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Social Justice, Workers and Congress, and the Affordable Care Act: Part 4

IMGP3160September 30, 2013

It didn’t take long for efforts associated with covering costs associated with worker’s health care to become burdensome. In 1927, the Congressional Committee on Costs of Medical Care proposed Health Maintenance Organizations [HMOs] as a strategy aimed at providing affordable health care to all citizens. A minority report written by doctors and adopted by the American Medical Association, however, took the position that HMOs would hurt the quality of health care. As a result, the Committee’s recommendation was not seriously considered.

Congress initiated a program for its own health care in 1928. In response to a number of elected lawmakers collapsing and even dying while on duty that year, Congress asked the Navy to provide a physician for the Capitol. The Office of the Attending Physician provides some basic care to members at a cost of about $500 a year, the same rate that has been in place since 1992.  The budget for the Office of the Attending Physician is more than $3 million []. There are several Navy doctors providing the care, together with more than a dozen registered nurses. The budget also includes a pharmacist, an ambulance available at the steps of the Capitol building, plus first-aid stations that staff members may use, and the x-ray and lab equipment available for care. In addition, care for families of Congress comprises choices much like all of us must make [].    


What is a patent and what did the US Supreme Court decide about human genes and patents?

117_1749June 13, 2014

The US Supreme Court ruled that human genes cannot be patented. A patent is the authority to make, use, or sell something. Myriad Genetics Inc. sought patents regarding genes for which some versions have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer–the BRCA gene mutations. The Court decided that identifying and isolating these genes is not worthy of a patent. On the other hand, Myriad also has created a synthetic form of DNA known as cDNA and that was determined to be worthy of a patent.

For patients, testing for BRCA gene mutations may become more accessible. Until now, Myriad has had the only genetic test for BRCA gene mutations. Perhaps others will now develop testing and contribute to cost reductions, since Myriad does not hold exclusive rights to make, use, or sell products associated with these genes.   


Health communication about BONIVA

August 25, 2012

“BONIVA has not been proven to stop and reverse bone loss in 9 out of 10 women and is not a cure for postmenopausal osteoporosis”  []. This message has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. Have you seen or heard it?

I wonder how Sally Field feels about that. She appeared in ads to endorse the product and she read the script that said the research had shown that BONIVA reversed bone loss…  I will track down the research and see if we can find what the published research  really found. For now, I am reflecting on how many of us heard Sally’s ad versus how many of us have seen or read about the FDA’s retraction. And I am enjoying having the strength, including my bones, to pick up my 4 year old grandson and wrestle him into my lap for a family gathering at a restaurant after church on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Music and health…

April 18, 2012

Dick Clark died today. I was reminded of how much music benefits our health. Here is a link to a summary of some of that research:
publications/papers/paul-robertson-wcdh2000.pdf. It says that music can reduce pain…all kinds of pain. Thank you Dick Clark for lessening our pain… all kinds of pain.

When is disclosure of a medical test result an obligation?

April 17, 2012

What does it mean to be a public figure like Warren Buffet? It seems that it includes a feeling of obligation to inform the public of medical test results. Which is what he did today. In a way that reflects hope and action. His message is a good example of talking about health.

Weighing in on…’pink slime’

March 23, 2012

I am sure that you’ve all heard about it. But just to be sure we are on the same page, let me share a brief story about ‘pink slime’ below so you know what I am talking about. I guess one of my favorite comments I’ve heard during this discussion came from a vegetarian who stated, “If I knew where my meat was coming from, I might eat it.” For me, it is the use of the word “lean” that gets me. Count the number of times it appears in the news story here. It really makes me wonder how often I have purchased really ‘lean’ ground beef in the past and got it at a good price–but really wasn’t getting what I thought I was buying.. Hmm. And when did pink slime first get added to our meat supply? Anyone know?

Could a cold shower reduce depressive symptoms?

November 29, 2011

I cannot say where I heard this recently. Something in the background while I was working at my computer. But it stuck in my brain. It was a report indicating that research had shown that taking a cold shower could improve mood. It didn’t say what research. Nothing new there…

I began to think about all the camping trips when showers were unavailable but a cold lake or river was nearby and provided a bathing experience. I thought about jumping into swimming pools with cold water. And I remembered camping facilities where the showers offered only cold water. Funny. As I thought about it, in every case I was in a better mood coming out than going in. I thought it was because I got the day’s sweat and dirt off me or had a nice workout swimming, but maybe not.

Since this stayed with me over the past several weeks while I have been buried under papers and research and teaching, I decided to take a break and look up the research. I found a journal that presented a research question and rationale in 2008:  The researchers argue for a study to systematically consider the possible relationship. I cannot find where such a study has been conducted. If you find it, let me know… Inquiring minds want to know.

In the meantime, here is something beautiful to behold:

How does Anderson Cooper’s statement, ‘hope is not a plan’ fit today’s events?

August 8, 2011

I saw an ad for Anderson Cooper’s new talk show coming in September. The ad shows Anderson sitting with Oprah–an excerpt from an interview some years ago. She compliments him on his coverage of Hurricane Katrina. She remarks that he got it right when he said, “Hope is not a plan.”

I thought that it was a bit ironic in the light of the day… after our nation’s credit rating has been downgraded and the U.S. stock market lost 634 points… and the news is covering it round the clock–a reminder that “the audacity of hope” is …hope without a plan…

And what can we do about it? Stop listening? Stop talking about it?

We have talked about in this forum before, news coverage has been found to lead to compassion fatigue. As Susan Moeller wrote in her book about compassion fatigue more than a decade ago in 1999 [], the effects of nonstop alarming news and no messages about concrete actions to represent effective responses: fatigue, exhaustion, and an inability to even feel anything about anything…

Here is the concrete action I seek: no matter how hard it is,

….stop responding by placing the blame on someone else.

Stop doing the same thing over again and expecting different results… 




How does the media create compassion fatigue?

March 22, 2011

When we are traumatized by someone else’s trauma, we may experience compassion fatigue. While I discussed this in an earlier post in terms of vacations and leisure], it is worth talking about in terms of so many images and messages relating to Japan’s earthquake[s], tsunami[s], and nuclear power threats…  I daresay that anyone who has watched the news over the past week is experiencing compassion fatigue. How could we not be? The images are heartbreaking, frightening, and constant…

Susan Mieller, author of the book–Compassion Fatigue–[interview about the book at /compassion.html] emphasizes the role of media in creating this condition. We have to focus on what we can do and not what we cannot do. We cannot go backwards and second guess decisions about how nuclear power plants in Japan have been maintained. We can do what we can do to help the Japanese people…even if it means watching ‘American Idol’ for a bit of distraction and downloading some music. We can try to understand the role of nuclear power in providing energy in the U.S. and seek direct answers about how the existing plants have been maintained…

Why is belly fat bad for your health?

March 17, 2011

I guess we would have to be living under a rock not to have heard health messages about belly fat. What I remember hearing the most is something like, “Belly fat is bad for you.” or “You want to concentrate on that belly fat.”  And what I really got out of the messages had to do more with how we look–that belly fat is not attractive–than how it relates to health. I had seen a number of programs addressing how to get rid of belly fat [] but never really made a connection with why in terms of health. Until the other day…

I can’t even say what program was on as I was making a meal but I heard them say that belly fat is especially harmful for our health because it is fat that works it way between and around our organs. That it literally does harm by wrapping our kidneys, liver, and intestines in fat… that was a rather horrifying image. The program went on to say that one cannot have belly fat liposuctioned away…because it is wrapping and twisting its way through our insides. The fat that can be liposuctioned away is just beneath the skin… [see this for a discussion,]

To me, this is an example of one of those messages that needs to be clearer. I especially think that men are being shown as at risk for having belly fat…but the emphasis is too often placed on how the men look and not on what is really happening inside their bodies when the pounds add up around their middles…

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