Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do We Really Want Government Controlled Health Care?

Linda Yezak made an interesting comment on my February 10 post and mentioned an article she had written called “Ocean Front Property in Arizona.” I checked it out and want to commend it to you. She gives real life examples of what happens when the government tries to practice medicine. As aging Baby Boomers and Gen Sandwichers, we need to wake up and pay attention. Medical care for our parents and ourselves is at risk, and with it, our very lives.

For years I’ve worked with women on disability. Their medical care—such as it is--was provided primarily by Medicaid. They often can’t find a physician who will treat them, and when they do, the medical care is much like Linda describes—cost-cutting decisions that result in additional problems. I’ve especially seen issues related to psychotropic drugs being mismanaged. It’s terribly frustrating and dangerous. Why do we think that when the government is the primary care payer for all, quality of care will be any better than it is for the few now? These cost-cutting measures put every one of us at risk. It’s so easy to want a free lunch, but folks, in the end, we’ll regret it.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Will You Trust Google with Your Health Info? announces that thanks to a partnership with IBM, Google has just released Google Health, a site where users can store and track information about their medical history, to connect to and stream data from medical devices. The service is now on the “More” page of the Google site.

The computing giants clearly want to get a head start in the movement approved in the Generational Theft bill to put everyone’s medical records into a giant database by 2014. They believe that by make the service new, trendy, and ever so useful, consumers will come to accept, yea, even demand, this service.

I don’t know about you, but I do not want my medical information floating around out there in cyberspace. I know, some medical provider groups have computerized patient data, and it is a boon. My mom’s HMO has electronic record, and there is a benefit to it. Her primary can see what the specialist have done and vice versa. The doctor can electronically order her labs, x-rays, and even prescriptions, saving her a wait at the pharmacy. But, the system is limited to that HMO and she could opt out of it by changing health plans. That’s a far cry from having the government having access to the intimate details of my medical care. Especially when another part of the Gen Theft bill calls for rationing care to those of us over 50.

Thanks, but no thanks.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus Bill Endangers the Health of the Elderly and the Rest of Us

Buried about midway into the Stimulus package is language that will affect every Gen Sandwicher and every elderly person.

Section 3001 establishes the office of The National Coordinator For Health Information Technology and requires the establishment of “an electronic health record for each person in the United States by 2014.” The electronic systems will be required to “ensure the comprehensive collection of patient demographic data, including, at a minimum, race, ethnicity, primary language, and gender information.” The law would require all health care providers, health plans, or health insurance issuers to implement these systems.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want my medical records in a federal database. Imagine the risks to privacy, regardless of the assurances in the bill. How often do we hear of breeches in electronic security as employees walk off with laptops? And imagine the cost to the medical system. Costs that will not provide patient care, but rather, “information systems” that will then be aggregated for government purposes.

Even more frightening, according to Betsy McCaughey on, are provisions that require the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, to “monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and ‘guide’ your doctor’s decisions. These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Tom Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.” Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” He says that seniors must be more accepting of the conditions that come with age rather than expecting treatment.

According to McCaughey, Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council in a plan modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis. In 2006, a U.K. health board determined that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye. It took almost three years of public protests before the board reversed its decision

In essence, this bill opens the back door to a National Health program. It’s dangerous to Boomers and more dangerous to our parents. There are still three Republicans (Spector, Collins, and Snowe) who are voting for the bill, as well as all Democrats. If you care about your health care, you might want to weigh in.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Thinking about a Joint Replacement?

As my regular readers know, I’ve been considering – and trying to avoid – a hip replacement for a couple of years now. It’s been hard to know if it’s time. One doctor said I could wait, but not to wait so long that I became incapable of walking. That would make the recovery harder. I understand that, but am also incredibly determined to not do the replacement. I just don’t think I’d do well, no matter what. So I’ve been experimenting with a combination of prayer and targeted exercises. So far, so good. I’m actually more mobile and in less pain than a year ago. I’ll keep you posted.

However, if you’re thinking about a replacement, offers a checklist for your consideration. It’s pretty basic, but a good starting point. Have any of you had a joint replacement? What was your experience? What would you recommend to those of us still considering it?

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