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The Fat Discussion

An article in today’s New York Times discusses why America is so obsessed with fat. The author tries to tell us that in several large studies there has not been a correlation between fat and mortality. The author is correct. Just because you’re fat, that doesn’t mean you’re going to die early. Unfortunately, the author does not take this far enough. He’s arguing that several studies show that just because you are fat does not mean that you have a higher risk of dying early. (more…)

By |2013-01-07T20:29:28-04:00January 4th, 2013|Healthcare|Comments Off on The Fat Discussion

Thursday Afternoon News Roundup

  • I’ll be on Local Edge Radio at 4 PM Eastern Standard Time today. If you have an opportunity, please tune in.
  • For years, I’ve been saying that Mitt Romney has a significant problem. Evangelicals make up a huge amount of the Republican base. They are a significant reason why George W. Bush won the 2000 election (the other significant reason being the Supreme Court). Many evangelicals do not believe that Mormonism is a “real” religion. They don’t see it as an offshoot of Christianity. Hence the problem. By the way, he’s in London trying to raise money and meeting with the Prime Minister.
  • Do you remember Jamie Leigh Jones? Several years ago she claimed that she was drugged and gang raped by her fellow contractors at KBR a subsidiary of Halliburton. Her trial is complex. It appears that in her contract she signed a mandatory arbitration clause which blocks employees from suing KBR. In spite of all the media hype it appears that significant holes have appeared in her story. This is extremely sad. The federal judge has thrown out large portions of her case.
  • I was actually waiting on news from this big powwow at the White House that President Obama called. Democratic and Republican leaders are at the White House trying to hammer out some sort of agreement so that the debt ceiling can be raised. Nate Silver points out the problem that Republicans have with compromise. Basically the Republican Party is completely and totally made up of conservatives. There are almost no moderates and no liberals. It is my opinion that Republican representatives here mostly for those ultraconservatives, which push the party even further to the right.

  • Rupert Murdoch‘s huge empire is embroiled in quite the scandal in England. You have to read the allegations in order to believe them. They’re still somewhat unbelievable. Basically they tried to manipulate events in order to increase circulation, as far as I can tell. The British Parliament has called for an official investigation. Today Murdoch has announced that he’s closing the paper. I don’t think that this is going to quell critics.
  • The Washington Post has five myths about the debt ceiling. This is clearly worth reading.
  • Could it be that the economy created many more jobs in June than we thought? This could be the first good news and several months.
  • Consumer bankruptcy filings decreased by eight percent. This is also good news.

By |2011-07-07T14:07:47-04:00July 7th, 2011|Domestic Issues|Comments Off on Thursday Afternoon News Roundup

Serious Healthcare reform – part 1; Where to start?

I’m still waiting for the debate to start. When are we, as Americans, going to get this debate started? Dem From CT has tried. He has posted some thoughtful information and questions on healthcare. Yet he has not drawn the type of overwhelming responses that would suggest that progressives are engaged.

Well, let me try to get this puppy started. Over the next several weeks, I will post a series of articles that will examine healthcare as completely as I can.

As a trauma surgeon, I bring a unique perspective to this discussion. I see all types of patients. Rich, poor, young and old. Everyone can be a victim of trauma.

So, is healthcare a right? I know that this starts arguments but it is time to have those discussions. This question is important because depending on your answer, it will change our approach. Let’s look at both sides of this argument.

Yes, healthcare is a right. When Thomas Jefferson wrote “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” it was as if he was including Health. It is as clear as the nose on Jefferson’s face. If healthcare is a right then all Americans should be given adequate healthcare. This healthcare should be guaranteed by the state.

On the other hand, there is no way that Thomas Jefferson or any of the founding fathers thought about healthcare because doctors in the 1700s really didn’t do much. It is hard to put words into the mouths of our forefathers. So maybe healthcare isn’t a right. Maybe it is a privilege like driving a car.

I have no idea how our economy is going to grow if a significant portion of our workforce is worried about their health or have their finances tied up in health care. As we get older and work longer there are going to be more health issues in the workforce. Diabetes, hypertension and obesity are terribly expensive.

We’ve all seen the numbers and they are staggering. $2.1 trillion! This is a total pricetag of healthcare in the United States. We spend approximately 16% of our Gross Domestic Product on healthcare. Germany spends 10.9%. France, a country that many conservatives paint as a welfare state, shelled out only 10.5% of their Gross Domestic Product.

So, we’re spending a lot of money. A ton of money. I would argue with critics who say that healthcare in the United States is terrible. I think this is a complete distortion of the facts. Instead, healthcare in the United States is very spotty. Some people get excellent care. Some people are overtreated and others are undertreated. Now, we can point fingers at who’s to blame for those who are overtreated and those who are undertreated. We do know one thing for sure and that is 47 million Americans go without health insurance. It is almost a sure bet that many of these Americans are undertreated.

Let’s look at a very common scenario. As I tell this story, think about overtreatment and undertreatment and about the delivery of healthcare. Again, is healthcare a right or is it a privilege?

A 25-year-old male works as a stock boy at Wal-Mart. He’s never been to the hospital. He does not take any medications and he is healthy. He carries no insurance. While in the warehouse, he turns around quickly and hits his head on a metal pole. He is a little dazed but is not knocked out. He develops a bruise on his forehead. He asked his supervisor if he can go to the doctor. The patient presents to the emergency room complaining of a headache. The ER physician takes a thorough history and physical and only finds a bruise on the patient’s forehead. The ER physician orders a CT scan of his head. This scan is negative for any traumatic injuries. The patient is sent home with instructions to return to work as soon as he is able.

So? What do you think? 30 years ago, a patient with such an injury would not go to the emergency room. 20 years ago, the standard of care would be to examine the patient and if the patient does not have any specific signs of a head injury like nausea or vomiting, blurred vision or decrease in mental status then the patient would be sent home on aspirin or Tylenol. 10 years ago, because of the availability of CT scans and the wealth of information that physicians can get from CT scans almost all head injuries get scanned.

So what are your thoughts? Is healthcare a right? We have a golden opportunity to fix this system so that it works for every American. Let the great healthcare debate begin.

By |2009-03-15T21:37:41-04:00March 15th, 2009|Congress, Healthcare, Obama administration|Comments Off on Serious Healthcare reform – part 1; Where to start?
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