the challenge if there is no Bally’s nearby. Success at the challenge does require exercise but that exercise can be done at home.

Repealing Health Care Reform Law!

healthThe healthcare law has been an issue that has divided the country and seemed to cause a divide between Republicans and Democrats as well. Although the health-care bill was signed into law, it does not mean the fight is over for the Republican Party.

The Huffington Post reports that the dominant House Republicans voted unanimously Wednesday, Jan. 19, to repeal health care reform. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised his chamber won’t even consider the House’s bill, making it highly unlikely to be repealed.

The repeal of health-care reform has been a major issue for the Republican Party, especially during the 2010 mid-term elections. The Republican-dominated House has made the repeal a top issue for 2011 and hopes that more Democrats will support the repeal.

The climate in the Senate and the White House is that they are not too worried about this repeal effort. The Senate has said numerous times that the House’s bill is going to go nowhere and they have no intention of voting for a repeal of the law. The fight will instead go to the funding and rule-writing of the health-care bill, which is where the Senate is focusing their attention.

There will of course be a few Senate Democrats who choose to vote to repeal healthcare reform, but it will not be enough to move forward in the process. The Senate is still controlled by the Democrats, so they can stop legislation from moving beyond the Senate floor.

Knowing that the Democrats are still in control of the Senate will make it very hard, if not impossible, for the repeal to pass the Senate. The White House has been firm saying that any and all repeal efforts by the House will be unsuccessful. Even if it made it to the President’s desk for a signature, there is almost no chance he would sign it. The White House has been adamant in defending healthcare reform and is not going to slow down or stop their efforts on enacting the legislation based on the repeal in the House. When it comes to the demeanor of the White House, they are very positive that their reform will be upheld and seem to believe they are doing the right thing.

Based on my examination of the news, the likelihood of the House bill’s passage being signed into law by President Obama is basically non-existent. Obama has been fighting his entire presidency to get the health-care bill signed into law, so why would he sign to repeal it?

The House’s bill for a repeal of the healthcare reform is more symbolic than anything because it shows they are keeping their word on a very important issue. I would have to say that the House’s bill will not be signed by Obama, but it definitely shows the Republicans are going to fight until the end.

Why Our Health System Is In A Mess!

Health Care messThe rhetoric surrounding health care insurance from legislators has very stealthily transitioned from “Universal” to “Mandatory” and from “Health” insurance to “Medical” insurance. Does that mean there’s intent to leave non-medical providers out of any plan?

And the only focus now seems to be on “containing and lowering health carecosts”. But understand the facts. In addition to the citing high costs of services, there are a myriad of problems that need to be focused upon.

The problems include the high costs of a medical education. A good majority exit medical school (doctors & therapists, et.al.) with loans over $100,000 at 7%-10% interest rates. Now “contain and lower” the potential incomes of these professionals by drastically restricted and/or capping what they are paid for their services.

Now add in the costs of practice which only increase and the costs of living which only increase, on top of the costs of those student loans. How many people would remain in the medical professions? With great numbers leaving for higher paying professions, what would happen to the medical care system in this country?

Let’s not ignore skyrocketing health care insurance premiums, co-payments, deductibles; continually reduced or eliminated covered health care expenses; the obscenely high salaries and bonuses of health care insurance, medical equipment and pharmaceutical company executives; the extremely high commissions and bonuses health care insurance, medical equipment and pharmaceutical company brokers and salespeople get to sell their policies/products, plus their lucrative perks, like all expense-paid trips; the “incentives” these health/medical products corporations “extend” to providers, administrators and mangers of hospitals and clinics, to use their products.

It doesn’t take rocket science to come up with viable solutions that are not at the expense of just the consumer, yet have benefits for all involved.

As insurers readily place “caps” (limits) on the amounts they will pay for a particular health care service, limits (“caps”) should be mandated on the amounts the health insurance and products companies should be allowed to charge for insurance premiums and products.

Federal legislation could also mandate a new corporate tax on all health insurance, liability insurance and medical liability (malpractice) insurance companies, all hospitals, clinics and multi-doctor facilities that receive fees for policies, services, supplies, equipment, etc. A 1% “Mandatory Universal Plans Fee” levied onto corporate gross revenues over $500,000, all personnel salaries/incomes/commissions over $200,000, bonuses over $50,000 and all-expense-paid trips valued over $10,000, could go a long way in assisting the financial stability of health care insurance for all, with the revenues from this “M.U.P. Fee” used to subsidize Medicaid, Medicare & Universal Plans.

And mandating insurance corporations to form not-for-profit subsidiaries to offer health care insurance plans at reduced premiums for working and middle income citizens who do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare plans would go a long way in this crisis.

The only way health care insurance is going to be made available in an equitable manner to all citizens, is if the playing field for contributing to it, paying for it and restricting “pay”, is leveled across the board. A common sense, common good, common contribution approach, with health care insurance and products companies contributing their fair share, needs to be applied if all citizens are going to get fair, affordable, complete “health” care insurance that covers all health care providers’ services in all health care disciplines, equitably.