Health Care

December 13, 2009

A group of public-option-supporting Organizing for America activists delivered the following Shareholder Resolution to the offices of WellPoint health insurance in Indianapolis. They want the resolution to be considered at the next WellPoint annual meeting next May.


Whereas, the United States allows too many people to suffer and die due to lack of adequate health insurance and this is threatening the economic stability of the country; and

Whereas, no country has achieved universal healthcare through for-profit health insurance; and

November 29, 2009

With the U.S. House vote Nov. 7 approving historic health care reform, America's working families are another step closer to winning quality, affordable health care for all.

The citizens of Indiana owe thanks to U.S. Rep. Baron Hill, D-Ninth, who voted for the bill. Rep. Hill and other representatives who supported the bill faced down a daylong barrage of blatant falsehoods from opponents. Let's get the facts straight.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act, which now must be merged with a bill the Senate is expected to pass in coming weeks, covers 96 percent of Americans, is fully paid for and reduces the federal deficit, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The White House Council of Economic Advisers confirms it will aid job creation in both the short term and the long term.

November 29, 2009

One of my professors years ago was a round, little man who liked to warn us, with a twinkle in his eye, "Making predictions is very difficult, especially predictions about the future." Will a bill pass, in what form, and then what will the long-term implications be? It's hard to predict.

Dr. John Geyman, former president of Physicians for a National Health Plan, makes the case in a Tikkun magazine article, "The Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962): Enough Reform to Succeed?" He argues that whatever bill this Congress is able to pass will probably set the cause of single payer health care back because it "would leave in place an inefficient, exploitive insurance industry that is dying by its own hand, even as [the bill] props [the industry] up with enormous future profits through subsidized mandates."

His argument backs up Dr. Marcia Angell, who asks in the Huffington Post, "Is the House Health Care Bill Better than Nothing?"

November 21, 2009

Indiana citizens with autism are 20 percent more likely to be medicated than their counterparts are nationwide, according to an ongoing survey by the Interactive Autism Network (IAN).

One of every two Hoosiers with autism receives medication, whereas the national average is 41 percent. The disparities hold across the three main diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs):

  • Autistic Disorder - 22 percent;
  • Asperger's Disorder - 20 percent; and
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) - 22 percent.

The IAN data also show that Hoosiers spend less out of pocket caring for those on the ASD spectrum than the national average, $3,952 in Indiana versus $6,082 nationwide.

November 1, 2009

As healthcare reform legislation slowly takes shape, it is imperative that our public officials ensure equal coverage for mental health disorders.

The Senate Finance Committee made a critical change in its healthcare reform bill earlier this month to include full coverage for mental healthcare. This was an essential and welcome addition that was long overdue for the millions of men, women and children affected by conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. But this measure could easily fall by the wayside in the coming weeks if each of us is not vigilant in insisting that full coverage for mental health is a non-negotiable component of healthcare reform.

Too much is at stake to argue otherwise. We are all impacted by brain disorders. Statistics show that one in five Americans is diagnosed with a mental illness in his or her lifetime. Virtually every other American knows or loves someone who is diagnosed with a mental illness.

November 1, 2009

As the national focus on the H1N1 pandemic rages, additional evidence of a more insidious epidemic has emerged, with an all-too-expected shrug from the mainstream media. Results from two federal studies announced in October say parents have a 1-in-100-or-greater chance of having a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Since boys are four times more likely to have an ASD, their odds are as high as 1 in 60.

On Oct. 2, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the press and about 50 members of the autism community that an unreleased Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study shows the incidence of 8-year-olds with ASDs born in 1996 is 1 in 100. The agency's last two studies of children born in 1992 and 1994 put the chance at 1 in 150.

On Oct. 5, the journal Pediatrics published the results of HHS's Maternal and Child Health Bureau's "2007 National Survey of Children's Health," which showed 1 in 91 children between the ages of 3 and 17 had autism.

November 1, 2009

There's an old saw in the news business: Journalism is the first draft of history. Of course, there's an element of truth to this statement. Historians routinely make use of newspapers and magazines, photographs, broadcast transcripts and archival recordings to understand and interpret the past.

But all too often, news workers use this phrase to dodge responsibility for getting the historical record right. It's a convenient way to make claims to journalistic authority without much concern for historical accuracy, or public accountability for that matter.

October 18, 2009

The propaganda, misconceptions, and outright lies that prevailed during the first round of debates in Congress surrounding the Employee Free Choice Act (ECFA) fail to compare to the rhetoric spewing out of the people and organizations that are against health-care reform. Now that Congress has placed the ECFA on the back burner, the health care debate has taken a life of its own for some who separate those who are "patriotic" and believers in "democracy" and those who supposedly aren't.

The best option, a single-payer health-care plan as proposed under H.R. 676, would continue to provide a choice of doctors and health-care providers without any exclusions or limitations from the private sector. This is very different from a system where the government employs doctors and hospitals under "socialized medicine" and is often confused by ignorance or intent when opponents try to scare us and demonize Single Payer.

September 20, 2009

Don't count Dr. Aaron Carroll among those who were stunned by a Sept. 13 New England Journal of Medicine survey that said American physicians overwhelmingly support national health insurance. A researcher at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Carroll wasn't surprised because the data confirm studies he published in 2003 and 2008 on the subject of physician attitudes toward reform, work that drew national media attention, including an appearance on The Colbert Report.

In the New England Journal study, 63 percent of the doctors want a mix of public and private insurance plans, and 10 percent want a Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care system. In the April 1, 2008, edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine, Carroll and Dr. Ronald T. Ackerman, also from IU Med, published a survey that showed "a total of 59 percent supported legislation to establish national health insurance." Five years earlier, it was 49 percent.

"Those who tell you that doctors are against this or that doctors are really opposed to significant health care reform are not paying attention," Carroll said from his Indianapolis office during a telephone interview. "The good, carefully gathered evidence on this topic show that doctors really recognize that reform is necessary and are willing to take pretty big steps toward getting a better system."

September 6, 2009

I've been AWOL from The Bloomington Alternative during the month of August. I haven't been a total slacker, mind you. Aside from getting ready for the new school year and putting the finishing touches on a book manuscript, I've been keeping tabs on the media and politics by way of my blog.

Here are a few select items gleaned from my blog posts in recent weeks -- with a few additions and revisions for good measure.

First, the good news.

Power to the people

Curious the sort of popular protests that make the news these days. Some months ago it was the Tea Baggers. Lately it's been so-called Birthers and the anti-health care reformers who have captured the limelight.

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