Health Care

September 6, 2009

The American labor movement has a long history of fighting for the rights of not only union members, but for all workers. The eight-hour workday, safer work conditions and the elimination of child labor are just a few of the rights we take for granted that were gained through the sweat and blood of rank and file union members over the last century.

Unions are still on the front line fighting for the rights of all Americans in a battle between what's best for corporate America and what's right for all of us. Passing universal health care is an issue that will not only transform the lives of millions but will be remembered as the moment when this country lived up to its ideal of equality and declared that access to health care is a right for all of its citizens, not just for those who can afford it.

If not now, when?

August 23, 2009

If you’ve got health insurance, chances are you’ve seen your premiums go up for no apparent reason. Maybe your benefits have stayed the same, but now you pay more for the same -- or even less -- coverage than you had before. Or maybe you’ve gotten a bill from your insurance company for something you thought they’d pay for, only to discover you missed something in the fine print. Or there was no fine print at all.

You can get angry, but with so few options in the health insurance marketplace in Indiana, or any other state, you’d have no real choice and nowhere else to turn. And if you did have a choice, anytime you switch insurance companies, you run the risk of being denied for a pre-existing condition they themselves define. It’s a system that works better for insurance companies than for you.

August 23, 2009

Bloomington-area citizens who support universal health care should not count on their elected representatives in Congress for help. Republican Sen. Richard Lugar has publicly stated his opposition to any health care reform at this moment in history. Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh is economically beholden to the insurance and drug lobbies. And U.S. Reps. Baron Hill, D-Ninth, and Brad Ellsworth, D-Eighth, are both members of the congressional Blue Dog Coalition.

The Blue Dogs are a group of 52 conservative House Democrats, mostly from the South and Plains, who boast of their role in blocking President Barack Obama's goal of congressional votes on health care reform before the August recess. "The Blue Dogs have been successful in ensuring the House will have time to assess the committee products on health care reform, both in the House and the Senate, as there will be no vote on the House floor before August," they wrote in a July 29, 2009, statement.

Thus far during that recess, armed and dangerous right-wing vigilantes have hijacked the political debate, Big Med industries have poured tens of millions into "lobbying" for their interests and dishonest television advertising, and Republicans have hardened their resolve to defeat the Democrats' plans for a government-run "public option" for the uninsured and underinsured, similar to Medicare and the Veterans Administration programs.

August 9, 2009

Dr. Rob Stone is fairly confident that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi will produce healthcare reform legislation this year that will include a "public option." His concern is exactly what that government-administered alternative to corporate health care will actually be.

"My worst fear is that they are going to pass something that they're going to claim is something good, and it's perhaps going to be even worse than what we have now," said the Bloomington Hospital Emergency Room doctor and advocate for a single-payer healthcare system.

Specifically, Stone is worried the public option that is supposed to offer competition to private insurance companies -- "the people who are going to the trough and sucking money out of our health care system" -- will instead enable them to insure the "healthy and the wealthy" and dump the poor and sick onto the public plan.

July 26, 2009

As healthcare deliberations intensify on Capitol Hill, the American people are confronted with a bewildering array of information, opinion and analysis regarding the Obama administration’s plan to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system. In the spirit of public service, The Bloomington Alternative offers the following glossary of terms used by politicians, public relations professionals and pundits to “debate” healthcare reform.

Following a brief definition, the word or phrase is illustrated in common usage. Examples are taken from recent public statements regarding the President’s reform effort and the crisis of U.S. healthcare.

Blue Dog Democrats

See also Corporate Democrats

A coalition of moderate and conservative Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

July 26, 2009

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


A report on the racial inequalities in the healthcare system paints a grim picture of the shocking and inhumane racial inequities in Indiana. Released on July 15 by Health Care for America Now! (HCAN), Unequal Lives: Health Care Discrimination Harms Communities of Color in Indiana says Indiana's 1.05 million people of color are a lot sicker than whites and have less access to quality care.

"Throughout the nation's history, communities of color have been forced to accept health care that bears little resemblance to what is experienced by members of more advantaged groups," the report's authors say. "For people of color in Indiana and nationwide, life is shorter, chronic illness more prevalent and disability more common. These are predictable side-effects of a health care system that provides these communities in Indiana with narrower opportunities for regular health services, fewer treatment options and lower-quality care."

June 14, 2009

During the general election last year, then-Sen. Barack Obama and his rival, Sen. John McCain, met in Nashville, Tenn., for a "town hall" format presidential debate. Midway through the proceedings, a woman named Lindsey Trellow asked Obama one of the most cogent questions of the campaign: "Senator, selling healthcare coverage in America as a marketable commodity has become a very profitable industry. Do you believe healthcare should be treated as a commodity?"

Both candidates danced around the issue for a few minutes before debate moderator, Tom Brokaw, muddied the waters with a follow up question of his own. Today, as Congress considers a major overhaul of the healthcare system, this fundamental question is still off limits in political circles and the establishment media.

April 5, 2009

From what I have learned about the connection between autism and the environment these past many weeks, Dr. Christopher McDougle is the man in Indiana for questions like: How is environment defined when experts say they believe genetic predispositions for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) are triggered by environmental factors?

When I asked professionals working for children’s environmental health in the Hoosier state to recommend sources, McDougle topped their list. His resume includes: 1986 graduate of the IU School of Medicine and a child psychiatry fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center, one of world’s leading research centers on autism.

Another global leader is the treatment center McDougle started at IU’s Department of Psychiatry, where he returned in 1997, after seven years on the faculty at Yale, to head the child and adolescent psychiatry section. He was promoted to department chair three years later.

“We now have the largest autism clinic in America,” he said of the Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center, which is located in the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.

March 22, 2009

As clinical director at an IU School of Medicine autism treatment center, Naomi Swiezy is, by nature, a goal-oriented health-care practitioner. A researcher as well as a behavioral psychologist, her focus is on “research-based, empirically supported” approaches to treating the pervasive developmental disorder.

She uses the term “treat” advisedly. Like any expert in the field, she can only speculate on what causes the range of behavioral, social and intellectual impairments known as Autism Spectrum Disorders. Genetic predisposition triggered by unknown environmental factors is the prevailing wisdom. “Cure” isn’t a part of the vocabulary.

“It’s not about curing the autism,” Swiezy said during an interview at the Christian Sarkine Autism Treatment Center at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. “We don’t believe that’s a possibility.”

Autism is, in fact, a relatively new and little-understood condition, she said.

March 8, 2009

For Nila Sunday, the term “refrigerator mother” is more than a historic and discredited theory on the cause of autism. It’s a real and painful memory for the mother of one of the first autistic children in Indiana to be diagnosed.

The phrase was coined by Dr. Leo Kanner, an Austrian psychiatrist who first identified autism in 1943, 21 years before the birth of then-Nila Inman’s twin sons Kevin and Keith. In 1949, Kanner cited a "genuine lack of maternal warmth" and "parental coldness” as common threads in the families of children with autism.

“That was the first thing that I started to hear,” Sunday said. “And that was exactly the opposite of the way I was with my kids.”

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