American health care system costs four times more than Canada’s single-payer system | Salon.com

The cost of administering health care in the United States costs four times as much as it does in Canada, which has had a single-payer system for nearly 60 years, according to a new study.

The average American pays a whopping $2,497 per year in administrative costs — which fund insurer overhead and salaries of administrative workers as well as executive pay packages and growing profits — compared to $551 per person per year in Canada, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last month. The study estimated that cutting administrative costs to Canadian levels could save more than $600 billion per year.

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The data contradicts claims by opponents of single-payer health care systems, who have argued that private programs are more efficient than government-run health care. The debate over the feasibility of a single-payer health care has dominated the Democratic presidential race, where candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., advocate for a system similar to Canada’s while moderates like former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg have warned against scrapping private health care plans entirely.

Canada had administrative costs similar to those in the United States before it switched to a single-payer system in 1962, according to the study’s authors, who are researchers at Harvard Medical School, the City University of New York at Hunter College, and the University of Ottawa. But by 1999, administrative costs accounted for 31% of American health care expenses, compared to less than 17% in Canada.

The costs have continued to increase since 1999. The study found that American insurers and care providers spent a total of $812 billion on administrative costs in 2017, more than 34% of all health care costs that year. The largest contributor to the massive price tag was insurance overhead costs, which totaled more than $275 billion in 2017.

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“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study’s authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”

The increase in costs was driven in large part due to private insurers’ growing role in administering publicly-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs. More than 50% of private insurers’ revenue comes from Medicare and Medicaid recipients, according to the study. Roughly 12% of premiums for private Medicare Advantage plans are spent on overhead, compared to just 2% in traditional Medicare programs. Medicaid programs also showed a wide disparity in costs in states that shifted many of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, where administrative costs are twice as high. There was little increase in states that have full control over their Medicaid programs.

As a result, Americans pay far more for the same care.

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The average American spent $933 in hospital administration costs, compared to $196 in Canada, according to the research. Americans paid an average of $844 on insurance companies’ overhead, compared to $146 in Canada. Americans spent an average of $465 for physicians’ insurance-related costs, compared to $87 in Canada.

“The gap in health administrative spending between the United States and Canada is large and widening, and it apparently reflects the inefficiencies of the U.S. private insurance-based, multipayer system,” the authors wrote. “The prices that U.S. medical providers charge incorporate a hidden surcharge to cover their costly administrative burden.”

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Despite the massive difference in administrative costs, a 2007 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Canada’s health authority found that the overall health of residents in both countries is very similar, though the US actually trails in life expectancy, infant mortality, and fitness.

Many of the additional administrative costs in the US go toward compensation packages for insurance executives, some of whom pocket more than $20 million per year, and billions in profits collected by insurers.

“Americans spend twice as much per person as Canadians on health care. But instead of buying better care, that extra spending buys us sky-high profits and useless paperwork,” said Dr. David Himmelstein, the study’s lead author and a distinguished professor at Hunter College. “Before their single-payer reform, Canadians died younger than Americans, and their infant mortality rate was higher than ours. Now Canadians live three years longer and their infant mortality rate is 22% lower than ours. Under Medicare for All, Americans could cut out the red tape and afford a Rolls Royce version of Canada’s system.”

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Himmelstein later told Time that the difference in administrative costs between the two countries would “not only cover all the uninsured but also eliminate all the copayments and deductibles.”

“And, frankly, have money left over,” he added.

Democrats like Biden and Buttigieg have argued that it would be a mistake to switch to a single-payer system because many people have private insurance plans they like. Both have proposed a public option, which would allow people to buy into a government-run health care program but would not do away with private plans.

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But study senior author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, at Hunter College and lecturer at Harvard Medical School, argued that a public option would make things worse, not better, because they would leave profit-seeking private insurance in place.

“Medicare for All could save more than $600 billion each year on bureaucracy, and repurpose that money to cover America’s 30 million uninsured and eliminate copayments and deductibles for everyone,” she said. “Reforms like a public option that leave private insurers in place can’t deliver big administrative savings. As a result, public option reform would cost much more and cover much less than Medicare for All.”

This content was originally published here.

Researchers at Texas A&M Say Brisket Has Health Benefits

Is BBQ Healthy

Texas BBQ lovers, we have some incredible news for you. Studies have shown that brisket can actually be considered healthy eating. So if you thought you’d have health risks if you eat anything other than grilled chicken at your favorite BBQ joint, you now have scientific evidence to back up enjoying your brisket.

According to researchers at Texas A&M, beef brisket contains high levels of oleic acid, which produces high levels of HDLs, the “good” kind of cholesterol.

Oleic acid has two major benefits: it produces HDLs, which lower your risk of heart disease, and it lowers LDLs the “bad” type of cholesterol.

Researchers say this also applies to most red meats like ground beef.

“Brisket has higher oleic acid than the flank or plate, which are the trims typically used to produce ground beef,” said Dr. Stephen Smith, Texas A&M AgriLife Research scientist. “The fat in brisket also has a low melting point, that’s why the brisket is so juicy.”

According to Health.com, “Grilling meats at high heat can cause the carcinogens heterocyclic amine (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) to form.”

One way to avoid having any issues cooking your meat at high temperatures is to use a marinade. Certain spices will aid in eliminating HCAs during the grilling process so consider adding spices like thyme, sage, and garlic when you marinate your meat. 

On your next cookout, you can also find other ways to be healthy outside of just marinating your meat and enjoying your brisket without guilt. Consider some healthy grilling staples like adding veggies to your kebab skewers for a healthy side dish. Maybe eliminate the potato salad and coleslaw since those BBQ foods tend to be higher in unhealthy fats.

This post was originally published in 2016.

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The post Researchers at Texas A&M Say Brisket Has Health Benefits appeared first on Wide Open Country.

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Flight From China Diverted Away From Ontario Airport, Top County Health Official Preaches Calm on Coronavirus – NBC Los Angeles

Los Angeles County’s top public health official said Tuesday residents should not be alarmed about the coronavirus, despite the spread of the disease in China and the growing number of deaths attributed to it.

“At this moment, (there is) absolutely nothing to be afraid of,” Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger asked for the update to counter misinformation as many Chinese communities prepare for Lunar New Year celebrations.

“There is no need to panic and there is no need for people to cancel their activities” Ferrer said. “There’s nothing that indicates that there’s human-to-human transmission in L.A. County.”

The first case of coronavirus in Los Angeles County was confirmed Sunday. The patient was a traveler returning through Los Angeles International Airport home to Wuhan City, China, which is the epicenter of the deadly disease. The person felt sick, told officials and is now being treated at a local hospital well-equipped for the task, Ferrer said.

The individual came into “close contact with a very small number of other people,” she said.

The only people who should be concerned are those who have been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of the disease for at least 10 minutes, according to Ferrer.

The CDC’s guidance indicates people who have casual contact with a case — “in the same grocery store or movie theater” — are at “minimal risk of developing infection.”

Ferrer provided reassurances about the trajectory of the disease in the United States to date, given that it has been circulating in China since early December and despite extensive travel between the two countries, only five U.S. cases have been confirmed.

The coronavirus outbreak was first noted in December in the industrial city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of central China. Since then, more than 5,975 cases have been reported in China, with at least 132 deaths.

“In China, the situation is dire,” Ferrer told the board. “What happened in China is not what’s happening in the United States right now.”

On Saturday, the Orange County Health Care Agency confirmed a case of coronavirus after a traveler from Wuhan tested positive. The two Southland cases are the only confirmed cases in California so far, and two of five in the United States. The other U.S. cases were reported in Arizona, Illinois and Washington state, according to the latest available data on the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Health officials in San Diego County are awaiting results of tests on a potential case there involving a person who recently traveled to impacted areas in China.

The CDC has expanded screening to 20 airports and will now be screening all travelers from China, not just Wuhan, as of Tuesday night, Ferrer said.

Hong Kong closed borders with mainland China Tuesday, CNN reported, and concern over the virus rattled global financial markets Monday, with the Dow Jones Average dropping more than 450 points.

The United States and several other countries are making plans to evacuate citizens from Wuhan. San Bernardino County officials were working with the U.S. State Department on a plan to potentially use Ontario International Airport as the repatriation point for up to 240 American citizens, including nine children, but that plane was diverted to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County.

Those passengers were expected to first land in Alaska, where they would be screened by CDC workers before being cleared to proceed into the continental U.S., according to San Bernardino County officials.

Supervisor Hilda Solis said she was worried about discrimination related to the virus.

“I’m really concerned about how people are going to be mistreated,” Solis said.

Ferrer asked all Angelenos to help in that regard.

“People should not be excluded from activities based on their race, country of origin, or recent travel if they do not have symptoms of respiratory illness,” she said.

There is no vaccine for the virus, only treatment for the symptoms, but residents can take steps to reduce the risk of getting sick from this and other viruses. Health officials recommend staying home when sick, washing hands frequently and getting a flu shot.

“Thirty thousand people will probably die this year from influenza alone,” Ferrer noted.

Even if the virus is not spreading in the United States, rumors are.

USC students were shaken by an erroneous late night claim on social media that a student on campus contracted the coronavirus. The school issued a statement Tuesday morning denying anyone on campus was diagnosed with the virus.

For general information about the coronavirus, go to www.cdc.gov.

This content was originally published here.

Federal Government Misled Public on E-Cigarette Health Risk: CEI Report

A new report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute calls into question government handling of e-cigarette risk to public health, especially last week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tacitly conceded that the spate of lung injuries widely reported in mid-2019 were not caused by commercially produced e-cigarettes like Juul or Njoy.

Rather, the injuries appear to be exclusively linked to marijuana vapes, mostly black market purchases – a fact that the Competitive Enterprise Institute pointed out nearly six months ago. The CDC knew that, too, but for months warned Americans to avoid all e-cigarettes.

“The Centers for Disease Control failed to warn the public which products were causing lung injuries and deaths in 2019,” said Michelle Minton, co-author of the CEI report.

“By stoking unwarranted fears about e-cigarettes, government agencies responsible for protecting the health and well-being of Americans have been scaring adult smokers away from products that could help them quit smoking,” Minton explained.

Now that the CDC has finally began to inform the public accurately, it’s too little too late, the report warns. The admission has done little to slow the onslaught of prohibitionist e-cigarette policies sweeping the nation, and the damage to public perception is already done.

Nearly 90 percent of adult smokers in the U.S. now incorrectly believe that e-cigarettes are no less harmful than combustible cigarettes, according to survey data from April 2019. Yet the best studies to-date estimate e-cigarettes carry only a fraction of the risk of combustible smoking, on par with the risks associated with nicotine replacement therapies like gum and lozenges. Meanwhile, traditional cigarettes contribute to nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. every year.

The CEI report traces the arc of CDC and FDA messaging and actions, starting in late June 2019, about young people hospitalized after vaping. Concurrent news reporting ultimately revealed, though virtually never in the headline, that the victims were vaping cartridges containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the key ingredient in cannabis, with many admitting to purchasing these products from unlicensed street dealers. Yet for months the CDC consistently refused to acknowledge the role of the black market THC in the outbreak, which had a ripple effect on news reporting and on state government handling of the problem.

By September 2019, over half of public opinion poll respondents (58 percent) said they believed the lung illness deaths were caused by e-cigarettes such as Juul, while only a third (34 percent) said the cases involved THC/marijuana.

The CEI report warns that federal agencies should not be allowed to continue misleading the public about lower-risk alternatives to smoking.

View the report: Federal Health Agencies’ Misleading Messaging on E-Cigarettes Threatens Public Health by Michelle Minton and Will Tanner.

This content was originally published here.

‘It’s okay not to be okay’: Café offers mental health help, supports suicide prevention

CHICAGO — While the coffee is good, “Sip of Hope” serves up much more than a cup of joe on the Northwest Side.

Through a partnership with Dark Matter Coffee, the café donates 100% of its proceeds to mental health education and suicide prevention.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from… five out of five people have good days and bad days,” owner Johnny Boucher said. “It’s okay not to be okay.”

Nationwide, suicide rates are the highest recorded in 28 years. Boucher opened Sip of Hope in honor of those who will never get the chance to pull up a chair.

“I personally have lost 16 people to suicide and the overarching issue they all faced was silence,” Boucher said.

His antidote is a place to talk through dark moments without judgement, a cafe serving up a cup of joe and compassion.

“The goal is always to meet people where they’re at and not where we expect them to be,” Boucher said. “You can talk to our baristas because they’re trained in mental health first aid.”

And on top of that, the coffee is great.

Ryan Shannon is now a regular. The Navy veteran says to him depression equaled weakness.

“I came home and I wasn’t the same,” Shannon said. “My leg and traumatic brain injury really took a toll.”

The former collegiate athlete found himself not only unable to stand, but also unwilling to find his way back. He says he wrote a suicide note and had a plan, but it was his wife who saved him that day.

He said she saved his life simply by listening and showing him he’s not alone.

Since then, Shannon has gone on to clean up in adaptive sports, winning a gold medal in Warrior Games, silver in track and finish his MBA.

“I still have bad days but… I now understand you can climb back out of it. You’re not in a dark room alone. There’s a lot of people out there that care,” Shannon said.

And at Sip of Hope, there’s a seat for anyone in need of more than a strong cup of coffee to make it through their day.

“In a country where we talk about building more walls, we need to build more tables and seats,” Boucher said.

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers crisis counseling free of charge every day of the year- at 1-800-273-8255, or text the word “home” to 741741.

This content was originally published here.

Waitlist for child mental health services doubles under Ford government: report | CP24.com

TORONTO — Wait times for children and youth mental health services have more than doubled in two years, according to a report from care providers who are urging Premier Doug Ford’s government to increase spending to address the delays.

The report from Children’s Mental Health Ontario, released Monday by the association representing Ontario’s publicly funded child and youth mental health centres, says 28,000 children and youth are currently on wait lists for treatment across the province. The number is up from approximately 12,000 in 2017.

Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Moran said rising rates of depression and anxiety among children and youth and years of under-funding have contributed to the rise in wait times.

“It’s frustrating from a service provider’s perspective,” Moran said. “They understand that when we wait, kids can get more ill and they watch that happen … and I think families are just outraged that they have to wait this long.”

The report shows wait times for service can vary dramatically depending where in the province a child seeks treatment and on the care required. Waits can range from just days for mild issues to nearly two and a half years for more complex behavioural interventions, the report said.

The group calls on the government to live up to its spending commitments on mental health services, asking it to direct $150 million towards hiring front-line clinicians in the spring budget.

If the province spent that money, it could quickly ramp up hiring for over 14,000 workers and that would cut the average wait for care to around 30 days, the report said.

“The government hasn’t kept their promise about reducing wait times,” Moran said. “We want to hold them to account for that.”

Ford has promised to spend $1.9 billion on mental health care over the next decade, a commitment that would include bolstering addictions and housing supports across the province. He has also said the money will help cut wait times for youth who need treatment.

The $1.9 billion pledge will be matched by the federal government, bringing the total commitment to $3.8 billion.

Health Minister Christine Elliott’s office did not immediately provide comment on the latest report.

Meanwhile on Friday, Sarah Cannon told a legislative finance committee holding pre-budget consultations in Niagara Falls, Ont., that spending on the mental health services should be needs-based. The mother of two girls who have made multiple suicide attempts after struggling with anxiety and depression said treatment is still not given priority in the health-care system.

“If I took my daughter to the hospital tomorrow and she was diagnosed with cancer, treatment would be immediate,” she said. “When I took my daughter to the hospital after she almost died (by suicide) … they needed us to wait.”

Cannon said increased funding would bolster treatment capacity in the system and could have a profound impact on the lives of children and their families.

“We are fighting for our children’s lives,” she said. “That’s what it comes down to.”

The executive director of mental health programs at SickKids and the SickKids Centre for Community Mental Health told pre-budget consultations at the legislature last week about increases in demand for that hospital’s services.

Christina Bartha said because of the strain on front-line service providers, families from well outside Toronto are seeking care in hospital because they don’t know where else to turn.

“Many families drive to SickKids seeking help, and when we try to refer them back to their home community, we see the long wait times that they are facing.”

Bhutila Karpoche, NDP critic for Mental Health and Addictions, said Friday that the report offers a snapshot of a youth “mental health crisis” and underscores the urgent need for investment.

Karpoche has tabled a private members’ bill that, if passed, would cap wait times for children and youth mental health services at 30 days.

“When I tabled the bill the wait list was up to 12,000 children waiting on average 18 months,” she said. “In the year since the government has let the bill languish … we’re now seeing how much worse it’s gotten.”

This content was originally published here.

Killing a Baby Isn’t Health Care, It’s a Slap in the Face of God

On Friday, Donald John Trump became the only sitting president to personally address the 47-year old March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Not George W. Bush, nor Ronald Reagan.

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Donald John Trump!

On the day of the march, Bernie Sanders tweeted, “abortion is health care.”

Abortion is health care.

No, Bernie, it’s not. It is killing babies — the exact opposite of healthcare.

Getting pregnant takes an overt act. It’s not accidental. Babies are a gift from God. Killing a baby — especially for your convenience — is slapping God in the face.

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Now I don’t know about you, but whatever my flaws, I can read odds and count. French mathematician Blaise Pascal posited from a philosophical point of view that humans bet with their lives that God either exists or does not.

Or, put into the terms of a Vegas sportsbook, if you believe in God in this life, and find in the next that there is no God, no harm no foul. But if you don’t believe in God and find out there is a God, you’re screwed. And, by the way, Pascal thought of this in the 17th century, well before the Westgate Superbook was built — and well before Elvis played the theater there.

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Now, I live in the front range of the Sierra Nevada mountains. I can see them out my back door.

I used to live on Mount Charleston over Las Vegas.

Even if you can convince me that these works of natural art were indeed caused by a “big bang” which had no actual cause, I’d still make even money bets on God. So would most people.

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So, Bernie: Do you really think that God would want you to destroy one of his creations? If you do, you are even more warped than I originally thought.

Doctors take an oath to “first, do no harm.”

How can killing a baby in (or out) of the womb possibly be “no harm”?

When I hear someone from NARAL bleating about choices, what I’m hearing is pure selfishness. OK, I’d be willing to listen to those who bring up rape, incest or — if it were not a fig leaf — the health of the mother. Perhaps an ethics committee of real doctors.

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But destroying one of God’s gifts for the mere convenience of a woman who just doesn’t want a baby? Nonstarter. They call it pro-choice. Right. The choice between murder and not killing a baby.

You don’t like it?

Then get sterilized or be careful.

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As far as the murdering Democrats go, remember Pascal’s wager.

What position would you like to be in when you meet God? Would you like to be in the position to say you have never been a party to a murder?

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

This content was originally published here.

The World Health Organization just declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency

Doctors and public-health experts at the World Health Organization in Geneva have declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a “public-health emergency of international concern” (PHEIC).

The virus has so far sickened at least 8,100 people and killed 170 in China, where it originated. Cases have been reported in 19 other countries.

“Over the past few weeks, we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen, which has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak,” WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday when he announced the emergency declaration. “We don’t know what sort of damage this virus could do if it were spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility.”

The PHEIC designation is reserved by the WHO for the most serious, sudden, unexpected outbreaks that cross international borders. These diseases pose a public-health risk without bounds and may “require a coordinated international response,” the WHO said on its website.

The global health-emergency declaration has been around since 2005, and it’s been used only five times before.

A global emergency was declared for two Ebola outbreaks, one that started in 2013 in West Africa and another that’s been ongoing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 2018. Other emergency alerts were used for the 2016 Zika epidemic, polio emerging in war zones in 2014, and for the H1N1 swine flu pandemic in 2009.

The emergency designation puts the 196 member countries of the WHO on alert that they should step up precautions, such as screening travelers and monitoring international trade in hopes of preventing the outbreak from spreading out of control.

Last week, the WHO committee was split about whether to declare the new coronavirus outbreak — which experts suspect originated at an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan — an international emergency. Members delayed their final decision by a day, saying they needed more time to gather information about the virus’s severity and transmissibility.

“This declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China,” Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.

Symptoms of the coronavirus — which is in the same family as the common cold, pneumonia, MERS, and SARS — can range from mild to deadly. Most of the fatalities so far have been among the elderly and patients with preexisting conditions. Only a laboratory test can confirm that a virus is the novel coronavirus.

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Health officials warn Denver airport travelers of potential measles exposure after 3 children hospitalized

Three children visiting Colorado have been hospitalized with measles, leading health officials to warn people who traveled through Denver International Airport earlier this week that they are at risk for the highly contagious disease.

The children tested positive after traveling to a country with an ongoing measles outbreak. They did not have the MMR — or measles, mumps and rubella — vaccine, according to a news release from Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers three or more cases of measles “linked in time and place” to be an outbreak. However, Tri-County Health spokesman Gary Sky said the department doesn’t consider this to be an outbreak because the patients are related.

Health officials said individuals who visited these locations may have been exposed to measles:

  • Denver International Airport between 1:15 and 5:45 p.m. Dec. 11
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Anschutz Campus Emergency Department between 1 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12

Local health officials have not said where the family was traveling from. But the news of the measles cases in Colorado comes the same day that health officials in California warned about exposure from patients who traveled through Los Angeles International Airport.

It’s unclear how many people are at risk of exposure.

Officials at Denver International Airport said they do not know how many people potentially came in contact with the children. Roughly 179,000 people passed through the airport via departing, arriving or connecting flights on Dec. 11, said airport spokeswoman Emily Williams.

Health officials are contacting people who are believed to be at risk for measles, including those who visited Children’s Hospital on Dec. 12. The Tri-County Health Department will likely contact “well over 100” people in its investigation, said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, a medical epidemiologist.

“We’re doing this investigation for a reason, and that reason is precisely to prevent secondary spread — and having a non-ideal vaccination rate in Colorado isn’t helping matters,” she said.

There is no ongoing risk of exposure at these two locations, however, travelers should be on the lookout for measles symptoms, which can develop seven to 21 days after contact, the news release said.

Measles has various symptoms including high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash. The illness can lead to pneumonia and swelling of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles is highly contagious and up to 90% of people close to a person with the illness become infected if they are not immune, according to the CDC.

Representatives of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Children’s Hospital Colorado declined to discuss the measles cases and deferred questions to Tri-County Health Department.

Several measles outbreaks have occurred across the United States this year, but until now there was only one case reported in Colorado. In January, a Denver resident was placed in isolation and treated for the respiratory illness.

But health experts have warned that Colorado’s low vaccination rate makes communities here vulnerable to an outbreak. The immunization rate for the MMR shot was 87.4% during the 2018-19 school year, meaning the state doesn’t meet the threshold needed to protect a community from a measles outbreak.

The state’s low vaccination rate has come under scrutiny this year and a bill to make it harder to opt out of such shots was debated by legislators before it failed. Gov. Jared Polis has said he’s “pro-choice” when it comes to vaccinations. He said believes the solution to raise the low immunization rate is through education and access rather than eliminating nonmedical exemptions.

If a person has symptoms that could be measles they should call their doctor’s office or a hospital first, the news release said.

Due to incorrect information from a health official, this story originally mischaracterized the measles cases at Denver International Airport as an outbreak.

This content was originally published here.

‘I’m slowly dying here’: ‘Sedated’ Assange tells friend during Christmas Eve call from UK prison as health concerns mount

Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged.

Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete.

“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

He said to me that: ‘I’m slowly dying here.’

“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful… it was very upsetting to hear him”

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Assange CANNOT be extradited because of treaty between US-UK argues legal team

Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting that “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion.

Smith isn’t the first to raise this issue, but British authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.

“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand… why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public.”

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FILE PHOTO: Supporters of  Julian Assange protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London © Reuters / Henry Nicholls
Julian Assange will ‘disappear for the rest of his life’ inside ‘inhumane’ US prison, UN envoy warns… if he makes it that far

Belmarsh is a Category A prison – the highest level in the UK penal system – intended for “highly dangerous” convicts and those likely to attempt escape, typically befitting murderers and terrorists. While Assange meets none of those criteria and was initially locked up for a minor offense of skipping bail, he was nonetheless thrown in Belmarsh and punished as if he were a violent, hardened criminal. He now awaits proceedings for extradition to the US.

The explanation may be as simple as taking revenge against somebody who dared to speak truth to power, Smith believes, and to make an example for anyone who might follow Assange’s lead in fighting state and corporate secrecy.

“What is clear that what is happening to Julian is much more about vengeance and setting an example to dissuade other people from holding American power to account in this way,” he said.

[Assange] delivered a discussion, a debate about what transparency should look like in the digital age… The debate got quashed it never really happened, instead he’s being victimized… That’s’ why he’s in Belmarsh.

Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation. Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.

“This whole thing, really we need to be asking more questions. This needs to be held much more in the open… Julian has had his freedom compromised for nearly a decade now,” Smith said. “It’s completely disgraceful. This is bullying. He deserves better.”

This content was originally published here.

Health care in America is dysfunctional — but its lack of transparency is downright dangerous

Wow, you survived cancer? What’s your secret to health care?

As absurd as that sounds, it’s a question many Americans who get sick are still asking as we ring in the year 2020. Getting health care in this country is still so circuitous it often does feel like a secret — a maze deciphered in private that’s never quite mastered. The reward for solving it? Perhaps your life; perhaps the loss of your life savings. And that’s if you’re lucky.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why. They’re pricey, and a new year brings fears that insurance premiums are once again rising. (Who knew the inflation rates on a pap smear were that high?!) Meanwhile, 14 Republican-led states are still refusing to expand Medicaid as stipulated in the ACA, even though the federal government would pay for 90 percent of the cost. Why? Something about “repeal and replace” or “socialism.” It’s hard to keep track.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why.

I traveled to three states, each with their own unique health care access challenges, for my new MSNBC special “Red, White, and Who?” Between Texas, New York and Utah there are major differences in how easy it is to see a doctor without going bankrupt. But every single person I spoke with — regardless of job, socioeconomic status or even political affiliation — had one identical anxiety: healthcare in one of the most advanced countries in the world is ridiculously, hopelessly complicated.

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“I’m retired, but I feel like a have a job,” Larry Chiuppi told me sitting outside at an RV park in Houston, blocks from one of the top cancer treatment hospitals in the country. Larry has been caring for his wife Nancy Raimondi, who has blood cancer, for over a year. During that time, he himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Even with her Medicare and his private health plan under the ACA, navigating the billing systems for the endless hospital visits, specialists and tests — each with their own separate charges — requires a huge amount of time and vigilance. He tells me they once got a $14,000 bill for a stem cell transplant because someone forgot to link Nancy’s Medicare. Larry imagined many people would’ve just tried to pay it. And most Americans don’t have a retiree’s free time and Larry’s persistence to help them through the bureaucracy, an added burden of getting well.

When the political gets personal

We also don’t all have a mother like Sandra Stein. She and her family live in New York, a state where the uninsured population is less than five percent, and 6.5 million are on Medicaid. I met Sandra on a street corner in upper Manhattan, where activists were flyering for the New York Health Act, a bill that would give every New Yorker state-funded care. Sandra believes in single-payer healthcare because she has experienced the mind-numbing labyrinth that is the private insurance system firsthand.

When her son was nearly three, he developed a rare neurological disease that left him unable to walk or speak. At the time, she and her husband had private insurance, which was “relatively good insurance,” according to Sandra. But that didn’t make things easier. When they first went to the hospital in an ambulance, the doctors there didn’t take their insurance even though the hospital did. Her son ultimately stayed in three different hospitals over the course of 15 months.

“When we got home it was my job to figure out the pile of bills and the collections threats,” she told me. It’s been eight years, but Sandra’s voice cracked like the memory happened yesterday. I couldn’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to be afraid for your child’s life while collections agents breathed down your neck. Sandra says the billing department sought her out even while her son was in the ICU, and that there were so many billing errors that she ultimately asked for an audit.

And yet, Sandra, Larry and Nancy are the lucky ones. They have health insurance, and they have the time and resources to be able to make their way through the bureaucratic hall of mirrors and toward a fighting chance at getting well.

It’s this cruel opacity of the private insurance system, on top of the rising monthly costs of just having a plan, that can be the difference between life and death. And it keeps a surprising number of Americans away from the system altogether. Like a rodeo cowboy I met in Texas, whose story you’ll just have to watch (I’m not spoiling it all!). It’s also led Americans like Sandra to believe that a massive simplification of our health care system is far overdue.

For many, that simplification comes in the form of cutting out the profit motive and moving toward government-funded insurance, like Medicare for All, which Big Pharma’s enemy number one Sen. Bernie Sanders and I hashed out over bagels in a New York City deli.

Medicare for All and private insurance for none

Ultimately what became clear through my travels is that healthcare in America is often overpriced and even dysfunctional, but it’s the lack of transparency that can be the most insidious. You pretty much have to be a health care policy expert, or have a loved one who can quit their job to become one, in order to ensure proper help.

It’s also strange that in a country that loves the free market as much as we do, we the consumer have no idea how much anything costs when we walk into a hospital. Why would we? Our health is priceless, so we are simply at the mercy of an ineffective system. That is, unless we fight for something different.

“Red, White, and Who” premieres on MSNBC on Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. E.T.

This content was originally published here.

Christian health cost sharing ministries offer no guarantees

Eight-year-old Blake Collie was at the swimming pool when he got a frightening headache. His parents rushed him to the emergency room only to learn he had a brain aneurysm. Blake spent nearly two months in the hospital.

His family did not have traditional health insurance. “We could not afford it,” said his father, Mark Collie, a freelance photographer in Washington, North Carolina.

Instead, they pay about $530 a month through a Christian health care sharing organization to pay members’ medical bills. But the group capped payments for members at $250,000, almost certainly far less than the final tally of Blake’s mounting medical bills.

“Just trust God,” the nonprofit group, Samaritan Ministries, in Peoria, Illinois, said in a statement about its coverage, and advises its members that “there is no coverage, no guarantee of payment.”

More than 1 million Americans, struggling to cope with the rising cost of health insurance, have joined such groups, attracted by prices that are far lower than the premiums for policies that must meet strict requirements, like guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, established by the Affordable Care Act. The groups say they permit people of a common religious or ethical belief to share medical costs, and many were grandfathered in under the federal health care law mainly through a religious exemption.

These Christian nonprofit groups offer far lower rates because they are not classified as insurance and are under no legal obligation to pay medical claims. They generally decline to cover people with preexisting illnesses. They can set limits on how much their members will pay, and they can legally refuse to cover treatments for specialties like mental health.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” said Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, a physician who is also a financial planner in Jacksonville, Florida. “You have to depend on the largess of the program.”

The main requirement for membership is adherence to a Christian lifestyle. And the alternative sharing plans keep flourishing, especially now that the Trump administration has relaxed rules to permit alternatives to the ACA that don’t provide such generous coverage.

But state regulators in New Hampshire, Colorado and Texas are beginning to question some of the ministries’ aggressive marketing tactics, often using call centers, and said in some cases people who joined them were misled or did not understand how little coverage they would receive if they or a family member had a catastrophic illness.

On Monday, Washington state fined one of the larger health-sharing ministries, Trinity Healthshare, $150,000 and banned it from offering its product to state residents because it was operating as an unauthorized insurer.

In December, Nevada insurance regulators warned consumers to beware of these plans. “They may seem enticing because they may be cheap, look and sound like they are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’), when in reality these plans are not even insurance products,” the department said.

The Texas attorney general brought a lawsuit last summer against Aliera Healthcare, which marketed Trinity’s ministry program, to stop it from offering “unregulated insurance products to the public.” The Houston Chronicle featured one couple who was left with more than $100,000 in unpaid medical bills. Trinity said most members are satisfied with its services.

Aliera, which says it has stopped offering its plans in Texas, said it is working with regulators to resolve their concerns. The company says it has taken steps to make sure its customers are not confused about what they are buying.

Because the groups are not technically considered insurance, they operate with no government oversight. “Regulators haven’t been willing to assert any control or regulatory authority over these plans,” said Katie Keith, who serves as a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and teaches health law at Georgetown University. “They feel their hands are tied. At the end of the day, it’s not insurance.”

Families who have joined the groups recount winding up with medical bills not covered by the ministries, with no legal way to appeal decisions to reject coverage for care. Some groups ask their members to push hospitals and doctors to write off their bills rather than use members’ money to pay their expenses.

“These plans offer a false sense of security,” said Jenny Chumbley Hogue, who runs an insurance agency in north Dallas. She refuses to offer them to her clients.

Several states have taken action against one ministry they say has deceived people about what they are buying. “The nature of what we’re hearing from consumers around the state is absolutely heart breaking,” said Kate Harris, chief deputy insurance commissioner in Colorado, one of the states that is trying to prevent the ministry from operating there.

But health share ministries have become particularly attractive to people like the Collie family who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy and can’t afford an ACA plan. Even though premiums in the ACA market have stabilized, critics of the law insist people need alternatives. “That’s the real driver behind the growth,” said Dr. Dave Weldon, a former Republican congressman from Florida who is president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, which represents the two largest groups.

When Dan Plato left his job to become self-employed as a consultant, he discovered that an ACA policy for 2018 would cost his family around $1,300 a month. “It was very expensive and beyond our needs,” he said. Membership in Liberty Healthshare, a ministry established by Mennonites in Canton, Ohio, was less than half the price, according to Plato, who blogged about his experience.

But some Liberty members reported trouble getting their medical bills covered. Plato says a small bill for flu shots went unpaid and ended up in collection. At the end of the year, he was left wondering if Liberty would be able to cover the family in the event of a serious medical emergency. “It’s not something we could trust in that situation,” said Plato, who switched to one of the plans offered by United Healthcare also exempt from the ACA rules for 2019.

Robyn Lytle, who works as an event planner in Chicago, joined Liberty for 2018, only to find that her daughter’s medical tests were never paid for. “It’s been a year and half, and I’ve been sent to collection,” said Lytle, who says Liberty had covered some of her family’s other expenses. She switched to an ACA plan for 2019.

Liberty Healthshare declined to comment.

Other people complain that the ministries can be vague about coverage. Greg Snider and his wife joined Medi-Share, the program offered by Christian Care Ministry. Based in West Melbourne, Florida. Medi-Share says it has more than 400,000 members across the country.

Snider said he had just dropped traditional coverage when his wife was diagnosed with a heart condition, but he says he was assured by Medi-Share that her care could still be covered. She underwent surgery last year to address an abnormal heart rhythm. “After the procedure, the bills start rolling in,” Snider said, including $177,000 for the surgery alone.

Snider says Medi-Share urged him to plead with the hospital after determining he would owe more than $100,000. He said he had assumed the $800 a month he paid into a pool would help cover the expenses. After he tweeted his frustrations, the ministry told him that he would owe only $1,500 for the surgery because the hospital had forgiven the rest, he said. He now owes thousands of dollars in related medical bills and is unsure of their status.

If Medi-Share decides not to pay, Snider knows he has little recourse: “It is completely and solely up to them.” He has since gotten a job where he is covered under his employer.

Medi-Share says that more than 80% of the $774 million it collected last year went to members’ medical bills. “We take great care to ensure prospective members understand what is considered a preexisting condition and what is eligible for sharing,” it said.

It does its part to reduce medical spending, it says, through negotiating with doctors and hospitals and claims it saved members more than $500 million last year. “We consider this process to be one way in which we contribute to the overall objective of reducing medical costs,” the ministry said in a statement.

Medi-Share says it has an extensive network of more than 700,000 providers. But even if a member goes to an in-network provider, the ministry may still decide not to pay the bill. “Fundamentally, we have found that there is often a lack of understanding of what is covered,” said Brendan Miller, an executive with MultiPlan, which arranges networks for Medi-Share as well as insurers.

That uncertainty has led some hospitals and doctors in the MultiPlan network to refuse to treat ministry patients rather than absorb unpaid costs.

Colorado is one of several states, including Washington, Texas and New Hampshire, that are trying to stop Trinity Healthshare, and its administrator, Aliera Healthcare, from operating in their states because they say the ministry is misleading its residents.

In a statement, Aliera said “it’s deeply disappointing to see state regulators working to deny their residents access to more affordable alternatives offered by health care sharing ministries.”

Trinity says its website makes clear that the ministry does not offer health insurance.

Regulators also worry about these plans siphoning off healthy individuals from the ACA marketplaces, leading to higher premiums for Obamacare policies.

“The ministries have been very concerned about bad actors invading this space,” said Weldon, the alliance president, who says his members are very clear that they are not insurance companies. “They all operate call centers, and they all bend over backward to inform people inquiring that it is not insurance,” he said.

In the case of Samaritan, which says it covers 271,000 people, the ministry pointed to its Save to Share program, where members can contribute extra to cover more of their bills.

With Blake’s bills likely to far exceed the cap — Collie has not yet tallied them yet — he created a GoFundMe account to help pay for his son’s care.

Collie says the ministry remains a viable alternative, noting it paid for numerous medical bills before his son’s hospitalization. “Every single person has prayed for me and my family,” he said. But he was enormously relieved when he found out recently his son qualified for Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program, and will cover the boy’s full medical care.

In some states, officials are starting to consider requiring the groups to register, to obtain more information for consumers.

Peter V. Lee, a former Obama administration official who now runs the California ACA marketplace, said ministries should be subject to some oversight, including disclosure of how much of the money collected is spent on care.

“There should not be a religious exemption for transparency — where the money goes and if it will be there if consumers need it,” he said.

California is also requiring brokers, who are paid hefty commissions by some of the ministries to enroll members, to make sure their clients understand they are not buying insurance.

Some ministries, like Samaritan, say they do not use brokers or agents. “We also have never, nor will we ever, use insurance agents or brokers to sell Samaritan because we don’t want people to confuse us with insurance,” it said.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. health system costs four times more to run than Canada’s single-payer system

In the United States, a legion of administrative healthcare workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.

Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering healthcare is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.

That spending mismatch, tallied in a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, could challenge some assumptions about the relative efficiency of public and private healthcare programs. It could also become a hot political talking point on the American campaign trail as presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of government-funded universal health insurance.

Progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for a “Medicare for All” system. More centrist candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have questioned the wisdom of turning the government into the nation’s sole health insurer.

It’s been decades since Canada transitioned from a U.S.-style system of private healthcare insurance to a government-run single-payer system. Canadians today do not gnash their teeth about co-payments or deductibles. They do not struggle to make sense of hospital bills. And they do not fear losing their healthcare coverage.

To be sure, wait times for specialist care and some diagnostic imaging are often criticized as too long. But a 2007 study by Canada’s health authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall health of Americans and Canadians to be roughly similar.

Some Canadians purchase private supplemental insurance, whose cost is regulated. Outpatient medications are not included in the government plan, but aside from that, coverage of “medically necessary services” is assured from cradle to grave.

The cost of administering this system amounts to 17% of Canada’s national expenditures on health.

In the United States, twice as much — 34% — goes to the salaries, marketing budgets and computers of healthcare administrators in hospitals, nursing homes and private practices. It goes to executive pay packages which, for five major healthcare insurers, reach close to $20 million or more a year. And it goes to the rising profits demanded by shareholders.

Administering the U.S. network of public and private healthcare programs costs $812 billion each year. And in 2018, 27.9 million Americans remained uninsured, mostly because they could not afford to enroll in the programs available to them.

“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”

The new figures are based on an analysis of public documents filed by U.S. insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, home-care and hospice agencies, and physicians’ offices. Researchers from Hunter College, Harvard Medical School and the University of Ottawa compared those to administrative costs across the Canadian healthcare sector, as detailed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and a trade association that represents Canada’s private insurers.

Compared to 1999, when the researchers last compared U.S. and Canadian healthcare spending, the costs of administering healthcare insurance have grown in both countries. But the increase has been much steeper in the United States, where a growing number of public insurance programs have increased their reliance on commercial insurers to manage government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As a result, overhead charges by private insurers surged more than any other category of expenditure, the researchers found.

In U.S. states that have retained full control over their Medicaid programs, the growth of administrative costs was negligible, they reported. (The same was true for Canada’s health insurance program.) But in states that shifted most of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, administrative costs were twice as high.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group representing private health insurance companies, said administrative practices shouldn’t be blamed for escalating the cost of care in the United States.

“Study after study continues to demonstrate the value of innovative solutions brought by the free market,” AHIP said in a statement. “In head-to-head comparisons, the free market continues to be more efficient than government-run systems.”

AHIP cited a recent report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent body that advises Congress. The report showed that Medicare Advantage plans — which are privately administered — deliver benefits at 88% of the cost of traditional Medicare.

Even so, the study authors concluded that if the U.S. healthcare system could trim its administrative bloat to bring it in line with Canada’s, Americans could save $628 billion a year while getting the same healthcare.

“The United States is currently wasting at least $600 billion on healthcare paperwork — money that could be saved by going to a simple ‘Medicare for All’ system,” said senior author Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, a health policy researcher at Hunter College and longtime advocate of single-payer systems.

That sum would be more than enough to extend coverage to the nation’s uninsured, she said.

This content was originally published here.

The Game Changers And You: Going Vegan for Our Health and Our Planet’s

Over the past month several friends have told me to watch the The Game Changers on @Netflix  produced by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger about vegan athletes. Intrigued by the concept of a plant based diet I sat down with my husband to watch the 90 minute documentary which was indeed a personal Game changer. And, I’m so glad I watched it because, not only did I learn about improving my health, I also learned how a change in diet can improve the planet. (For more on this read: The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet)

The show is revelatory, and so much more than an examination of one’s diet. It truly is a movement and I can see why there is a huge following. Anyone interested in their personal health and the health of the planet should watch this and then decide whether to change their eating.

Not only is diet at issue, the planet is as well. What are you doing about climate change? Well, it turns out we can make a dent by giving up meat without giving up protein or health. As a matter of fact, we can improve our health at the same time.

There are so many outstanding examples of how we are devasting our planet through feeding of livestock to fuel our appetites. The case is made that we are a product of marketing and eating meat for strength is a fallacy.

The case is made not only for leaner and stronger bodies from a diet change, reduction of inflammation, even stronger erections for men, and more energy for all. A solid case is also made for a reversal of devastation to our land and water supply by reducing the demand for meat.

WATCH THIS OFFICIAL 2-minute Trailer…

I have never wanted to go vegan. It just seemed to me like another neurotic fad to be skinny unless you have digestive issues. Well, after watching this documentary, my mind has been changed.

My husband was way more skeptical and found the film to be a bit too much of an infomercial. I on the other hand saw it as a call to action.

Although I have been a non-red meat eater since 1976, and am bored by chicken and skeptical of fish these days, I had never really thought of making a “diet” around giving these proteins up as the alternatives seem complicated (i.e. complex recipes of beans, not easily findable on restaurant menus).

But, it was this lesson I learned from the documentary. My daily diet of eggs and cheese and yogurt as my go to proteins and some chicken and tuna, are not giving me the healthy protein boost I need. Apparently, I have been missing the point as the potency of the protein options is in the plants. This for me is a game changer.

But change is hard. I have been eating a poached egg for breakfast most of my life and it’s my comfort food. Giving up eggs seems impossible and my happy hour of wine without cheese equally empty. Because this plant based diet asks us to give up all animal products that means my beloved french butter must go as well.

My guess is, I will try to go vegan for a while or at least a few days a week to see if I can do it and test if I feel better. I am also motivated to do my bit to help the planet. Want to try it with me?

P.S. There are number of disclaimers about the accuracy of this documentary which are worth reading.

Here are a few take-aways from the documentary that Buzz Feed put together….

1. All protein originates in plants. The protein one gets from eating a steak or a burger are actually from the plants the animal ate.

2. The average plant-eater gets 70% more protein than they need.

3. Many meat-eaters get more than half of their protein from plants.

4. When you eat animals regularly, you begin forming plaques in the coronary arteries.

5. The plaque formation doesn’t just limit the function of the arteries, it can block blood flow and make it difficult for your heart to keep up with the demands of your body.

6. When animal protein is cooked, preserved, or digested by our gut bacteria, highly inflammatory compounds are formed and they corrode our cardiovascular system.

Click here to read more from Buzz Feed…

The post The Game Changers And You: Going Vegan for Our Health and Our Planet’s appeared first on Better After 50.

This content was originally published here.

Opinion | The American Health Care Industry Is Killing People – The New York Times

These costs are significantly higher than in most other wealthy countries. One study on health care data from 1999 showed that each American paid about $1,059 per year just in overhead costs for health care; in Canada, the per capita cost was $307. Those figures are likely much higher today.

Wouldn’t lowering overhead costs be an obviously positive outcome?

Ah, but there’s the rub: All this overspending creates a lot of employment — and moving toward a more efficient and equitable health care system will inevitably mean getting rid of many administrative jobs. One study suggests that about 1.8 million jobs would be rendered unnecessary if America adopted a public health care financing system.

So what if some of these jobs involve debt collection, claims denial, aggressive legal action or are otherwise punitive, cruel or simply morally indefensible in a society that can clearly afford to provide high-quality health care to everyone? Jobs are jobs, folks, as Joe Biden might say.

Indeed, that’s exactly what Biden’s presidential campaign is saying about the Medicare for all plans that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are proposing: They “will not only cost 160 million Americans their private health coverage and force tax increases on the middle class, but it would also kill almost two million jobs,” a Biden campaign official warned recently.

Note the word “kill” in the statement. That word might better describe not what could happen to jobs under Medicare for all but what the health care industry is doing to many Americans today.

Last week, the medical journal JAMA published a comprehensive study examining the cause of a remarkably grim statistic about our national well-being. From 1959 to 2010, life expectancy in the United States and in other wealthy countries around the world climbed. Then, in 2014, American life expectancy began to fall, while it continued to rise elsewhere.

What caused the American decline? Researchers identified a number of potential factors, including tobacco use, obesity and psychological stress, but two of the leading causes can be pinned directly on the peculiarities and dysfunctions of American health care.

The first is the opioid epidemic, whose rise can be traced to the release, in 1996, of the prescription pain drug OxyContin. In the public narrative, much of the blame for the epidemic has been cast on the Sackler family, whose firm, Purdue Pharma, created OxyContin and pushed for its widespread use. But research has shown that the Sacklers exploited aberrant incentives in American health care.

Purdue courted doctors, patient groups and insurers to convince the medical establishment that OxyContin was a novel type of opioid that was less addictive and less prone to abuse. The company had little scientific evidence to make that claim, but much of the health care industry bought into it, and OxyContin prescriptions soared. The rush to prescribe opioids was fueled by business incentives created by the health care industry — for Purdue, for many doctors and for insurance companies, treating widespread conditions like back pain with pills rather than physical therapy was simply better for the bottom line.

Opioid addiction isn’t the only factor contributing to rising American mortality rates. The problem is more pervasive, having to do with an overall lack of quality health care. The JAMA report points out that death rates have climbed most for middle-age adults, who — unlike retirees and many children — are not usually covered by government-run health care services and thus have less access to affordable health care.

The researchers write that “countries with higher life expectancy outperform the United States in providing universal access to health care” and in “removing costs as a barrier to care.” In America, by contrast, cost is a key barrier. A study published last year in The American Journal of Medicine found that of the nearly 10 million Americans given diagnoses of cancer between 2000 and 2012, 42 percent were forced to drain all of their assets in order to pay for care.

The politics of Medicare for all are perilous. Understandably so: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who loves your doctor and your insurance company, or who works in the health care field, I can see why you would be fearful of wholesale change.

But it’s wise to remember that it’s not just your own health and happiness that counts. The health care industry is failing much of the country. Many of your fellow citizens are literally dying early because of its failures. “I got mine!” is not a good enough argument to maintain the dismal status quo.

Farhad wants to chat with readers on the phone. If you’re interested in talking to a New York Times columnist about anything that’s on your mind, please fill out this form. Farhad will select a few readers to call.

This content was originally published here.

Travelling to the U.S.? Watch out: Ontario is about to scrap out-of-country emergency health care coverage. Here’s what you need to know. | The Star

When Toronto resident Jill Wykes had a health scare over a racing heartbeat in Florida a few years back, the $3,000 hospital bill for a two-hour visit and three tests added insult to illness.

Fortunately, the seasoned snowbird had a comprehensive travel health insurance policy that paid the full tab.

But the incident, which turned out to be nothing serious, served as a reminder that medical emergencies can happen any time, anywhere.

Buying enough travel insurance to cover all eventualities becomes even more important for Ontario residents when the province scraps its out-of-country coverage of emergency health care expenses on Jan.1.

Until Dec. 31, OHIP will continue to pay up to $400 per day for emergency in-patient services and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient and doctor services. Starting next year though, that coverage stops.

A new program will provide kidney dialysis patients with $210 toward each treatment — actual prices in the U.S. range from $300 to $750 — but travellers will be on the hook for everything else.

The province says it’s cancelling the existing “inefficient” program because of the $2.8-million cost of administering $9 million in emergency medical coverage abroad each year. OHIP’s reimbursements also tended to offset only a fraction of the actual expenses.

Without private insurance, travellers can face “catastrophically large bills” for medical care, warns Ministry of Health spokesperson David Jensen, who “strongly encourages” people to purchase adequate coverage.

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Health care south of the border, in particular, costs an arm and a leg. On average, fees in the U.S. are double those of other developed countries, according to the International Travel Insurance Group.

The insurance provider cites an array of costs, including: ambulance, $500 and up; ER visit, $150 to $3,000; hospital stay, $5,000 per day; MRI, $1,000 to $5,000; X-ray, $150 to $3,000; hip fracture, $13,000 to $40,000.

The monetary ouch factor can be especially painful for snowbirds, who are flocking to warm spots like Florida, Arizona and Texas in growing numbers as baby boomers reach retirement age.

But a significant number of vacationers of all ages are putting their financial health at risk.

According to a recent survey by InsuranceHotline.com, 34 per cent of Canadian respondents said they were unlikely to buy travel insurance, often in the mistaken belief their province would cover them. And 40 per cent had unrealistic expectations of health care costs, thinking, for example, that emergency medical evacuation would be under $2,000. In reality, the service can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Jill Wykes and her husband Pierre Lepage leave nothing to chance during winters in Sarasota, Fla., an annual trek since 2011 when she retired as a travel industry executive.

The couple, now in their 70s, purchase a multiple-trip plan with a 60-day top-up for their four-month sojourn, which includes driving there and back and flying home for two short visits. Her policy costs about $900 while his is $1,600, because he falls into an older age bracket. They’re each covered for up to $5 million.

Wykes, a blogger and editor of snowbirdadvisor.ca, calls it “foolish” to travel anywhere without health insurance and advises against thinking “you would just drive or fly home if you were sick.” The financial fallout from an accident or sudden illness “can quickly rise into six figures” in the U.S., she adds.

Anne Marie Thomas of InsuranceHotline.com, which provides free quotes for all types of insurance, echoes Wykes’s advice.

“Now, more than ever, you need travel insurance because there will be zero coverage (as of Jan. 1),” she says.

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy and insurance can cover everything from trip cancellation or interruption to lost baggage and medical costs, Thomas explains, so it’s important to match your needs and situation. A sunseeker driving south, for instance, wouldn’t need trip cancellation.

YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN…

As an example, Thomas says a 70- or 80-year-old flying to Florida would pay about $2,000 for all-inclusive insurance for 15 weeks with a $10-million limit on medical costs.

The non-profit Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) calls the government cuts “short-sighted,” predicting they’ll boost the cost of private insurance by an estimated 7.5 per cent.

The CSA has always “strongly recommended” purchasing adequate insurance prior to departure, president Karen Huestis reminded travellers last month.

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Fledgling snowbird Linda Lanteigne, who’s driving to Florida with her husband in mid-January for a two-and-a-half-month stay, is unhappy about OHIP’s cancelled program.

As a taxpaying Canadian, “I don’t think it’s right to take away our coverage,” says the Ottawa-area retiree who’d like to see the government cover the same amount of emergency medical care that people would get in Canada.

Lanteigne, a former operating room buyer in a hospital, shopped around before deciding on a travel policy with the Canadian Automobile Association that will give her $5-million coverage for about $500.

Octogenarian Mae Youngman is living proof that health emergencies can happen anywhere. She’s had three surgeries outside Canada after suffering an aneurysm in Fort Lauderdale, an appendectomy in Sarasota and broken elbow in Mexico.

“It would have been very, very expensive,” to cover the costs without insurance, recalls the retired owner of a travel agency near Windsor, Ont., who’s heading to Cuba for two weeks.

“I’d never leave home without it.”

How to make sure you’re covered

Experienced travellers and representatives from the travel and insurance industries offer these tips:

  • Retirement benefit plans and credit cards may provide health insurance, but read the policy for any limits or exclusions.
  • Compare apples to apples when shopping for a policy. The cost will also depend on your medical history, age and length of vacation.
  • Before purchasing coverage, be aware of your health status, including pre-existing conditions, which must be stable for the required period.
  • Complete the insurer’s medical questionnaire thoroughly and accurately, and let them know if anything changes pre-departure.
  • Always read the policy, including fine print, so you understand what is and isn’t covered.
  • Check travel advisories before you leave; ignoring warnings about an impending hurricane, for example, could cancel your medical coverage.
  • Your purchased insurance has a start and end date so if your holiday is interrupted and you plan on returning, notify your insurer.
Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her at cvyhnak@gmail.com

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Mental health professionals read Trump’s letter: A study in “the psychotic mind” at work | Salon.com

On Wednesday night, Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives. Trump will now — perhaps after some delay — be put on trial in the Senate, where he will then be acquitted by Republicans who have sworn personal fealty to him.

Trump’s impeachment is one of the few moments in his life when he has ever been held accountable for his behavior. Consequences are the enemy of Donald Trump. As such, in response to the Ukraine scandal, the Mueller report, the 2018 midterm elections and various other moments when Democrats and the public defied Trump’s authoritarian goal of becoming a de facto king or emperor, he has lashed out in the form of (another) temper tantrum.

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On Tuesday, Trump continued with this ugly and deeply troubling behavior in the form of a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fueled by exaggerated rage that Democrats had dared to impeach him. Reportedly co-authored by Stephen Miller, Trump’s white supremacist White House adviser, Trump’s letter continued numerous obvious lies about impeachment, the Ukraine scandal and other matters.

In keeping with his strategy of stochastic terrorism, Trump’s letter is an incitement to violence by his followers against the Democrats for the “crime” of impeachment.

Trump is possessed of the delusional belief that he (and by implication his supporters) is a victim of a “witch hunt” akin to the famous event in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. In keeping with his malignant narcissism, Trump’s letter, of course, boasts of his strength and fortitude against the Democrats and other enemies.

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In total, Trump’s “impeachment letter” to Nancy Pelosi is but one data point among many demonstrating that he is mentally unwell and a threat to the safety of the United States and the world.

To gain more context and insight into this ongoing crisis, I asked several of the country’s leading mental health experts for their thoughts on Trump’s impeachment letter and what it indicates about the president’s emotional state and behavior.

Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor, Yale University School of Medicine and president of the World Mental Health Organization. Lee is editor of the bestselling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”

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This letter is a very obvious demonstration of Donald Trump’s severe mental compromise. His assertions should alarm not only those who believe that a president of the United States and a commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military should be mentally sound, but also those who are concerned about the potential implications of such a compromised individual bringing out pathological elements in his supporters and in society in general. I have been following and interpreting Donald Trump’s tweets as a public service, since merely reading them “gaslights” you and reforms your thoughts in unhealthy ways. Without arming yourself with the right interpretation, you end up playing into the hands of pathology and helping it — even if you do not fully believe it. This is because of a common phenomenon that happens when you are continually exposed to a severely compromised person without appropriate intervention. You start taking on the person’s symptoms in a phenomenon called “shared psychosis.”

It happens often in households where a sick individual goes untreated, and I have seen some of the most intelligent and otherwise healthy persons succumb to the most bizarre delusions. It can also happen at national scale, as renowned mental health experts such as Erich Fromm have noted. Shared psychosis at large scale is also called “mass hysteria.”

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The president is quite conscious of his ability to generate mass hysteria, which is the purpose of the letter.

The book I edited, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” contained three warnings: that the president was more dangerous than people suspected; that he would grow more dangerous with time; and that ultimately, he would become “uncontainable.” We are entering the “uncontainable” stage because of shared psychosis.

Dan P. McAdams, chair and professor of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, author of the forthcoming book “The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning.”

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Venomous and vitriolic, obsessively focused on the self and nothing else, this letter is what we have come to know as vintage Trump. Had we been handed this document just three years ago and told it was once written by a president of the United States, we would have been aghast, and we would have considered it to be one of the most remarkable texts ever unearthed — worthy to be remembered as the antithesis of, say, the Gettysburg Address.

In terms of what we have come to expect from President Trump, the only remarkable thing about this letter is that it is so long — and that it contains a few big words, like “solemnity.” But in nearly every other way, the letter is like the vitriolic, grievance-filled tweets he sends out every day, full of falsehoods, hyperbole and hate. As an extended expression of who Trump really is, the letter shows you how his mind works and what his raw experience is like.

For over 50 years, Donald Trump has lived this way. Trump has fought ever day of his adult life as if he were being impeached by his enemies. And there have always been countless enemies, because his antagonism brings them out of the woodwork. To quote what Trump told People Magazine when asked to recite his philosophy of life, “Man is the most vicious of all animals and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” This is truly how Trump has always experienced the world. The letter merely reinforces his world view.

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Moreover, Trump is right about the Democrats.  Many of them have been wanting to impeach him since Day One. They recoil against him just the way countless others have recoiled against Trump going back to his real estate days in the late 1970s. Trump needs to hate Democrats. If suddenly all his enemies lay down as lambs and promised to cooperate with him, he might kill himself. He would have no reason to go on. He needs enemies as much as he needs air to breathe.

Dr. David Reiss, psychiatrist, expert in mental fitness evaluations and contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Content-wise it is the typical Trump distortions, outright lies, and exclusive focus on his feelings. For Trump, his feelings define reality.  It would be interesting if someone in the media was able to ask Trump, “What does the word ‘fair’ mean to you?” Because, objectively, Trump complains he is being treated “unfairly” anytime he does not get his way, his feelings are hurt, and/or others are not accepting what he says at face value and without question — even if it is contrary to proven fact or internally inconsistent.

Whoever actually wrote the letter, it accurately reflects Trump’s immaturity that has been obvious in public as long as he has been a public figure: insisting that his needs be met in a child-like manner; having very poor problem-solving ability; having an inability to take responsibility for anything and projecting his own negative attributes onto others; an inability to look at consequences of his statements or actions. Basically, acting as a frustrated or emotionally hurt toddler would react, looking for a parent to protect him and “make the bad people go away.”

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Dr. Lance Dodes, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry (retired), Harvard Medical School, currently training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He is also a contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Mr. Trump’s letter shows his incapacity to recognize other people as separate from him or having worth.

As he always does, he accuses others of precisely what he has done, in precisely the same language. When confronted with violating the Constitution he says his accusers are violating the Constitution. When others point out that he undermines democracy, he says they undermine democracy. Through these very simpleminded projections he deletes others’ selfhood and replaces who they are with what is unacceptable in himself.

The letter also has a remarkable list of boasts about what he says are his successes, stated as facts, with no acknowledgment that Speaker Pelosi has a vastly different view (about gun control, appointing judges who conform to his views, withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, etc). It is as if her independent views are unworthy of noting or existing. She is treated as invisible in his eyes.

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In reflecting his projecting (paranoid) view of the world and his primitive focus on himself with denial of the rights and feelings of others, the letter is consistent with what we already know about Mr. Trump.

Dr. John Gartner, co-founder of the Duty to Warn PAC and co-editor of “Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump.”

When you read excerpts of the Trump letter to Pelosi it doesn’t do justice to how unhinged, paranoid and manic it is in its entirety.

It shows the usual formal properties of a Trump rant: proclaiming himself the victim of an evil conspiracy, while projecting onto his critics everything bad he is actually doing.

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For example:

You are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy…

All blended seamlessly with outright lies:

Worse still, I have been deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process from the beginning of this impeachment scam right up until the present. I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses …

Dr. Justin Frank, former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, and author of “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.”

When I first read Donald Trump’s six-page letter to Speaker Pelosi, I marveled at the ease with which he shared what goes on in his mind openly, and without reservation. His letter is the quintessential example of how professional victims actually think. They turn the prosecutor into the persecutor.

Trump’s letter is just such an expression of entitled, delusional grievance. He accuses Pelosi of injuring his family, but it is his nepotism that exposes his older children to public scrutiny and his teenager (to whom he refers as “Melania’s son”) to life in a fishbowl. More damning, in making her a public figure, he subjected the First Lady to humiliation. He knew full well he paid a stripper $130,000 not to talk about their affair and was surely aware that this and other unsavory behaviors would surface when he sought the presidency.

Trump is a con artist who succeeds by tricking his marks into not seeing the con. But the biggest mark — bigger than the GOP and his base — is himself. He believes the lies he tells, the delinquent traits he disavows. It’s what psychoanalysts call delusional projection. We see it the simple sentence he wrote to the speaker: “You view democracy as your enemy.” Trump confirms my findings published in “Trump on the Couch.” But now his defenses are writ large, because instead of changing in moments of crisis, people become more the way they are. Trump has reverted to the most familiar means to cope with fears of being caught, punished and humiliated.

Finally, the letter is a treasure trove for psychiatric residents who want to study the psychotic mind. Trump’s paradoxical sleight of hand makes him think he can hide in plain sight. But he can’t anymore. This is why he accuses Pelosi of hating democracy: It is he who hates a system that promotes the idea that no one is above the law.

This content was originally published here.

Santa’s reindeer receive clean bill of health, cleared to fly on Christmas Eve

HERSHEY, Pa. (WJW) — Santa’s reindeer have been cleared for take-off!

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, and State Veterinarian, Dr. Kevin Brightbill, met with Santa Claus and his nine reindeer at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Thursday to announce that they’ve received a clean bill of health and can fly on December 24.

The reindeer, answering to the names of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, and Rudolph received clearance to fly from Alaska’s state veterinarian.

“Not everyone knows what takes place behind the scenes to allow Santa and his nine reindeer to take flight on Christmas Eve,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Thanks to Dr. Brightbill, his counterpart in the North Pole, and Santa’s due diligence, we can expect gifts under the tree Christmas morning.”

Pennsylvania State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill holds up a clean bill of health for Santa’s nine reindeer, and that they’re cleared for take-off on December 24, at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Thursday, December 19, 2019. (Courtesy: Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture)

The reindeer received a certificate of veterinary inspection and permit to ship that allows them to fly from rooftop to rooftop for the purpose of toy delivery.

State officials said that for animals that travel between states, such certificates help ensure that contagious diseases are not spread.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture veterinarians supplied Santa’s reindeer with the certificate this year since they are residing at Hersheypark for the next few days.

“Hersheypark is honored that Santa trusts his nine reindeer to the care of our ZooAmerica team throughout the holiday season,” said Quinn Bryner, Director of PR at Hersheypark. “We’re the only place to see them all together in the Northeast through Jan. 1 so we wish them a magical flight before they come back to Hershey!”

Make sure to track Santa and the reindeer’s flight path on December 24 using NORAD’s Santa Tracker.

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This content was originally published here.

GOP senator claims birth control and HIV testing is not ‘actual health care’

Sen. Martha McSally’s campaign attacked the health care services provided by Planned Parenthood.

GOP Sen. Martha McSally’s campaign is on the attack against Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state’s largest sexual health organization, saying it does not provide residents with “actual health care,” the Hill reported Friday.

McSally’s comments came in response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement that it would run ads in Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina about the Trump administration’s restrictions on health care funding that limit how doctors can interact with patients. All three of the states have closely watched Senate races in 2020.

“Senator McSally is focused on providing access to actual health care for women all across Arizona, while Planned Parenthood is only focused on protecting their business model,” Dylan Lefler, the Arizona Republican’s campaign manager, told the Hill.

Planned Parenthood Arizona serves more than 90,000 Arizona residents, according to its website, offering a wide range of real health care services, including annual well-woman exams, birth control consultation and supplies, HIV testing, emergency contraception, and pregnancy testing. Research from the Guttmacher Institute, a group focused on reproductive health, has shown that providers serving low-income patients, including Planned Parenthood, play a vital role in the public safety net, and may be the only health care available in some areas.

The Trump administration unveiled new rules earlier this year stating that federal funds from the Title X program can no longer go to organizations that either perform abortions or refer patients to facilities to receive abortions. Prior to the new rules, organizations like Planned Parenthood were already barred from using federal funds to perform abortions, but the new rule gagged the ability of health care professionals to even discuss the medical procedure.

After the rules went into effect, Planned Parenthood was forced to withdraw from the Title X program, the only federal program dedicated to providing family planning services, birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and annual exams, to low-income Americans. Most of the patients who rely on Title X services are people of color, according to Planned Parenthood.

The ads aim to pressure lawmakers to overrule Trump and allow organizations like Planned Parenthood to once again participate in Title X and offer health care services to low-income people.

However, the McSally campaign identified Planned Parenthood as a “hysterical liberal special interest group” invading Arizona “with false, negative ads.”

McSally has previously voted to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds whatsoever. She also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which requires health insurance companies to cover maternity and newborn care.

“Republican senators are attacking access to affordable birth control and other vital reproductive health services by standing with the Trump administration’s dangerous gag rule,” Sam Lau, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s director of federal advocacy media, said in an email. “Congress has the power to take action, and the American people want them to stop putting politics over their health and protect access to affordable health care.”

The post GOP senator claims birth control and HIV testing is not ‘actual health care’ appeared first on The American Independent.

This content was originally published here.

The President, the US private health giant, and top NHS officials – special relationships? | openDemocracy

In the UK, we have a simple take on the US healthcare system as a for-profit, private system that fleeces its customers and fails the poor.

But here’s the secret: the US has its own ‘mini NHS’. Smaller than the UK’s system, but still a government funded, (mostly) publicly-run system that serves people according to their need. It’s called the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

And Donald Trump wants to privatise it.

What’s more, to set the reforms in motion, the firm that’s been appointed to create and expand new private networks within the Veterans health system is Optum, the profitable ‘healthcare services’ arm of America’s biggest private health insurer, UnitedHealth Group.

Optum and UnitedHealth are familiar names to anyone who has been following the silent takeover of the NHS by private healthcare firms in recent years, though aspects of their involvement are fully exposed here for the first time.

Health privatisation, US-style – sounds familiar?

But first, it’s worth a closer look at what’s been happening to the US’s own ‘mini-NHS’ – because there are some remarkable parallels with what’s happening on this side of the Atlantic.

The Veterans Administration has a budget of $70billion with which it provides healthcare for some nine million US military veterans. It has experienced serious capacity issues in the past, but a study last year found the quality of care it provides is the same, or significantly better than the private sector.

Regardless, Trump passed a law last year that allows extensive latitude for a significant proportion of this care to be outsourced to private healthcare corporations.

The President’s plan is backed by a small cabal of right-wing politicians and lobby groups on a crusade to talk down the care the Veterans Health Administration provides – and then to ‘fix’ it, through pushing veteran patients towards private providers. Trump began by replacing senior Veterans Administration officials that stood in the way and reportedly allowed his close political associates and donors to influence the reforms. All the while running a PR campaign, led by officials and their Koch-backed advisors, denying that funnelling billions of taxpayer dollars to private healthcare providers amounts to privatisation. On being appointed, Trump’s new VA secretary told senators: “I will oppose efforts to privatize the VA.”

Democrat Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the real beneficiaries of Trump’s reforms are “pharmaceutical companies, insurance corporations and, ultimately… a for-profit health-care industry that does not put people or veterans first.” If he really wanted to “fix the VA so badly,” she added at a packed rally earlier this year, “let’s start hiring, and fill up some of those 49,000 [staff] vacancies.”

All of this will sound eerily familiar to campaigners defending the National Health Service against privatisation: from chronic understaffing to legislative reform in the face of massive opposition, and all the while strenuously denying that the changes amount to privatisation at all.

We’re told one thing about NHS privatisation – health firm investors are told another

“There is no privatisation of the NHS on my watch,” Matt Hancock assured MPs earlier this year. Boris Johnson has since echoed his words: “We are absolutely resolved. There will be no sale of the NHS, no privatisation.”

Look at the message US private healthcare firms are giving their investors, however, and a different story emerges.

“We’ve been planting seeds and I would say that we’re strong with the NHS,” US healthcare executive, Larry Renfro told investors in 2016. Renfro was then chief executive of Optum – the very same US company that’s recently been awarded huge contracts to take over the US’s ‘mini NHS’.

“We’re strong with [the regulator] NHS improvement. We are getting stronger with the Minister of Health, as well as the Secretary of Health,” Renfro said. His colleague and Optum’s Executive Vice President, Jeffrey Berkowitz, spoke of the years Optum had spent building a “very strong foundation of work on the ground with the Department of Health”.

Investors and financial analysts were told this, but not the British public.

Official records show only that Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, held an ‘introductory’ meeting with Optum in March 2017 and that health minister Philip Dunne visited Optum in Boston and again, a couple of weeks later in London.

It is only because Renfro told investors that a health minister is “as we sit here today, with us… on tour”, that we know that Lord Prior, now chair of NHS England, also visited Optum at its headquarters in Minneapolis in October 2016.

Donald Trump, the private healthcare execs, and NHS senior officials

This was one of many visits in recent years made by politicians and senior health officials to Optum’s various US offices. This includes officials from NHS Digital – guardians of NHS patient data – whose head of data was given a tour of Optum’s capabilities at its Washington office in January 2018. As an Optum lobbyist said in 2014, the trips, some of which it paid for, are part of its efforts to “develop and mature” its relationship with the NHS.

It is also only through documents released under Freedom of Information law that we know that Ed Smith, the chair of the NHS’s powerful regulator NHS Improvement, held a series of ‘working dinners’ with UnitedHealth Group CEO, Stephen Hemsley – first in September 2016 and again in January the following year. Another ‘working dinner’ took place with Renfro in March 2017. The documents don’t reveal what these men discussed.

In February of that year, Hemsley visited the White House to meet Donald Trump [photos from the meeting: second right and slightly hidden here; leaning forward hands on table behind Mike Pence here]. The President tweeted: “Great meeting with CEOs of leading U.S. health insurance companies who provide great healthcare to the American people.”

Once declared the highest paid CEO in the US, Stephen Hemsley is now executive chair of UnitedHealth Group. He earned a reported $65m last year. Fortune described him as the “corporate chief who’s arguably created more wealth for shareholders… than any sitting CEO”.

The secrecy of these trans-Atlantic meetings matters. It has allowed the UK government to tell one story to the public, while quietly inviting a giant, for-profit US corporation, bent on overseas expansion, to embed itself in our NHS.

Optum’s parent company, UnitedHealth Group, which reported earnings in 2018 of over $220 billion, is opposed to efforts in the US to introduce a universal, public health system like the NHS. Its current CEO said Medicare for All, as the proposals are known, would “destabilize” the American healthcare system. It goes without saying, they would also eliminate its industry.

Healthcare markets – why are we looking to US firms to help shape our healthcare?

As support rises in the US for an NHS-inspired ‘Medicare for All’ system to replace the current broken model, in contrast, the Conservative Party has spent the past decade rushing to adopt a US model in its reform of the NHS. This has involved taking our national health system and breaking it up into mini healthcare markets (known as Accountable Care Organisations, or ACOs) to be run, increasingly, with technology and expertise supplied by companies like Optum.

Optum specialises in using data and algorithms to predict and make decisions about who gets what care, something it has honed in America’s private health insurance system, where the more insurers cut costs and ration care, the more money they make. Optum’s algorithm was also recently found to show dramatic biases against black patients.

“Nationally, there are various things going on with data and information and digital that we are actually working with them [the UK] very, very closely right now,” Renfro told investors in April 2017. The health secretary and a “subset of the NHS board” were due to visit, he added: “So things seem to be breaking a lose [sic] right now.”

All of which adds up to quite a different picture to the one used by the Conservatives to sell the reforms to the public in 2010. Health secretary Andrew Lansley’s pitch back then was that his changes were about handing GPs control of the NHS budget to spend locally as they saw fit.

Optum had been involved in discussions from the start in 2010, as revealed in Lansley’s diary (which was released only after a court ruling). Four years later and documents released under FOI showed Optum in prime position to pick up some of the first wave of contracts. In April 2017 – by which time the NHS had been divided into 44 regional areas, each with a plan for reforming its region – Renfo updated investors on “what we’re doing in the UK” and Optum’s UK “44 market strategy”.

“So in February, we won our first business…. with one of those [regions]…. that’s where you’re going to manage with an ACO process. And so we’re tying in everything we do in the States into that win that we just received.” According to Renfro, it was “very, very close” to picking up another two regions and the firm had moved people over to the UK to manage the projects.

Since then, it has been hired by NHS England to “accelerate” these reforms across the country. In the West Midlands, for example, Optum has advised the region’s GPs, hospitals and local councils on their plans. With its partner, PwC, it provided a 12 week programme of training for senior health officials across Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. It has also gone into partnership with GP “super-practice”, Modality.

Among the other regions receiving Optum coaching and support are: Cumbria; Cambridge and Peterborough; South East London, Staffordshire and Norfolk, Optum was also brought in to help remodel health services in the region spanning Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes.

Yeovil Hospital, which has led the reforms in Somerset, said: “The ACO model born in the US market is new to the UK, and as such we have partnered with globally experienced Optum who are guiding our journey into this new world.”

At the same time, Optum has been on a hiring spree across the country of former NHS staff to undertake the work, led by former NHS England directors who have also passed through the revolving door. Ultimately, though, the man steering these reforms is Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England. He previously, spent a decade at the top of UnitedHealth Group as Executive Vice President and president of its expanding global health businesses.

The health secretary will still deny that privatisation is occurring on his watch. And Boris Johnson will continue to insist that the NHS is not for sale. Meanwhile, the seeds that Optum has been planting for a decade under the Tories are beginning to bear fruit.

openDemocracy approached the Department of Health for comment on the extent to which the public were being kept in the dark about the extent of the NHS’s engagement with private US health firms, specifically Optum, but they declined to comment, citing pre-election ‘purdah’ rules.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. Must Provide Mental Health Services to Families Separated at Border – The New York Times

“The question is,” he said, “what happens from here and can it be enforced? I assume the government will appeal and get the order stayed because it’s brand new. They’ll say the judge got it wrong.”

The family separations were a key part of the Trump administration’s effort to deter migrant families at the southwestern border, where they have been arriving in large numbers, most of them fleeing violence and deep poverty in Central America.

Under the zero-tolerance policy, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted and jailed, a process that the government said could not be carried out without removing their children.

The federal government had reported that nearly 3,000 children were forcibly removed from their parents under the policy. An additional 1,556 migrant families were separated between July 2017 and June 2018, the government said last month.

President Trump suspended the policy in June 2018 amid a public outcry, and a federal judge in San Diego ordered the government to reunify the families.

But Judge Kronstadt found that the government had taken “affirmative steps to implement the zero-tolerance policy,” and that its implementation had caused “severe mental trauma to parents and their children.”

Mark Rosenbaum, a lawyer with Public Counsel, which brought the case along with the law firm Sidley Austin, said the judge had found that the separation policy violated the families’ constitutional rights.

“You cannot have a policy of deliberately trying to injure a family bond,” he said. “Cruelty cannot be part of an enforcement policy, and here it was the cornerstone of the policy.”

Government lawyers had argued that it could not be held liable for mental health problems that might occur in the future, and that there had been no proof of existing irreparable harm to any of those subjected to the policy.

Further, they said that any harm that might have occurred was quickly abated when families were reunited.

The government declined to comment on the court’s ruling.

The lead plaintiff in the case, a Guatemalan migrant identified as J.P., was separated from her teenage daughter at the border on May 21, 2018. For more than a month, the mother said, she had no idea of her child’s whereabouts. They spoke for the first time after they had been apart for 40 days, and only because a lawyer encountered J.P. during a visit to the detention center in Irvine, Calif., where she was being held.

Until then, no one had explained to her in a language she could understand — she speaks a Mayan language — what had happened to her daughter, according to her lawyer, Judy London, who is with Public Counsel. Her daughter, 16, had been sent to a shelter in Phoenix.

“Despite her obvious terror and inability to comprehend what was happening around her, no one made sure she had understood information about how she could contact her daughter,” Ms. London said in a declaration filed with the court.

“To the contrary, the guards insisted she needed no help and could on her own use phones to reach her daughter,” she said.

This content was originally published here.

The World Health Organization releases a new plan to drastically decrease the price of insulin

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they’ve worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.



via Diabetes Voice

“Four hundred million people are living with diabetes, the amount of insulin available is too low and the price is too high, so we really need to do something,” Emer Cooke, the W.H.O.’s head of regulation of medicines and health technologies, said in a statement.

Through a process called “prequalification” United Nations agencies, such as Doctors without Borders, will be able to buy approved generic versions of insulin.

The W.H.O. used similar tactics to make HIV/AIDS drugs more affordable.

In 2002, 7,000 Africans were dying every year due to AIDS because Western drug companies sold the life-saving drugs for around $15,000 a year. Now the drugs are made in countries with thriving generic drug industries and the medications cost only around $75 a year.

Rosemary Enobakhare the director of the Affordable Insulin Now campaign calls the new program “a good first step toward affordable insulin for all around the world,” but says it won’t do much to help the 30 million Americans with diabetes.

Any attempt to lower insulin prices would require “Congress to grant Medicare the power to negotiate drug prices,” she added.

Companies that made generic drugs have a hard time penetrating the U.S. market because the Food and Drug Administration imposes hefty fees for drug approvals.

Insulin is ten times cheaper in Canada because the government negotiates with manufacturers, a practice that’s illegal in the U.S.

This vial of insulin costs just $6 to manufacture.

At this pharmacy in Windsor, Ontario, it can be purchased for $32. Twenty minutes away, in Detroit, the same exact vial costs $340.

It is time for a government that works for the American people, not drug companies’ profits. pic.twitter.com/Uo2T8GG54T
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 28, 2019

Earlier in the year, the Trump Administration announced preliminary plans to allow Americans to import lower cost prescription drugs from Canada. Through the program, state governments, drug wholesalers, and pharmacies can create proposals to import the drugs that would then have to be approved by the federal government.

The catch? It would not include insulin.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders took a bus full of Americans to Canada earlier this year to call attention to the out of control cost of insulin.

“Americans are paying $300 for insulin. In Canada they can purchase it for $30,” Sanders said in a tweet. “We are going to end pharma’s greed.”

This family was able to save $10,000 buying insulin for their son in Canada, where the exact same insulin is one-tenth the price.

The profits the drug companies are making ripping off the American people is scandalous, it is outrageous and it has got to end. pic.twitter.com/Rew4ftIo0o
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 29, 2019

This content was originally published here.

Arkansas Department Of Health Reports 9 Cases Of The Mumps At U of A In Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — Nine cases of the mumps at the U of A in Fayetteville have been reported by the Arkansas Department of Health. Other possible cases are still being investigated.

Mumps. Photo Courtesy: MGN Galleries

The mumps is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. Coughing and sneezing can easily spread this disease infecting others. It can also be spread through shared drinking cups or vaping devices. There is no treatment for mumps and can cause long-term health problems.

The Arkansas Department of Health is asking that all children and adults get up-to-date with their MMR vaccine as it is the best way to protect against the mumps. While some people who get the mumps may not have symptoms, the symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, swollen glands under the ears or jaw. These symptoms usually last for about 7-10 days, but it can take a person up to 26 days to get sick after they have been infected. The ADH recommends to stay home for 5 days after swelling in the glands appear due to mumps still being present 5 days after the swelling disappears.

Below are the recommended doses of the MMR vaccine according to the Arkansas Department of Health:

• Your children younger than 6 years of age need one dose of MMR vaccine at age 12 through 15 months and a second dose of MMR vaccine at age 4 through 6 years. If your child attends a preschool where there is a mumps case or if you live in a household with many people, your child
should receive their second dose of MMR vaccine right away, even if they are not yet 4 years old.
The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• Your children age 7 through 18 years need two doses of MMR vaccine if they have not received it
already. The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after the first dose.

• If you are an adult born in 1957 or later and you have not had the MMR vaccine already, you need
at least one dose. If you live in a household with many people or if you travel internationally, you
need a second dose of MMR vaccine. The second dose should be given a minimum of 28 days after
the first dose.

• Adults born before 1957 are considered to be immune to mumps and do not need to get the MMR
vaccine.

• Students that have never received an MMR vaccine will need to be excluded from class and
university activities for at least 26 days. However, they can return to class immediately once they receive a dose of MMR vaccine. They will need to receive a second dose of MMR vaccine 29 days after the first dose.

If symptoms are noticed, ADH recommends you contact your doctor’s office before going to a clinic since the doctor may not want you to sit in the clinic near others. They do not recommend going to work or public places in general.

Meanwhile, ADH is working closely with the U of A officials to stop the spread of mumps. They will be monitoring the situation closely and if the outbreak continues to spread, officials will keep you informed of any additional necessary steps taken.

ADH issued a health public health directive stating, “Any student not immunized with at least 2 doses of MMR according to University of Arkansas policy will either need to be vaccinated immediately or excluded from class/class activities for 26 days.” This directive is being issued up the authority of Act 96 of 1913, Arkansas State Board of Health Rules and Regulations Pertaining to Reportable Diseases.

For more information contact the Pat Walker Health Center at 479-575-4451

This content was originally published here.

‘Pay to breathe?’ ‘Oxygen bars’ hit New Delhi as India chokes under pollution & declares health emergency

A new fad sweeping India offers customers a breath of fresh air – literally. As pollution in New Delhi hits toxic levels, “Oxygen bars” are popping up in the city to help locals breathe easy, but some found the idea off-putting.

Officials in New Delhi were recently forced to declare a public health emergency over the city’s hazardous air quality after pollution levels soared to around 20 times what the World Health Organization deems safe, halting construction projects and closing schools across the capital. While the smog-choked air is inescapable for many, those with the cash may find a brief reprieve at their local oxygen bar.

Also on rt.com

© ANI via REUTERS
‘Theater of the absurd’: Delhi kids run mini marathon as city drowns in toxic smog (PHOTOS)

One such establishment is tucked in the corner of an upscale shopping mall in New Delhi, dubbed Oxy Pure, with bright lights and gadgets glowing through its clear glass storefront. Here, customers can pay between 299 and 499 rupees (around $4 to $7) for a 15-minute oxygen session, with their choice of several fragrances: orange, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass or peppermint.

Delhi: An oxygen bar in Saket, ‘Oxy Pure’ is offering pure oxygen to its customers in seven different aromas (lemongrass, orange, cinnamon, spearmint, peppermint, eucalyptus, & lavender), at a time when Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city is in ‘severe’ category. pic.twitter.com/dZuVnY03jn

— ANI (@ANI) November 14, 2019

“Air pollution is going to dangerous levels so people are coming here to breathe pure oxygen,” Oxy Pure owner Aryavir Kumar told The National.

Each winter, air quality suffers in cities around India as winds die down and farmers burn the remnants of crops to make room for the next harvest. This time around, Kumar says New Delhi’s worsening smog has driven a surge of business at his establishment.

“We would get 15-20 people a day [before]. Now we are getting 30-40 customers every day,” he said. “There is a tremendous increase in the numbers of customers in the last two weeks.”

Conjuring images of a pulmonary ward, the bars deliver O2 through a standard cannula device which customers hook up to their nostrils, cranked out of a “concentrator” machine that pulls clean oxygen out of the polluted air. While Kumar is careful to insist the “oxygen therapy” does not cure any diseases, he says the air can rejuvenate “like a spa.”

Oxygen bars are not all that uncommon.

It offers a ‘natural high.’ We’re not used to breathing air which is > 20% oxygen. So, when you take a hit of oxygen at an oxygen bar, you immediately start to saturate your blood with oxygen, which can heighten concentration.

— TheRudim3nt (@TheRudim3nt) November 18, 2019

Despite the potential for benefits, many online found the concept downright dystopian, suggesting a future in which only the wealthy can afford to breathe non-toxic air.

Delhi is #1 most polluted air of 1,600 global cities AND #2 richest city in India. 15 minutes in “Oxygen bar” costs ₹ 500. Negligible for the rich, out of reach for poor, migrants living on ₹ 1,134/ month. The sweet privilege of clean air, clean water #EnvironmentalJustice

— Trishna | तृष्णा (@TrishnaTweets) November 18, 2019

This is your future India. “Pay to breathe “. Oxygen bar. And if you still don’t realise what petty politics / divisive politics does to you , you have lost the cause already. #DelhiPollution #Emergency #AirPollution pic.twitter.com/W4QsOwDx8Z

— bhupendra chaubey (@bhupendrachaube) November 15, 2019

“Commodify oxygen already,” tweeted another frustrated user. “F–k it, Commodify EVERYTHING. Subscriptions to life. $1.99 a minute.”

Here we are, even breathing is now becoming a commodityhttps://t.co/wyND3xTXoS

— Giulia Guidi (@giuliaguidi) November 18, 2019

Even so, the naysayers are unlikely to put a stop to the trend anytime soon. With India home to 15 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, the country’s air quality woes are here to say for some time, perhaps pushing a greater number of Indians into oxygen bars like Oxy Pure – at least those who can afford it.

Also on rt.com

© Stewart Goldstein
‘You still owe us $1,400’: Woman dependent on oxygen tank dies after provider cuts off electricity

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This content was originally published here.

Cheesesteak destination Max’s shut down by Philly Health Department

One of Philadelphia’s most storied cheesesteak shops was closed for business over the weekend, disappointing both regulars and tourists who flock to the increasingly-famous North Broad Street destination.

Max’s Steaks, which was featured in Rocky sequels Creed and Creed II and recently made a cameo on NBC’s This Is Us, was temporarily shut down due to health code violations, according to a cease and desist sign on its front door.

Also shuttered were the adjacent Eagle Bar and Clock Bar, on Erie and Germantown avenues, respectively. The three locations share an owner and are connected to one another via basement passages, according to Rasul Haqq, who said he works as an assistant manager and security guard at Max’s.

“We never had any serious violations before,” Haqq told a reporter outside the shop on Saturday. “It’s probably been 10 years since this place closed.”

The interior of Max’s Steaks as health inspectors walked through Saturday afternoon

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Health officials could be seen inside the establishment, giving it a once-over after crews had come in to fix the issues and give the place a deep cleaning. “It took us 48 hours to do the whole thing,” Haqq said. “Everybody pitched in.”

He and other staffers gathered outside said they expected Max’s to reopen early on Saturday night after inspectors approved the cleanup, but a return visit around 8 p.m. found the gates still half-pulled over the windows and only a few people inside.

Several groups walked up to the locked front door, only to be disappointed. “That spot says it has cheesesteaks,” one teenager said to his friends, pointing to a sign directly across the street. “Nah, we don’t want those cheesesteaks,” came the dejected answer.

Calls to the Philly Health Department’s weekend dispatch center to discover which violations were still outstanding on Sunday were not immediately returned.

Eagle Bar next to Max’s, with newly-cleaned floor mats hanging out to dry

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

A Health Department report shows the cheesesteak shop at 3653 Germantown Ave. failed its regular inspection on Nov. 7, with the sanitarian in charge citing “imminent health hazards” like live rodents and lack of proper temperature care for opened food ingredients.

While reactions on social media included pearl-clutching about dirty environs, these kinds of violations aren’t that uncommon in a city with old infrastructure.

The Inquirer’s monthly report of Health Dept. violations shows at least 37 restaurants were shut down for being out of code last month, including a Federal Donuts, a Starbucks, and various other facilities ranging from corner groceries to goPuff delivery warehouses.

Once closed, these places usually reopen within days, so it’s a good bet that a newly sparkling Max’s will return to normal operation this week.

This content was originally published here.

According to a Study, Sleeping With a Snorer Can Take a Toll on Your Health

It’s hard to deny that living with a snorer can be challenging, especially if that person is someone you share the same room or bed with. But the consequences of second-hand snoring have recently been discovered and go far beyond being a simple nuisance.

We at Bright Side care about your well-being and here’s everything you need to know about the health risks of living with a snorer:

1. Insufficient sleep

This seems to be the most obvious consequence, but lack of sleep leads to health problems that we often don’t take seriously. Both the snorer and those who live with them can lose many hours of sleep, which are vital for the body to recover and fulfill biological functions, like memory consolidation and metabolism regulation.

It’s not just about getting enough sleep, but about doing it continuously. Spouses of people with sleep apnea tend to wake up almost as many times as they do, preventing all the phases of sleep from being completed and further damaging the biological mechanisms involved in that process.

In addition, a person who doesn’t get enough rest is prone to make more mistakes, think slowly, and lower their productivity. Another problem associated with this is constant irritability, which could have an effect on your relationships.

However, it has also been discovered that lack of sleep is a risk factor for anxiety and depression. And, beyond its psychological consequences, it also increases the chances of developing obesity or suffering from a stroke.

The fact that your partner’s snoring doesn’t let you sleep can erode the relationship little by little. Listening to a person snoring by your side every night and having to wake them up to stop them from making noise will only make them feel upset. Many even choose to sleep separately or get a divorce after trying to use earplugs or hearing aids to reduce the noise, without getting good results.

We’ve already talked about some consequences of not sleeping well, but if this is caused by your partner or a family member, they become the main reason for your bad mood and the primary target of your anger.

These conflicts impact your health in a bad way, since it has been proven that a negative atmosphere at home can cause stress, inflammation, and changes in appetite. The immune system is also weakened by constant arguing.

A study by Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, sought to evaluate the effects of snoring on both the snorers and their spouses. They selected 4 couples in an age range between 35 and 55, in which one of the members had severe sleep apnea.

The conclusion they reached was that the effect of the snoring sound didn’t affect the snorers as much. This is because the brain dampens respiratory interruptions during sleep. But 100% of their partners did suffer the consequences, especially in the ear that was exposed to snoring. The effect was equivalent to having slept for 15 years with an industrial machine.

The loud noises not only affect hearing, but they can also raise blood pressure to risky levels, especially for other diseases, according to research from the Imperial College of Science in London, which assessed the stress of people living near several European airports.

Their findings determined that, the higher the volume of noise, the greater the risk of hypertension. They realized that the body always reacted in the same way, regardless of whether the patient woke up with the noise or not.

They also discovered that these results could be transferred to any sound of more than 35 decibels, so people exposed to snoring were also at risk, since it can reach 80 decibels. Hypertension can lead to other diseases, such as kidney problems, dementia, and heart disease.

Dangers of second-hand snoring

Here are some possible consequences, direct and indirect, of sleeping near a person who snores:

How to prevent these problems

Sleeping with a snorer is an ordeal, especially when you have already tried everything to make your nights more bearable. If the headphones and earplugs no longer work, you could (if possible) go to sleep in another room and be with your partner at times that do not affect your rest.

smart pillow is being developed for the snoring partner, which will allow the snoring noise to be canceled out with an equal and opposite sound frequency. However, it has not yet reached the market, so this is a solution that you’ll only be able to use in the future.

You could also take a look at these tricks for those who want to stop snoring. They can be useful to regain harmony and, what’s most important, health in your home.

This content was originally published here.

Illegal RV sewage dumping in Seattle pollutes waterways and poses a public-health hazard | The Seattle Times

Since 2015, the number of parked RVs located within the Sodo and Ballard neighborhoods of Seattle has increased dramatically, now totaling hundreds. Many of these RV owners fail to follow proper waste-disposal protocols, instead discharging their accumulated sewer wastes, including “black water,” directly into the city storm drains. The result is that untreated sewage is being released directly into our local waterways.

Using Environmental Protection Agency wastewater pump-out and treatment statistics, it’s estimated that Seattle RV campers likely discharge more than 1 million gallons of untreated sewage annually into our waterways, including the Duwamish Waterway and Salmon Bay. For comparison, a July spill of 3 million gallons from the West Point Treatment Plant closed multiple King and Kitsap counties’ beaches and could lead to enforcement actions.

To better understand the potential impact of RV discharges, the Sodo Business Improvement Area and Ballard Alliance commissioned Anchor QEA, a Seattle-based environmental science and engineering firm, to evaluate existing water-quality data and collect a storm drain water sample from a heavily populated RV parking area in Sodo. The sample from the storm drain in the midst of the RVs registered 300 times greater than the state water-quality standard for fecal coliform bacteria.

Sadly, this sampling result is consistent with recent trends in deteriorating water quality in the area. For example, historic water quality monitoring data showed a decades-long improvement in the Duwamish River — until 2015, when fecal coliform bacteria measurements began to spike upward. This coincides with the movement of hundreds of RVs into Sodo.

While a more definitive pollution-identification study is needed on the relative impact of illegal black-water discharges, the data points strongly suggest that illegal dumping of sewage and trash, along with unsanitary conditions in unregulated RV encampments, increase public-health risks and could result in serious outbreaks of communicable diseases such as hepatitis A and typhus.

Not only do these poor waste-management practices have the potential to endanger RV residents, but they frustrate ongoing efforts to clean up our waterways and adversely impact the marine environment and public health.

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Seattle is known worldwide as an environmental leader and the protector of Puget Sound. However, the data indicates that unchecked dumping of untreated waste into Seattle’s stormwater system threatens to undo decades of cleanup and restoration. Turning back this tide of pollution starts with stopping the proliferation of dilapidated and malfunctioning RVs — something we have raised with Mayor Jenny Durkan as well as the City Council. While the mayor’s office has engaged productively, council members turn a blind eye to the issue, choosing instead to keep the status quo and continue to allow derelict RVs to remain parked on our neighborhood streets, threatening the safety of our waterways.

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Sodo BIA and the Ballard Alliance have shared this study with Seattle officials and have asked to partner with the Washington State Department of Ecology, the Washington Department of Health, King County, and Seattle Public Utilities to develop approaches to stop this ongoing problem.

It is time to stop ignoring the impacts of unregulated RV encampments and illegal raw-sewage dumping. It is disturbing to think that something as basic as enforcing city codes regarding dumping raw sewage from RVs could roll back decades of progress made in cleaning and protecting Puget Sound.

This content was originally published here.

Instagrammer Says Learning About WWII is Bad for Millennials’ Mental Health

In school, learning about history was probably one of the most bittersweet things. Though the subject was very interesting, it really did put into perspective just how vile and disgusting humans can be. And even though people tried to promote it as a way to prove “just how far we’d come”, judging by the current state of the world, it is clear to see we’ve not really made as much progress as we had hoped.

Now, an Intsgrammer named Freddie Bentley has come forward claiming that teaching history, particularly about WWII is detrimental for Millenials’ mental health. Just when you think things can’t get any worse, I have to bring you this kind of news.

Keep reading for all the details around the issue.

An Instagram influencer claimed that it is “bad” for millennials to learn about WWII.

Reality TV star Freddie Bentley decided to announce this during a segment of Good Morning Britain, leaving the entire country speechless.

We all know WWII was the worst war that the world has ever seen.

The conflict lasted from 1939-1945, and over the six years, saw the death of up to fifty million people, making it the bloodiest war. On one side, we had the Axis powers – Germany, Italy, and Japan – and the other, the Allies – France, Great Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union, and, to a lesser extent, China.

While it seemed global power was in the hands of western Europe, this war shifted power toward the United States and the Soviet Union.

Innocent men and women lost their lives out on the front line defending their respective countries, primarily without a choice. This is why we work hard to honor them for their service.

In a very controversial interview on Good Morning Britain, a twenty-two-year-old Instagrammer decided to vouch to scrap the teaching of the Second World War to students, as it could prove to have a negative effect on their mental health.

The reality star defended his statement by saying this:

“It was a hard situation, World War Two, I don’t want anyone to think I’m being disrespectful,” he said, “I remember learning it as a child thinking ‘Oh my God it’s so intense’.”

Oh boo hoo, Freddie, at least you didn’t have to live through it.

He believes it will worsen mental health in youngsters.

“I don’t think encouraging death or telling people how many people died in the world war is going to make it better.”

Freddie is the classic example of “let’s wipe out history.”

Not teaching these kinds of subjects in schools makes children grow up thinking in a more narrow-minded way, while also encouraging nonchalant attitudes towards important chunks of history.

In simple words: Just because you don’t like it, didn’t mean it didn’t happen.

I think not.

We are not out here to clean the slate and pretend it didn’t happen. Bad things always happen. We can’t sugar-coat wars and expect people to forget what really happened, can we?

Instead, Freddie wanted to replace learning about WWII by learning how to understand mortgages instead.

Brilliant (!)

We can learn about mortgages and learn about the history that has defined us all and the countries we live in.

People quickly moved to social media to share their opinions.

And let me tell you, hardly anyone, besides a few entitled youngsters, agreed with him.

People had other theories about what worsens mental health in Millenials.

This is so true.

Freddie starred in a British TV show named in which people lie about their identity.

I mean, are we really listening to these kinds of people? No thank you.

“Wrap him in cotton wool…”

It seems as if that’s what he wants! Not everything can be ignored, especially not a war that killed millions of people!

This conversation was sparked after candidates on the British version of The Apprentice did not know the dates of the war.

via: Instagram

Fans of the show were left shocked and angry at the candidates’ response to the war. One of the teams was left debating the dates after the task involved them having to find a pre-war copy of a book.

This led to a whole heap of criticism directed towards the British education system.

A war that defined modern Britain and businessmen and women don’t know when it occurred? It’s quite pathetic really. It wasn’t even long ago!

People were also claiming that forgetting about such impactful horrors means it’s easier for history to repeat itself, and with the current political and economic climate of the world, we seem to be drifting closer towards another one.

Are people just choosing to be ignorant or do we have a serious flaw in education?

One person tweeted how the whole team should have been fired for their appalling behavior.

Freddie’s comment just added to the anger of the public.

He also stated this: “There are so many problems going on in the world, like Brexit, that’s not taught in schools. When I left school it hit me like a ton of bricks – I didn’t know anything to do with life.”

First, second and third of all, Brexit is a very recent occurrence that only happened due to the instability of the country.

And now Britain is paying the price for it.

Standing by Freddie’s comments only prove one thing: Some Millenials care about nothing but themselves. And that’s just the sad reality of the situation.

Most Instagram influencers are known for doing sketchy things. keep scrolling to read more about their problematic behavior.

This content was originally published here.

Instagram Influencer, 22, Claims Learning About WW2 Would Hit Millennials’ Mental Health

Freddie Bentley is a British reality television celebrity who is mainly known for his appearance on the reality game show “The Circle” and for his Instagram feed.

He has recently come under fire online after appearing on the TV show Good Morning Britain and arguing an unpopular opinion.

In the piece on GMB, Bentley states that children should not have to learn about WW2. In his opinion, too much time is spent on the subject. He is concerned that the emphasis on the destruction and killing of war is too much for young minds.

“I don’t want anyone to think I’m being disrespectful,” the 22-year-old celebrity said. He added, “I remember learning it as a child thinking, ‘Oh my god it’s so intense.’”

I agree with Freddie Bentley, I once watched Saving Private Ryan and still have flashbacks. Let’s stop this madness #freddiebentley #SaturdayThoughts #Millennialshttps://t.co/HkVelD11ko

— Millennial Mike (@MillennialMike3) November 2, 2019

People on Twitter, of course, did think that he was being extremely disrespectful. Many pointed out the number of young men who were killed fighting in that war so that people like Bentley would have the freedom to become whatever they wanted. Others pointed out that learning about the war was necessary in order to prevent another one in the future.

Lt. Jack Reynolds (aged 22) was famously photographed after being taken prisoner during the Battle of Arnhem. In the photo, he is seen giving the “two-fingered” salute to the German photographer.
Lt. Jack Reynolds (aged 22) was famously photographed after being taken prisoner during the Battle of Arnhem. In the photo, he is seen giving the “two-fingered” salute to the German photographer.

Many on Twitter pointed out Bentley’s age and how he seemed to fit the stereotype of millennial entitlement.

Bentley suggested that school should avoid potentially furthering any mental health issues children may be facing by forcing them to confront the realities of war at a young age. He recommended spending less time teaching the history of wars and more time explaining Brexit or helping children learn personal finance.

Most online commentators seemed to agree that schools could teach additional subjects but rejected his suggestion that these new subjects come at the expense of teaching about WW2.

@piersmorgan Please get GMB to send Freddie Bentley to Auschwitz to educate this boy along with Michael Wilshaw as https://t.co/cOPYquujcE’s hoping Piers

— Janet Turner (@chocibun) November 1, 2019

Bentley’s comments occurred during a segment on GMB in which he debated the question of whether students should be taught about WW2.

The segment followed an episode of the British version of The Apprentice television show. In the episode, one of the teams had difficulty with an assigned task because none of them were familiar with when WWII began.

Many people took to social media after that episode to decry the state of the British education system.

Shocked for 2nd time this week, Apprentice candidates not knowing when WW11 ended and now that famous celebrity Freddie Bentley on GMB stating WW1 and WW2 should not be taught in schools, @GMB @Lord_Sugar

— Colin Richards (@scoobybloobird) November 1, 2019

Bentley came to fame as a contestant on the reality game show, The Circle. Contestants on that show lived each in their own apartment. Their only contact with the other contestants and with the outside world was through a specially-made social network app known as The Circle.

Contestants could choose to represent themselves truthfully or make up a new identity to show the other contestants.

Each week, contestants were put through a sort of popularity contest with the least popular member among the group being kicked off the show. The winner received 50,000GBP.

Another Article From Us: Arnhem Hero Who Flicked V-sign at The Germans Dies at 97

Bentley came out publicly as gay on that show though he chose to present himself as straight to the other contestants. Since the show, he has been popular on Instagram.

This content was originally published here.

Red meat red flags discredited: Fake meat may be worse for your health

Let them eat steak: Hold the shame, red meat is not bad for you or climate change


Will Coggin


Opinion contributor
Published 5:00 AM EDT Nov 2, 2019

Imagine ordering dinner at your favorite restaurant. You know what you want without hesitation: a perfectly marbled 8-ounce steak cooked medium rare. Just before you order, your date tells you they’ve read that cows cause climate change and that meat might be unhealthy. Suddenly, the Caesar salad seems like a better option.

We’ve all been steak-shamed before. Ever since Sen. George McGovern’s 1977 Dietary Goals report declared red meat a health villain, Americans have been chided out of eating red meat. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, red meat consumption has fallen more than 24% since 1976. During that time, study after study has attempted to tie red meat to a laundry list of health problems.

Until now. 

So many studies, so many flaws

Three studies published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine did something too few papers do: Ask whether the previous studies had any meat on their bones. 

The researchers who wrote the report analyzed 61 past studies consisting of over 4 million participants to see whether red meat affected the risk of developing heart disease and cancer. 

All three came to the same conclusion: Decreasing red meat consumption had little to no effect on reducing risk of heart disease, cancer or stroke. 

How can so many studies be wrong?

Steaks and and other beef products for sale at a grocery store.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Nutritional research often relies on survey-based observational studies. These track groups of people and the food they eat, or try to tie a person’s past eating habits to a person’s current state of health. The result is something akin to a crime chart from a mob movie with a random red string connecting random suspects trying to figure out “who dunnit.”

Observational studies rely on participants to recall past meals, sometimes as far back as a month. Even when eating habits are tracked in real time using food diaries, issues arise. Research has shown that participants don’t give honest answers and often pad food diaries with typically “good” foods like vegetables while leaving out things like meat, sweets and alcohol. There’s also the matter of having to accurately report portion sizes and knowing the ingredients of the food eaten in restaurants.

Beef may be healthier than fake meat 

The room for error is huge. A much better form of study would be to lock people in cells for a period of time so that you could precisely control what they ate and did and then measure outcomes. Obviously, there are ethical issues with such a structure, which is why observational studies are more common, if flawed.

Some companies like Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have tried to cash in on the misconception about meat’s healthfulness. According to the market research firm Mintel, 46% of Americans believe that plant-based meat is better for you than real meat. Ironically, the anti-meat messages could be leading people to less healthful options. 

Science on your side: Don’t let vegetarian environmentalists shame you on meat 

Plant-based meat might enjoy the perception of being healthier, but that perception is far from reality. A lean beef burger has an average of nearly 20% fewer calories and 80% less sodium than the two most popular fake-meat burgers, the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger. 

Fake meat is also an “ultra-processed” food, filled with unpronounceable ingredients. The National Institutes of Health released a study in May finding that ultra-processed foods cause weight gain. Unlike observational studies, this research was a controlled, randomized study. 

Earth will survive your meat-eating

It’s not just the flawed health claims about red meat that deserve a second look. In recent years, we’ve been told reducing meat consumption is essential to saving the planet. But despite what critics say, even if everyone in America went vegan overnight, total greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the United States would only be reduced 2.6%.

Eat better meat: Don’t go vegan to save the planet. You can help by being a better meat-eater.

Since the early 1960s, America has shrank GHG  emissions from livestock by 11.3% while doubling the production of animal farming. Meat production is a relatively minor contributor to our overall GHG levels. In other countries, it may have a higher impact. The solution is not lecturing everyone else to go meat-free. Sharing our advancements would prove to be a more likely and efficient way to reduce emissions than cutting out meat or replacing it with an ultra-processed analogue.

Those who enjoy a good steak now have a good retort the next time they’re criticized for their choice: Don’t have a cow.

Will Coggin is the managing director at the Center for Consumer Freedom.

This content was originally published here.

Being Surrounded By Chronic Complainers Could Be Damaging Your Health

Complaining might be good in some ways but overall, it doesn’t do much to help us. Sure, it’s a means of letting some stress out but when we become chronic complainers or surround ourselves with chronic complainers’ real problems tend to ensue.

The more we complain and the more surrounded we are by those who complain on a chronic level the more unhappy we become. Actually, according to Jon Gordon who wrote the book ‘The No Complaining Rule’, the harms of complaining could even be so severe that they would be comparable to those of secondhand smoke. If all we do is complain constantly or hear others doing the same, we’re going to be miserable and there is no denying that.

While there is nothing wrong with venting from time to time, the habit that comes with being so negative and ‘whiney’ is not one any of us need to allow forth in our lives. Think about the people in your life and who complains the most? How does that complaining affect you? As someone who grew up in a household where my parents were constantly complaining about even the most minuscule things, I can honestly say it brought me down drastically and could have really influenced the way in which I turned out. Perhaps I would have been more motivated at a younger age had that not been my reality.

In regards to complaining and overall health WKBW Buffalo reported as follows:

It turns out that constant complaining will not only turn off others, but it can actually wreak havoc in other ways, too. Although it’s quite obvious that complaining can bring down your mood and the happiness of others around you, it can also have a large impact on your brain functioning, and it can even take a toll on your body as well.

The more surrounded by complaining we are the more negative we tend to think. Every time we complain our brain works to rewire itself. This meaning that it makes the same reactions much more likely to occur again and again. This in a sense forcing us to get trapped in the same mindset as time passes.

While those who complain all the time might not be able to see how negative they are. They rub off on us and no matter how much we try to help them or offer advice it’s never enough. The more we try the harder we fall into their ways ourselves.

While you might not have noticed just yet complainers on a serious level are able to drain us all drastically. They spread their negative messages to all they can and make us feel like we’re surrounded by something we cannot escape from.

It is also important to understand that while a little complaining might be fine when it becomes constant rather than letting go of stress, it creates more. This is because it increases the production of something known as cortisol within our beings. When this happens we end up facing blood pressure raises and glucose spikes. Too much production of this can increase our risks of several serious health issues and is something we should be avoiding as best we can.

If you’re someone who feels like you’re complaining too much or like the people in your life are becoming too negative, take a much-needed step back and monitor your complaining shut it down before it comes out and cut ties with those who refuse to try and be more positive overall. You’ll be surprised how much more enriched you will begin to feel in a mere week or so.

In regards to being surrounded by chronic complainers Happify wrote as follows:

The chronic complainer can always find something negative to comment on. For a while, you may think this person is simply stuck in a rut—that once their lot in life changes a bit they’ll become more optimistic and happy.

You may even engage in some of the above tactics, trying to help them see the positive or find a solution for their problems.

But chronic complainers are not trying to make the problem go away. In fact, they probably derive real value from the time and attention they get out of complaining.

These people are called “help-rejecting complainers,” says Kowalski, and they can be difficult to deal with and hard to be around. While it may be in your nature to try to “fix” problems—be it challenging situations or negative attitudes—it’s important to know that you are NOT going to change this person.

Instead, focus on your own coping mechanisms, such as minimizing contact with them. Because of the constant negativity, it can be important to set up clear boundaries for yourself, such as steering clear from one-on-one time with these people.

Let’s say you share an office with one of these types. You might start to wear headphones at your desk, post a sign that says “complaint-free zone,” feign being busy when she wants to vent, or attempt to ignore her outbursts. If you consistently find ways not to engage, Cathy the Complainer will eventually seek attention elsewhere.

And if you start feeling guilty, remember this: Their endless complaining and your quest to help will be a frustrating experience for all, so think of your sanity and do your best to limit your exposure.

Once you start paying attention to who’s griping and how they gripe, you’ll have a better chance of hanging onto your happiness in a world where everyone seems to be complaining. Then you can decide for yourself how best to offer support—or run the other way.

For more on this topic please feel free to check out the video below. Remember that you matter and how you feel in life is based around how you act and who you allow within your life. If you want to feel better and better your health overall perhaps complaining is something you need to move away from.

This content was originally published here.

E.P.A. to Tighten Limits on Science Used to Write Public Health Rules – The New York Times

A E.P.A. spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, “The agency does not discuss draft, deliberative documents or actions still under internal and interagency review.”

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology will hold a hearing on E.P.A.’s efforts. A top pulmonary specialist and a representative of the country’s largest nonprofit funder of research on Parkinson’s disease, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, are expected to testify that the E.P.A.’s proposed rule would eliminate the use of valuable research showing the dangers of pollution to human health.

Mr. Pruitt’s original proposal drew nearly 600,000 comments, the vast majority of them in opposition. Among them were leading public health groups and some of the country’s top scientific organizations like the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners said it was “deeply concerned” that the rule would lead to the exclusion of studies, “ultimately resulting in weaker environmental and health protections and greater risks to children’s health.” The National Center for Science Education said ruling out studies that do not use open data “would send a deeply misleading message, ignoring the thoughtful processes that scientists use to ensure that all relevant evidence is considered.” The Medical Library Association and the Association of Academic Health Science Libraries said the proposal “contradicts our core values.”

Industry groups said the rule would ensure greater public understanding of the science behind regulations that cost consumers money.

“Transparency, reproducibility and application of current scientific knowledge are paramount to providing the foundation required for sound regulations,” the American Chemistry Council wrote to E.P.A. in support of the plan.

The new version does not appear to have taken any of the opposition into consideration. At a meeting of the agency’s independent science advisory board this summer, Mr. Wheeler said he was “a little shocked” at the amount of opposition to the proposal, but he was committed to finalizing it. Beyond retroactivity, the latest version stipulates that all data and models used in studies under consideration at the E.P.A. would have to be made available to the agency so it can reanalyze research itself. The politically appointed agency administrator would have wide-ranging discretion over which studies to accept or reject.

This content was originally published here.

As He Attacks Medicare for All, Mayor Pete Gets Campaign Cash From Health Care Executives

Thirty-seven-year-old South Bend, Indiana mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has undergone a dramatic shift in health care policy in less than two years.

Responding to criticism of his vague health care policies in early 2018, Buttigieg “declared” on Twitter that, “Most affirmatively and indubitably, unto the ages…I do favor Medicare for All.”

Later, as he entered the Democratic presidential primary, he landed on a kind of compromise: a single-player option he likes to call “Medicare for All Who Want It” that lets him show support for those frustrated by the high costs and substandard results of the American health care system while preserving the profit-driven forces that have contributed to that system.

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Now, as he continues to promote his plan, which critics call “Medicare for Some,” he’s taken an antagonistic approach to true Medicare for All, as proposed in the Medicare for All Act, and to his opponents who support it: Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), who “wrote the damn bill,” and frontrunner Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who is cosponsoring and continues to support it.

In a new digital video ad from Buttigieg’s campaign, corporate consultant and former Facebook executive Joe Lockhart says, “Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren believe that we have to force ourselves into Medicare for All, where private insurance is abolished.” Lockhart cofounded Glover Park Group, a corporate consulting and lobbying firm with current and recent clients in the health sector including ​Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Horizon Therapeutics, Intuitive Surgical, and Sanofi U.S.

A still from Buttigieg’s recent anti-Medicare for All digital video ad.
Pete for America

Pharmaceutical, health insurance, and hospital industry donors have flocked to Mayor Pete all year. As of mid-2019, he was second only to Donald Trump in overall campaign cash from donors in the health sector. Among Democratic candidates, he was second to former Vice President Joe Biden in terms of pharmaceutical and health insurance donations.

A Sludge review of Buttigieg’s recent third-quarter campaign finance report shows that as he rails against Medicare for All, executives and other managers in the health sector have kept the money flowing.

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Over 100 individuals in leadership, legal, consulting, or financing roles in health sector donated $200 or more to Pete for America between July and September. These donors include pharmaceutical industry leaders such as the chief corporate affairs officer at drugmaker Pfizer, the president of Astex Pharmaceuticals, a state lobbyist for Biogen, a vice president of public policy at Novartis, and the deputy vice president at the nation’s largest pharmaceutical trade association, PhRMA, as well as attorneys for AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.

The donors identified by Sludge gave a total of close to $97,000 to the Buttigieg campaign in the third quarter of 2019. Below are these donors’ employers, occupations, and total amount donated from July through September.

The Buttigieg campaign provided Sludge with the following statement:

Pete has always supported making Medicare (or a similar public health insurance vehicle) available to all Americans in order to achieve universal health care. He consistently describes his health care plan as a pathway to Medicare for All, which is likely why the health insurance industry has attacked his plan. For instance, our campaign website says, “If private insurers are not able to offer something dramatically better, this public plan will create a natural glide-path to Medicare for All.” Simply put, he has the same end goal as some of the other candidates in the race but differs on how to get there. 

Health sector interests including pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurers, and hospital groups generally oppose Medicare for All, as it would allow the government to negotiate down drug and care costs, cutting into industry profits. Democratic Party political groups have accepted significant amounts of money from lobbyist bundlers who have pharmaceutical and health insurance clients, as Sludge and Maplight have reported.

In July, Sanders created and signed a pledge to reject all contributions over $200 from the PACs, executives, and lobbyists of pharmaceutical and health insurance companies, urging his opponents to join him. Biden, who did not sign it, has, like Buttigieg, reaped the benefits of large donations from industry executives.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Buttigieg’s campaign has recieved $1,266,225 from individual donors in the health sector through the third quarter.

Mayor Pete is no stranger to special-interest support. His very first successful political campaign was fueled by lobbyist fundraisers, as the Center for Public Integrity/TYT reported, and as of July 2019, this year’s effort has been led by 94 contribution “bundlers,” or well-connected supporters who raised at least $25,000 in campaign checks for him.


After City Incentives, South Bend Real Estate Executives Donate to Mayor Pete’s Presidential Campaign

After Record Fundraising Haul From Big Pharma, McConnell Vows to Block Drug Pricing Bill

Health Industry Lawyers and Lobbyists Seem to Really Like Michael Bennet


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This content was originally published here.

This Artist’s Graphic Nails How Mental Health Can Affect Your Body Too

If you live with a mental health condition, this probably isn’t news to you — your mental health issues can also lead to physical symptoms, too. A graphic created by artist Melissa Webb perfectly captures this experience, and is a good reminder that it’s not just “all in your head.”

Webb, also known as Mellow Doodles, created an illustration to remind people of the physical symptoms of mental illness. The design reads, “I wish people know that my mental health is so physical too” alongside a woman with arrows highlighting her symptoms. Physical mental health symptoms can include headaches, jaw and teeth pain, sweating, nausea, fatigue, sensory overload, cramps, restless legs and more.

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Super proud and excited to tell you that I’ve been creating some work for @timetochangecampaign ! ????????They were one of my DREAM collaborations. It’s an incredible mental health campaign for tackling stigma, set up by @mindcharity and @rethinkmentalillness ????????❤️⁣ ⁣ I really, really, really don’t think this gets talked about enough. Mental health problems cause so many physical symptoms too. Some of them can be incredibly painful. They are very real and just as valid as any other illness. Does this resonate with you? ⁣ ⁣ Go give @timetochangecampaign a follow to see the fab work they do (and see some of the work I’ve done too over the coming days/weeks ☺️)⁣ ⁣ ⁣ -⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #timetochange #timetochangecampaign #mentalhealthquotes #mentalhealth2019 #depressionsymptoms #anxietysymptoms #mentalhealthstigma #mhsupport #mentalhealthsupport #mentalhealthadvice #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthawareness #mentalwellbeing #mentalwellness #mentalhealthmatters #illustratoroninstagram #mentalhealthillustration⁣

A post shared by Melissa Webb • The Doodle Bar (@mellow.doodles) on

Webb created the physical symptoms graphic for the U.K. campaign Time to Change, which was set up by the charities Rethink Mental Illness and Mind to tackle stigma around mental health. Webb said she also wanted to tackle mental health stigma by showing how much of an impact mental illness can have on both your mind and body.

“The physical symptoms that mental health problems can cause are so difficult, and so wide ranging, and it felt really important for it to be addressed,” Webb told The Mighty via email, adding:

Often I think the reason mental health is not taken seriously is because people assume it’s ‘all in your head.’ In fact, it produces a whole range of symptoms like any other illness — and these physical manifestations can be just as difficult, and sometimes just as debilitating, as the internal struggles.

While we call it “mental health,” there’s a very good reason your physical health can be impacted too. Anxiety, for example, is a fear response that triggers your nervous system like you are responding to a threat. This can include sweating, tension and affect your digestive system. The neurons that help govern your mood, like serotonin, travel throughout your body — and 95% of your serotonin is made in your gut.

Mighty community member Lindsay P. explained how her mental health affects her physical symptoms in the article, “24 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Mental Illness“:

“I get really hot and start sweating when my anxiety is high,” Lindsay said. “My friend and I joke that it’s like I’m having hot flashes. However, at the time it’s happening, it’s not too funny. I also have stomach cramping and often feel like throwing up when I’m having prolonged anxiety attacks.”

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Last time I posted this, I got lots of questions about what ✨ reparenting ✨ means. I want to talk about this briefly because it’s one of the things that has helped me the most!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ We all have an inner child. All of us. ????‍???? Nurturing ourselves in the way we would a child switches up the perspectives we have on ourselves. If you’re incredibly hard on yourself, set high expectations and get impatient with yourself too, you might need this especially. ????⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Reparenting, to me, is about providing my inner child with the support they need. And this is two sided:⁣⁣ •Being loving, patient and gentle with ourselves in times when we are feeling sad, fragile or scared makes the most incredible difference. ❤️ ⁣⁣ •And on the other hand, there’s times where we might need some more discipline, boundaries and a firm approach – and being able to do this with yourself in a supportive way will also help enormously.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I always recommend @nu_mindframe’s youtube video on reparenting. But also have a google, search reparenting and see what you find. And look at books on working with your inner child. ????????⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ It might be that you were missing some parental support, emotionally or practically, as a child and so it’s really important for you to give that to yourself now. Or it may be that you are just missing these influences, guidance or support in your adult life. And instead have an inner critic making life difficult and painful. The good news is that we can absolutely provide ourselves with all of the things a positive parent would. Although it is wonderful to receive support and love externally, you have everything within you to give it to yourself now. Look after little you and the rest will follow ❤️⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ???? Prints of this illustration available from £8, website in bio ????⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ~⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #mhquotes #selfcompassion #mentalhealthquotes #selfcarewords #colourfulquotes #confidencequotes #kindnessquotes #selfcompassion #mentalhealthquote #reparenting #peptalk #selfreminders #reparent #innerchildwork #innerchild #colourfulquotes #quotesandsayings #quotestagrams #selflovequotes #quoteprints #letteringprints #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthawareness

A post shared by Melissa Webb • The Doodle Bar (@mellow.doodles) on

Webb uses her illustrations to tackle other mental health subjects like setting boundaries, how to support others when they have a hard time, self-care ideas and colorful quotes and phrases to remind you you’re not alone. She said as an artist, visually appealing graphics with simple language is often an easier way to communicate important information when we’re stressed.

“I came to understand through personal experience that sometimes when we most need support for our mental health, picking up a word heavy or academic book that might help us can be so overwhelming,” Webb said. “My illustrations are intentionally bright and colourful so they are less daunting and more accessible. … For the people who need the work most, this is hopefully a better way to reach them.”

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If you have a friend who is really struggling right now, here’s some things you can do to help ⬆️⁣ ⁣ Signs they’re really struggling:⁣ ????They’ve been signed off from work.⁣ ????They’ve recently been diagnosed.⁣ ????They’ve stopped showing up for social occasions.⁣ ????They’re not answering calls/texts.⁣ ????They’re quieter or less engaged than usual. ⁣ ⁣ I know it can be scary and you might not know what to say. You feel helpless and you want them to know you care. So helping practically will help give you a clear role in supporting them. ????⁣ ⁣ ➡️These may seem so basic to people who haven’t experienced something like depression, but these everyday tasks seem like mountains to climb when you can barely function enough to face getting out of bed. Soon, the washing is piling up, the letters start arriving with URGENT stamped on them, there’s no clean cutlery left and the fridge is empty. When your brain is telling you you’re a terrible human and the world feels hopeless, this can be immensely overwhelming. ????????⁣ ⁣ So take a lasagne over and show your friends they are loved in a practical way. Feeling loved is one of the greatest sources of hope and comfort in our difficult times. And you have the power to make people feel loved every day. How magical is that? ❤️⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ~⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣ #mentalhealthquotes #mentalhealth2019 #depressionsymptoms #anxietysymptoms #mentalhealthstigma #mhsupport #mentalhealthsupport #mentalhealthadvice #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthawareness #mentalwellbeing #mentalwellness #mentalhealthmatters #illustratoroninstagram #mentalhealthillustration⁣⁣ ⁣

A post shared by Melissa Webb • The Doodle Bar (@mellow.doodles) on

In the art she shares on her own platform and creates with Time to Change, Webb said she hopes to reduce the stigma and shame still associated with mental health. She also wants to help others realize that struggling with your mental health is common and you are not alone.

“So many people feel ashamed to be experiencing problems with their mental health and it’s such a shame when it is so common,” Webb said. She continued:

Often, when a conversation is started around mental health, you find that almost everyone has some sort of experience of it — whether that’s through past or current experience, or through seeing a friend or family member go through their own struggles. We are much more similar than we realise — and realising this helps build connection as well as lessen the shame around it. This is always such a positive thing for people and I hope my work can help aid that in some way.

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Working on your self development and growth is important, but so is accepting yourself. This seemed a pretty revolutionary idea to me after years of reading self help books and working on personal development. And I wanted to share it with you too ????⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ~⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #mhquotes #mentalhealthtips #mentalhealthquotes #selfcarewords #colourfulquotes #growthmindset #personaldevelopment #selfcompassion #mentalhealthquote #bekindtoyourself #peptalk #selfreminders #selfdevelopment #letteringlove #selfkindness #colourfulquotes #quotesandsayings #quotestagrams #selflovequotes #quoteprints #letteringprints #illustratedquote #womenofillustration #mentalhealthawareness #mentalwellbeing #mentalwellness #selfacceptance #illustratoroninstagram #wordsoftheday⁣

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This content was originally published here.

Smoke From Wildfires and Horse Respiratory Health – The Horse

Smoke is an unhealthy combination of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, soot, hydrocarbons, and other organic substances. Smoke particulates, which are a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets in the air, can irritate horses’ eyes and respiratory tracts, and hamper their breathing.

“Owners should limit their horses’ activity when smoke is visible,” said UC Davis veterinary professor John Madigan, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, ACAW.

During California wildfires with persistent smoke several years ago, the Tevis Cup—a 100-mile endurance race—was postponed based on adverse air quality for exercising horses. This is an example of important management decisions that can protect horse health.

It is important to use human health air-quality advisories and apply them to horse events where horses will be exercising and breathing harmful smoke. If humans’ eyes burn and are bothered by smoke,  you can assume horses will be in the same boat. Providing horses with resting from exercise, limiting smoke exposure when possible, and monitoring for signs of increased respiratory rate or cough should be at the top of owners’ to-do lists when wildfires are near. And should a concern arise, always consult your veterinarian.

“It’s also important to provide horses with plenty of fresh water, which keeps airways moist and helps them clear inhaled particulates,” said Madigan.

If a horse is having difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately to ensure the horse has not developed a reactive airway disease or bacterial infection accompanied by bronchitis or pneumonia. Horses can suffer from constriction of the airways, just as humans can.

In cases of heavy smoke exposure, it can take four to six weeks for smoke-induced damage to heal, during which time the horse should not be heavily exercised. Premature exercise could aggravate the condition, delaying healing and compromising the horse’s performance for weeks or months.

“If the horse has further smoke-related problems, such as persistent cough, nasal discharge, fever, or increased rate of breathing or labored breathing, the owner should contact a veterinarian, who may prescribe respiratory medications such as bronchial dilators or other treatments that will hydrate the horse’s airway passages and reduce inflammation,” Madigan said. “The veterinarian also may recommend tests to determine whether a secondary bacterial infection is contributing the horse’s respiratory problems.”

This content was originally published here.

Being a Loud Woman May Be Good for Your Health, According to a Study

Managing our emotions is often complicated. Sometimes it’s necessary to mitigate them, remain silent, and keep calm in moments of stress. We don’t want them to harm our personal relations. But on other occasions, what works best to maintain our relationships is to speak out and express ourselves. After all, letting out all that we’re feeling and thinking can help us see things from a different perspective. However, what you may not be aware of is that both behaviors can have significant effects on your health.

Bright Side wants to talk to you about a study that claims raising the volume of your voice is not always a bad idea.

Auto silence is a behavior people engage in when they’re afraid to express their real emotions. If properly externalized, they worry their feelings may affect their relationships with people close to them in some way, such as family members, friends, or employers. They choose auto silence because they dread having to start a disagreement, being the cause of an argument, or even breaking up a relationship.

More than 300 women participated in the study.

The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) conducted a study where they evaluated 304 married women who were near or after menopause. They reported experiencing certain feelings about putting someone else’s needs before their own, such as self-silencing, to avoid damaging a relationship. This type of behavior was met with bouts of constipation, an increase in cholesterol levels, depression, and obesity.

More yelling, less stressing

One of the points that researchers measured was the frequency at which these women experienced anger or euphoria outbursts. They addressed these as moments when they were able to let their emotions out by raising the volume of their voice and verbally stating what made them feel frustrated. Those who showed this behavior more often registered as having better health than those who didn’t. They also experienced the psychological benefits of preventing the repression of these emotional states.

Hiding your emotions has physical consequences.

Maintaining a facade of joy and calm doesn’t mean that this state is real. It’s a behavior that’s related to a greater sensitivity to rejection. A permanent state of alert that triggers the levels of stress are closely associated with the decrease of life expectancy in both men and women worldwide. During these episodes, blood pressure and glucose levels rise, so the chance of developing a cardiovascular condition increases.

There’s a healthy way to express yourself.

Although raising our voices from time to time to let go of negative emotions can be liberating, we must also consider that it enables us to say things that don’t help our relationships. In another experiment carried out with cancer patients, women showed some improvements by openly expressing their emotions. On the contrary, progress slowed when negative feelings were prevalent. For this reason, it’s good to keep in mind that showing respect for you and those around you is essential to maintain a healthier body and relationships.

Do you communicate your feelings in some other ways? How would you change the way you express yourself to improve your relationships? Tell us what you think in the comments!

This content was originally published here.

Patient With Measles Who Visited Disneyland, L.A. Starbucks May Have Exposed Visitors: Health Officials

A measles patient visited Disneyland last week while contagious and could have exposed others to the disease, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said Tuesday.

The patient was at the theme park on Oct. 16, between 9:15 a.m. and 8:35 p.m., and before that, at a Los Angeles Starbucks coffee shop on 3006 S. Sepulveda Blvd. on Oct. 16, between 7:50 a.m. and 10 a.m.

Anyone who visited Disneyland or the coffee shop during those time periods could be at risk of developing measles for up to 21 days after being exposed.

Those who believe they may have been exposed should review their immunization records, reach out to their health care provider as soon as possible and watch out for symptoms, including fever and an unexplained rash.

Those who experience symptoms should stay home and call their doctor immediately, health officials said.

#PressRelease : Measles Exposure Advisory – Confirmed #measles case traveled throughout Southern California. View https://t.co/cDtfp6XY16 for more info. More times and locations may follow as details become available. pic.twitter.com/k2zllK0kgC

— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) October 23, 2019

The disease is considered among the most contagious viruses in the world. About 90% of people who have never been immunized experience the symptoms seven to 21 days after exposure, authorities said.

“The measles virus can remain in an environment for several hours, so when we list public exposure sites we take that into consideration. Individuals that were in those potential sites while that person was infection could be at risk of being exposed,” health officer Nichole Quick told KTLA.

So far in 2019, there have been 19 confirmed cases of measles among Los Angeles County residents, and another 11 cases among non-residents who traveled through the county, health officials said.

The majority of those cases were found among patients who were not immunized or did not know whether they had ever been immunized, according to the health department.

“For those who are not protected, measles is a highly contagious and potentially severe disease that initially causes fever, cough, red, watery eyes, and, finally, a rash,” Los Angeles County Health Officer Muntu Davis  said. “Measles is spread by air and by direct contact even before you know have it. The MMR immunization is a very effective measure to protect yourself and to prevent the unintentional spread of this potentially serious infection to others.”

Public Health officials said they will provide an update with additional locations and time periods in which people could have been exposed to measles in connection with this patient.

This content was originally published here.

Elijah Cummings has died: Baltimore congressman is dead at 68, from longstanding illness and health issues – CBS News

Representative Elijah Cummings, of Baltimore, died early Thursday at the age of 68, his office said. Cummings passed away at Johns Hopkins Hospital at 2:45 a.m. from “complications concerning longstanding health challenges,” his office said.

He hadn’t returned to work after having a medical procedure that he said would only keep him away for about a week, The Baltimore Sun noted.

Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and Cummings’ wife, said in a statement that Cummings was “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”

“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity and that our nation’s diversity was our promise, not our problem,” Rockeymoore Cummings said. “I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half staff in his memory. The White House, too, lowered its flag.

“He was not just a great congressman, he was a great man,” House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on MSNBC Thursday morning.

Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. Young said in a statement that “people throughout the world have lost a powerful voice and one of the strongest and most gifted crusaders for social justice.”

President Trump praised Cummings’ “strength, passion and wisdom” in a tweet, despite the insults he hurled at Cummings this summer.

“My warmest condolences to the family and many friends of Congressman Elijah Cummings. I got to see first hand the strength, passion and wisdom of this highly respected political leader. His work and voice on so many fronts will be very hard, if not impossible, to replace!” the president tweeted shortly before 9 a.m.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman, a Democrat and 23-year House veteran, was a key figure in the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump and a recent target of intense criticism from the president.

Cummings missed two roll call votes Thursday, the first day back following a two-week House recess. He previously released a statement saying he’d be back by the time the session resumed. He hadn’t taken part in a roll call vote since Sept. 11.

The procedure already caused Cummings to miss a September hearing on Washington, D.C., statehood. The statement didn’t detail the procedure.

He previously was treated for heart and knee issues.

Humble beginnings

A sharecropper’s son, Cummings was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs.

As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations of Mr. Trump’s dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House.

The president responded by criticizing Cummings’ district as a “rodent-infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” The comments came weeks after Mr. Trump drew bipartisan condemnation following his calls for Democratic congresswomen of color to get out of the U.S. “right now” and go back to their “broken and crime-infested countries.”

Cummings replied that government officials must stop making “hateful, incendiary comments” that only serve to divide and distract the nation from its real problems, including mass shootings and white supremacy.

“Those in the highest levels of the government must stop invoking fear, using racist language and encouraging reprehensible behavior,” Cummings said in a speech at the National Press Club.

Cummings told the Baltimore Sun that he had only spoken to Mr. Trump one-on-one once, in 2017. Cummings recalled saying: “Mr. President, you’re now 70-something, I’m 60-something. Very soon you and I will be dancing with the angels. The thing that you and I need to do is figure out what we can do — what present can we bring to generations unborn?”

Working way up

Cummings’ career spanned decades in Maryland politics. He rose through the ranks of the Maryland House of Delegates before winning his congressional seat in a special election in 1996 to replace former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who left the seat to lead the NAACP.

Cummings continued his rise in Congress. In 2016, he was the senior Democrat on the House Benghazi Committee, which he said was “nothing more than a taxpayer-funded effort to bring harm to Hillary Clinton’s campaign” for president.

Cummings was an early supporter of Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008.

Throughout his career, Cummings used his fiery voice to highlight the struggles and needs of inner-city residents. He was a firm believer in some much-debated approaches to help the poor and addicted, such as needle exchange programs as a way to reduce the spread of AIDS. Cummings was very popular in his district, where he was a key member of the community.

Cummings said in an interview with “60 Minutes” in January that he was one of the few members of Congress who lived in an inner city environment.

“I like to be among my constituents. Let me tell you something man, if I don’t do well in this block I’m in trouble. I mean, if you wanna take a poll, if I lost in this block I might as well go– I might as well stay home,” Cummings said in the interview.

Cummings was born on Jan. 18, 1951. In grade school, a counselor told Cummings he was too slow to learn and spoke poorly and he would never fulfill his dream of becoming a lawyer.

“I was devastated,” Cummings told The Associated Press in 1996, shortly before he won his seat in Congress. “My whole life changed. I became very determined.”

It steeled Cummings to prove that counselor wrong. He became not only a lawyer, but one of the most powerful orators in the Maryland House of Delegates, where he entered office in 1983. He rose to become House speaker pro tem, the first black delegate to hold the position. He would begin his comments slowly, developing his theme and raising the emotional heat until it became like a sermon from the pulpit.

Cummings was quick to note the differences between Congress and the Maryland General Assembly, which has long been controlled by Democrats.

“After coming from the state where, basically, you had a lot of people working together, it’s clear that the lines are drawn here,” Cummings said about a month after entering office in Washington in 1996.

Cummings chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2003 to 2004, employing a hard-charging, explore-every-option style to put the group in the national spotlight.

He cruised to big victories in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, which had given Maryland its first black congressman in 1970 when Parren Mitchell was elected.

Cummings addressed his recent health issues in the January interview with “60 Minutes.”

“Like I tell my constituents, “Don’t get it twisted. You know, I may– my knee may be hurtin’ a little bit, but my mind is clear. My mission is clear.” And I am prepared and able to do what I have to do. And I will do it to the very best of my ability, so help me God,” Cummings said.

This content was originally published here.

Cutting health benefits of 1,900 Whole Food workers saved world’s richest man Jeff Bezos what he makes in less than six hours

When billionaire Jeff Bezos cut health benefits on September 13 for part-time workers at his grocery store Whole Foods the richest man in the world saved the equivalent of what he makes from his vast fortune in just a few hours.

That’s according to an analysis from Decision Data’s “Data in the News” series, which found that Bezos could cover the entirety of annual benefits for part-time employees who work less than 30 hours a week with what he makes from stocks and investments in just a fraction of a day.

“Doing a quick calculation with existing publicly available numbers shows that Bezos makes more money than the cost of an entire year of benefits for these 1,900 employees in somewhere between 2-6 hours,” the study says.

The analysis used an estimate that Whole Foods would contribute between $5,000 and $15,000 annually per employee for benefits. At the middle of that range, $10,000, that comes to $19 million a year.

Bezos makes just under $9 million an hour, according to a 2019 Business Insider analysis, which would mean he makes enough money in a little over two hours to cover the benefits he cut. Decision Data used an earlier study which found Bezos makes $4.5 million an hour to conclude he would need approximately four and a half hours to cover the cost.

“CEO worth more than $110 billion cuts health care for 2,000 workers after raking in $9 million an hour,” tweeted economist Robert Reich, citing the 2019 Business Insider figure.

The disconnect between Bezos’ wealth and the cost of the benefits was remarked on by a number of observers.

“Jeff Bezos makes $3,182 a second,” said Jacobin writer Luke Savage.

Presidential candidate and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro called the move “shameful” and noted that Bezos’ crown jewel, online retailer Amazon, pays nothing in taxes.

“Amazon pays zero dollars in federal income taxes,” Castro tweeted. “Jeff Bezos is the richest man in modern history, and yet they continue to degrade the rights of their workers.”

Enjoy this piece?

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Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from billionaires and corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click to donate by check.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we’ve expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

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Nancy Pelosi: No need to reinvent health care — improve Obamacare

Democrats should focus on making improvements to Obamacare instead of trying to reinvent the wheel with “Medicare for All,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.

“God bless” 2020 Democratic presidential candidates putting forth Medicare for All proposals, Pelosi said in an interview with “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. “But know what that entails.”

Pelosi’s thoughts on how to improve the nation’s health-care laws appear to align with those of former Vice President Joe Biden, who in his 2020 presidential bid is calling for building on provisions of Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act.

“I believe the path to ‘health care for all’ is a path following the lead of the Affordable Care Act,” Pelosi told Cramer. “Let’s use our energy to have health care for all Americans, and that involves over 150 million families that have it through the private sector.”

Several 2020 candidates are advocating for some version of Medicare for All. Arguably the most drastic proposal is from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is calling for eliminating private health insurance and replacing it with a universal Medicare plan. Proponents say it would help reduce administrative inefficiencies and costs in the U.S. health-care system. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has backed Sanders’ proposal.

However, policy analysts say actually implementing such a law would be tough even if a candidate such as Sanders won the presidency. Democrats would need to hold on to their edge in the House and win the Senate in the 2020 election to regain control of Congress. Then they would likely need 60 votes in the Senate and two-thirds of the House to overcome any potential filibusters. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.

Pelosi’s comments also come as lawmakers and the Trump administration are both trying to pass legislation sometime this year that would bring more transparency to health-care costs and, ultimately, lower costs for consumers.

Pelosi and House Democratic leaders are expected to unveil as soon as this week a long-anticipated plan to reduce U.S. drug prices.

The main thrust of the plan, which is still in flux, would allow Medicare to negotiate lower prices on the 250 most expensive drugs and apply those discounts to private health plans across the U.S., according to a document that surfaced on Capitol Hill on Sept. 10.

The Department of Health and Human Services is prohibited from negotiating drug prices on behalf of Medicare — the federal government’s health insurance plan for the elderly. Private insurers use pharmacy benefit managers to negotiate drug rebates from pharmaceutical manufacturers in exchange for better coverage.

Pelosi has been working for months on a plan that would give HHS that power. House Democratic leaders went on a “listening tour” around the party earlier this year to discuss details of Pelosi’s plan but haven’t yet distributed it across the caucus, a Democratic aide said in an interview.

This content was originally published here.

Avoiding red or processed meat doesn’t seem to give health benefits | New Scientist

Many health bodies have said in the past that people should limit their red meat intake

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

There are no health reasons to cut down on eating red or processed meat, according to a new review of the evidence. The claims, which contradict most existing dietary advice, come from a review of existing studies led by the Spanish and Polish Cochrane Centers, part of a global collaboration for assessing medical research.

Numerous health bodies have said for decades that we should limit our intake of red meat because it is high in saturated fat, thought to raise cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks. More recently, both red and processed meat have been linked with cancer.

In the latest review, though, the authors came to a different conclusion because they considered separately the two main kinds of research. The best evidence comes from randomised trials. In these, some participants are helped to change their diet in a certain way, such as eating less meat, and the rest aren’t. At the end, the health of the people in the two groups is compared.

But such trials are costly and hard to do. According to one estimate, only about 5 per cent of nutrition studies are large, good-quality randomised trials. It is much more common to do research that just observes what people choose to eat undirected. Known as observational studies, these are notoriously open to bias and can give misleading results.

Bradley Johnston of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and his colleagues first reviewed all previous observational studies looking at the health impact of eating red or processed meat. These pointed to a “very small” adverse effect on deaths, heart disease and cancer.

Then they separately reviewed the 12 randomised trials that have been done in this area, and found that there was little or no health benefit for people who cut down on eating these meats. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that people should “continue to eat their current levels of red and processed meat unless they felt inclined to change them themselves”. However, they added that some might want to change their diet because of animal welfare or environmental reasons.

“It may be time to stop producing observational research in this area,” Tiffany Doherty from Indiana University’s Pediatric and Adolescent Comparative Effectiveness Research team wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Duane Mellor, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says people shouldn’t take the advice as a green light to eat more red meat. “What it doesn’t say is that we can tear up the guidelines and start eating twice as much meat. But red meat three times a week is not a problem.”

Journal reference: Annals of Internal Medicine, DOI:

More on these topics:

This content was originally published here.

Americans Spent More on Taxes in 2018 Than on Food, Clothing and Health Care Combined

A grocery shopper in Los Angeles on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Mark RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The survey’s recently published Table R-1 for 2018 lists the average “detailed expenditures” of what the BLS calls “consumer units.”

“Consumer units,” says BLS, “include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share major expenses.”

In 2018, according to Table R-1, American consumer units spent an average of $9,031.93 on federal income taxes; $5,023.73 on Social Security taxes (which the table calls “deductions”); $2,284.62 on state and local income taxes; $2,199.80 on property taxes; and $77.85 on what BLS calls “other taxes.”

The combined payments the average American consumer unit made for these five categories of taxes was $18,617.93.

At the same time the average American consumer unit was paying these taxes, it was spending $7,923.19 on food; $4,968.44 on health care; and $1,866.48 on “apparel and services.”

These combined expenditures equaled $14,758.11.

So, the $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and “other taxes.”

I asked the BLS to confirm these numbers, which it did while noting that the “Pensions and Social Security” section of its Table R-1 included four other types of payments (that many people are not required to make or that do not go to the government) in addition to the average of $5,023.73 in Social Security taxes that 77.21% of respondents reported paying.

“You asked us to verify the amounts for the total taxes and expenditures on food, apparel/services, and healthcare,” said BLS. “Based on table R-1 for 2018, your definition for food, apparel, and healthcare matches the BLS definition and the total dollars. Your dollar amounts for federal, state, and local income taxes and for property taxes are correct, as is the amount for Social Security deductions. For the combined pension amount [$6,830.71] that we publish however, in addition to the $5,023.73 for Social Security, there is an additional amount for government retirement deductions [$135.11], railroad retirement deductions [$2.85], private pension deductions [$608.22], and non-payroll deposits for pensions [$1,060.79].”

That Americans are forced to pay more for government than they pay for food, clothing and health care combined has become an enduring fact of life.

A review of the BLS Table R-1s for the last six years on record shows that in every one of those years, the average American consumer unit paid more in taxes than it paid for food, clothing and health care combined.

In 2013, the average American consumer unit paid a combined $13,327.22 for the same five categories of taxes cited above for 2018, while paying a combined $11,836.80 for food, clothing and health care.

In 2014, the average American consumer unit paid $14,664.13 for those same taxes and $12,834.34 for those same necessities.

In 2015, it was $15,548.36 versus $13,210.83. In 2016, it was $17,153.30 versus $13,617.60. And, in 2017, it was $16,750.20 versus $14,489.54.

Even when all the numbers for the last six years are converted into constant December 2018 dollars (using the BLS inflation calculator), the largest annual margin between the amount paid in taxes and the amount paid for food, clothing and health care was last year’s $3,859.82.

The margin was so great last year that you can add the $3,225.55 Table R-1 says the average consumer unit paid for entertainment to the $14,758.11 it paid for food, clothing and health care, and the combined $17,983.66 is still less than the $18,617.93 it paid for the five categories of taxes.

You get a similar result if you add the combined $2,903.50 that the average consumer unit paid in 2018 for electricity ($1,496.14) and telephone services ($1,407.36).

Yes, Americans on average paid more in taxes last year than they paid for food, clothing, health care, electricity and telephone services combined.

Was the government you got worth it?

(Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSNews.com.)

This content was originally published here.

Veterans Affairs To Share Veterans’ Health Information Without Consent

Thousands of veterans were alarmed to learn VA is quietly rolling out is plan to automatically share veterans’ health information with third parties without written consent.

You got that right. Thanks to the VA MISSION Act, VA will now automatically enroll, or opt-in, all veterans into a health information sharing system with numerous government agencies and private organizations after September 30, 2019, unless you object in writing on a paper form.

Veterans must submit the VA Form 10-0484 in person or by mail to their local VA Release of Information office by of September 30, 2019, if they do not want to be “automatically enrolled” into the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia Project.

Sound absurd? Here is what VA wrote in its Virtual Lifetime Electronic
Record (VLER) FAQ:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out.

Let me say that a third way in case I have not been clear.

VA will automatically share your health information with third parties without your written consent unless you opt-out in writing or submit a revocation in writing submitted in person or by US mail. You cannot submit your opt-out or revocation electronically.

How ironic, right?

In the name of technology, VA is about to force veterans into an electronic data sharing system without consent. The only way to prevent this violation is to present your objection on an agency mandated form ON PAPER by hand or snail mail by Monday. How old school.

And we are just learning about the deadline now.

In order to opt-out or revoke consent, there are a couple of forms you need to consider, noted above… but you only have until Monday to figure it out.

Curiously, the VA Form 10-10164 opt-out that is not technically an official form until October 2019 based on the available form.

One could argue that submitting the 10-10164 before September 30 may still result in a veteran’s automatic opt-in and then opt-out since the form may lack legal effect until October 2019.

So, the forms you can use to opt-out or revoke consent:

How do you get the form to VA? Can I send it on eBenefits or
fax it to Janesville Evidence Intake Center?

No. The agency requires that you either hand deliver the
signed form or mail it to the local Release of Information office at your VA Medical
Center by Monday.

No revocations will be processed after September 30, 2019. I
hope VA will not auto-opt-in veterans who submit the new form before the
deadline.

Either way, if you fail to take action by September 30, your
health information will be shared with the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia
Project.

Good luck.

Once health information is shared, it cannot be unshared as
best I can tell from the information available including the old form.

This means meaning you lose control of your data. While you can possibly opt-out at a later date, whatever is shared is out there in the great and mysterious cloud for whatever hacker to access however and whenever they choose.

Who may get access?

The eHealth Exchange is a massive data-sharing system between federal agencies and private organizations in all 50 states that was originally controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services.

A nonprofit called The Sequoia Project took over management of the eHealth Exchange for “maintenance.” Many VA contractors and vendors are on the Board of Sequoia including Cerner and Mitre Corporation.

VA reassures us everything is safe. Right. Kind of like all
the times our data was illegally shared or hacked within the existing system?

“Rest assured. Your health information is safe and secure as it moves from VA to participating community care providers,” promises VA.

Believe them? We don’t, either.

We Drove To Minneapolis VA To Investigate

On Thursday, colleague Brian Lewis and I went to Minneapolis VA Medical Center immediately after reviewing what I describe below to confront agency officials about the highly questionable timing of the notice.

The Facebook Live video contains our initial impressions, which later evolved after we spoke with local officials and conducted an additional deep dive. Veterans who do not revoke consent/opt-out by September 30 will be enrolled automatically per the VLER FAQ.

We learned some inside baseball by asking around about it
and inspecting the facility. But, many of the VA officials we spoke with were
generally unaware of what VA Central Office was rolling out.

Our local Release of Information booth at Minneapolis VA did not have any of the forms available for veterans seeking to opt-out or revoke their previous consent. The attendant seemed to think her boss might bring some forms up sometime Friday or Monday since a few veterans were asking about it.

Fantastic.

Btw, you may have noticed my reference to “booth” about our ROI. In order to speak with someone at ROI, Minneapolis VA leadership decided to move the ROI intake to the open lobby area where anyone and everyone can hear about what you are asking about regarding your private health information.

So much for privacy when trying to get your private health
records.

For newbies reading this, Brian and I are veterans rights attorneys in the Minneapolis Metro who are well-known, but not well-loved, by VA officials locally and nationally.

I will explain the forms in a bit.

Back In The Day When Consent Was In Writing… And It Mattered

For years, VA was required secure informed consent from veterans prior to the sharing of health information. Whether you were a veteran trying to get care in the community or allow your attorney access to a claims file, you were required to provide VA with a release of information granting consent to share the date.

If you wanted to give VA your genomic information so they
could share it with private researching organizations for God knows whatever
reason, specifically the Million Veteran Program, you had to sign a form
granting permission.

If you wanted to opt in to allow your community care provider to use the health exchange to access your electronic health records, you need to sign the VA Form 10-0485. If you wanted to revoke that access, you needed to sign and submit the VA Form 10-0484.

There’s Gold In Those Records, Boys And Girls

To me, and millions of other veterans, this process seems
straightforward, but VA officials, university researchers, and private industry
really wanted more access to more veteran data since our electronic health records
comprise one of the most valuable datasets in the history of the world to date.

Yes, there is an incredible monetary value within the database containing all of our electronic health information, and private industry would profit handsomely from various marketing, advertising, and health solutions that could be developed by simply accessing our records.

Now, that access to our records comes at a cost. For at
least the past eight years, standard HIPAA requirements to de-identify records
no longer provide the security previously believed. Companies like Facebook
readily work to hack HIPAA protections using algorithms to connect HIPAA de-identified
data with a person’s Facebook profile using various markers including data like
that given by veterans to the Million Veteran Program, for example.

That data can then provide the backbone of entirely new research and advertising arm of companies like Facebook and Google to connect pharmaceutical ads with individuals who may be interested in the newest and greatest pill for anxiety or erectile dysfunction.

VA Throws Off The Heavy Yoke Of Privacy

Fortunately for business partners, researchers, and anyone
else who wants to access our data but not be troubled with difficult privacy
laws, VA will no longer have its research potential hamstrung by sentimental
laws like the Privacy Act or HIPAA.

Veterans can thank Congress and its passage of the VA MISSION
Act for allowing automatic access to all veterans’ health information by third
party community care providers and “partners.”

One of my readers alerted me to a change in protocol yesterday
starting with a PDF flyer circulating at VA.

That flyer, called the Veteran Notification Flyer, informs veterans of the five things we “need to know” about the VA’s new implementation of the health information mandate. I included this below in italics verbatim from the agency’s flyer.

You may be thinking, ‘Well, at least VA thought to give you
notice.’

Not exactly. I have not received any notice yet. However,
many veterans are writing in starting yesterday with notice letters that VA was
transitioning veterans into a new and brave system of data sharing.

The flyer was created September 11, 2019, informing veterans that in 20 days the process was flipping on its head where we need to opt-out after automatically being opted-in.

5 Things You Need To Know About Health Information
Sharing

If you are a little unclear about how to be sure no one
receives the health information, you are in good company. A lot of readers and
agency officials were unclear of exactly what is going on, and multiple dates
are floating around within VA’s own notices.

One page reads, “VA will begin opting all Veterans into
health information sharing, beginning January 2010.” Another page
reads, “VA Systems will begin opting all Veterans into health information
sharing, beginning January 2020.”

So, when did or will VA start the sharing of our health information
without consent?

An intranet notice to VA employees indicated the actual
process of sharing will start on or about November 18, 2019.

The VLER FAQ sheet probably provides the best advice
specific to veterans who do not want their data shared in the electronic system:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out. Beginning late 2019, a VA patient’s information will be shared with any community providers that also provide health care services for the shared patient.

“Revocation forms will not be processed after September 30,
2019. However, if you submit VA Form 10-0484, before September 30, your
preference will remain honored and no further action is needed by you.”

This language suggests the form must be submitted before
September 30, because the agency will stop processing them after September 30.

But how to do you revoke the consent that you never granted?

What is also important is the language difference between
the two forms.

Old VA Form 10-0484 vs New VA Form 10-10164

Let’s start with the new form, VA Form 10-10164. Basically,
the form says the agency cannot share your health information unless treatment
is required for an emergency:

So, the opt-out is not absolute. The form also indicates the
opt-in means all your health information can be shared for treatment.

What about your mental health records? How will VA protect
that data? Could that data also be shared with DHS or other organizations for
their own purposes?

The VA Form 10-0484 handles the issues differently.

First, it addresses that the signer revokes their previous
consent. Obviously, most of us never consented to this program. So, by signing
this 0484, can you preemptively revoke?

That is a question for your local Release of Information
Official.

The old form provides the following list about revocation
that I think is far clearer about what is at stake. Here is the list from VA in
italics:

One of the differences that jumped out at me in the old form was the promise that VA “will no longer share any of my individually-identifiable health information”. It did not qualify that revocation by stating the information will be shared in an emergency.

However, the revocation qualifies the health information by calling it “individually-identifiable health information” demonstrating the agency will share your information so long is it is de-identified. As noted above, merely adhering to HIPAA is no longer sufficient to protect your identity or other information that can be traced right back to you with today’s computing power.

What About Health Information Already Shared

The old 10-0484 says the information “already exchanged”
will continue to the used despite revocation meaning once the information is
out there, it is out there.

The health information being passed between VA and its
community care providers is supposedly shared in “guidance” with the Health
Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

Do we have enough information to make informed decisions?
Does VA seem to give a rip about our informed consent?

I plan to update this post as more information comes out. You may want to check back from time to time.

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This content was originally published here.

Kansas health officials confirm first death from vaping related lung disease

TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed Tuesday that a person has died due to an outbreak of serious lung disease
related to vaping or using e-cigarettes.

Health officials said the individual was a Kansas resident who was older than 50.

“The patient had a history of underlying health issues and was hospitalized with symptoms that progressed rapidly,” a news release said.

State health officials said they do not have a detailed list of the products that the individual used. They did say many patients report using vaping or e-cigarette products with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of the person who died,” Governor Laura Kelly said in the statement. “Health officials are working hard to determine a cause and share information to prevent additional injuries. As that work continues, I urge Kansans to be careful. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way, and please follow the recommendations of public health officials.”

Kansas State Health Officer and Secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Dr. Lee Norman added in that release that it is time to stop vaping.

“If you or a loved one is vaping, please stop,” Norman said. “The recent deaths across our country, combined with hundreds of reported lung injury cases continue to intensify. I’m extremely alarmed for the health and safety of Kansans who are using vaping products and urge them to stop until we can determine the cause of vaping related lung injuries and death.”

So far, there have been six reports associated with the outbreak in Kansas. Three have been confirmed or listed as probable while the other three are still under investigation.

Symptoms of the outbreak include shortness of breath, fever, cough, and vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms reported by some patients included headache, dizziness and chest pain.

For individuals wanting more information on how to quit tobacco products, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW.

This content was originally published here.

Why we should prioritize our students’ mental health this school year

Dr. Bobbi
Wegner

Aug 13, 2018

How is summer already over? It seems that it’s only just begun. The reality is the kids will be back to middle and high school before the last sip of summer is had. And with the new year, there are often new challenges. As many say, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” But mental health issues that are diagnosed and treated early have the best prognosis and do not have to become “big problems.” As our children grow into tweens and teens, there is a new landscape to understand. As parents, it is crucial to tend to your child’s mental health just as you do their physical health.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services the most common mental health disorders for our teens and tweens are anxiety (32% of 13 to18-year-olds), depression (13% of 12-17-year-olds), Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; 9% of 13- to 18-year-olds), and eating disorders (3% of 13-18-year-olds). Making matters worse, kids who suffer from these disorders often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Research shows that 29% of adolescents who recently started using alcohol did so after a major depressive episode. The same pattern was found for drug use too.

Your happy elementary-aged kid will face new issues as they get older. Although mental health may not have been high on your radar as something to tend to, now is the time. And back to school is a stressful and important time for our kids. New schedules, new fears, loss of friendships, loss of summer, new pressures, more responsibility, busier schedules, changing bodies, and changing emotions to name a few. First presentations of mental health issues often happen during times of transition.

I was just talking with my friend’s rising 9th grader, and she is already worrying about whether to take advanced placement classes, how to make new friends, how to stay connected to those who are going to different schools, and how to navigate a new school. My initial response was to say “It will be okay. It will all work out,” and go on with my day, but that’s about as helpful as saying “I don’t care that much.”

Instead, I sensed her worry and made a conscious decision to just sit and listen at first, and then ask questions. “Why not try the harder class first since you have done well in the past, and then move if it doesn’t work?” Well, the word on the street is that the guidance counselor is inflexible and once she signs up for classes, she might be stuck with them. And, as an almost 9th-grader, she is already thinking about college and her grades. Got it. Now it makes more sense. We chatted. I mostly created time to just be with her, listen, and reassured that she is not alone in it – either her parents or I would help, if need be. We both left feeling more connected and she less anxious.

My friend’s daughter does not have diagnosable anxiety, but normal worries can evolve into clinical disorders when feelings go unaddressed. It is these moments we parents, aunts, caregivers, adults need to tune into.

What to do:

First and foremost, stay connected to your kid and keep lines of communication open. The age-appropriate behavior is to “individuate” or push your parents/caregivers away during adolescence. Try to trust that they will come back, and just let them know you are here – always. Manage your own anxiety around this. Most people (young or old) don’t want advice, they just want a trusted sounding board. Resist the urge to fix, and just listen. This is crucial for all parents and caregivers of tweens and teens.

If you are worried that your child could be suffering from a mental health issue, look for the signs below. There is no harm in seeking help from a trained professional even for just a one-time consultation.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following (From NAMI):

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:

If you notice any of the symptoms above, here’s what you can do:

This content was originally published here.

Vegan and Plant-Based Diets Worsen Brain Health

Summary: Eating a vegan or plant-based diet can be bad for your brain health, especially if you already have a low choline intake, researchers report.

Source: BMJ

The momentum behind a move to plant-based and vegan diets for the good of the planet is commendable, but risks worsening an already low intake of an essential nutrient involved in brain health, warns a nutritionist in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient — choline — found predominantly in animal foods, says Dr. Emma Derbyshire, of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specializing in nutrition and biomedical science.

Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage, writes Dr Derbyshire.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

In 1998, recognizing the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively, because of the critical role the nutrient has in fetal development.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.

“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” says Dr. Derbyshire.

She commends the first report (EAT-Lancet) to compile a healthy food plan based on promoting environmental sustainability but suggests that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs and animal protein it recommends could affect choline intake.

And she is at a loss to understand why choline does not feature in UK dietary guidance or national population monitoring data.

“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorization of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK,” she writes. “Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines,” she adds.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli. The image is in the public domain.

It may be time for the UK government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to reverse this, she suggests, particularly given the mounting evidence on the importance of choline to human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of the planet’s food production.

“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she writes.

“If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she concludes.

About this neuroscience research article

Source:
BMJ
Media Contacts:
Press Office – BMJ
Image Source:
The image is in the public domain.

Could we be overlooking a potential choline crisis in the United Kingdom?

Choline can be likened to omega-3 fatty acids in that it is an ‘essential’ nutrient that cannot be produced by the body in amounts needed for human requirements. The United States (US) Institute of Medicine (IOM)1 and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)2 recognise that choline plays an important role in the human body and have established dietary reference values. The American Medical Association3 in 2017 published new advice stating that prenatal vitamin supplements should contain “evidenced-based” amounts of choline. Similarly the American Academy of Paediatrics4 5 (from 2018) called on paediatricians to move beyond simply recommending a “good diet” and to make sure that pregnant women and young children have access to food that provides adequate amounts of “brain-building” nutrients with choline being listed as one of these. Unfortunately, in the UK choline is not yet included in food composition databases, main nutrition surveys nor official recommendations. The present article discusses the current choline situation and explains why more needs to be done to include and monitor this essential nutrient in the UK.

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Jarrid Wilson, Pastor and Mental Health Advocate, Dies by Suicide at Age 30

Harvest Christian Fellowship pastor Jarrid Wilson died by suicide on Monday evening (September 9) at age thirty.

The devout husband and father of two was known for his passionate preaching, servant’s heart, and mental health advocacy. In fact, Wilson is the founder of Anthem of Hope, a faith-based organization ‘dedicated to amplifying hope for those battling brokenness, depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.’

The tragic news of Wilson’s untimely death comes on Suicide Awareness Day (September 10).

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

In alignment with his passion to shatter the stigma surrounding mental health, Wilson was often open about his own battles with depression on his social media accounts.

Wilson even posted about officiating a funeral for a woman who took her own life on the day that he took his own.

Later that afternoon, the pastor wrote some hard truth regarding the reality of mental health battles, citing that while Jesus isn’t always “the cure,” he IS always the “comforter” and “companion.”

“Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts,” wrote Wilson. “Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD. Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety. But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort. He ALWAYS does that.”

Jarrid’s wife Juli posted a heartbreaking tribute to her late husband today, honoring his hard-fought battle and the great man of God that he was in spite of his struggles:

“My loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious, give the shirt of his back husband went to be with Jesus late last night .

No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free. Suicide and depression fed you the worst lies, but you knew the truth of Jesus and I know you’re by his side right this very second.

I love you forever, Thomas Jarrid Wilson, but I have to say that you being gone has completely ripped my heart out of my chest. You loved me and our boys relentlessly and we are forever grateful that i had YOU as a husband and a father to my boys.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

“You are my forever and I will continue to let other people know of the hope in Jesus you found and spoke so boldly about.

Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said ‘Hope Gets the last word. Jesus does.’ Your life’s work has lead thousands to the feet of Jesus and your boldness to tell other about your struggle with anxiety and depression has helped so many other people feel like they weren’t alone. YOU WERE an anthem of hope to everyone, baby, and I’ll do my best to continue your legacy of love until my last breath.

I need you, jare. But you needed Jesus to hold you and I have to be okay with that. You are everything to me. Since the day we met. J & J. Love you more.
These are photos of him in his happy place – fishing the day away . I’ll teach our boys all your tricks, babe. Promise. You are my #anthemofhope

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

The church family Wilson left behind is just as devastated by the loss of their passionate leader who was on fire for Jesus.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” Harvest Administrative Pastor Paul Eaton said in a statement.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Eaton added. “At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day.”

Please join us in praying for the Wilsons and the Harvest Christian Fellowship church family during this devastating time.

If you’d like to support others struggling with suicidal thoughts, consider donating to Anthem of Hope today.

This content was originally published here.

Jarrid Wilson, Pastor, Author and Mental Health Advocate, Dies by Suicide This Week

Jarrid Wilson, pastor and author of Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World, died by suicide on Monday September 9, 2019. The news of his death came the next day on World Suicide Prevention Day 2019. 

Jarrid, a passionate child of God and church pastor, worked so hard to help others find their way out of hopelessness, depression, and suicidal thoughts…but on this day, he died by suicide. He was a 30-year-old husband and father.

Jarrid Wilson Fought to De-Stigmatize Mental Illness in the Church

Previously, Wilson wrote about the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade that “my heart breaks for the families of Anthony and Kate, and I’m praying God will cover them with nothing but peace and comfort.”

So many people commented on Bourdain and Spade’s deaths that their eternal destiny was at stake that Wilson put pen to paper. He wrote…

I’m writing this post because I want people to understand that these statements couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, they’re ill-thought and without proper biblical understanding…Those who say suicide automatically leads to hell obviously don’t understand the totality of mental health issues in today’s world, let alone understand the basic theology behind compassion and God’s all-consuming grace.” 

Wilson openly admitted that he struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts: 

As terrible as it sounds, mental health issues can lead many people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do if they didn’t struggle. If you don’t believe me, I’d encourage you to get to know someone with PTSD, Alzheimer’s or OCD so that you can better understand where I’m coming from. As someone who’s struggled with severe depression throughout most of my life, and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions, I can assure you that what I’m saying is true.”

Jarrid Wilson’s Last Day Was Focused on Helping Others

On the day that Jarrid Wilson died by suicide, he tweeted what seemed to be messages of hope for those who struggle with mental health issues.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.

But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.

He ALWAYS does that.

On the day of his death, Wilson officiated a funeral for a woman who died by suicide. Jarrid was an associate pastor at megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California.

Officiating a funeral for a Jesus-loving woman who took her own life today.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the family.

— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) September 9, 2019

In the middle of his own struggles and his work to help others with de-stigmatizing mental illness in the church, he challenged the church to develop a deeper theology around these issues.

“Stop telling people that suicide leads to hell. It’s bad theology and proof one doesn’t understand the basic psychology surrounding mental health issues. In closing, we must understand God hates suicide just as much as the next person. Why? Because it defies God’s yearning for the sanctity of life. But while suicide is not something God approves of, no mess is too messy for the grace of Jesus. This includes suicide.”

Jarrid and his wife, Juli, were the founders of faith-centered Anthem of Hope because of their “passion to help equip the church with the resources needed to help better assist those struggling with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.”

Before news of his tragic passing spread, Juli Wilson posted this on Instagram.

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A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

In “Why Suicide Doesn’t Always Lead to Hell,” one of the last articles we published from Jarrid Wilson, he wrote:

“Does God approve of suicide? Nope!

Does God view suicide as a bad thing? Yup!

Is God’s grace sufficient even for those who have committed suicide? Yup!”

We at ChurchLeaders.com are grateful for Jarrid Wilson’s generosity to share his writing with our readers and for his determination to battle the demons of mental illness. Our prayers are with his family and friends as they grieve the loss of one who fought so well.

If you’d like to support others struggling with suicidal thoughts, consider donating to Anthem of Hope today.

This content was originally published here.

Pastor, author and mental health advocate Jarrid Wilson dies by suicide – Religion News Service

(RNS) — Jarrid Wilson, a California church leader, author and mental health advocate, died by suicide Monday evening (Sept. 9) at age 30.

Wilson, known as a passionate preacher, most recently was an associate pastor at megachurch Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California. A co-founder of the mental health nonprofit Anthem of Hope, Wilson was open about his own depression, often posting on his social media accounts about his battles with the mental illness.

“At a time like this, there are just no words,” said Harvest Senior Pastor Greg Laurie in a statement.

“Sometimes people may think that as pastors or spiritual leaders we are somehow above the pain and struggles of everyday people. We are the ones who are supposed to have all the answers. But we do not,” Laurie said.

“At the end of the day, pastors are just people who need to reach out to God for His help and strength, each and every day,” he added.

His wife, Julianne Wilson, posted a photo tribute of her husband on Instagram. The photo slideshow shows him fishing “in his happy place.” She described her husband as “loving, giving, kind-hearted, encouraging, handsome, hilarious.”

“No more pain, my jerry, no more struggle. You are made complete and you are finally free,” she wrote in the caption.

“Suicide doesn’t get the last word. I won’t let it. You always said “Hope Gets the last word. Jesus does,” she added.

A post shared by Julianne Wilson 🌿 (@itsjuliwilson) on

News of Wilson’s passing followed a series of tweets the young pastor posted throughout the day Monday that dealt with suicide, including a post encouraging followers to remember that even though loving Jesus doesn’t cure illnesses such as depression, PTSD or anxiety, Jesus does offer companionship and comfort.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.

Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.

But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.

He ALWAYS does that.

Wilson also posted on the same day that he was officiating a funeral for a woman who had died by suicide. Kay Warren — who along with her husband, Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, lost their son to suicide in 2013 — responded to Wilson’s tweet with encouragement. “Praying, Jarrid. Her devastated family needs so much tenderness and compassion right now. Grateful for your willingness to be the arms of Jesus to them,” Warren wrote.

Officiating a funeral for a Jesus-loving woman who took her own life today.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated for the family.

— Jarrid Wilson (@JarridWilson) September 9, 2019

The news of Wilson’s death comes on Suicide Awareness Day (Sept. 10) and follows a number of high profile suicides among pastors and the mental health community, including by 30-year-old Andrew Stoecklein, a pastor in Chino, California, who often preached about mental illness.

Wilson shared openly about his own mental health challenges in his most recent book, “Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World,” and blog posts. He blogged earlier this summer that he had dealt with “severe depression throughout most of my life and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.”

On social media, he regularly encouraged others dealing with similar challenges with messages like, “I’m a Christian who also struggles with depression. This exists, and it’s okay to admit it.”

Jarrid Wilson. Courtesy photo

Breaking down the stigma of mental illness is one of the goals of Anthem of Hope, the nonprofit the pastor founded with his wife, Juli, in 2016. Anthem of Hope creates resources for the church to assist those dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide. 

Laurie said Wilson wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.

“Tragically, Jarrid took his own life,” Laurie said.

“Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most,” Laurie added.

In his summer blog post, Wilson challenged the idea some Christians have that those who die by suicide are condemned to hell.

Christians wouldn’t tell someone with a physical illness like cancer they are going to hell because of their diagnosis, he noted. Neither should they assume it of people with mental illnesses, which can “lead many people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do if they didn’t struggle.”

“Those who say suicide automatically leads to hell obviously don’t understand the totality of mental health issues in today’s world, let alone understand the basic theology behind compassion and God’s all-consuming grace,” he said.

“We must do better at educating people on things they have a hard time wrapping their heads around. And mental health is definitely (a) topic Christians around the world must yearn to better understand.”

Justin Herman said he knew Wilson from working as a pastor in Riverside. They would cross paths and talk about mental health and abortion.

“I know the guy loved Jesus and I know that he loved what he was doing, loved his family,” Herman said.

To Herman, Wilson was “not just going with the program of life.”

“He was counter to culture and shaped culture in a lot of ways,” Herman said.

In addition to his wife, Wilson is survived by two sons, Finch and Denham; and his mother, father and siblings.

Friends of the family have started a GoFundMe account, with permission of Wilson’s wife, to help with financial support in the wake of Wilson’s death.

Last night, my good friend @jarridwilson passed away. As the primary income earner of their home, his precious wife @juliwilson and their two young kids will need a lot of financial support. Please consider donating to this @gofundme to support them: https://t.co/NxFnuf6KVT

— Jonathan Merritt (@JonathanMerritt) September 10, 2019

(This story has been updated. The source of the statement from Harvest Christian Fellowship, attributed in an earlier version to Administrative Pastor Paul Eaton, was changed at the request of the church to Senior Pastor Greg Laurie.)

This content was originally published here.

A Health Care System That’s the Envy of the World

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

The following events did not take place in the Soviet Union or Cuba.  None of this inhumanity was a figment of my imagination.  I’m narrating the details without hyperbole.

Recently, I took a ride through one amazingly affordable health care system — the one Obama and other notable Democrats paint as the “envy of the world.”  See how quickly you can figure out where this envy of the world dwells.

Got your seat belt on? This liberal utopia is a bit bumpy.

You enter a hospital emergency room.  For two months prior, you suffered abysmal pain, unable to shower, straighten out, or sit.  You’re the Hunchback of Notre Dame, debilitated with no reprieve.  When one of your legs isn’t numb from hip to toe, you experience sharp stabbing sensations that make you want to slit your wrists.

Yet you do exactly what your nation’s one-tier medical system instructs you to do: you visit a family doctor who routinely suggests an MRI.  And since you live in the proud lap of liberalism, which ensures the all-inclusive equity of suffering, you are told that your MRI is a mere twelve months away.  A referral to a spine clinic was offered at a six months’ wait.  Lucky for you, a generous dose of an opioid was prescribed in the interim.  The 60 Oxycontin pills (the most addictive opioid on the market, with a street value of $60/pill) were augmented by 270 pills of Gabapentin, a drug designed to deceive your brain into thinking you are not in pain.  You walk away a guaranteed addict with a pocket full of mind-altering chemicals.

By now you should be entirely consoled by the idea that many are in the same boat of egalitarianism for suffering and queues.  The thought of equitable misery is expected to work as an instant pain-reliever.  This barbaric philosophy is at the crux of government policies that outlaw private health care in this country.

This is how my friend’s journey through the cartel of socialist policies began.

As Amy tried to figure out how to take her next breath without screaming, she decided that a 12-month wait is simply inhumane.  She did what most people of means do: she arranged a private MRI.  A diagnosis of bulging spinal discs pressing on nerves in the lower spine resulted.  Amy, now $692 poorer, was always guaranteed health care when she needed it — that is, if she didn’t mind croaking from pain first.

In Amy’s country, an average annual income of $60,900 pays a health care tax bill of $5,516 for the privilege of the “free” health care perk.  In 2016, an average family sent 42.5% of their income straight into government coffers, out of which health care funding is allocated.  Top earners pay up to $37,361 annually for their shot at the “free” emergency room queues, MRI waits, and specialist appointments.

More is spent on taxes by households than on anything else in Amy’s country.  This exuberant taxpayer funding of the public health care utopia known as the “envy of the world” is today Bernie Sanders’s and Kamala Harris’s main advocacy platform all the way to 2020.

Amy’s journey continues…

Addictive and mind-altering pharmaceutical chemicals are all Amy has at her disposal.  No back specialist or treatments are on the horizon.

After a several days of continued suffering, with no relief from prescribed opioids, Amy, now in a wheelchair, heads to the nearest emergency room.  Official wait time is recorded as two hours.  In reality, the two-hour wait was simply the time needed to get through the three separate points of admission.  Bureaucracy requires it.

Amy enters a second waiting room, where she waits three more hours.  Ten hours later, loaded with more addicting opioids (Hydromorphine and Tramadol), Amy is sent home.  She is told that average wait time to see a back surgeon is between 18 and 24 months.

Next come two more visits to emergency rooms out of sheer desperation and helplessness.  Amy knows that these emergency rooms rarely do more than prescribe drugs and lend a sympathetic ear.  But when you have no other choices, you seek relief even where you know there isn’t any.

After each visit to an emergency facility, Amy is prescribed more addictive medications and told she needs to learn to manage her pain.  Amy understands that “managing pain” is code for “living with pain.”  Continuing this regime of ineffective addictive pill therapy is, likewise, synonymous with “there are no resources, no treatments, but you’re welcome to become a drug addict and not waste our time ever again.”  None of the drugs prescribed works.  Amy is told average time for surgery she needs is up to three years.

Amy finally realizes that private care surgery is the only option.  It’s the end of the line; she has to take control of her health, regardless of the public system’s incompetence and lack of resources.

A few days later — another trip to an emergency room by way of ambulance service that refused to drive her to a hospital with a spinal unit.  Amy waits four hours.  In the meantime, she’s generously offered more opioids for her pain. 

After six agonizing hours, Amy is admitted.  Once again, the wait begins.  At 3:00 A.M., a doctor on duty shows up, exactly eight hours since Amy was wheeled in.

Once at Amy’s bedside, the good doctor utters, “There’s nothing we can do for you here.  You should’ve gone to the other hospital with a spinal unit.  But don’t tell anyone I told you.”

Amy’s visit ends with a fresh prescription of meds and a refill for more opioids.  Not even a hint of the word “surgery.”

The next morning, Amy’s pain gets worse.  She’s in the hospital again.  This time, a twelve-hour wait before she is seen.  When the neurosurgeon arrives he offers, “We don’t do surgery for your condition.  I’m happy to put you on a waiting list to see a back specialist.  If you’re lucky, the average twelve-month wait might expedite to a three-month wait.”  Amy’s visit ends with more helplessness, more crying and desperation. 

As Amy became completely bedridden, I made the case for private surgery south of the border, in Florida.  It was her only option for survival.  A ten-hour flight to Florida wasn’t feasible in Amy’s condition.  But an underground private clinic in a close-by city one hour’s flight time away was perfect.  The cost of surgery?  Twenty thousand dollars.

Three days after the original idea for private care, I picked up Amy from the long awaited surgery, able to walk and talk without groaning and crying.  Only hours after surgery, she was cracking her usual jokes.

Amy’s story doesn’t quite end here.  For lack of any good alternatives, this very Canadian (there you have it!) public health care mess more than charitably fed Amy all sorts of opioids.  Today, my friend is courageously fighting an opioid addiction — an addiction not one medical professional warned her about. 

Unless you live in Canada and have the dubious pleasure of experiencing the one-tier system of finding a family doctor, wait times in hospitals, wait times for imagery exams, wait times to see specialists and wait times for treatment or surgery, you can’t really appreciate the true meaning of the word “affordable” in Canada’s very affordable public health care.  Canada’s single-payer public health care system, heavily funded by taxpayers, forced over one million patients to wait for necessary medical treatments last year.  An all-time record in a country of only 36 million.  The only thing Canadians are guaranteed is a spot on a waitlist. 

Trouble with “affordable” and “free”: both are very expensive.

Valerie Sobel is a writer, economist, and pianist residing in Western Canada.

This content was originally published here.

The trouble with the GOP’s focus on mental health and guns

In recent years, in the immediate aftermath of high-profile mass shootings, Republicans tend to talk about new policies related to mental health. In response to the latest slayings, we’re hearing many of the same familiar refrains.

Here, for example, was Donald Trump’s unscripted comments to reporters yesterday afternoon:

“[T]his is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are people – really, people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”

And here’s how the president followed up on the point this morning, reading scripted comments:

“[W]e must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment, but, when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

There are all kinds of relevant angles to comments like these, which seemed to refer to general policy preferences, not specific legislation. For example, the idea of imposing “involuntary confinement” on the mentally ill is the sort of approach that easily could be abused and applied too broadly. Policymakers would have to deal with the challenges with great caution and care.

But hanging overhead is a problem that’s tough for GOP officials to explain away: the last time they tackled a policy related to guns and mental health.

As regular readers may recall, one of the very first measures tackled by the Republican-led Congress in 2017 was, of all things, a gun bill.

When an American suffers from a severe mental illness, to the point that he or she receives disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, there are a variety of limits created to help protect that person and his or her interests. These folks cannot, for example, go to a bank to cash a check on their own.

As recently as 2016, they couldn’t buy a gun, either. The Social Security Administration would report the names of those who receive disability benefits due to severe mental illness to the FBI’s background-check system.

At least, that was the policy. Less than a month into the Trump era, Republicans passed a measure to block the Social Security Administration’s reporting policy, keeping the names out of the FBI system, and making it easier for the mentally impaired to buy firearms.

To be sure, the old system had flaws and was the subject of some legitimate criticism. It’s very difficult, for example, for someone to have their names removed from the background-check system once they’re on it.

But the GOP measure made no real effort at reform. It was more of a blunt object than a scalpel.

And two years later, it’s a political headache, too. The Republicans talking today about the mentally impaired having access to guns are the same Republicans who voted to expand gun access for the mentally impaired.

This content was originally published here.

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

The Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren Has Health Benefits for Both, According to a Study

In the modern world where both parents work full-time and crave professional success, the number of grandparents who are raising grandchildren is increasing rapidly. For many adults, the “intrusion” of grandparents is annoying, because, after all, it’s about their children, “and they know what’s best for them.”

If you have doubts about whether or not to allow your elders to participate in the upbringing of your child, we at Bright Side can tip the scales in favor of the love and care that only grandparents can offer.

Grandparents are good for your health.

The cultural and social situations that occur today have strengthened the relationships between grandchildren and grandparents, mainly because the number of households where both parents work full-time is continuing to grow. In addition, the family disintegration rate is increasingly high. Because of this, there are several studies that have been dedicated to investigating the connection between the bond that grandparents have with their grandchildren and the welfare of the latter.

A special investigation, carried out by the University of Oxford, showed that frequent contact and loving connections between grandparents and their grandchildren generate social and emotional well-being in children and young people. This bond protects grandchildren from problems with development that they could face and boosts their social and cognitive abilities. In addition, “close relationships between grandparents and grandchildren buffered the effects of adverse life events, like parental separation, because it calmed the children down,” says Dr. Eirini Flouri, one of the authors of the study.

It’s not enough to just be close, you also have to get involved.

These conclusions and results were revealed thanks to the analysis of 1,596 children of different ages in England and Wales. Different aspects like socioeconomic status, grandparents’ age, and the level of closeness in the relationship were evaluated. 40 in-depth interviews were also conducted with children from different backgrounds. These surveys, in addition to revealing the healthy benefits that this bond brings, also gave an overview of the importance of these relationships in our society, since almost a third of maternal grandmothers provide regular care for their grandchildren, and 40% provide occasional help with childcare.

The study focused mainly on children who were about to become teenagers, those who, surprisingly and contrary to what one might think, accept the relationship with their grandparents with great satisfaction and love. The reason? The survey revealed that today’s grandparents often have more time than parents to help young people in their activities, in addition to being in a position that gives them greater confidence to talk with their grandchildren about any problems they may be experiencing. However, the emotional closeness may not be enough: grandparents should be involved in education and help solve youth problems, as well as talk with teenagers about their future plans.

The benefits that grandchildren bring to grandparents

The relationships and bonds that grandchildren and grandparents have can also improve the well-being of older adults. A study by the Institute of Gerontology at the School of Social and Public Policy in London found that the grandparent-grandchild relationship is strongly associated with the quality of life of older adults regarding their health. This means that grandparents, mainly grandmothers, who provide care for their grandchildren, enjoy better physical health. The study highlighted the importance of leading a relationship that does not fill grandparents with responsibilities and lets them lead a life without major worries. Otherwise it could cause depression.

The research was based on official data of 8,972 women and 6,567 men, 50 years of age or older, who had one or more grandchildren at the start of the study and lived in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden, contemplating a period of 5 years.

We believe that the help and advice of those who raised us and can now help us raise our children should always be welcomed.

How close were you to your grandparents? What is the relationship that your children have with their grandparents? We would absolutely love to read your stories and opinions in the comments section.

Preview photo credit Coco / Disney Pixar

This content was originally published here.