Health Care

Al Jazeera discussion explores press corps puff, third-party neglect

January 14, 2012

Watching Newsweek's Eleanor Clift confront the question "Are most political reporters simply insiders?" is a discomfiting experience. Her struggle to defend the indefensible unavoidably inspires compassion for her uneasy predicament. But the case she makes so proves the point that any sympathy engendered morphs quickly into cynicism.

The political reporter appeared on a Dec. 29, 2011, panel discussion on Al Jazeera, subtitled the question du jour. Joining her were Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, of whose candidacy Clift knew nothing. Al Jazeera devoted a third of the half-hour program's opinions to the former Salt Lake City mayor. Clift apparently had never heard of him.

"I think Rocky Anderson is running probably to get his issues out there, more than from an expectation that he might necessarily win," she awkwardly speculated aloud, unsure about the Justice Party's name, no less.

December 31, 2011

Erin Mahon relies on alternative medicines now more than ever because she is seven months pregnant and plans to give birth at home. The 27-year-old prepares for her home birth by taking several vitamins, drinking different types of teas and receiving acupuncture.

Mahon said she hates hospitals because they make her uncomfortable. She is doing as much as she can to be ready when the time comes.

"No one is going to offer me an epidural in my living room," she said, referring to a pain relief injection often given in the spine during labor. "Any little thing that I do helps me feel more prepared and more comfortable with [giving birth at home]."

Presidential candidate stresses jobs, environment, health care and peace

December 26, 2011

Seven weeks before Jill Stein declared her candidacy for president, the Lexington, Mass., physician outlined her priorities in a plan she called the "Green New Deal" – jobs, climate change, universal health care and peace. When she announced her bid for the Green Party nomination on Oct. 24, 2011, the Chicago native presented herself as an alternative to the two "Wall Street parties.”

“They’re privatizing education, rolling back civil liberties and racial justice, plundering the environment and driving us towards the calamity of climate change,” she said in a news release accompanying her announcement. "… We need people in Washington who refuse to be bought by lobbyist money and for whom change is not just a slogan.”

'Prostate cancer is the least of my worries'
October 1, 2011

Ethan McKenzie didn't have to read Dr. Rob Stone's article "Health care vs. wealth care in America" to know how screwed he is by the U.S. "health-care" industry. What led the 59-year-old to share his story with The Bloomington Alternative was the timing, along with the line, "Self-employed and a pre-existing condition – in America today with those two strikes, you are out."

Until a month before Stone's article was published on Sept. 17, the IU employee had been self-insured with one costly but manageable pre-existing condition. Five days after he read the piece, McKenzie learned he now has two. It will be a few weeks before he learns if he has prostate cancer. But there's no question that until age 65 and Medicare eligibility, he's an economic hostage held by people who would benefit by his premature demise and have no twinge of conscience if it happened.

"Being self-insured with pre-existing conditions makes me feel like Troy Davis," he said, "an innocent man facing a death sentence. But in my case, a swift execution could be the preferred outcome."

Divest from health insurance companies

September 17, 2011

I was the doctor on duty one night in August when the ambulance rushed a man into our Midwestern hospital ER. As I walked into the room, the scene was right out of TV. A nurse was trying to start an IV. Someone was running an EKG. A student had just put oxygen in the patient’s nose. The room seemed crowded. The paramedics were sweating and slightly out of breath.

But my attention was on a pale, thin, 55-year-old man sitting bolt upright on a gurney, clutching his chest and straining to breathe. Cold sweat dripped off his nose. I asked a couple of quick questions as I leaned him forward to listen to his lungs. Someone handed me his EKG showing an acute heart attack.

June 24, 2011

Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) is relieved that U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt has granted its motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the enforcement of the new state law that strips Medicaid funding from PPIN. The decision means that PPIN can once again be reimbursed for the preventive health care it provides its 9,300 Medicaid patients.

The Honorable Tanya Walton Pratt agreed with PPIN’s claims that the new law violates federal law and feels that even though administrative review is available, the federal government should be given deference. “To use a sports metaphor, just because the final buzzer has not yet sounded does not mean the Court must avert its eyes from the scoreboard.”

June 6, 2011

Planned Parenthood

INDIANAPOLIS – A U.S. District Court judge today held a hearing on Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s request for a preliminary injunction against HEA 1210, the new state law that strips Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN). PPIN is represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU). The Honorable Tanya Walton Pratt did not indicate specifically when she will issue her decision, but said it will be by July 1.

Judge Walton Pratt heard arguments from both the ACLU and the state this morning. On behalf of PPIN, the ACLU argued that the defunding language in HEA 1210 violates federal Medicaid law and the U.S. Constitution. PPIN also contended that thanks to this new measure, its health care professionals will be forced to make statements to patients that are not medically and scientifically based, also in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

June 4, 2011

Southern Indiana citizens will pay dearly for cuts in Medicare proposed by House Republicans and supported by Reps. Todd Young, R-9th, and Larry Buschon, R-8th, according to House Democrats.

For example, according to a district-by-district analysis prepared by Democratic staff for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce called "Impacts of the Republican Medicare Plan," Young's constituents between the ages of 44 and 54 will have to save between $182,000 to $287,000 per individual to pay for increased cost of health coverage over their lifetimes. Younger residents of the district would have to save even more.

Health insurance giant focus on profits for elites, lip service for patients

June 3, 2011

On May 17, 2011, the traffic in downtown Indianapolis moved slower than an insurance company clerk preparing a reimbursement check, backed up for blocks, and if we were one second late the doors to the WellPoint annual shareholders meeting would be sealed, protected by armed guards. We jumped out of the car, leaving it our friend Donna Smith to find a parking spot, and started running up the street, dodging traffic, past the phalanx of police cars and into the Hilton.

Breathlessly rushing through the lobby we asked which floor for the WellPoint meeting and luckily didn't wait long for an elevator. When we reached the ninth floor with minutes to spare, the WellPoint staff at the registration desk greeted us like old friends, "Dr. Stone, we were afraid you weren't going to make it."

May 20, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Anthem WellPoint’s got to go” on an uncharacteristically cold and rainy May 17, about 50 people gathered from across Indiana in front of the Indianapolis City Market.

The occasion was the annual rally for single-payer health care, sponsored by Hoosiers for a Commonsense Health Plan (HCHP), Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC), Jobs with Justice, Indiana chapter of the AFL-CIO, the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Health Care and Physicians for a National Health Plan.

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