Tag Archives: MEDICINE

The Very Short History of American Health Care

One aspect of American history that is pretty simple to understand is the history of government-sponsored health care. The short and long answers are the same, there hasn’t been much. There was an early program for seaman, another for impoverished former slaves, a little attention given to some mentally ill people, and that’s about it until Medicare and Medicaid were passed in 1965.  There were earlier attempts and while progressive health care programs became realities elsewhere in the world the doctors of America, and their American Medical Association were vehemently opposed to what they saw as insidious socialism.

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Trump’s Health Care Plan is to Pay Your Taxes & Die

I could easily begin this piece with a list of all the things Trump promised his supporters in 2016 but has failed to deliver on. If I did at the top of the list would have to be that thing about Mexico building a wall and paying for it.

But the wall pales in contrast to the promises he made to provide Americans with a world-class health care system. Early on he promised:

“To repeal Obamacare ‘immediately’ and replace it with ‘something terrific.”

Well, from taking office in 2017 until the Democrats regained the House in 2018, strongly on the issue of health care, Trump and his totally GOP government have miserably failed to do so. It took Obama and the support of every Democrat a full two years to create the less than perfect ACA and despite dozens of GOP bills and court cases, it has been weakened but not erased. And in spite of its weaknesses, millions of Americans do have some level of health care they didn’t have before the ACA.

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As a Democrat, My Views on Abortion

Yesterday evening a woman told me she just couldn’t understand why Democrats believed in abortion. She thought it was just, “wrong.” It was late and I was too tired to think about it but today is a new day and my brain is rested. So, here’s what I think.

First of all, I’m a Democrat and I basically do not believe abortion is a good thing. To some degree or another, I’ve been bothered by anyone being sexually irresponsible and then using abortion as a means of birth control. After all, forms of condoms and birth control have existed since Roman times and earlier. That said, I don’t think it is my place to tell a woman what is correct for them.

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To Smoke or Not to Smoke?

Recently I pulled into the drive-thru at McDonald’s and in front of me was a car with two teenage boys. They weren’t paying attention and keeping up with the line. So, expecting a flock of angry birds I honked my horn. It woke them and from then on they mostly paid attention.

What I noticed, when their heads weren’t bobbing to something I wouldn’t recognize as music, was that both were either smoking cigarettes or vaping. I could fault them for that but at their age, I was on my way to becoming totally nicotine addicted and working my way towards two or more packs a day.  The brief experience made me reflect back on my own experiences.

Ironically the Marlboro Man died of cancer.

I guess that I began smoking around age twelve, if not younger. That would have been 1954 and I continued smoking until 1982 at age forty when I attended a smoking cessation class and six weeks later snuffed out my devil weed. So, I smoked 28 years and have been smoke-free for 36 years.

In 1954 a pack of cigarettes in New York was .23 cents and I was smoking one or two a day.  By 1960, the year I graduated from high school the price was .26 cents and I was consuming a pack a day. In 1982 cigarettes were .82 cents a pack and I was smoking three packs a day and if I went bar hopping on Friday night it would be another two packs for a total of five.

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Another Ambien Story

I’ve taken Ambien for years to help me go to sleep. Sleep was never a problem until a couple of back to back surgeries about ten years ago. As many of you know, Ambien has side effects that include sleep walking. We’ve talked about this before and many of you Ambien users have such stories to share.

Anyway, couple of months ago I decided to try something different and my doctor wrote me a script for Lunesta.  While it did put me to sleep it left such a horrible aftertaste in my mouth that I just had to give it up and go back to Ambien. So here’s my latest Ambien story.

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Drugs; The Great Equalizer

By whatever name they’re called there are 3,142 counties in the United States. Every single county in the U.S. registered an increase in drug-related mortality between 1980 and 2014. And that rise was statistically significant in 99.8 percent of counties.

The tragedy of these facts and figures is that the obvious failure of what has become known as the War on Drugs can be traced at least back to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914. The war got heated in 1971 under Nixon and again in the 1980s with Reagan. 

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Pickin’ Pimples Has Gone Professional

They say a person is never too old to learn something new and that happens to me often. A couple of months ago I learned that there is an entire world-wide subculture that enjoys videos of people getting their pimples and blackheads extracted by dermatologists.  There’s even a dermatologist in California who has become world-renowned by the title, Dr. Pimplepopper. It’s been rumored that there is discussion about her hosting a reality TV show on one of the major cable networks.

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Rookies With Bullshit

A lot of laid off coal miners voted for Trump because he got them to believe in the lie that coal was coming back to Eastern Kentucky and Trump would be driving the lead truck. Well that’s just not going to happen if you believe in reality. There is not a single indicator lending evidence that coal is in out future.

While coal consumption has been dying in America the same has occurred in other nations. China just cancelled the construction of 103 coal-fired generating plants in favor of natural gas. China has stopped importing coal and has laid off tens of thousands of their own miners due to lack of demand.

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Give Me the Money!

During the years I taught government another teacher and myself would invite state politicians to discuss our classes about the realities of being a politician. We had both a Democrat and a Republican and they always did a wonderful job.

One question always asked by students was some form of, “How’s come you guys don’t do thus and thus?” The standard answer was always, “OK, I’ll do that, just give me the money.” People want to believe government functions on air and politicians can just wave their hands and things happen. Of course, the reality is that everything takes money and the most common source of money for government is taxes.

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Ignorance May be Bliss But it Can Bite Your Butt!

I love it when ignorance comes home to bite people on the butt cheek. Such is becoming a frequent reality as the truth of the Trump campaign promises unfold. One example is that 35% of Americans don’t know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Obamacare are the exact same things. Same thing, different names. Ironically lots of  those who supported the conservative right favored the ACA but were dead set opposed to Obamacare.

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I Can See the VA From My Porch

veterans-affairsNot that there is any less but, back in the early days of the Obama administration there was lots of controversy regarding America’s health care system. In trying to sort through all the claims and myths about how other nations approached it I read a book by a researcher who had been hired by some institution to visit certain countries and evaluate their systems.

I don’t recall many details but I do remember that Canada and Taiwan were near the top of the best ten list. Some of the other countries he investigated were Germany, England, France, and the US. At no surprise the US ranked at the bottom of the list. Not because of poor health services and facilities but because it was too expensive for too many Americans.

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