It’s hard to know all the specifics of child sacrifice in Pre-Columbian America. Why were they killed? How many were there? By whom and to whom were they sacrificed? Anthropologists have found the remains of 42 children near the Great Pyramid at Tenotchitlan. National Geographic counts another 17 found near Mexico City, but the mysteries of this barbaric practice, pale in comparison to the grisly discovery of the remains of more than 45 children Philadelphia.
The stories from ancient ruins are unearthed and pieced together with educated guesses, but the evidence in this latest discovery of infanticide and child sacrifice, leaves little to the imagination. Not since the trial of Jeffrey Dahmer, has there been a case any more disturbing, than that of Philadelphia abortionist, Dr. Kermit Gosnell. It is a story of with every kind of evil…murder, greed, drugs, racism, vice, politics, sexual deviancy, and horrendous medical malpractice. Read the rest of this entry »
About ten years ago, The California Prune Board spent $10 million on a make-over for their product. In an attempt to make prunes more attractive to consumers, they not only renamed their product, but also redesigned their packaging to show fresh plums, instead of the dried up fruit inside.
Call them “Sun-Dried Plums”, call them “prunes” or call them “pipe cleaners”. They’re still a food most folks associate with constipation.
It’s just semantics–the way we use language. Though there is an overabundance of words to accurately describe everything around us, our culture often resorts to using euphemisms, or deliberately misleading language. Like intellectual battering rams, code words and catch phrases are often intended to manipulate public opinion.
Just as magicians use tactics to redirect our attention, this kind of linguistic legerdemain, is often nothing more than a trick to make us change our perceptions. As our attention is diverted, we lose sight of what’s important, because we are focused on what isn’t. Read the rest of this entry »
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Over the last few weeks, their has been a lot of talk about rights. Women were granted the “right” to serve in combat, gays want the right to marry, disabled children are now to be given the right to compete in school sports, gun-owners are fighting to preserve their 2nd amendment rights, and across the nation, the 40-year old fight over abortion is divided between The Right to Life OR The Right to Choose. Everybody has a viewpoint. Everyone wants what is rightfully theirs.
According to our founders, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our birthright. Even those who snoozed through high school civics, know the quote above, but the line above isn’t part of our Constitution, it is merely the foundation on which the constitution a foundational principle, on which the Constitution was built. It seems simple enough, but it is a source of great confusion to many.
We all have firsthand experience with life, so one would think we could agree on that. If our very existence guarantees our right to life, does our liberty give us the option of not exercising that right? Is the right to life an obligation, or can we opt out? Do liberty and the pursuit of happiness mean we have the right to kill ourselves by suicide or assisted suicide? If so, wouldn’t it follow that we also have the right to kill ourselves with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes or Big Gulps and fast food? Does the right to life extend to those in the womb, or is that up to the discretion of their creator–in this case the mother? What about the father? Wasn’t his participation integral to the creation?
The right to life also implies a sovereignty over our own bodies. Women say we have the right to control our own bodies. If so, does that liberty apply to being allowed to choose our own healthcare, or making our own decisions about our health? Is the right to control one’s body, exclusive to women, or does it extend to men? If so, why isn’t it appropriate for rapists and pedophiles to march on Washington, with angry demands for the government to get out of their private lives? Read the rest of this entry »
Now is the time to lift our national policy from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of human dignity.–Dr. Martin Luther King
Change is hard.
It’s hard to change others. It’s hard to change ourselves.
Every now and then, something or somebody comes along with the power to change us. Maybe it changes how we think. Maybe it changes how we act. Every now and then, there comes a person, whose leadership is so powerful, their words alone are enough to change us.
Dr. Martin Luther King was one such man. His thoughts, deeds and convictions, had the power to change a nation. Using neither anger, nor force, he changed America. He made our country a better place, by helping a nation think differently. He made individuals want to do better.
We live in an era of compromise. We allow ourselves to be shaped by the opinions of others. Those who represent us, make deals for political favors. Journalists, who once relished the opportunity to expose the truth, now avoid controversy. Like adolescents seeking approval from their peers, very few of us are willing to risk becoming outsiders. Read the rest of this entry »
Bieber’s mother wants him in rehab. Lindsay Lohan is working as an “escort”. It seems Jackie & Kelso are back together, after Mila Kunis was sighted with the same oaf, her character dated on That 70s Show. Lance Armstrong’s confession is less interesting than Trump’s hair. Girl Talk blogger tries to make sense of modern-day manners.
There was a time when most homes had at least one copy of Emily Post or Amy Vanderbilt’s guide to manners. Social graces, from which fork to use, to how to write & address correspondence; were reasons to consult the experts, lest we commit a social faux pas. Back then folks cared about (and knew how to pronounce) etiquette.
There are probably still circles where the rules of refinement are closely followed, but those aren’t my circles. Most of the people around me don’t worry about being “proper”. Whether this bothers you is probably related to your age, because many of the little courtesies we left in the 20th century, seem to recall a different time and attitude.
Minding one’s manners is supposed to make everyone more comfortable, but for most of us, it was just one more potentiality for embarrassment. As a pragmatist, I’m glad we no longer fret about stuff like hats, gloves, and wearing white after Labor Day, but though some of our small courtesies have fallen from fashion, common courtesies should not. For me, forks & fingerbowls were never as confusing, as deciphering the new norms.
There was a time when men refrained from using bad language in front of women. Now women are as apt to swear as men. There was a time when men stood for a woman entering a room. They gave up their seats and opened doors for women. Now, doing such, seemingly, nice things, puts a man at risk of being censured for what could be misconstrued as a condescending attitude towards women. Even addressing a woman with, the formerly respectful, “ma’am” can be offensive, if the addressee believes it is an assessment of her age.
There was a time when our sense of propriety dictated the clothes we wore. We wore our “good” clothes to school or work. We wore “dress” clothes to church. We slept in our pajamas and worked in our jeans. Our underwear was under our clothes, instead of on display. Back then a man’s shoes told you something about him, and seeing too much of a woman’s skin told you something about her. It was a time when a man complimenting a woman’s appearance, was considered charming, instead of sexist.
There was a time when gossip was always in bad form. Today gossip is a lucrative industry, producing magazines, tell-all books and reality television. Promiscuity, scandal, and shame have become newsworthy, and TV provides a never-ending freakshow of society’s worst members. Instead of biting our tongues or averting our eyes as we once would have, we gawk, we mock and feel good about it. Once it was considered coarse to laugh at others, now it is entertainment. Read the rest of this entry »
A cool thing I learned from my brother is how to snare a lizard and make him walk on a leash. It’s simple. Make a small leash with a slip-knot–a long piece of grass works well. Put it in front of the lizard. He walks right into it, because moving backward is unnatural to him. Voilá! A lizard controlled on a leash, for the amusement of all.
The biggest misconception about The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it was crafted by people who cared about healthcare. Like a prom dress on a drag queen, the ACA hides what is really underneath…MONEY. The ACA was a cunning way for government to take a bigger piece of America’s income, by promising to fix our healthcare system. Never mind, that many reasons costs are so high, are the direct result of government meddling. Despite the dubious ethics of FDA drug approvals, regulations governing what insurance we can purchase, mandates forcing employers to promote HMO’s, OR the creative accounting required by doctors and hospitals to cover the cost of treating those who are already on the pathetically underfunded government healthcare known as Medicaid, we trust them to make halthcare more affordable.
Conservative wonky-chick Ann Coulter said it this way, ” As usual, the solution to a problem created by government intervention, is more government intervention. This is like trying to sober up by having another drink.”
We are to believe the same government that has rarely been able to do anything in an expedient and cost-efficient way, can now make healthcare more efficient and affordable. We are to believe a plan which provides for 16,000 more IRS agents, but not a single doctor, will be more patient-friendly. We are supposed to believe even though two of the people closest to the President, Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett, were previously implicated in “patient dumping” schemes, their motives are pure. Read the rest of this entry »
Effective programs start with targets. This was certainly true of The Affordable Care Act (ACA). During the preliminary arguments for passing a universal healthcare bill, proponents reminded us of rising costs, the plight of the uninsured, and the financial toll that often accompanies serious illness.
Those who campaigned for the bill, succeeded in convincing many Americans the target was providing affordable healthcare, but the REAL targets were far more complex. Cloaked in compassion, the crisis-speak was compelling, but the facts were misleading. The number of uninsured, that was repeated over and over, was grossly inaccurate. The projections of future costs were unrealistic, and the promise of lower costs are already proving false. Read the rest of this entry »
Listening to defenders of The Affordable Care Act (The ACA, aka ObamaCare),it’s easy to believe the lynchpin issue is whether one is Pro-Life or Pro-Choice.
Those who fully understand The ACA would agree–but in a completely different way.
The big issue is NOT whether or not we should be providing contraception or abortion, but whether patients and their doctors should an active role in making choices, AND whether or not the right to live should be more important than cost-effectiveness as interpreted in Patient Care Guidelines.
The notion that opposition to The ACA is evidence of greedy indifference by those who don’t care about others is misguided. Most Americans are generous and compassionate. Without coercion, Americans willingly give to churches, charities and causes. When disasters, like the 2011 earthquake in Japan occur, Americans eagerly reach out to help. I was reminded of another American outpouring of compassion, on the anniversary of September 11th. The Wall Street Journal reported a private fund has already awarded more than 80 million dollars in scholarships to children of the victims of that terrible tragedy.
The biggest misconception about socialized medicine is that it is free and/or paid for by the government. Neither is true–unless you don’t consider the money you work for your own. The money that pays for nationalized healthcare comes from ordinary working folks, who may have trouble paying their bills, providing for their families, or saving for the kid’s college or their own retirement. Though it isn’t unreasonable for us to be expected to use some of what we make to take care of the medical needs of our families, when we share the cost of paying for others, there isn’t anyway healthcare can remain affordable.
Whether or not you consider The Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be the “socialization” of medicine, it is built on certain amount of collectivism. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most forms of health insurance today, utilizing health management groups–like HMOs, also rely on collectivism to keep them solvent–meaning that expenses and resources are shared.
In one way, it is not so different from joining a joining a grocery co-op. A grocery co-op requires a buy-in, but in return members get a share of whatever the co-op has to offer In a farmer’s market cooperative, members may get juicy peaches, fresh picked berries, eggplants or Brussels sprouts. The value to members is contingent on their willingness to sacrifice some choice, because offerings are limited to what’s available–whether or not it is what members would ordinarily buy.
If you don’t mind giving up some choice, cooperatives can offer great value, but Americans are used to making their own choices. Whether it be what flavor of toothpaste, what clothes, or foods we eat, free markets offer multiple choices as a way of competing. Because the ACA is designed to stifle competition, it aims too eliminate the ability of Americans (and their doctors) to make individualized healthcare choices.
In addition to the things yet to be decided by The Secretary of Health and Human Services, like what you will be required to pay, what insurers will cover, which treatments will approved, and what kinds of drugs can be prescribed, are Patient Care Guidelines–which also currently under construction. These guidelines will do to healthcare what McDonald’s has done to fast food by eliminating room for interpretation.
Neither you, nor you doctor will be able to get around the federally mandated Patient Care Guidelines. There will be no more experimental or alternative treatments–unless they are established and approved by Patient Care Guidelines. Every patient will have access only to what government has approved. There will no longer be any flexibility for doctors who want to try something different, when a patient doesn’t respond to what has already been tried. The choice to have a c-section or a vaginal birth will no longer be yours to make, because the Patient Care Guidelines will determine for you when a c-section is appropriate.
The Patient Care Guidelines will prescribe whether or not elderly patients will be treated, despite differences between health active seniors and their peers. Patient Care Guidelines will also determine “End of Life” (state-sanctioned euthanasia) guidelines like those already in use by The U.K.’s National Health Service. Being “fully-covered” will provide a false sense of security, until America’s collective consciousness, comes to terms with the way in which Patient Care Guidelines, assign a price tag to life.
Patient Care Guidelines are necessary to control costs, and will be used in conjunction with another cost-controlling mechanism–The Independent Payment Advisory Boards (IPABs). In our current insurance-based system, insurers routinely deny costly treatments, but patients still have the right to appeal those decisions. The Federal Government will not offer the same flexibility.
These board will be comprised of 15 presidential appointees, who are given the authority to propose cuts to Medicare (without congressional approval) whenever Medicare spending exceeds government targets. (This in in direct contrast to the arguments that the ACA is good for seniors, as there is no way to know what kinds of cuts will be necessary in the future.) Though this provision is written in such a way as to make “rationing” care illegal, the Patient Care Guidelines provide a legal (if underhanded) way of doing exactly that.
So, like a co-op member who becomes dissatisfied after getting too many Brussels sprouts, and not enough berries, it may take a few years before Americans become disillusioned by the implications of The Great American Healthcare Cooperative. In the meantime, American goodwill will be tested, as we collectively absorb the costs of paying for things we aren’t getting or don’t want.
It is unlikely that paying for contraceptives and abortions would ever have enough financial impact, to have justified making it a recurrent theme at the recent Democratic convention, but it won’t be long before ordinary Americans begin realizing the impact of federal mandates that dictate not only what isn’t covered, but what MUST be. Already, there has been an outcry from those whose religious beliefs are compromised by being required to share costs for things the oppose. Catholics and other pro-life believers are justified in feeling this is an unfair impingement on their religious beliefs, if for no other reason than the waivers given to Scientologists and Muslims, and The Church of Big Labor on the basis of theirs.
However, even the non-religious may take issue with the ACA, upon realizing they have to buy into a plan that pays for gender-reassignment surgeries, while putting limits on breast, and other, reconstructive surgeries. So, thought you may not require or desire gender reassignment surgery, and may not be opposed to anyone else having one, when you are denied a surgery you do require, you may begin to feel the ill-fit of of one-size-fits-all coverage. Americans must now decide whether the illusory security of “full coverage” under nationalized healthcare, is of more value than the ability to make their own choices regarding life and death. In the meantime, there is an upside…Americans won’t be forced to share the medical costs for Scientologists like Tom Cruise, Greta Van Susteren or John Travolta.
Deb’s Note: This is the fifth post devoted to explaining the Affordable Care Act–aka ObamaCare. I have chosen to write about this subject, because I believe women need to know how it will affect their families and/or loved ones. It is always my intention to uplift and empower women with what I write, but last week’s post re: the ACA was so depressing, even I was in a funk–which is why last week’s post ended up in the trash bin. Just a couple more posts to wrap this subject, then I hope to move on to less-serious subjects.
Health insurers make money, in much the same way bookies do. It is an odds-makers’ game requiring more players than pay-outs to sustain it. Those who run the game, bet on the odds of there being more healthy, than sick. The thought of insurers profiting offends many, but insurers have to make money to be solvent.
Forget the 1%…in America, the 99% live more affluent lives than most of the world. Despite our prosperity, we are frightened or frustrated by the cost of medical care. American healthcare is costly, but the notion that costs have spiraled out of control is largely the result of how removed we’ve become from actual real costs.
A hundred years ago, healthcare was costly. Then, it was because the nation was poor. Now it is because our medical care is outstanding. In the era when doctors made house calls, they would often be paid in whatever currency their patients had, whether it be a few dollars, or a basket of eggs, but because we can’t always anticipate our medical expenses, the cost of healthcare is one item that exists outside our household budgets.
Paying the doctor in eggs was harder when the average hourly wage a little more than a quarter, but even in our era of unprecedented prosperity, healthcare costs can be burdensome. We carry phones that cost hundreds, have household electronics that cost thousands, and pay more for a night of entertainment than we are willing to pay for an office visit. Grudgingly, we cough up fees for the one thing more valuable than any other–our health.
Until we face an illness or injury, most of us don’t even have a realistic idea of medical costs. Upon seeing a bill for a twenty-minute visit with a doctor, we may wrongly assume the doctor is over-paid, but to determine his costs, we would have to factor in all the others things we are indirectly paying for like years of expensive training, operating costs like rent, lights, and equipment, or high premiums for malpractice insurance. Add to those the expense of the support staff required in a small medical office to schedule appointments, assist physicians, process claims, handle the record-keeping, or do the accounting.
We’ve come a long way from the time when a doctor’s treatments were limited to what would fit in a satchel, but to understand today’s costs, it’s helpful to understand the evolution of American healthcare. Only a century ago, the concept of health insurance was new. During WWII, employers were under wage and price controls. To attract the best employees, companies began to offer health benefits in lieu of higher wages. Those early plans paid most of a patient’s medical bills, but patients shared some portion, making it necessary even for those with insurance to be conservative about seeking medical care. Traditional insurance gave consumers an awareness of “real” costs.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, government intervention again changed healthcare, first with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, later when President Nixon enacted legislation to popularize Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) The first HMOs followed the Kaiser Permanente model, which had reduced costs by limiting and standardizing care. The upside of the HMO’s was coverage of preventative services, like mammograms or immunizations. These plans offered more for less, making consumers more inclined to see doctors, but this factor and the number of required to administer HMO’s, began to decrease their profitiblity of the HMOs.
Real costs were largely replaced by co-pays, and a lessening of patient choice. Physicians were offered incentives for treating patients conservatively, as those who managed these plans tried to spread resources among many members with varying medical needs. As the doctors become more accountable to managers than patients, getting care became more complicated. Managed care was really about managed costs.
Medicaid and Medicare gave more individuals access to healthcare, by placing their beneficiaries in HMOs or the same pools as the privately insured. This was a good solution, until the low fees paid to providers, failed to cover the costs of the services provided. The difference between fees and costs, made it necessary to shift those costs to other patients–artificially inflating costs.
Many favored a government-run single-payer system. If you are a parent, it is likely your house operates with a single-payer system. At least one adult makes money, which is then used to fund all the expenses of the household. Because the amount of money is limited, someone has to make the decisions about where the money will be spent. Everyone in the home has a want-list, but there simply isn’t enough money to for everyone to get everything on their list. The person(s) in charge of the money, have to make the best decisions they can as to what is practical or impractical.
Children may not understand all the details of household finances, but they come to understand they can’t have everything they want. Parents aren’t “rationing” what their kids get, but out of necessity, parents make decisions to assure there is enough money for things like food & shelter. Whether it be the one in your house, or that of nationalized healthcare, every single-payer system operates within limits. This balancing act is necessary to sustain the system. The Affordable Care Act, sets up an extensive set of rules which attempt to establish how this will be done. My next post will examine some of those provisions.
Deb’s Note: This is the second post devoted to explaining the Affordable Care Act–aka ObamaCare. I have chosen to write about this subject because I believe women need to know how it will affect their families and/or loved ones. The subject is extensive, but I hope to wrap it up in a few(?) more posts.
My “light bulb moment” began with a Band-aid. I wouldn’t have sought treatment for the wound, but Beloved Soul Mate insisted I get a tetanus shot. The adhesive bandage used to cover an inconsequential injury, triggered a mental disruption that lingers, almost two decades later.
Back then, I had old-school insurance. Not an HMO, not a PPO, just an indemnity policy. An indemnity policy is a contractual agreement between an insurer and the insured, as to whom will pay for what. On the itemized invoice, a generic type of Band-Aid (which was called a surgical dressing) cost $66. The wound healed fine, but long after, I was bothered by how and why the charge for something with a retail value of about .11, cost six-hundred times as much.
Perhaps my insurer and I were subsidizing the cost of treating deadbeats, illegal aliens, or those who couldn’t afford treatment. Maybe the inflated prices were helping pay for expensive treatments, or cover costs associated with malpractice. Whatever the reality, that “surgical dressing” seemed to be “window-dressing” on a larger problem.
Not long after, Hillary Clinton began doing her best to convince America to adopt a national healthcare plan. After being charged so much for so little, I was interested, but skeptical. It was clear costs no longer reflected the real cost of services.
It was easy to see symptoms of distress in our medical system, but there was no easy remedy. I’d heard the rhetoric about, rich doctors, greedy insurers, profiteering lawyers, and money-grabbing pharmaceutical companies. It seemed greed was at the root, but nobody was talking about self-interested or freeloading consumers–even though it was well-know patients would clog emergency rooms for non-emergencies, like colds to avoid paying doctors. It seemed even those with insurance wanted everything for nothing.
The huge disparity between what consumers paid and the costs of what they received could not be ignored. With the best treatments, innovative technologies and the ongoing development of life-changing drugs, medicine in America was then and is now, generally the best in the world–except for one glaring thing. Some were receiving services for less than what it cost the providers, others were paying more than seemed reasonable for services received. High costs and the plight of the uninsured seemed to necessitate an overhaul, but with government-intervention, a decline in the quality of care seemed inevitable.
No matter what anyone paid, one thing remained the same. The value of health or life, could not be measured in dollars and cents. Whether it was a premature birth, a child with cancer, or an aging parent, when the patient was someone we cared about, we wanted the best care money could buy–even if it meant risking financial ruin.
That Band-Aid, was overpriced, but a bargain, because it launched my education into healthcare. Not an easy education, but an ongoing quest to understand the real costs of healthcare. Healthcare in America is good, but there isn’t a Band-Aid big enough to fix the problems. After years, not months, of dedicated reading and research, I still feel barely qualified to write about it. The problems affecting our healthcare system are far-reaching and complex.
Every aspect of our medical system has been affected by the necessity of cost-shifting, which is why some form of nationalized healthcare seems to be the necessary solution. Unfortunately for all, the issue has become money, not health. Giving the government the authority to make sure everyone gets care seems like a great idea, but it’s problematic. The next phase in American healthcare will be redefined by costs, not care.
There isn’t anyone who can fully know or understand the implications of the Affordable Care Act, (ACA). Not only is the new law thousands of pages, but it leaves many provisions undefined. I‘ll do my best to hit the major points, as they have been defined–with my only intention being to represent the facts fairly. Because of my sincere desire to write without partisan bias, I prefer to call the bill that has been passed, by its proper name, The Affordable Care Act (ACA) instead of its better-known name “Obama-Care.”
Over the next couple weeks, I hope to shed some light, on what can be reasonably expected under The Affordable Care Act. My intent is not to politicize this blog, but to illuminate issues affecting this audience. The issue is healthcare, not politics. Everyone needs to be aware of changes that will affect our healthcare system, but the issue is of particular importance to women, since we are often the primary caregivers for ill loved ones. The facts are sobering. If you value your health or the health of those around you, you cannot afford not to know what to expect under “affordable” healthcare.