Did Bloomberg Say Elderly Cancer Patients Should Not Be Treated To Alleviate Health Care Costs?

In February 2020, we received multiple inquiries from readers about the accuracy of reports which claimed that 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg had once said health care providers should not treat elderly patients with cancer due to the improbability of their recovery and as a means of prioritizing treatments for younger patients and stemming a rise in health care costs and hospital overcrowding. 

On Feb. 18, the right-leaning Daily Caller website published an article with the headline “Mike Bloomberg Said Elderly Cancer Patients Should Be Denied Treatment to Cut Costs.” The article reported that:

Billionaire and Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg said in a 2011 video that elderly cancer patients should be denied treatment in order to cut health care costs. “All of these costs keep going up, nobody wants to pay any more money, and at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us,” said Bloomberg, who was then New York City’s mayor.

“‘We’ve got to sit here and say which things we’re going to do, and which things we’re not, nobody wants to do that. Y’know, if you show up with prostate cancer, you’re 95 years old, we should say, ‘Go and enjoy. Have a nice [inaudible]. Live a long life. There’s no cure, and we can’t do anything.’ If you’re a young person, we should do something about it,” Bloomberg said in the video.

The same article was later republished by the National Interest magazine, and on Feb. 17 the right-leaning Red State blog published an article with a headline that stated “Bloomberg Suggests Denying Care to Elderly Patient With Cancer Because Not Cost Effective in 2011 Video.”

All three articles contained a 40-second video clip of Bloomberg sitting with a group of men, making the following remarks:

[…] And what things they can’t fix right away. If you’re bleeding, they’ll stop the bleeding, if you need an X-Ray, you’re going to have to wait. All of these costs keep going up, nobody wants to pay any more money, and at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us. So not only do we have a problem, it’s going to bankrupt us, and we’ve got to sit here and say which things we’re going to do and which things we’re not. Nobody wants to do that. If you show up with prostate cancer and you’re 95 years old, we should say ‘Go and enjoy, have a nice [inaudible], lead a long life.’ There’s no cure and you can’t do anything. If you’re a young person, we should do something about it. Society’s not willing to do that yet. So we’re going to bankrupt us, and we’re not looking at […]

Bloomberg says we should deny healthcare to the elderly.

“If you show up with cancer & you’re 95 years old, we should say, Go & enjoy. There’s no cure, we can’t do anything. A young person, we should do something. Society’s not willing to do that yet.”

Bloomberg undoubtedly made the remarks shown in that video. Although the 40-second clip was cut from longer footage, it was not doctored or further edited. Likewise, the video did not present the remarks in their full and proper context, but that did not serve to substantially alter or misrepresent the sense or meaning of what Bloomberg said. He did indeed propose that, in light of rising health care costs and hospital overcrowding in New York, health care providers should not attempt to treat elderly patients with terminal cancer, instead prioritizing younger patients with better prospects of recovery. 

Analysis

The conversation shown in the video took place in February 2011. Bloomberg was “sitting shiva” (a Jewish mourning ritual) with the family of Rabbi Moshe Segal, a Brooklyn man who, according to his family, spent 73 hours in a New York emergency room before his death. Shimon Gifter, a Brooklyn photographer, recorded more than nine minutes of Bloomberg’s visit and posted it to his YouTube channel. 

The full conversation can be viewed below. In the interest of providing as much context as possible, the following is an unedited transcript of the section of the discussion during which Bloomberg made his comments about treating elderly cancer patients. The first few seconds shows Bloomberg entering the room, greeting and shaking hands with Segal’s family members, some of whom thank him for his visit. Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York City at that time, sits and observes that the deceased was “young.” A brother of Segal replies “Very young,” then quickly segues into a conversation about health care:

Segal’s brother: …I apologize for bringing up conditions in New York City during this [visit], but in light of my brother’s death, I must tell you that we have, I know you know this, but from personal experience the overcrowding in the emergency rooms is insane. He was there for 73 hours [inaudible] —

Bloomberg: It’s going to get worse with the health care bill [the Affordable Care Act] and with the governor’s cutbacks, because the governor’s cutbacks — which, he may not have any choice in all fairness to the governor — but there’d be less money, some of these small hospitals will close, some of these other programs, and people will come to the HHC [New York Health and Hospitals Corporation] hospitals, and that’s —

Segal’s brother: — They’ll be there for days, [inaudible].

Bloomberg: Well, they try to decide what things they can fix right away and what things they can’t fix right away. If you’re bleeding, they’ll stop the bleeding, if you need an X-Ray, you’re going to have to wait. That’s just — all of these costs keep going up, nobody wants to pay any more money, and at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us. So not only do we have a problem, it’s going to bankrupt us, and we’ve got to sit here and say which things we’re going to do and which things we’re not. Nobody wants to do that. If you show up with prostate cancer and you’re 95 years old, we should say, ‘Go and enjoy, have a nice [inaudible], lead a long life.’ There’s no cure and you can’t do anything. If you’re a young person, we should do something about it. Society’s not willing to do that yet. So we’re going to bankrupt us, and we’re not looking at prophylactic care. We’re not trying to take care of things so we don’t get sick. Nobody ever says thank you for keeping you from getting sick, they say thank you if you’re sick and we cure you […].

We invited Bloomberg’s presidential campaign to provide any context, background or additional information that might impinge upon a viewer’s understanding of his remarks. We also asked the campaign whether Bloomberg stood by what he said. We did not receive a response of any kind in time for publication.

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Your child’s mental health is more important than grades

1. “Children represent the future, encourage, support and guide them.” Catherine Pulsifer

2. “My children have always been great inspiration for me, and great teachers, and keep me very close to the ground and very humble.” Wayne Dyer, In Spirit

3. As a parent, you must increase socialization skills in your children so that they will feel motivated enough to mingle with others. Marvin Ryan, Self Esteem

4. I believe adults and parents who do not get involved in children’s lives effectively forfeit any right to attempt to influence their lives.

5. It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. Frederick Douglass

6. Kids are kids the world around. No matter what, if you give them a soccer ball, a deck of cards, or anything, and if you close your eyes, you would never know where you were from the sound of it. It’s just incredible to hear them laughing. I know that what I’m getting is far more than anything I possibly can give them. Fay Deavignon
Motivational Poems |

7. “Indeed, the world children are being born into now is in many ways enormously different from the era in which we were raising our children.” Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn,

8. Often mothers and fathers hesitate to be too involved, not wanting to be seen as clamoring or insistent – as stereotypical sports parents. It is a difficult thing to balance: coaches may know a sport, but they are rarely the best judges of what is best for a child. Michael Sokolove, Warrior Girls

9. The most valuable gift that you can give your children is not money; it is the ability to think positively. The money will soon be gone, but the ability to think positively will go on to help your children be a success throughout their lives. Mary Kay

10. “Parents with their words, attitudes, and actions possess the ability to bless or curse the identities of their children.” Craig Hill,

11. “I understood once I held a baby in my arms, why some people… keep having them.”

12. “And, most importantly, I know that we need to directly teach our children the most vital lessons, rather than assume that they’ll be understood.” Galit Breen, Kindness Wins
Kindness |

13. We are children of a large family, and must learn, as such children do, not to expect that our little hurts will be made much of – to be content with little nurture and caressing, and help each other the more. George Eliot
Quote of the Day |

14. “In the best of all possible worlds, parents and guardians love their children, unconditionally. They accept their children with all their imperfections, flaws, quirks and challenges, because real love never has to be earned; it’s given freely by those who are able to love.” Marcia Sirota, Be Kind, Not Nice

The post Your child’s mental health is more important than grades appeared first on Wake Up Your Mind.

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Guy Sets Up Dog Walking Group To Get Men Out In The Fresh Air And Talk About Mental Health

Rob Osman from Bristol, England, has had it pretty rough. The 38-year-old has battled with anxiety and depression for most of his life, and at one point was reduced to living in his sister’s windowless basement smoking far too much weed to care. Eventually, however, Rob found a way out of the rut.

Many things have helped him to get better, including the pursuit of a psychology and counseling degree at a local university. But the best remedy was walking his Hungarian Vizsla, Mali. As they were strolling outside, Rob felt his body relax and the tension melting away.

Realizing the huge healing power of this simple everyday activity, he set up a group called Dudes & Dogs. It’s a mental wellness community that encourages men to get out in the fresh air for a walk and talk about their feelings.

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

“Talking helps. It really does,” Osman wrote on the group’s website. “It’s helped me no end, but sometimes as men, we aren’t the best at it. Well Dudes & Dogs wants to change that for the next generation. There is no doubt things are changing. We want to be a part of that. By simply getting outside, talking things through, we can start to change our mood.”

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

It all started during one of those wet, windy, and cold days that the UK is so notorious for. There was no way in hell Rob wanted to go out, especially not the way he was feeling.

But there was the dog. She didn’t care that her owner felt like crap. She didn’t care that the weather was rubbish, she just wanted to get out and play. “It’s been the best therapy I’ve ever had,” Rob said.

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

Pretty soon Osman started inviting friends on walks with Mali. Some days they would chat but often they simply hang out. But most importantly, discovered that his friends were also benefiting from the dog and fresh. This got the man thinking if he could expand this model to more people. More men.

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

They are very resistant to seeking mental health treatment. According to a study by Priori, 40% of men won’t talk to anyone about their mental health. Dogs, however, seem to ease them into having these conversations.

“They need someone to listen,” Osman told TODAY. “The idea of using a dog gives people an hour away from the family and gets them out. Dogs are like four-legged antidepressants. When people are around them they drop their defenses. They play with the dog.”

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

To learn more about the program watch the video below

Image credits:

Image credits: jamesbeckphotography

If you want to support Dudes & Dogs, check out their crowdfunding campaign

Image credits: dudes_anddogs

Image credits:

Image credits: Rob Osman

Image credits: Rob Osman

Image credits: Rob Osman

Image credits: Rob Osman

Here’s what some of the guys who went on a walk with Rob had to say about it

This content was originally published here.

Person dies from coronavirus in Washington state, first in the US, health officials say

President Trump makes remarks in the White House press briefing room on the coronavirus.

Health officials in Washington confirmed Saturday that one person has died from coronavirus, marking the first disease-related death in the U.S.

Seattle and King County Public Health officials issued a vague media advisory announcing the first COVID-19 death in the U.S., adding that there was an undisclosed number of new cases, as well.

News of the death comes on the heels of three new cases in California, Oregon and Washington in which the patients were infected by unknown means. They had not recently traveled overseas or had come into contact with anyone who had.

President Trump said during a press conference Saturday that 22 people in the U.S. have been stricken by the new coronavirus and that additional cases are “likely.”

“Unfortunately, one person passed away overnight,” Trump said, referring to a patient in Washington state in their 50s who was “medically high-risk.”

“Four others are very ill,” Trump said. “Thankfully 15 are either recovered fully or they’re well on their way to recovery. And in all cases, they’ve been let go in their home.”

He said: “Additional cases in the United States are likely. But healthy individuals should be able to fully recover.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States is considered small. Worldwide, the number of people sickened by the virus hovered Friday around 83,000, and there were more than 2,800 deaths, most of them in China.

The new COVID-19 cases of unknown origins mark an escalation of the worldwide outbreak in the U.S. because it means the virus could spread beyond the reach of preventative measures such as quarantines, though state health officials said that was inevitable and that the risk of widespread transmission remains low.

As new cases have popped up in the United States, COVID-19 has become a polarizing point of contention between Democrats and the White House.

At a rally in South Carolina Friday night, Trump accused his Democratic critics of “politicizing” the coronavirus outbreak and dismissed the criticism about his handling of the virus as “their new hoax” and insisted “we are totally prepared.”

Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this report.

This content was originally published here.

Whistle-Blower Reports on U.S. Health Workers Response to Coronavirus Outbreak – The New York Times

The levels of protection varied even while he was at Miramar, he said. Standards were more lax at first, but once people arrived who appeared to be sick, workers began donning personal protective equipment. He is now back at work, and has yet to be tested for coronavirus exposure.

In the complaint, the whistle-blower painted a grim portrait of agency staff members who found themselves on the front lines of a frantic federal effort to confront the coronavirus in the United States without any preparation or training, and whose own health concerns were dismissed by senior administration officials as detrimental to staff “morale.” They were “admonished,” the complaint said, and “accused of not being team players,” and had their “mental health and emotional stability questioned.”

March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., housed 195 people evacuated from Wuhan, China, for 14 days beginning in late January, while Travis in Northern California has housed a number of quarantined people in recent weeks, including some of the approximately 400 Americans on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had docked in Japan.

The staff members, who had some experience with emergency management coordination, were woefully underprepared for the mission they were given, according to the whistle-blower.

“They were not properly trained or equipped to operate in a public health emergency situation,” the official wrote. “They were potentially exposed to coronavirus; appropriate measures were not taken to protect the staff from potential infection; and appropriate steps were not taken to quarantine, monitor or test them during their deployment and upon their return home.”

Some of the staff raised concerns with top officials with the agency, but saw no changes. The whistle-blower said they complained to Charles Keckler, an associate deputy secretary at Health and Human Services, in an email on Feb. 10. After the email, the complaint said, top officials, including Lynn Johnson, the assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, “admitted that they did not understand their mission,” and that her agency “broke protocols” because of the “unprecedented crisis” and an “‘all hands on deck’ call to action” by Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top official for public health emergencies and disasters.

Since learning of the whistle-blower’s concerns last Wednesday, Mr. Gomez’s office and officials with the Ways and Means Committee have repeatedly pressed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for details. The whistle-blower has also notified the C.D.C. and the health agency inspector general about the concerns.

Representative Richard E. Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said the complaint appeared to be part of a pattern of ineptitude and mistrust of civil servants by the Trump administration.

“The president has spent years assaulting our health care system, draining resources from key health programs, and showing utter disdain for career federal employees who are the backbone of our government,” Mr. Neal said in a statement provided to The Times. “It’s sadly no surprise we’re seeing this degree of ineptitude during a terrible crisis.”

This content was originally published here.

America is about to get a godawful lesson in why health care should never be a for-profit business

For four decades, American corporations have been caught up in a whole series of refinements that are intended to improve efficiency and productivity. Our processes are lean. Our efficiency is six-sigma. Our productivity has mysteriously run far ahead of employee compensation in a way that has made CEOs billionaires while leaving workers on food stamps.

It’s a system that maximizes profit. But it’s also a system that assumes that everything can be stripped to the bare bones; that business can make do with minimal staffing, minimal supplies, minimal alternatives. Nothing is there that makes the system in the least unprofitable. The system stands like a house of glass, waiting for something to challenge its fragility.

And in the United States, health care is just that kind of system.

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Like every other system in America, we now have a super-lean, infinite-sigma healthcare system, absolutely dependent on every cog remaining in place. It’s one in which there are fewer than a million hospital beds for the entire nation; one in which many, many rural counties have no hospital at all. Because that’s the most profitable way of running the system, and that’s what happens when health care is subjected to the winnowing of the marketplace—just barely enough health care, at the highest possible prices people will tolerate without demanding a change.

It’s exactly where a nation does not want to be when encountering a health crisis. And it’s why America is, unfortunately, about to get a lesson in why there is much more to a national health system than whether you pay for it in taxes or with checks to an insurance company.

In the 1960s, astronauts used to joke about flying on a giant rocket built by a collection of contractors who submitted the lowest bids. But NASA had a safety culture then, and now, that demanded each of those components be tested and retested until its function was as near certain as possible. A spacecraft is the opposite of “lean,” with a backup, and a backup, and a backup to the backup’s backup at every possible point—and a massive staff of very smart people standing by to get creative if Murphy scores a perfect strike.

None of this is true for our healthcare system. Failure very much is an option at every clinic and hospital in America. A certain level of failure is even assumed. Building a system with redundancies and experts who were not always pushed to their absolute limits would cost more. Every intern, doctor, and nurse (especially nurse) who you ever met was overworked, because running the system on the ragged edge of failure is exactly the sweet spot. Or at least it is as far as corporations whose goal is to milk every penny from the process are concerned. In the average hospital visit, there are more people involved in billing you than in treating you.

This thinking isn’t just pervasive and accepted—it’s also actively considered a very good thing. During his press event on Wednesday afternoon, before fumbling the hot coronavirus potato into the waiting hands of Mike “Smoking is good for you” Pence, Donald Trump defended the cuts he had made to the CDC and the experts on pandemics he had dropped from the National Security Council and the epidemiologists he had flushed from his planning team. He didn’t want those people sitting around when they weren’t needed, said Trump. Besides, he claimed, you could always go and get them when they were needed. Because somewhere, somehow, there is a system that keeps vital specialists waiting in hermetically sealed containers, fresh, ready, and informed to meet the nation’s needs.

That is, it goes without saying, bullshit. But let me say it again. Bullshit. The value of an expert brought in to repair a system after disaster strikes is so much less than the value of having that person on hand to plan that the old ounce of prevention being greater than pound of cure formula doesn’t begin to cover it. You cannot decide to hire some pilots after the plane has crashed.

The thing about extraordinary events is that they’re extraordinary. Planning for them will never improve profits. It will only save lives.

By treating health care like a business, Americans have already seen one of the first people who dared ask to be tested for COVID-19 get handed a bill for thousands of dollars, the primary result of which will be to dissuade other Americans from asking to be tested. Which is, right there, exactly the result that is best for insurance companies—and worst for the nation.

It’s an absolute certainty that Americans will hide their sniffles, drown their symptoms in over-the-counter drugs, and try to “tough it out” because they can’t afford health care. Besides, they have no paid sick leave, no paid child care, and no guarantee that missing a day’s work won’t mean being cast to the curb. All that “socialist” crap.

And because our whole system runs so excellently lean, American hospitals are already seeing shortages of everything from gowns to masks to painkillers, because the single-source, lowest-price vendor of those items happens to be in an area that’s already been overrun with the coronavirus. Not only have those factories on the far side of the planet been sitting idle for weeks, but what production has been available has been needed close to home. 

Right now in Hubei province, Chinese healthcare workers are staggering around in exhaustion. Or, as American hospital workers call it, Thursday. Our understaffed, undersupplied, overworked facilities spend every day running at their limits. That’s what is considered normal.

The concern about dollars over people is so accepted that on Thursday the White House announced two new members of the Coronavirus Task Force—Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council chief Larry Kudlow. Though to be fair, it’s not as if they completely lack expertise. Kudlow does have long familiarity with taking nasally administered drugs from rolled $100 bills. So there’s that. And if in this version of The Stand the role of the Rat Man is to be played by Mnuchin … no one can say that this is not good casting.

Disaster is far from certain. Local and state officials can still take measures that will slow the impact of COVID. And antiviral medicines may prove effective, or maybe a vaccine will come along more quickly than expected— though, should either happen, you can assume there will be a line of Pharma Bros on hand to buy the companies involved and raise the prices to eye-watering levels. After all, holding people’s lives hostage is exactly what our healthcare system is all about.

COVID-19 is going to swing a big hammer at the glass house of American health care. All anyone can do is hope they don’t get cut in the process.

And then vote to change the damn system.

This content was originally published here.

Philippines declares state of public health emergency due to coronavirus | ABS-CBN News

Commuters mostly wearing face masks cross at a busy street in Mandaluyong on February 5, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte has placed the Philippines under a state of public health emergency to arrest the spread of novel coronavirus infections after authorities confirmed local transmissions of the disease.

Over the weekend, health authorities confirmed 7 cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 10. Duterte’s order came nearly 3 weeks after the Department of Health suggested declaring a public health emergency when the first cases emerged.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 constitutes an emergency that threatens national security which requires a whole-of-government response…” Duterte said in Proclamation No. 922 signed on Sunday.

“The declaration of a State of Public Health Emergency would capacitate government agencies and LGUs to immediately act to prevent loss of life, utilize appropriate resources to implement urgent and critical measures to contain or prevent the spread of COVID-19, mitigate its effects and impact to the community, and prevent serious disruption of the functioning of the government and the community,” he said.

READ: President Duterte issues Proclamation No. 922 declaring a state of public health emergency in the Philippines @ABSCBNNews pic.twitter.com/DPD5E5sME9

— Arianne Merez (@arianne_merez)

The declaration shall remain in effect until the President lifts or withdraws it.

With Duterte’s proclamation, all government agencies and local government units are urged to mobilize the necessary resources to “eliminate the COVID-19 threat.”

The health chief is also given authority to call upon the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies for assistance in addressing the threat of the virus.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday said the President’s proclamation paves the way for easier procurement of medical supplies needed to contain the virus as well as access to sufficient funding for agencies, including local government units, for proper response to the disease outbreak.

Duque added that the proclamation gives the government powers for mandatory quarantine of patients and requires health authorities to provide updates on issues concerning the disease outbreak.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo on Sunday said Duterte’s move came “after considering all critical factors with the aim of safeguarding the health of the Filipino public.” 

Over the weekend, the health department raised the country’s alert system to Code Red, Sub-level 1 because of the virus, which was meant to serve as a “preemptive call” for authorities and health workers to “prepare for possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases.” 

COVID-19 has killed 3,792 people while infecting more than 109,000 in 95 countries worldwide.

-with a report from Agence-France Presse

This content was originally published here.

Psychiatrist Prescribes Disney Trips As Mental Health Treatment

Mental Health has become more serious and frequently discussed in recent years. People are taking it more seriously to work out things going on inside their minds and find peace within situations that occur in our lives. While our society is more aware of the benefits of positive mental health, they are seeking help. There is no shame in that! Taking care of your personal health is important. So if you are thinking about seeing a Doctor and getting help, do it. Get the help you need. You may even get a Disney trip prescribed! In fact, one Psychiatric is even prescribing trips to Disney World or Disneyland! That is a treatment plan I fully support.

These new treatment plans have been used by Dr. Sanders at Psychiatry Today, who has been prescribing patients week-long getaways to Disney Resorts as part of his treatment plans. His approach is based on “humans exposed to environments encompassing the patient with positivity and experiences that are enriching have changed the outlook for the patients.” I can see why he believes the positive atmosphere manufactured by Disney would help people gain joy and be uplifting while dealing with a hard time. They are the World’s Happiest and most Magical place for a reason. While this is just part of his treatment plan We will leave the treatment plans and real work to the professionals.

We have discussed why it’s important for Adult Only Disney trips and we even listed the stress-free, positive environment. See, we were on to something! So if you need a trip to unwind, have some pixie dust sprinkled in your life, it looks like Disney is the way to go. Doctors orders. Even if it is just Doctor Who.

Is Disney your happy place? My name is Jamie Porter and Disney World has been my happy place for many years! My family and I have been AP for 8 years, and lucky enough to live here in Central Florida. I helped many friends and family plan their travel I became a Travel Agent with Amazing Magical Adventures. I have been a TA for 6 years and love it. If you have any questions or would like a FREE quote, feel free to follow me on Facebook @JamiePorterSellsTravel or email JamiePorter@AmazingMagicalAdventures.com

The post Psychiatrist Prescribes Disney Trips As Mental Health Treatment appeared first on Disney Addicts.

This content was originally published here.

When you notice your mental health declining

5 Powerful Ways to Help You Deal With Depression

Depression is a very serious medical and psychological disorder that puts your outlook on life in negative and dangerous perspective.

By its definition, depression drains your hope, energy and your motivation, making it extremely difficult to feel better.

It is a quite common disorder and one in third people have experienced depression during their lifetimes, in one way or another.

One person out of ten, experiences moderate to severe symptoms of depression.

To overcome depression, the key is to start with small steps.

Healing and getting better takes time and it is important that you don’t expect overnight results.

Try to make positive choices for each and every day.

When dealing with depression, it is crucial to make an effort and take action, no matter how hard it may seem when you are overwhelmed with negativity.

One of the simple methods is to come up with so-called ‘happy thoughts’.

Those are things that you enjoy and that make you feel good even when thinking about doing them.

Exercising, going out, spending time with family, friends and engaging in a pleasurable hobby are all highly beneficial and recommended steps.

The things that are most difficult to tackle are those that will help you most in the long run.

However, it is important to start small, by doing something that will make you feel good right now.

Every small step that you make is one step closer to becoming a healthier and better version of you.

1. Stay connected and get support

It is crucial that you reach out to other people when dealing with depression.

By knowing that you have help and support will help you keep healthy perspective towards the future you are planning to build.

When you are depressed, it is oftentimes difficult to connect to friends and family, but staying active and involved in social situations with other people can keep a positive effect on your mood and outlook.

You will simply feel less depressed when you are around other people.

Try to talk to a friend or family member who is a good listener.

They don’t need to be able to offer any helpful solutions. Just the mere act of talking and sharing how you feel can help you relieve depression.

One of the ‘tricks’ is partaking in social activities that help others – like volunteering.

Researches have come to the conclusion that providing support to others in need, be it to people or animals will boost your mood.

It doesn’t have to be anything big.

You can start small by simply offering a listening ear to a friend in need.

You will see that these small steps will help you go a long way.

2. Engage in activities that make you feel good

Even if you don’t feel like it at the moment, if you force yourself to engage in activity that you know will make you feel better, you will give yourself opportunity to break the depression cycle you’re in at the moment and open up to positive outcomes.

Typical for this situation is that you will feel glad that you forced yourself to partake in the said activity, as it will make you feel so much better about yourself and life.

Doing fun and pleasurable activities won’t cure your depression, but they will help you feel more energetic and increase production of ‘happy hormones’ in your brain.

These activities are known to help people relieve effects of depression:

  • Spending time in nature and in the sun
  • Making a list of things that you like about yourself
  • Fill a bathtub with warm water and have a long and relaxing bath
  • Read a book that you enjoy
  • Play with your pet
  • Listen to the music that is on your ‘favorites’ playlist
  • Watch funny video compilations
  • Make a list of small and easily achievable tasks and complete them one by one
  • Go out with your friend or a group of friends
  • Find a hobby that you enjoy doing
  • Find the way to express yourself – through art, exercise, dancing, learning or a hobby
  • Make small trips to places you always wanted to visit.

3. Build healthy habits

Having enough sleep is one of the most important things when dealing with depression.

If you sleep less than optimal eight hours, oftentimes both your mood and energy for that day will suffer.

If you have troubles with sleep, think about the stressful situations that you are exposed to, and try to grasp what it is that stresses you.

Finding the way to take control over a situation that causes you stress will help you relieve the pressure and feel better.

One of the useful practices that you should adopt are relaxation exercises such as yoga, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, meditation and many others.

4. Pay attention to the food you eat

Learn about what foods are beneficial and what to avoid.

Intake of certain types of food directly affect your brain and mood. Typical examples are caffeine, alcohol and trans-fats.

Avoid those whenever possible and try not to skip meals as it will make you additionally irritable.

Avoid sugary snacks and refined carbs.

Although they can lift your mood for a short time, they are known as energy crashers.

5. Get help from a professional

Making these small steps can significantly help you when dealing with depression, but they are not a substitute for getting a professional help.

Depression is a serious condition that can negatively affect your life in more ways than just one, but it is treatable and easily manageable if you seek professional help.


Rest assured that all these small steps together will bring you speedy and complete recovery.

Start small and start today, with any single thing from this list.

The post When you notice your mental health declining appeared first on The Powerful Mind.

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With only three official cases, Africa’s low coronavirus rate puzzles health experts

To date, only three cases of infection have been officially recorded in Africa, one in Egypt, one in Algeria and one in Nigeria, with no deaths.

This is a remarkably small number for a continent with nearly 1.3 billion inhabitants, and barely a drop in the ocean of more than 86,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths recorded in some 60 countries worldwide.

Shortly after the virus appeared, specialists warned of the risks of its spreading in Africa, because of the continent’s close commercial links with Beijing and the fragility of its medical services.

“Our biggest concern continues to be the potential for Covid-19 to spread in countries with weaker health systems,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, told African Union health ministers gathered in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on February 22.

In a study published in The Lancet medical journal on the preparedness and vulnerability of African countries against the importation of Covid-19, an international team of scientists identified Algeria, Egypt and South Africa as the most likely to import new coronavirus cases into Africa, though they also have the best prepared health systems in the continent and are the least vulnerable.

‘Nobody knows’

As to why the epidemic is not more widespread in the continent, “nobody knows”, said Professor Thumbi Ndung’u, from the African Institute for Health Research in Durban, South Africa. “Perhaps there is simply not that much travel between Africa and China.”

But Ethiopian Airlines, the largest African airline, never suspended its flights to China since the epidemic began, and China Southern on Wednesday resumed its flights to Kenya. And, of course, people carrying coronavirus could enter the country from any of the other 60-odd countries with known cases.

Favourable climate factors have also been raised as a possibility.

“Perhaps the virus doesn’t spread in the African ecosystem, we don’t know,” said Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, head of the infectious diseases department at Bichat hospital in Paris.

This hypothesis was rejected by Professor Rodney Adam, who heads the infection control task force at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. “There is no current evidence to indicate that climate affects transmission,” he said. “While it is true that for certain infections there may be genetic differences in susceptibility…there is no current evidence to that effect for Covid-19.”

Nigeria well-equipped

The study in The Lancet found that Nigeria, a country at moderate risk of contamination, is also one of the best-equipped in the continent to handle such an epidemic.

But the scientists had not anticipated that the first case recorded in sub-Saharan Africa would be an Italian working in the country.

Little more than a week ago, “our model was based on an epidemic concentrated in China, but since then the situation has completely changed, and the virus can now come from anywhere,” Mathias Altmann, an epidemiologist at the University of Bordeaux and one of the co-authors of the report, told FRANCE 24 on Friday. The short shelf-life of studies testify to the speed of the epidemic’s spread.

The Italian who tested positive for the coronavirus in Lagos had arrived from Milan on February 24 but had no symptoms when his plane landed. He was quarantined four days later at the Infectious Disease Hospital in Yaba. Several people from the company where he works have been contacted and officials are trying to trace other people with whom he might have had contact.

For Altmann, an expert in infectious diseases in developing countries, the fact that coronavirus appears to have entered sub-Saharan Africa through Nigeria is “actually good news”, because the country appears to be relatively well prepared for confronting the situation.

In a continent that “has had its share of epidemics and whose countries, therefore, have a huge knowledge of the field and real competence to react to this kind of situation”, Nigeria is in a very good position to confront the arrival of Covid-19, Altmann said.

“The CDC [Center for Disease Control] responsible for the entire region of West and Central Africa is located in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, which means that their organisational standard in health matters is very high,” he added.

The country was already renowned for “succeeding to pretty quickly contain the Ebola epidemic in 2014,” Altmann points out. It took the Nigerian authorities only three months to eradicate Ebola in the country. The World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control at the time congratulated Nigeria for its reactivity and “world-class epidemiological detective work”.

But despite Nigeria’s strengths, the coronavirus pathogen represents a particular challenge, in that it is hard to detect. The virus may be present in an individual who has few or no symptoms, allowing it to spread quietly in a country where, like everywhere in Africa, there is “a shortage of equipment compared to Western countries, especially in diagnostic tools”, Altmann said.

Neighbouring countries like Chad or Niger have “less functional capacity to handle an epidemic,” Altmann said. But they also have an advantage: these are agricultural regions where people are outdoors more, “and viruses like this one prefer closed spaces and are less likely to spread in a rural setting,” he added.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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10 Things You Should Make Yourself Instead of Buying (Your Wallet and Health Will Thank You!)

Being part of the do-it-yourself movement is a fantastically empowering thing. Not only do you save a lot of money by making your own stuff, but also you protect yourself from toxins big industry likes to stuff into the things we buy. And, my personal favorite is the new sense of ability — the I-can-do-this factor — of making your own anything. It’s completely contagious.

Don’t for a second think it’s too time-consuming or difficult! Most of the following DIY projects involve less than five ingredients, many of which are commonplace. They take little time and effort but rather just a change of habit. They often work better, have less negative environmental impact and are healthier alternatives to the status quo.

Here’s the even better part, while this article promises a mere ten things, by following the provided links below, you actually get access to twenty-plus things you can (and should) easily make yourself instead of buy.

Cleaning Products

From window washing to drain unclogging, it is easy to make your own green cleaning products. You can still disinfect. You can still smell the lemon-y fragrance you’re accustomed to. But, you’ll be saving lots of cash and providing a healthier environment for yourself and those around you. Learn How to Tackle 10 Home Cleaning Tasks With Just 5 Green Ingredients.

Hygiene Products

None of us like to have smelly pits, rotten teeth or oily hair, but that doesn’t mean we have to use evil industry products that test on animals, use secretly dangerous chemicals (fluoride!) or commercial monopolies. Make your own hygiene products with only a few ingredients. Make your own After-Shave Cream or Whipped Body Butter.

Spaghetti Sauce

Forget buying those pricey jars of spaghetti sauce. In the end, they take just as long to heat up, are full of additives and lack the kick of fresh veggies and herbs. Do it raw. Throw fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, peppers and a little olive oil in the blender. Simple and healthy! Try this Fresh Marinara Sauce and this Vegan Vodka Cream Sauce.

Who doesn’t like the convenience of one shaker cooking? That’s why we buy those seasoning and spice mixes. Unfortunately, they often have ingredients that are neither seasonings nor spices. So, make your own. Once you get a good pantry, it’s just measuring and combining. Try making your own seasoning mixes instead and try some DIY fajita seasoning.

For sure, all gardeners should compost all organic materials. It is a big deal because it provides you with the good soil for free and it decreases the amount of waste you send to the landfill. As for mulching, just use what’s in the yard: grass clippings, leaves and twigs. There’s no need to buy something wrapped in a plastic bag and labeled mulch.

Insect Repellant

Mosquitoes are a rough one. It’s tough to handle to the bites and annoying to live with itching. Not to mention thus buggers are far too insistent on buzzing in and around the ear area. But, DEET can’t be the answer. Try a little natural mixture and avoid the poisons. 

Fresh salsa taste way better than the jarred versions. Plus, they don’t have all that sodium, don’t have all the chemicals and are ridiculously easy to make. It’s tomatoes, spicy peppers and onions in a blender. Get fancy and add some roasted garlic or cilantro or whatever. But, why not make on the spot? You could even make your own black bean and corn chips to dip.

For more Life, Animal, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, don’t forget to subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter!

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Florida Baker Act: 6-year-old girl sent to mental health facility after school incident – CBS News

A 6-year-old girl in Florida is “traumatized” after being sent to a mental health facility following an incident at her Jacksonville elementary school, her mother said. Nadia Falk was allegedly “out of control,” but her mom says she has special needs and is questioning the state law that allowed her to be committed to the facility.

According to a sheriff’s report, a social worker who responded to Nadia’s tantrum at Love Grove Elementary School stated the girl was a “threat to herself and others,” “destroying school property” and “attacking staff.”

She was removed from school and committed to a behavioral health center for a psychiatric evaluation under the Baker Act, which allows authorities to force such an evaluation on anyone considered to be a danger to themselves or others.

Nadia’s mother, Martina Falk, said her daughter has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a mood disorder.

“I specifically placed my daughter at this school back in August 2019 because I was told they had specifically trained staff to handle special needs children,” she said.

Surrounded by her legal team, Martina said the nearly two-day mandatory stay at the mental health center, away from her mother, did more harm than good.

“She’s traumatized. She is not herself anymore. I don’t know what the long-term effects are,” she told CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez.

Duval County Public Schools told CBS News the decision to admit a student under the Baker Act is made by a third-party licensed mental health care professional and said, “We’ve reviewed the school’s handling of this situation and find it to be compliant both with law and the best interest of this student and all other students at the school.”

But critics ask if the Baker Act being overused, especially when it comes to school kids.

In 2018 in Cocoa, Florida, a 12-year-old boy with autism was taken to a facility in a police cruiser. It was the boy’s first day in middle school and during a meltdown, he scratched himself and then made a suicidal reference.

The boy’s mom, Staci Plonsky, said the school should have called her before enforcing the Baker Act.

“The behavior plan outlined what to do if he makes verbal threats,” she said. “They only had to follow the plan.”

The number of children involuntarily transported to a mental health center in Florida has more than doubled in the last 15 years, to about 36,000, according to a 2019 report by the Baker Act Reporting Center.

“I absolutely think that the Baker Act is being overused,” said state lawmaker Jennifer Webb.

Webb’s bill to reform the nearly 50-year-old law is being debated at the state House. It would require better training for school officials and resource officers and establish more consistent rules on exactly when a parent should be notified that their child might be committed.
 
“It should only be used as a last resort, and Baker Acting 6-year-olds just seems excessive to me,” she said.

Webb believes funds allotted for schools after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland in 2018 can be used for better training.

Martina is now looking for a different school for Nadia.

This content was originally published here.

Medicare for All Helps Unions by Taking Health Care Off the Bargaining Table

On February 11, the Nevada Culinary Workers Union publicly criticized Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All plan ahead of the state’s Democratic presidential caucus. On February 12, Sanders responded, “Many, many unions throughout this country — including some in Unite Here, and the Culinary Union is part of Unite Here — absolutely understand that we’ve got to move to Medicare for All.”

Sanders continued, “When everybody in America has comprehensive health care, and when we join the rest of the industrialized world by guaranteeing health care to all people, unions can then negotiate for higher wages, better working conditions, better pensions. So, I think the future for unions is through Medicare for All.”

After Sanders’s statement, the Culinary Union’s Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline denounced Sanders and his supporters, stating, “It’s disappointing Senator Sanders’ supporters have viciously attacked the Culinary Union & working families in NV simply because we provided facts on proposals that might takeaway what we have built over 8 decades.” The Culinary Union was joined in denouncing the Sanders camp by fellow Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. On February 13, Pete Buttigieg joined with Klobuchar, Warren and the Culinary Union in promoting condemnations of the Democratic front-runner and Medicare for All.

Ironically Warren’s campaign staff repeatedly crossed the Culinary Union’s picket line in March 2019.

Flashback to September 17, 2019: General Motors confirmed to the press that it had ceased payment for the health care coverage of striking United Auto Workers (UAW). On the same day, presidential candidate Joe Biden addressed members of the AFL-CIO on his health plan, stating, “I have a significant health care plan. But guess what? Under mine, you can keep your health insurance you’ve bargained for if you like it.” For the striking UAW members, the choice of keeping private health insurance that was bargained for wasn’t an option.

Talking points touting “choice” have frustrated advocates of Medicare for All and sympathetic union members this election cycle. Biden, Warren and Klobuchar aren’t the only candidates this primary season to promote the “choice” argument: Former Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Tim Ryan and John Delaney have parroted similar statements in promotion of their proposed health plans.

Earlier on February 12, Buttigieg joined Biden and company in echoing familiar “choice”-focused talking points, tweeting, “There are 14 million union workers in America who have fought hard for strong, employer-provided health benefits. Medicare for All Who Want It protects their plans and union members’ freedom to choose the coverage that’s best for them.”

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), fired back, “This is offensive and dangerous. Stop perpetuating this gross myth. Not every union member has union healthcare plans that protect them. Those that do have it, have to fight like hell to keep it. If you believe in Labor then you’d understand an injury to one is an injury to all.”

Nelson later joined the Culinary Union leadership in denouncing “attacks” from Sanders supporters, rather criticisms of union management not directed at the rank and file. But Nelson has been a consistent advocate of Medicare for All and the AFA has stood with Sanders since 2016.

To paraphrase Nelson and her advocacy, Medicare for All is popular among organized workers. The 150,000 members of National Nurses United (NNU), the U.S.’s largest union of registered nurses, have organized the charge on behalf of patients and fellow workers. NNU and AFA aren’t alone: Over 600 locals, 22 national unions, 44 State AFL-CIOs and 158 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations have endorsed the single-payer legislation. Even with strong support from many rank and file members, some union leaders have shied away from Medicare for All in order to adjust their sails to the political winds at a moment’s notice.

Talking points and political triangulation aside, Biden, Buttigieg and others aren’t wrong for stating that unions have fought tooth-and-nail for health benefits. They have certainly done so, and at great expense to wage increases and membership organizing. But Biden and Buttigieg missed a point in their “choice”-centered pitch — the public option plan that they, along with Warren and Klobuchar, are running on will leave health care on the negotiating table for organized workers.

Through a single-payer system and Medicare for All legislation, health care can finally be lifted from the bargaining table. Single-payer will allow more freedom for unions and replaces a system that keeps workers and patients at the mercy of executives and private insurers with one that recognizes the urgency to treat health care as a right, not a bargaining tool for bosses to hold over workers’ heads.

Removing Health Care From Bargaining

The benefits of organized labor backing Medicare for All over the public option are immense. Unions won’t have to waste negotiating capital fighting to merely preserve health benefits. Under a single-payer model, unions can use resources otherwise spent on retention of health benefits to instead organize new workplaces, fight for higher wages, fight for protections and safer working conditions. A single-payer system frees up organized labor to leverage their resources and membership in favor of gaining even more for their members.

If single-payer is realized, then union members will no longer be bound to tedious network-based health plans like Health Maintenance Organizations or Preferred Provider Organizations. Private insurance and the network “innovations” the market has created have significantly complicated the system and also limits choices for patients. With Medicare for All, patients, whether they be unionized or non-union, will be able to choose their provider and no longer be confined to networks, which a public option framework would maintain.

Under the public option, union members are tied to the benefits of their plan, which sometimes doesn’t cover necessary services. In other words, some union plans have coverage gaps where services like mental health care or long-term care aren’t covered. Medicare for All expands these services to everyone and eliminates the coverage gaps imposed by private insurance. Union members will receive more comprehensive benefits under Medicare for All than under their current private health insurance plans.

Single-payer systems also famously have improved outcomes compared to the American model of private employer-sponsored mixed insurance with an underfunded public insurer. Metrics in terms of quality, cost and access in the American health system have historically lagged behind nations with single-payer models. Under Medicare for All, union members can expect to receive health services that exceed or are at the same quality as the plans they fought for with more health services covered.

Unions also will no longer have to worry if an employer wants to change insurers. Under single-payer, union representatives at the bargaining table can be at ease knowing that their members will have guaranteed, comprehensive health coverage through Medicare for All. The single-payer model throws in the added benefit of eliminating the laborious process of switching health insurance carriers for union workers.

For public sector unions, single-payer will eliminate cost sharing, which is how the business-minded Republican and Democrat governments have passed the cost along to public employees. Cost sharing has forced public union workers to increasingly take a larger personal share of the expense for health coverage. With Medicare for All, unionized public employees can be assured that their hard-earned paychecks stay in their pockets and are not increasingly spent on health costs.

Medicare for All is also more than just getting health care off the bargaining table for unions, it’s about harnessing the energy of movement politics to create a new labor movement. Wages have stagnated since the ‘80s, workers are toiling for longer hours, wealth that has been created by workers is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few individuals. Labor has been under attack by business-friendly lawmakers and judges on all levels of government for decades. In an era of popular political movements, unions finally have the political climate to fight back.

Medicare for All can revitalize and invigorate a labor movement that has largely been on the defensive. In nations where health care is guaranteed as a human right through single-payer, unions are leading the way in combating pension “reforms” and uniting with non-organized labor against undignified working conditions. Countries with single-payer models have proven that when health care is removed from bargaining, unions thrive and are leaders against the features of an economic system designed to benefit the few.

The transition to a single-payer system is an opportunity for unions to join together to secure health care as a right for all workers, benefits that are the same quality or better, and expand choices and services for their members. All while leveraging the energy that could build working-class power and usher in a new dawn for the labor movement.

Union members have built an enormous amount of wealth for all. The people who got all of us the weekend and the eight-hour work day deserve better than a health system that holds their health care second to employers’ bargaining tactics and the profits of private insurers.

The “choice” arguments pushed by the defenders of private insurance are misleading on Medicare for All. Single-payer will save workers money, expand their freedoms and end the absurdity of toying with workers’ health care by executives to pad balance sheets. It’s crucial for labor to keep in mind management’s callous bargaining tactics like the striking auto workers faced: when employers stop paying for workers’ health benefits, there is no “choice.”

Medicare for All is the path forward for unions. The public option model doesn’t deliver in providing organized workers much needed relief in getting health care off the negotiation table. Getting health care away from the grips of employers and adding Medicare for All to the list of political must-dos is a top priority for organized labor.

This content was originally published here.

Buttigieg wants to give illegal immigrants health insurance – and he wants you to pay for it

Pete Buttigieg…reparations for slavery, decriminalize all drugs, and now this?If a Democrat is elected to the presidency in November, it is going to cost you a lot of money. Tons.

On Sunday, Buttigieg told an illegal immigrant that if he was elected president, they would have taxpayer-funded health care.

Ooh boy!

“As you know the Affordable Care Act, one of the many missing pieces that it has is that the exchanges are not available to the undocumented,” he said. “I would change that and that would be a change that would come with the ‘Medicare-for-All-Who-Want-It’ plan that I am proposing.”

Buttigieg was speaking at a political exchange with Planned Parenthood in Nevada.

While speaking to an illegal immigrant, Buttigieg told her that he viewed her as an American despite her illegal status. What a tool.

A DACA recipient asks Buttigieg how he’d fix access to health care for the undocumented like her- he tells her “first of all, this should go w/o saying but it’s important to say out loud, that I regard you and all DACA recipients as American as I am or anybody else in this room.” pic.twitter.com/iV2BI9uFJX

— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) February 16, 2020

“So, first of all, this should go without saying but it’s important to say out loud that I regard you and all DACA recipients as American as I am or anybody else is in this room,” he said.

Absolutely sickening. As the child of immigrants who came here LEGALLY, the dumbing down of the term “American” is repulsive.

Last December, Buttigieg also said that he wanted to open up taxpayer-funded healthcare to illegals during a conversation with a voter in Spanish. 

“So the most important thing for me is that we offer the opportunity for health care to all in our country, and this includes the opportunity to buy this plan of Medicare-for-All-who-want-it,” he said based on a translation of his remarks.

“This is our solution. And this opportunity to buy this plan is for everyone regardless of their immigration status,” he continued.

At the time, Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel responded to Buttigieg’s comments.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Just because Pete Buttigieg is from Indiana does not make him a moderate.”

Buttigieg had said as far back as last June that he thought people in the country illegally should be allowed to obtain government healthcare.

“That needs to be available to everyone, there needs to be a way for people of any immigration status to participate,” he said. Buttigieg was speaking at the “We Decide” forum hosted by Planned Parenthood’s political arm.

Govt. healthcare for illegal aliens?

PETE BUTTIGIEG: “That needs to be available to everyone, (government healthcare) there needs to be a way for people of any immigration status to participate,”

We Decide” forum hosted by Planned Parenthood’s political arm – 06-22-19

— Nicholas Jones (@voyager4truth) August 9, 2019

They are still receiving taxpayer funding why???

According to the Cato Institute, Buttigieg’s rhetoric that he wants to turn Medicare into a “public option” where all Americans would have the choice of participating in the program without being forced to do so rings hollow.

Buttigieg makes the claim that, “I trust the American people to make the right choice for them. Not my way or the highway.”

He basically ides the fact that his plan would essentially create a single-payer health program, and would reduce Americans’ healthcare choices.

The Cato Foundation says that while Buttigieg implies his program would be “optional”, that is not the case. They state:

  • He would automatically enroll uninsured Americans in Medicare and it would cost them up to $7,000—whether they want it or not.
  • He would force Americans to pony up an additional $1.7 trillion in taxes==more than all the on-budget tax increases in Obamacare combined—whether they want to pay those taxes or not.

A public option is not about expanding choice, but rather eliminating any choice. According to Prof. Jacob Hacker, the purpose of the “public option” is to eliminate private insurance and create a government run single payer health system.

Buttigieg can call his plan whatever he wants, however it is not “Medicare for All Who Want It.” It is single payer, “Medicare for All.” Period.

And Buttigieg wants US to pay for illegal aliens to ostensibly get “free” health insurance. What a deal.

As we reported last week, when Pete Buttigieg isn’t spouting ideals of decriminalizing drug possession charges on the campaign trail, he’s effectively plagiarizing immigration stances and rebranding them as his own.

During a townhall in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Buttigieg suggested that small-town America should welcome increased waves of legal immigrants to drive up… population growth.

Apparently, the idea is that there’s potential economic benefits to inundating rural communities with more people – which is possible. Yet, like a coin toss, there’s also the possibility of economic downfalls when a traditionally smaller city has a sudden population boom.

During the townhall, Buttigieg stated:

“I’m proposing what we call “Community Renewal Visas” that when a community that is very much in need of growing its population, recognizes that, and makes a choice to welcome more than its share of new Americans that we create a fast-track, if they apply for an allotment of visas, that goes to those who are willing to be in those areas that maybe are hurting for population but have great potential.”

SOME of What “MODERATE” Buttigieg actually ADMITS to
♦️All drugs including Meth & Cocaine decriminalized
♦️Late term Infanticide
♦️Felons voting
♦️Scrap electoral college
♦️Implement New Green deal
♦️Name & Shame “white” Hate
♦️Nationwide gun control
♦️Fast track immigration

— 𝐋𝐞𝐚𝐡 🇺🇸🎸🌴 (@LeahR77) February 10, 2020

His idea sounds nearly identical to one that was published back in April 2019, which called this type of initiative “Heartland Visas”.  

The “Heartland Visas” study tactfully found ways to explain things like when more people move into rural areas, more houses get built and get more expensive – which higher priced houses are good for the economy.

Yeah, higher-priced homes are lucrative for developers and Wall Street personas, not people trying to buy homes.

If President, @PeteButtigieg will decide if a community is “very much in need of growing its population” and he will make sure to send many more immigrants there on “fast-track” visas. https://t.co/ckpfnTQrSR

— NumbersUSA (@NumbersUSA) February 12, 2020

Then again, the leadership behind the Economic Innovation Group, who published the study, happens to host quite a bit of the investor types.

You’ve got Sean Parker, the co-founder of Facebook and Napster – who has a net worth somewhere around $7 billion.

You’ve got Chris Slevin, former legislative director for Senator Cory Booker. Their leadership section even proudly says that they’re composed of “policy experts, start-up founders, investors, and academics”.

You should always be critical of economics papers that are backed by these types of personas – and question where the loyalties lie. Mass immigration is usually lobbied by big business, and what’s not to love as the owner of behemoth companies?

You get the benefit of flooded labor markets, driving labor costs down. You also get an instant consumer boost, depending on what your company peddles. And of course, there’s big government right around the corner to get a few extra bucks in taxes.

Everyone wins – well, except the middle class and those lower on the economic totem pole.

Not surprisingly, most Americans don’t want to see an increase in immigration year over year.

Currently, the United States population is around 327 million, but if immigration policies weren’t changed throughout the years we’d likely have a population of about 251 million people. Since 1965, the United States has accepted over 75 million people to date via immigration.

Throughout the years, we’ve gone from accepting 250,000 immigrants annually, to then 500,000 a year, and by 1990 Congress decided a million or more annually is a good number.

If we keep that trend going just as is, we’ll have a population nationally to the tune of 404 million people by 2060.

Is there anything genuinely wrong about legal immigration – no, far from. But there has to be a point where someone looks at the numbers and says “We’ve got to take care of our own first”.

Buttigieg has flirted with the idea of increasing H-1B visas going out as well, which takes skilled jobs off the market for legal citizens. Bringing in too many medium-to-high skilled immigrants drives down those labor costs, much like how overflowing with low-skilled immigrants hurts low-skilled labor costs.

Good work by @CBedfordDC refuting the myth that Pete Buttigieg is some kind of moderate. “From health care and abortion to guns and immigration, and from the Supreme Court to the Electoral College, the man is decidedly a radical.” https://t.co/4phL3pNNJj

— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) February 4, 2020

Overall, the idea of just creating an influx of immigrant populations in rural communities to improve economic conditions just doesn’t make sense at all. And it seems that only a select few stand to benefit greatly from it.  

LET has a private home for those who support emergency responders and vets called LET Unity.  We reinvest the proceeds into sharing untold stories of those patriotic Americans. Click to check it out.

As alluded to earlier, Presidential hopeful Mayor Pete Buttigieg intends to take prison out of the equation for people convicted of possession of drugs like heroin, meth, and cocaine.

In an interview that was held on Fox News Sunday, he believes that treatment is the only route that should be taken with those hemmed up on possession charges.

Buttigieg jumped into his rationale with a portion of his version of criminal justice reform with Chris Wallace recently, and the topic of prosecuting possession of drugs came up.

The South Bend, Indiana mayor indicated that if he were to become president, possession charges would no longer land someone in prison. While claiming that the “war on drugs” has failed, Buttigieg said the only remedy at this point is delivering treatment to those who are in possession of all sorts of narcotics.

Wallace asked the mayor the following:

“You not only want to decriminalize marijuana, you want to decriminalize all drug possession. You say that the better answer … is rather treatment, not incarceration.

But isn’t the fact that it’s illegal to have, possess meth and heroin, doesn’t that in some way — the fact that it’s illegal — act as a deterrent to actually trying it in the first place?”

Buttigeig responded with:

“Well, I think the main thing that we should focus on is distribution and the harm that’s done there. Yes, of course it’s important that it remain illegal.”

The back and forth continued briefly, as the host was confused at Buttigieg claiming that drug possession should remain illegal.

Wallace addressed the confusion by telling Buttigieg that his own website claims that he would “decriminalize” drug possession completely. When the bluff was called on the mayor, he responded with citing how everything else just hasn’t worked up to this point.

When he acknowledged that his campaign website did mention decriminalizing possession charges, he stated:

The point is, not the legal niceties, the point is we have learned through 40 years of a failed war on drugs that criminalizing addiction doesn’t work. Not only that, the incarceration does more harm than the offense it’s intended to deal with.”

There’s so many issues and questions that could be levied at Buttigieg’s idea on addressing drug crime. What about criminal cases where someone is initially charged with higher crimes, and then signs a plea bargain that only lists “possession”?

Furthermore, what data suggests that delivered treatment programs are more successful than incarceration of drug possession offenders?

According to his own plan online, he aims to enact the following if elected:

“On the federal level, eliminate incarceration for drug possession, reduce sentences for other drug offenses and apply these reductions retroactively, and expunge past convictions.

Research shows that incarceration for drug offenses has no effect on drug misuse, drug arrests, or overdose deaths. In fact, some studies show that incarceration actually increases the rate of overdose deaths. We cannot incarcerate ourselves out of this public health problem.”

So, there’s truth to the mayor’s notion that there’s some studies that show jail or prison hasn’t been stellar in dealing with drug crime and offenses.

Yet, according to the American Addiction Centers, no one has been able to quantify if any rehab programs genuinely works in the long run either.

In fact, the AAC says that any touted success rates of rehab programs can’t be trusted at all:

“Since many treatment centers do not follow up with their patients, the “100 percent” success rate some cite only applies to those who complete the length of their stay.

Even those who boast a more modest “30 percent success rate” only draw that figure from the immediate sobriety rates after treatment, not from six months or three years down the road.”

Considering that many rehab facilities claim that they’re a success by only having someone complete their program – what exactly is the average program length for any given addiction?

According to Advanced Recovery Systems, you could be a success story anywhere from 4 days to a little over 4 months of treatment.

ARS showed that detox programs are on average only 4 days, whereas residential style treatment is around 16 days. Some of the longer programs like expanded residential treatment averages out at 90 days and outpatient treatment is typically 130 days.

Despite rehab programs originating in 1864, when they were called “sober houses”, we still can’t say if that works either or would be even better than jail or prison-time for drug offenders.

Not to mention, where there’s drug possession – there’s usually other crime too. The DOJ has been quite hip to that fact since the well-crafted study published in 1994 showed that where there’s drugs, there’s all sorts of other crimes being committed.

Case in point, while finding the magic cure for addiction would be great – keeping people off the street who use drugs like heroin, meth, and cocaine keeps drug fueled crimes from affecting the population. Clearly, Buttigieg hasn’t thought this one out very well.

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This content was originally published here.

Body camera video: Florida girl forced to go to mental health facility asked officer if she was going to jail – CBS News

A police officer who was transporting the 6-year-old Florida girl who was forced to go to a mental health facility after an incident at school is heard calling her “pleasant” on body camera footage. She also openly questions why the girl is being taken away.

Nadia King was removed from school under the Baker Act, a law allowing authorities to force a psychiatric evaluation on anyone considered to be a danger to themselves or others. According to a sheriff’s report, a social worker who responded to the incident at Love Grove Elementary School in Jacksonville said Nadia was “destroying school property” and “attacking staff.”

But, the police body camera video shows a Duval County sheriff’s deputy leading a seemingly calm Nadia out of school on February 4. Nadia is heard asking the officer, “Am I going to jail?”

“No, you’re not going to jail,” the officer says.

Inside the police car, Nadia asks the officer if she has snacks. “No, I don’t have any snacks. I wish I did. I’m sorry,” the officer says.

The deputy is also heard talking to another officer about Nadia’s behavior while she is in custody.

“She’s been actually very pleasant. Right? Very pleasant,” the officer says.

“I think it’s more of them just not knowing how to deal with it,” the other officer says.

At one point, it appears Nadia, who has ADHD and a mood disorder, did not understand where she was going. 

“It’s a field trip?” she asks.

“Well I call it a field trip, anything away from school is a field trip, right?” an officer replies. 

Nadia was held in a mental health facility, away from her mother, for 48 hours. Her mother, Martina Falk, broke down while watching the body camera video.

“I can’t comment,” she said.

Falk’s attorney, Reganel Reeves, said, “She’s mortified. She’s horrified. Angry.”

They argue Nadia should have never been taken to the mental health center.

“If you can’t deal with a 50-pound child, 6-year-old, then you shouldn’t be in education,” Reeves said.  

Officials with Duval County Public Schools said student privacy laws prevent them from discussing details of the case. They did not respond to the body camera video, but said in an earlier statement that an initial review showed the school’s handing was “compliant both with law and the best interest of this student and all other students at the school.”

The family now plans to file a lawsuit.

“She’s going on a field trip to hell. That’s where she was going, and her life has forever changed,” Reeves said.

This content was originally published here.

Trump’s new budget slashes food stamps, student loans, and health care

The proposal would also fail to eliminate the deficit over 10 years.

Donald Trump is offering a $4.8 trillion election-year budget plan that recycles previously rejected cuts to domestic programs to promise a balanced budget in 15 years — all while boosting the military and leaving Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched.

Trump’s fiscal 2021 plan, to be released Monday, promises the government’s deficit will crest above $1 trillion only for the current budget year before steadily decreasing to more manageable levels.

The plan has virtually no chance, even before Trump’s impeachment scorched Washington. Its cuts to food stamps, farm subsidies, Medicaid, and student loans couldn’t pass when Republicans controlled Congress, much less now with liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi setting the agenda.

Pelosi (D-CA) said Sunday night that “once again the president is showing just how little he values the good health, financial security and well-being of hard-working American families.”

“Year after year, President Trump’s budgets have sought to inflict devastating cuts to critical lifelines that millions of Americans rely on,” she said in a statement. “Americans’ quality, affordable health care will never be safe with President Trump.”

Trump’s budget would also shred last year’s hard-won budget deal between the White House and Pelosi by imposing an immediate 5% cut to non-defense agency budgets passed by Congress. Slashing cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and taking $700 billion out of Medicaid over a decade are also nonstarters on Capitol Hill, but both the White House and Democrats are hopeful of progress this spring on prescription drug prices.

The Trump budget is a blueprint written as if he could enact it without congressional approval. It relies on rosy economic projections of 2.8% economic growth this year and 3% over the long term — in addition to fanciful claims of future cuts to domestic programs — to show that it is possible to bend the deficit curve in the right direction.

That sleight of hand enables Trump to promise to whittle down a $1.08 trillion budget deficit for the ongoing budget year and a $966 billion deficit gap in the 2021 fiscal year starting Oct. 1 to $261 billion in 2030, according to summary tables obtained by The Associated Press. Balance would come in 15 years.

The reality is that no one — Trump, the Democratic-controlled House or the GOP-held Senate — has any interest in tackling a chronic budget gap that forces the government to borrow 22 cents of every dollar it spends. The White House plan proposes $4.4 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade

Trump’s reelection campaign, meanwhile, is focused on the economy and the historically low jobless rate while ignoring the government’s budget.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats controlling the House have seen their number of deficit-conscious “Blue Dogs” shrink while the roster of lawmakers favoring costly “Medicare for All” and “Green New Deal” proposals has swelled. Tea party Republicans have largely abandoned the cause that defined, at least in part, their successful takeover of the House a decade ago.

Trump has also signed two broader budget deals worked out by Democrats and Republicans to get rid of spending cuts left over from a failed 2011 budget accord. The result has been eye-popping spending levels for defense — to about $750 billion this year — and significant gains for domestic programs favored by Democrats.

The White House hasn’t done much to draw attention to this year’s budget release, though Trump has revealed initiatives of interest to key 2020 battleground states, such as an increase to $250 million to restore Florida’s Everglades and a move to finally abandon a multibillion-dollar, never-used nuclear waste dump that’s political poison in Nevada. The White House also leaked word of a $25 billion proposal for “Revitalizing Rural America” with grants for broadband Internet access and other traditional infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges.

The Trump budget also promises a $3 billion increase — to $25 billion — for NASA in hopes of returning astronauts to the moon and on to Mars. It contains a beefed-up, 10-year, $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, a modest parental leave plan, and a 10-year, $130 billion set-aside for tackling the high cost of prescription drugs this year.

Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall would receive a $2 billion appropriation, more than provided by Congress but less than the $8 billion requested last year. Trump has enough wall money on hand to build 1,000 miles of wall, a senior administration official said, most of it obtained by exploiting his budget transfer powers. The official requested anonymity to discuss the budget before it is made public.

Trump has proposed modest adjustments to eligibility for Social Security disability benefits and he’s proposed cuts to Medicare providers such as hospitals, but the real cost driver of Medicare and Social Security is the ongoing retirement surge of the baby boom-generation and health care costs that continue to outpace inflation.

With Medicare and Social Security largely off the table, Trump has instead focused on Medicaid, which provides care to more than 70 million poor people and those with disabilities. President Barack Obama successfully expanded Medicaid when passing the Affordable Care Act a decade ago, but Trump has endorsed GOP plans — they failed spectacularly in the Senate two years ago — to dramatically curb the program.

Trump’s latest Medicaid proposal, the administration official said, would allow states that want more flexibility in Medicaid to accept their federal share as a lump sum; for states staying in traditional Medicaid, a 3% cap on cost growth would apply. Trump would also revive a plan, rejected by lawmakers in the past, to cut food stamp costs by providing much of the benefit as food shipments instead of cash.

The post Trump’s new budget slashes food stamps, student loans, and health care appeared first on The American Independent.

This content was originally published here.

Spanish socialist govt moves to let doctors kill sick patients as health care costs rise

MADRID, February 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — A majority in the lower chamber of Spain’s Congress has voted to consider a bill that would legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide in case of “clearly debilitating diseases without a cure, without a solution and which cause significant suffering.”

Spanish daily El País reported that the 350-member Congress of Deputies passed a measure on Tuesday by a vote of 201 to 140, with two abstentions. Following debate in committee, the bill would go to the Senate for a final vote. In its current form, if passed, the law would allow voluntary euthanasia as well as assisted suicide. This is the third time the bill has emerged in Congress, where its proponents hope it will be approved in June.

Assisted suicide means that a doctor prescribes lethal drugs to a patient, who then self-administers the drugs. Voluntary euthanasia can be defined as when a physician or medical professional kills a patient at the patient’s request. Both forms of killing are legal in Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and in the state of Victoria in Australia. Switzerland and some states in the U.S. allow assisted suicide.

Both forms of dealing death would be legalized by the Spanish legislation, which would allow doctors to object on the basis of conscience but require them to refer patients to doctors willing to assist in death. The bill also requires that patients not have to wait more than a month after making a request for either assisted suicide or euthanasia. After two doctors consider an initial request, patients would then make an additional request for approval by a government committee.

The Catholic Church, as well as the Popular Party and Vox Party, has expressed vehement opposition to the bill. From the floor of Congress, Deputy José Ignacio Echániz of the Popular Party accused Spain’s socialist government on Tuesday of seeking to “save money” on care for “people who are expensive at the end of their lives.” He said, “For the Socialist Party, euthanasia is cost-saving measure.”

Euthanasia as cost-saving measure

Echániz said the socialist government is having trouble paying for its welfare policies: “Every time one of these people with these characteristics disappears, there also disappears an economic and financial problem for the government. For each one of these people who is pushed toward death by euthanasia, the government is saving a great deal. Behind this is a leftist philosophy to avoid the social cost of an aging population in our country.”

While offering legislation to improve palliative care, Echániz said it is “curious” that despite Spain’s excellent medical care, socialists are calling for euthanasia rather than “defending life until the last moment.”

Madrid mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida and city chief executive Isabel Díaz Ayuso, both of whom represent the Popular Party, also denounced the bill. In an interview with Antena 3 radio, Díaz Ayuso reproached the socialists for their reasoning, saying, “Death is not dignity; it is death,” and added, “Life is dignity.” The euthanasia bill, she argued, is a “red herring” being offered by her opponents to distract from their failings.

Speaking for the pro-life Vox Party, Rocio Monasterio said in a news conference on Tuesday that Vox will mount strong opposition the bill. “We believe in the dignity of the person,” she said while calling for more resources for palliative care. Vox, she said, defends the dignity of people from conception to natural death, unlike the leftists, who “want to eliminate all those whose lives, according to the Socialist Party, are no longer useful.”

Vox Deputy Lourdes Méndez took to the floor on Tuesday, warning Congress that they had embarked on legislation that resembled Nazi law of the 1930s with which the German Third Reich could legally murder mentally and physically handicapped people who had been judged “unfit.”

Méndez said, “The weakest and most vulnerable would be pressured by the system and would come to feel that they are a burden.” While she also proposed a bill for palliative care, she said, “In the face of suffering, we propose to offer companionship; we propose a culture of care and propose to relieve pain. You propose in the face of suffering to eliminate the sick; you propose death.” Speaking directly to the socialists, she said, “May God forgive you!”

The Spanish bishops’ conference has condemned euthanasia, issuing a document titled “Sowers of Peace” in December, saying that the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church “have been constant in stressing the dignity and sacredness of every human life” and its opposition to legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide.

The Church, the document reads, offers various ways of accompanying the sick and suffering, “shaping the many charisms that have inspired many institutions and congregations dedicated to their care.” This is based on the words of Jesus Christ, who said, “I was sick, and you visited me” (Matt. 25:36), and in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25–37).

Critics of the leftist euthanasia bill point out that both euthanasia and assisted suicide are beyond the scope of medicine and also violate the Hippocratic Oath, well enshrined in the medical profession, which states: “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”

In a statement, the Catholic bishops said there is a flawed belief that assisted suicide and euthanasia are acts of autonomy, saying: “[I]t is not possible to understand euthanasia and assisted suicide as something that refers exclusively to the autonomy of the individual, since such actions involve the participation of others, in this case, of health personnel.” Instead of promoting death, Spain should instead embrace palliative care that can ease suffering, they said.

Fr. Pedro Trevijano Etcheverria, a Spanish theologian and columnist, reacted to the vote that came on the day Catholics commemorate the apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes to a simple peasant girl, Bernadette, in 1800s France. The shrine at Lourdes, which is known all over the world for its healing waters, has drawn millions of ailing visitors and their companions for more than a century. Tuesday is also known among Catholics also as the International Day of the Sic, Trevijano Etcheverria mused, pointing out that while the irony of advancing a bill to kill sick people on that day might have been lost on Spain’s leftists, it would be easily recognized by Satan.

This content was originally published here.

Bloomberg: We Can No Longer Provide Health Care to the Elderly

Another video of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has resurfaced. Back in 2011, the billionaire paid his respects to the Segal family for the passing of Rabbi Moshe Segal of Flatbush. During that time, Jewish families undergo Shiva, a 7-day mourning period. Bloomberg stopped by to issue his condolences to the family.

Interestingly enough, the then-mayor used the opportunity to talk about overcrowding in emergency rooms, Obamacare and a range of other issues, The Yeshiva World reported at the time. One of those topics included denying health care to the elderly.

“They’ll fix what they can right away. If you’re bleeding, they’ll stop the bleeding. If you need an x-ray, you’re gonna have to wait,” Bloomberg said. “All of these costs keep going up. Nobody wants to pay any more money and, at the rate we’re going, health care is going to bankrupt us.”

But don’t worry. He believes he has a way of addressing cost concerns.

“Not only do we have a problem but we gotta sit here and say which things we’re gonna do and which things we’re not. No one wants to do that,” he said. “If you show up with prostate cancer, you’re 95-years-olds, we should say, ‘Go and enjoy. Have nice– live a long life.’ There’s no cure and there’s nothing we can do. If you’re a young person, we should do something about it. Society’s not willing to do that, yet. So they’re gonna bankrupt us.”

Who is Michael Bloomberg to decide who should and should not receive health care treatments? He has a ton of money and we know he’d do everything in his power to get the best doctors and treatment available if he or his loved ones became ill. They wouldn’t be told they’re too old or too broke, would they?

And who would be impacted by this decision? At what point is someone too old to treat? 60? 75? 80? What’s the arbitrary number, Mike? Whatever random number you decide on?

What about those who have chronic illnesses, like diabetes or multiple sclerosis? Do they suddenly stop receiving treatment once they hit a certain age, because they’re no longer deemed worthy?

And here I thought Democrats were supposed to want to take care of anybody and everybody. Guess not.

Bloomberg explaining how healthcare will “bankrupt us,” unless we deny care to the elderly.

“If you show up with cancer & you’re 95 years old, we should say…there’s no cure, we can’t do anything.

A young person, we should do something. Society’s not willing to do that, yet.” pic.twitter.com/7E5UFHXLue

— Samuel D. Finkelstein II (@CANCEL_SAM)

This content was originally published here.

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.

This content was originally published here.

Admitting Your Child to a Mental Health Hospital

Last week, we quietly admitted our daughter to a mental health treatment facility. I say “quietly” because we told very few people at the time. There was no Facebook announcement, no sendoff.

My friend Michelle sat beside me at intake where I shakily signed form after form. I was there for 5 hours learning more about the program and answering questions to help them better care for our daughter and then I walked out alone. I felt empty and scared.empty hospital hallway with text that reads "admitting your child to a mental health hospital"

The decision to admit our daughter was not one we had arrived at lightly. In fact, the wait list for this particular program was about a year long, so we had had a lot of time to think and rethink our decision. No matter how conflicted we felt though, the bottom line remained the same: we had to give it a try. We were out of other options. We had tried medication, therapy, and outpatient treatment programs. She was suffering. Our family was hurting. We were all living in fear as she continued to decline. It was time.

Our daughter has 3 mental health diagnoses. I’m choosing not to name them in this story because I don’t want this to just be about her and about us. My hope is that you see other stories in ours, to help you better understand and support families you may know who are facing this decision. Or perhaps you’ll see your own story in ours and feel less alone.

There is still such a stigma surrounding mental health. If our daughter had been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and she had to be hospitalized for a prolonged period until they could stabilize the disease and if during that time, we had to attend clinics on nutrition and lifestyle changes and information pertaining to her disease and treatment, no one would bat an eye.

We would have announced it on Facebook and put it in the prayer chain at church. There would have been an outpouring of casseroles and prayers and offers to help with our other kids.

But this isn’t the kind of thing that you announce on Facebook or tell people you run into. There is that protective feeling of wanting to shield her from judgment and scrutiny but a knowing that doing that also creates more shame around her disease.

We wrestled with our own feelings of embarrassment, guilt, and shame. We questioned “what could we have done differently?”.

We worry constantly that while almost all of our attention has been focused on the two of our kids with mental health issues, that a crisis could be building in one of our other kids and we may be missing it.

We feel like we are just doing triage, going from one literal crisis to another. It’s hard to even catch our breath.

This kind of life can be so isolating. There are things that have happened in our home that unless you are also walking this path of mental health disease in your children would shock you. My husband and I have literally said to each other, “who could we ever tell this to?”

Do you have any idea how isolating it is to live through “who could we ever tell this to?”? Who would be able to understand (and not judge) things that we can hardly even believe really happen?

Isolation can lead to feelings of hopelessness.

You need a village.

Just 4 days after our daughter’s admission, I found myself at a woman’s event at our church. In line at the buffet table, I answered “fine” to “how are you?” and “good” to “how are all the kids doing?” even though the truth was far from that.

The lie stung in my throat, making it hard to swallow.

Later that morning after the speaker had gone and the room cleared out, I was once again faced with “how are you?”

This time, there was no one else within earshot. I also knew the woman asking had gone through her own trials in life which made it feel safer to share mine.

As the story tumbled out, her eyes filled first with compassion and then with tears. She hugged me and we cried together. And then a magical thing happened. She pulled out her phone and pulled up her calendar and typed in our family’s name on her Wednesday afternoon and evening.

You see, I had shared that one of the many challenges we are now facing is that this program is super intensive and mandates that both parents attend parent sessions and family therapies and on Wednesdays, the time commitment works out to be 6 hours. Wednesday also just happens to be the hardest day for us to find child care for the other kids.

Here was this woman who was not just saying that she would pray for our family or would be “thinking of us”, but actually meeting a need, saying “my husband and I will be there this Wednesday and we will bring supper so you don’t have to worry about that”. What a gift.

You need a village. (worth repeating)

It’s only been a week, and already, we’ve needed to lean on our village.

That first admission day when my friend Michelle sat beside me? She did so much more than that. When I picked her up that morning, she presented our daughter with a gift and a card and these words: “Congratulations! I hear you got into an awesome school that’s super hard to get into and has a long waiting list. You are so lucky!” (all true)

She held us both up in that moment. Later, she took notes in the meetings. My brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders that morning due to the stress and I was sure I would forget important details. She took notes and remembered to ask things that had slipped my mind.

That same morning, one of our other daughters had woken up throwing up (from the stress) and my mom had come to our house to care for her. She also did laundry and changed our sheets. Do you know what a gift it was to crawl into fresh sheets that night after a long and emotional day?!

The night before the admission, we had a crisis here at home with our daughter. During that crisis, my neighbour offered to keep the other kids, to shield them from the worst of it, and to drive kids to and from piano and tutoring. Knowing that my other kids would be safe was also a gift.

Other friends took us out for supper the night of the intake. Honestly, we didn’t feel like going. We both just wanted to crawl into that bed with the fresh sheets and sleep for years. But we had committed and so we went and we ate good food and we were held up by people who loved us and after awhile, we even found ourselves laughing and almost forgetting. Another gift in the midst of such pain.

Is a mental health hospital the right place for your child?

Mental health hospital admissions are all different. For some, it may be an emergency safety admission that lasts for one or two days until the imminent threat has passed. For others, it may be a 30 or 90 day stay.

Our daughter’s program is 4-5 months where she stays at the hospital Monday to Friday and attends school, art therapy, music therapy, group therapy, animal therapy, and family therapy on site and is home on weekends with specific goals to work on at that time. Her program requires an intense commitment from both parents both in time and energy and an even more intense commitment from her.

And when her program ends, that is really only the beginning of the journey for us. We still have a long ways to go.

Perhaps you have come to a place where you find yourself at what feels like the end of the road in your child’s mental health journey. You don’t know what more can be done at home to keep them safe and healthy. Your family is fraying.

You walk around on eggshells every day, worried about what may set your child off. Or perhaps you hardly sleep at night worried that they may harm themselves or others.

I am not a professional and this advice is not meant to replace medical advice. You should always consult with a qualified mental health professional before making these decisions.

When to consider admitting your child to a mental health hospital:

  • they are unsafe at home
  • they are a risk to themselves or others
  • they are under the care of a psychiatrist and/or therapist but are still not stabilizing
  • the family is not able to manage their symptoms at home
  • even working with professionals, you still cannot find the right medications or dosing
  • you or other family members are living in fear
  • your child expresses thoughts of or plans for suicide or attempts suicide
  • addiction
  • upon recommendation of your child’s doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist

Some of the symptoms/diagnoses that MAY require treatment at a mental health facility:

  • suicidal ideation, suicide attempts
  • self harm
  • violent rages
  • inability to cope with life
  • eating disorders
  • severe mood swings
  • depression
  • debilitating anxiety
  • reactive attachment disorder
  • post traumatic stress disorder or developmental trauma disorder
  • obsessive compulsive disorder
  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia
  • substance abuse or addiction
  • Tourette’s
  • autism
  • oppositional defiance disorder
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • conduct disorder

Remember that a stay at a mental health facility is one tool that patients and their families can use. It does not create a cure, but it can be the beginning of more stability in the mood disorder or mental illness.

How to be the village:

  • Act the same way you would if their child had had to go into the hospital for a serious physical illness.
  • Show up. Just sit there. Be present.
  • Affirm that this decision must be so hard but that you know they love their child and that this is what their child needs right now. Parents carry so much guilt. They need to be reminded that they are good parents, willing to do hard things like sending their child to get the right help, even when all their instincts as a parent scream at them to keep their child close.
  • Take their other children for play dates, outings, or activities so that the parents can rest. They will typically crash physically and emotionally for at least a few weeks, possibly even months depending on what led up to the hospital admission. Having time to be alone and rest will help them to heal faster.
  • Do something kind for the other kids. Bring a small gift, especially something like a craft or activity they can do. Spend time listening to them or playing a board game or Lego with them. They have likely been getting less than their share of attention in recent months as their parents have had to put the sick sibling at the top of the time and attention list. Siblings can carry their own worry and feelings of guilt.
  • Bring healthy food. Snacks, meals, or gift cards for restaurants or take-out. And remind them to eat.
  • If they are married, help them protect their marriage in the crisis by watching the other kids for them to have date nights, by encouraging their relationship, and by giving them opportunities to spend time with other couples.
  • Sit and have tea or coffee with them. Let them cry and express all kinds of feelings. Regret, sorrow, relief at the new peace in their home, fear because the peace is temporary, dread about the future.
  • Or just watch TV with them or take them to a movie or invite them to dinner. Sometimes it’s also nice not to talk about it.
  • Offer to attend important appointments to take notes or hold their hand and debrief afterwards.
  • Pray for them.
  • Help them research. It is beyond exhausting to try to find programs and services and funding and these families are having a hard enough time just getting through each day. Help them research or make calls or fill out forms. There are so many forms.
  • Serve them in practical ways. Laundry, housework, errands, house repairs. Dishes still pile up even when it feels like the world is crumbling down.
  • Drop off comfort items. Chocolate or coffee or wine or whatever their comfort thing is.
  • Send gas or grocery gift cards or cash. Having a family member in the hospital often means time off work, parking fees, extra driving, and additional expenses. There can also be a high cost for the treatment program and medications.
  • Remind them that you are thinking of them and that what they are doing to fight for their child’s health does not go unnoticed.

If you are walking this road yourself, I’m thinking of you. It’s sure not an easy one. It’s likely not one you ever imagined when you began your parenthood journey. I know I didn’t! Please know that you are not alone.

Join me for a free 5 part email series, Little Hearts, Big Worries offering resources and hope for parents.

You may also want to read:

The Waves of Grief in Special Needs Parenting

What I Wish You Knew About Parenting a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder

50 Awesomely Simple Calm Down Strategies for Kids

Parenting Myth: You’re Only as Happy as Your Saddest Child

The post Admitting Your Child to a Mental Health Hospital appeared first on The Chaos and the Clutter.

This content was originally published here.

Family of Chinese man with new coronavirus flew to Manila – HK health minister | ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) —A Chinese man who tested positive for a deadly new coronavirus strain traveled to Manila with his family on Wednesday, Hong Kong authorities said.

In a press conference, Hong Kong Health Minister Sophia Chan confirmed that the patient and four other family members arrived in the country via Cebu Pacific 5J111, which landed in Manila at 1:20 p.m. Wednesday. 

Charo Logarta Lagamon, director of Cebu Pacific’s corporate communications department, told ABS-CBN News that no one on the flight was quarantined.

Hong Kong quarantined the 39-year-old man after the city’s first preliminary positive result in a test for the new flu-like coronavirus found in an outbreak in central mainland China, authorities said.

The tourist from Wuhan came to Hong Kong on Tuesday via high-speed rail from nearby Shenzhen and was detected having fever at the border. He was in stable condition in an isolation ward at Princess Margaret Hospital, Health Minister Sophia Chan said.

The outbreak has spread to more Chinese cities including the capital Beijing, Shanghai and Macau, and cases have been reported outside the country’s borders, in the United States, South Korea, Thailand and Japan.

Nine people in China have died.

“I urge citizens not to go to Hubei province, Wuhan city if not necessary,” Chan said in a news conference.

She said the isolated patient came to Hong Kong with four family members, who spent the night at a hotel in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui tourist district, before hopping on a flight to Manila earlier on Wednesday.

His family did not have any symptoms. The government was contacting train passengers who sat near him and they would be put under observation in isolation wards. A hotline was also set up for people worried they might have contracted the virus.

Chan could not immediately confirm local media reports of a second person with similar test results.

The Hospital Authority on Tuesday enhanced laboratory surveillance for pneumonia cases to include patients with travel history to all of mainland China, rather than just Wuhan.

Hong Kong had deployed temperature screening equipment at the airport and the high-speed rail station. Air passengers are required to fill in health declaration forms. Some 500 isolation wards at public hospitals were available, with more ordinary wards to be converted if necessary.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named because of crown-like spikes on their surfaces. The viruses cause respiratory illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Manila’s airport quarantine office said Wednesday night that based on thermal scanners, “no passenger was detected with high fever on that flight.” There was also no advisory or alert from Hong Kong health ministry. 
 
Nine people have died in mainland China while 400 have been affected of the SARS-like virus. Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai, and Macau have confirmed cases of the virus. Patients who contracted the disease have also been confirmed in the United States, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. 

Several airports across the Asia-Pacific have tightened security measures for travelers, especially from China after authorities said the virus — which has infected some 440 people in Asia’s largest economy — could mutate and be transmitted through the respiratory tract. — With a report from Felix Tam, Reuters

This content was originally published here.

District Receives Large Grant to Improve Students’ Mental Health

Edmond Public Schools has received a $350,000 gift from a private donor to fund additional personnel, training, and support to help the district improve student’s social and emotional well-being. The donor (who wishes to remain anonymous) has given two previous gifts to the district totaling $413,000. 

“We are humbled by this donor’s profound generosity and deeply moved by their continued commitment to preventive measures to benefit students for a lifetime,” said Superintendent Bret Towne. “We extend our gratitude to the donor for this most recent gift and look forward to implementing the training and support programs this grant will make possible as we work together to better meet the needs of our students.”

The historic gift, given to the EPS Foundation and passed through to the district, will fund the hiring of two additional elementary school counselors and two school-based therapists who will work with the district’s innovative Fresh Start program-an intensive behavioral remediation program benefiting students who act out due to having suffered trauma. 

Additionally, the gift will fund three two-day Conscious Discipline workshops for teachers, and cover the cost of substitutes while 200 teachers attend Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training at the district headquarters, two programs with proven track records of sustainable results. 

“A growing body of research points to the importance that educators play in cultivating inner strength and resilience in children,” said Towne. “The above-mentioned training will equip more of our educators with the skills to integrate social-emotional learning, discipline, and self- regulation in the classroom, helping to enhance students’ personal and interpersonal readiness.”

A spokesperson for the donor says the organization is focused on funding initiatives that promote a culture change in the community and in schools with regards to mental health.

“A lot of research went into approaching the needs of helping our community,” said the spokesperson. “Based on ongoing communication with EPS district personnel we were able to select funding options that when implemented will have the greatest amount of impact over time. In addition to programs, we opted to fund additional school counselor positions. We know additional counselors are needed for our growing district.”

The spokesperson says the donor is happy with the way Edmond Public Schools has used the grant money and believes the funded initiatives have made a difference in the lives of teachers and students. 

“We are very pleased with the commitment EPS has demonstrated to mental health and prevention. We know our donor dollars have been put to work. The feedback from teachers, counselors, administration, and parents has been heartwarming.  We understand that knowledge is power, and ongoing training is necessary to meet the current needs of students and faculty.” 

This content was originally published here.

Improve sleep quality and boost heart health: 7 Reasons to eat nutrient-rich cherries – NaturalNews.com

(Natural News)
You know how the saying goes: Big things can come in small packages. This is especially the case for an often-overlooked superfood: cherries. Each cherry you pop into your mouth is packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that can provide a multitude of health benefits.

Cherries on top

Cherries come in different varieties, many of which can be found all over the US in local supermarkets or even on cherry trees themselves. Some of the common cherry types you can find include sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and sour cherries (P. cerasus). Regardless of your cherry preferences, eating either of these types can help you enjoy the benefits found below. (Related: Cherries a superfood? Research confirms this well-known fruit tackles cancer, insomnia, high blood pressure and gout.)

Rich in nutrients

Cherries are chock-full of important vitamins, minerals and fiber that all contribute to overall good health. According to data from the US Department of Agriculture, a cup (154 g) of raw pitted sweet cherries provides:

These nutrients provide their own health benefits. Vitamin C, in particular, plays an integral role in maintaining the proper function of the immune system and promotes skin health. The fiber in cherries is great for keeping the digestive system in tip-top shape by providing fuel for the beneficial gut bacteria and promoting bowel regularity. Further, a study published in the journal Advances in Nutrition states that potassium is a needed nutrient for nerve function, blood pressure regulation and muscle contraction.

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Promotes heart health

Eating nutrient-dense foods like cherries is a fantastic (and delicious) way to keep your heart healthy. A study published in the journal Nutrients found that fruits have a protective role against cardiovascular disease. Cherries, in particular, were found to have a beneficial role in improving myocardial infarction, or heart attack.

Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds

This high concentration of various plant compounds is largely responsible for the health benefits of cherries. The high antioxidant content can help fight off oxidative stress, which is linked to a variety of chronic diseases like cancer. In fact, a review published in Nutrients found that eating cherries not only reduced markers of oxidative stress, but also reduced systemic inflammation.

In addition, cherries are packed with polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that fight cellular damage, reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Research has shown that diets rich in polyphenols can protect you from a wide variety of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, mental decline and certain cancers.

Boosts exercise recovery

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds in cherries can also help relieve exercise-induced muscle pain, muscle damage and inflammation. Tart cherries, in particular, were found to be more effective at this function than their sweet counterparts. Tart cherry juice can accelerate muscle recovery and prevent strength loss in elite athletes like cyclists and marathon runners.

Improves arthritis and gout symptoms

The anti-inflammatory properties of cherries are also beneficial for people with arthritis and gout, which is a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid that leads to extreme swelling and pain in the joints. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that two servings of sweet cherries after an overnight fasting session lowered levels of inflammatory markers and significantly reduced uric acid levels only five hours after consumption.

Improves sleep quality

Cherries contain a substance called melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Having high levels of melatonin in the body can improve overall sleep quality. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that those who drank tart cherry juice concentrate for about seven days experienced significant increases in melatonin levels, sleep quality and sleep duration compared to those who drank a placebo.

Easy to add to your diet

Considering the size and taste of this fruit, cherries are surprisingly easy to integrate into your everyday diet. Not only can you enjoy them as a snack on their own, you can also add them as ingredients in recipes for pies, salads, baked goods and salsa. Also, the abundance of related products like dried cherries, cherry juice and even cherry powder only add to the versatility of this superfood.

With a wide array of health benefits, adding cherries to your diet is a great way to boost your overall health.

Sources include:

This content was originally published here.

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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Many health care workers are refusing flu shots, endangering patients, regulators say – The Boston Globe

In response, Massachusetts regulators are now intensifying efforts to improve vaccination rates — sending reminder letters to dozens of facilities that failed to report their numbers, visiting dialysis centers to review their process for vaccinating workers, and even offering cash to nursing homes as an incentive to improve their rates.

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“First and foremost, health care personnel are directly interacting with residents and patients. They could be transmitting influenza to them and we want to prevent that from happening,” said Katherine Fillo, director of clinical quality improvement at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

High vaccination rates also help ensure that a large number of caregivers don’t fall ill during a flu outbreak, Fillo said.

State regulations require all health care facilities, as a condition of receiving a license, to provide free flu shots each year to all employees. Yet workers are allowed to decline the shot. Facilities must report to the state how many declined and how many cited medical reasons for opting out. They must also report how many workers had an unknown vaccination status.

A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that health care workers in the Northeast had the lowest flu vaccination rates in the United States. It also found that rates nationwide were lowest among those who worked in long-term care, such as in nursing homes.

In Massachusetts, among the 315 nursing homes that reported data to the state health department, roughly 16 percent of workers declined to be vaccinated. That’s down slightly from 18 percent in 2017.

Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, a trade association, said nursing home administrators are working diligently to increase rates but often encounter barriers.

“Some of our staff decline vaccination for religious or health reasons and others are concerned that the vaccine is ineffective or dangerous,” she said in a statement. “Our efforts to educate everyone in our facilities on the benefits of the flu vaccine are ongoing and a top priority.”

For nursing and rest homes that achieve at least a 90 percent vaccination rate this flu season, the state will reimburse the cost of renewing their license, which can run up to $1,000.

Among the 61 dialysis centers that reported vaccination rates, 83 percent of workers got a flu shot and roughly 9 percent declined. The rest cited medical reasons or their status was unknown.

Dr. Holly Kramer, president of the National Kidney Foundation and a professor of medicine at Loyola University Chicago, said patients receiving dialysis are at particular risk for serious complications from the flu because they often have a greatly weakened immune system.

“The health care workers need to be vaccinated because dialysis patients are more likely to develop severe influenza and need to be hospitalized and can die from influenza,” Kramer said.

Fresenius Medical Care North America, the largest dialysis center chain in Massachusetts with more than 35 centers, said in a statement that it has worked hard to educate patients and employees about the benefits of receiving a flu shot.

Fresenius said that about 86 percent of its workers in Massachusetts were vaccinated last flu season, higher than the industry average here of 83 percent.

“Our policy mandates that any health care provider working with patients in our dialysis centers receive a flu vaccine each season, and if an employee refuses, requires that employee to wear a face mask when near patients,” said Fresenius spokesman Brad Puffer.

“We continue to invest significant resources in reminding both employees and patients about the dangers of flu for people living with kidney failure, and we are committed to further improving these efforts,” he said.

For years, regulators focused on boosting flu vaccinations among hospital workers, which as recently as a decade ago was mired below 70 percent. The state health department started publishing a list of vaccination rates at each facility, and many hospitals started cracking down on workers who declined shots, making them wear masks for the entire flu season. A number of hospitals required caregivers to receive a flu shot each year as a condition of employment.

Rates slowly but steadily climbed, and for the last several years have been above 90 percent.

“Some health care providers use creative ways to ensure vaccination compliance, such as offering vaccinations on-site around the clock and allowing employees to use work time to be inoculated,” said Patricia Noga, vice president for clinical affairs at the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association.

She said the association strongly supports new policies to improve statewide rates, including requiring the entire health care workforce be vaccinated.

For now, regulators are turning their attention to the rest of the state’s health facilities with a goal of matching the success it had with hospitals.

“We hope and anticipate we will see this same trajectory in these other types of healthcare facilities,” Fillo said.

Kay Lazar can be reached at kay.lazar@globe.com Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKayLazar.

This content was originally published here.

Health minister says NHI ‘will make public and private hospitals the same’

This probably didn’t come out as the compliment Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was hoping for. The ANC cabinet member triumphantly announced on Wednesday that there would be “no distinction” between public and private hospitals once the National Health Insurance (NHI) is rolled out.

The much-maligned plans would ensure that all citizens received free healthcare upon entering any hospital in South Africa. While the intentions are good, the execution may be lacking. Critics have slammed NHI for threatening to cripple private health programmes, and point to its enormous costing and logistical challenges.

‘We’re going to see improvements’

However, Mkhize and his team remain undeterred. Speaking during a visit to a hospital in KwaZulu-Natal on New Year’s Day, the minister said that NHI would “bridge the gap” between public and private care.

“We are starting a new decade in which we will be instituting decisive actions in implementation of NHI. When it is fully implemented, there will be no distinction between public and private hospitals. We believe we are going to be seeing changes and improvements in the quality.”

“Our message to South Africans is to encourage good healthy living, particularly now when non-communicable diseases are on the rise. Individuals and communities are encouraged to take full responsibility of their health in partnership with the healthcare.”

Zweli Mkhize

When will NHI happen, and how much will it cost?

The rollout of the much-anticipated National Health Insurance (NHI) will require an additional R33-billion annually. This was revealed in the National Treasury’s adjusted estimates of the national expenditure document released at the tabling of the 2019 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in October.

Furthermore, the controversial plan to nationalise healthcare won’t come into effect until the 2025/26 financial year. Provinces will receive a direct grant to contract health professionals in pilot NHI districts. This is currently funded through the NHI indirect grant.

Three regions in KZN – Ugu, uMzinyathi and uMkhanyakude – have all achieved this feat 90% of all people living with HIV know their status, 90% receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and and 90% are virally suppressed.

— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) January 1, 2020

This content was originally published here.

This Was The Decade That Changed The Way We Think About Mental Health | HuffPost Life

When I first started writing about mental health in 2013, the landscape was also different. There was a glaring lack of coverage about these issues across the media, or worse, news outlets would prominently cover a celebrity’s or citizen’s “erratic behavior” as something that was “bizarre” or “entertaining.” A lot of suicide reporting was insensitive, glamorizing, salacious ― or all three.

A lot that can be attributed to both tragic and affirming events that have occurred since 2010. Below are just a few defining moments from the past decade, all of which influenced the way we talk about and view mental health today:

The public nature of celebrity deaths by suicide yielded to a more monumental conversation about mental health, according to Gregory Dalack, chair of the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry and treasurer of the American Psychiatric Association. The tragedies “triggered greater awareness about the stigma around mental health and the importance of seeking help,” he told HuffPost.

Some of those tragedies can even be attributed to celebrity deaths, thanks to a phenomenon called suicide contagion, when media coverage and details about a prominent person’s death can lead others to take their own life.

“Despite all of the tragic deaths, the suicide numbers have increased each of the last 10 years,” Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, told HuffPost. “One would like to believe if this was really important to the public and the government, far more would have been done about it ― not just because of the large number of celebrities but the people that were connected to them.”

We can’t talk about the last decade without acknowledging the political chaos we’ve all experienced. The 2016 election, the barrage of negative news and the constant cultural turmoil have all had massive repercussions on how we think and feel.

In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that three political events (including the 2016 election and the 2017 inauguration) affected the mood of medical interns just as much as the strenuous first weeks of medical training. “This research reflects an overall trend showing that politics is in fact affecting people in both their personal and professional lives,” Dalack explained.

“At the same time, social media has some significant benefits such as it provides a wealth of resources and access to information that didn’t exist before. Social media can also provide huge numbers of connections to people who in turn can provide support, reassurance, help and care in times of crisis or need,” he added.

The rise of celebrity candor about their personal experiences has arguably been one of the most positive advances in mental health in the last decade. Public figures ― from the British royals to musicians to actors ― were more outspoken than ever about their mental health conditions, therapy, self-care and more.

“There have been tons of celebrities that have come forward, been brave and spoken about their own journey,” Leigh told HuffPost. “That is incredibly inspiring on my behalf because I can see people who have been willing to put themselves out there and ― judged or not judged ― just be open enough to share their struggles.”

There is still progress to be made, and experts hope to see more strides in the coming 10 years. The priority for both Dalack and Reidenberg is getting people the mental health treatment that they need.

“Over the next decade, I’d love to see improved access to mental health care across the nation,” Dalack said. “This will require efforts from insurance companies, physicians, as well as politicians. Those of us working in the field will need to continue to innovate new, cost-effective treatments that leverage technology and reach folks in remote and rural communities. We all need to be held accountable.

“In the most broad sense, I hope that in 10 years people will live understanding that mental health-related issues are no different than any other body or brain-related issues,” Reidenberg said. “If you aren’t feeling well, you have to talk to someone, regardless of the origin of the illness.”

As for me, I hope the landscape is once again different in a decade. I want to one day stop writing about suicide and stigma. Not because I’m not passionate about my job, but because the outcome has improved so much that there isn’t anything to write. That’s a 10-year challenge worth fighting for.

This content was originally published here.

Elizabeth Warren: ‘Trans Youth Are More Likely…to Experience Mental Health Problems’

(Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D.-Mass.) sent out a tweet on Thursday evening saying that transgender young people are “more likely” to have mental health problems.

“Trans youth are more likely to feel unsafe at school and to experience mental health problems,” Warren said in her tweet.

“They need and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, not to be attacked by their state legislators,” she said. “As president, I’ll fight to ensure they have every opportunity to thrive.”

On her campaign website, Warren has posted a detailed plan for “Securing LGBTQ+ Rights and Equality” if she is elected president. The plan includes many provision for transgender youth.

“We need a president who will life up the voices of every gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, Two-Spirt and intersex person,” Warren says in her plan.

“We need a president who has the courage to stand up to discrimination, and fight back,” she says.

Warren vows that she will immediately use unilaterally presidential action—not congressionally enacted legislation—to advance LGBTQ+ rights.

“We can’t wait for Congress to act on LGBTQ+ rights,” she says. “In my first 100 days as president, I will use every legal tool we have to make sure that LGBTQ+ people can live and thrive free from discrimination.”

Warren also vowed to bring her battle for the rights of transgenders into schools—where it will effect such things as “dress codes” and “brining same-sex partners to school events.”

 “As president, I’ll fight to make sure every LGBTQ+ student has an equal opportunity to thrive,” she says. “I’ll start by amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to require school districts to adopt codes of conduct that specifically prohibit bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. I’ll also direct the Education Department to reinstate guidance – revoked by the Trump Administration– on transgender students’ rights under federal law. And I’ll make clear that federal civil rights laws prohibit anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination like discriminatory dress codes, banning students from writing or discussing LGBTQ+ topics in class, or punishing students for bringing same-sex partners to school events.”

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”

Also on rt.com

© REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
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.”

Also on rt.com

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.

Viral video shows British people shocked as they guess costs of US health care | TheHill

A now-viral video shows British people appearing shocked at the cost in the United States for essential health care services like delivering a baby or purchasing an inhaler or an Epi Pen. 

The U.K.-based political news site JOE shared the video on Twitter Tuesday and it has garnered over 15 million views and more than 50,000 likes. It shows one person going up to multiple British people and asking how much they think essential health services might cost on the U.S.

“Ambulance call out, how much do you think that costs?” the questioner asks one man.

“Zero payment,” the man responds.

“For real?” He asks after the questioner revealed that receiving medical care in an ambulance can cost $2,500.

The questioner asked one woman how much she thinks a single inhaler would cost. When the questioner told her it can cost $250 to $300 dollars, she responded “For an inhaler? Man, so if you’re poor you’re dead?” 

Ambulance call out? $2,500. Childbirth? $30,000.

Our NHS is not for sale, @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/q9z4r6Ni6g

— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK)

When he told the same woman that an Epi Pen cost more than $250, she responded “shut the fridge,” looking shocked when the questioner revealed that the life-saving medicine can cost more than $600.

“You have to pay to do that?” the woman asked after the questioner said hospitals can charge for skin-to-skin contact between a mother and baby after a person gives birth. “To hold my own child that I’ve been carrying inside of my womb?”

“I’m genuinely speechless,” she continued. When asked what she thinks about the people profiting off of the medical industry in the U.S., she responded, “You’re bastards.” 

Another woman looked aghast when the questioner revealed that giving birth in a hospital can cost $10,000, and an IUD contraceptive device can cost $1,300. The woman called the National Health Service in the United Kingdom “Literally the gift that keeps on giving.”

“Literally, literally people are so dumb for taking advantage of it, and I don’t want it to change,” she said. 

Earlier this year, President TrumpDonald John TrumpTop Democrat: ‘Obstruction of justice’ is ‘too clear not to include’ in impeachment probe Former US intel official says Trump would often push back in briefings Schiff says investigators seeking to identify who Giuliani spoke to on unlisted ‘-1’ number MORE walked back comments he made that the NHS should be included in trade talks between the U.S. and the U.K., telling Piers Morgan that he doesn’t “see it being on the table.”

Trump again told reporters Tuesday that “If you handed [the NHS] to us on a silver platter, we want nothing to do with it,” Fox News reported.

This content was originally published here.

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.

15 Doctors Fired From Chicago-Area Health System | Medpage Today

At least 15 physicians have been fired from Edward-Elmhurst Health as the suburban Chicago-based health system moves to cut costs, sources told MedPage Today.

The doctors, who worked across its seven “Immediate Care” or urgent care sites, will be replaced by advanced practice nurses, according to an email sent by hospital leadership that was shared with MedPage Today. The physicians were informed late last week that they would be terminated as of April 1, 2020.

A physician who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the doctors were “broadsided” by the news. While they harbored some concerns that a few of the slower urgent care sites might be turned over to non-physician clinicians, they weren’t expecting so many of the sites to be impacted and for such a large number of doctors to be let go.

In their email, hospital system CEO Mary Lou Mastro, MS, RN, and Chief Medical Officers Robert Payton, MD, and Daniel Sullivan, MD, pointed to patient cost concerns as the reason for eliminating the jobs: “Patients have made it very clear that they want less costly care and convenient access for lower-acuity issues (sore throats, rashes, earaches), which are the vast majority of cases we treat in our Immediate Cares.”

“Beginning in the spring of 2020, we will move to a delivery model in which care is provided by Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) at select Immediate Care locations,” they wrote.

Leadership also stated in the email that they are “working closely with these physicians to assist them with finding alternative positions within Edward-Elmhurst Health or outside our system,” but doctors noted that they face a saturated Chicago healthcare market and they’re likely to have to relocate.

When asked to confirm the layoffs, Keith Hartenberger, a spokesperson for Edward-Elmhurst Health, said in a statement: “We continue to assess our care delivery models in the interest of providing cost-effective care to our patients. We shared with physicians that we have plans to change the model next year at some outpatient sites and are working with anyone affected to find alternative placement.”

The move is becoming a more familiar one as some health systems try to save money by relying more heavily on non-physician clinicians.

Last year, 27 pediatricians at a chain of clinics in the Dallas area lost their jobs and were replaced by nurse practitioners — even though the chain subsequently changed its name to MD Kids Pediatrics.

Rebekah Bernard, MD, wrote in Medical Economics that she spoke with three of the pediatricians who were fired: “They told me that they and their physician colleagues were completely shocked by the sudden firing. ‘We thought we were going to retire from this place,’ one told me.”

Also in 2018, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Atrium Health ended a nearly 40-year contract with a 100-member physician group, signing up instead with Scope Anesthesia, which says it’s dedicated to forming partnerships with certified registered nurse anesthetists. Atrium said it too was looking to reduce patient costs.

“This trend of shuttering hospital departments and firing physicians to save money is dangerous and short-sighted,” Bernard wrote.

Purvi Parikh, MD, of NYU Langone Health in New York City, and a board member of Physicians for Patient Protection, which advocates against other healthcare providers replacing doctors, said that although non-physician clinicians “are vital members of the healthcare team, they are not trained to be substitutes of physicians and as a result diagnoses are missed and improper treatments and tests [are] prescribed.”

Parikh said patients “have the right to choose a facility that is physician-only or one with physician-led care. In Chicago, luckily there are other options among competitors.”

1969-12-31T19:00:00-0500

This content was originally published here.

Tanya Talaga: Toronto is getting a new Indigenous health centre

Anishnawbe Health Toronto is getting close to the finish line — it’s just $3.5-million away from its $10-million goal in a fundraising campaign for a state-of-the-art Indigenous health facility that’s set to be built next year in a prime downtown location.

There are a lot of remarkable things about that sentence.

First, after 150 years of colonization, a new health centre that’s specifically designed for Indigenous people will finally be available in a city with an Indigenous population estimated to be at least 70,000. For years, AHT has run programs scattered across three locations, in outdated and overcrowded buildings that were never intended to house traditional Indigenous health care.

Second, the new health centre and community hub will be constructed on 2.4 acres in the West Don Lands, on land that was part of the Pan Am Games athletes’ village and purchased for a nominal fee from Ontario.

Third, the largest donors to come forward to date are Alexandra and Brad Krawczyk, who gave $2 million to the fundraising campaign. Alexandra’s father, the late Barry Sherman, campaigned to bring cheaply priced generic medicine to HIV patients in Africa and was the head of the multinational pharmaceutical firm Apotex.

Like her father, Alexandra has lived a life immersed in health care. She went to nursing school in Toronto but chose to do her residency in Fort Albany First Nation along the James Bay coast. The fly-in community was home to the notorious St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, where there was a homemade electric chair to punish the students.

Alexandra remembers when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came to the community in early 2013 to listen to testimony from survivors and witnesses.

“I witnessed it for two days and I spent some time with Justice Murray Sinclair,” she said in an interview. The experience changed her.

So when Sen. Linda Frum reached out to let Alexandra know about the epic plans for a new Indigenous health centre, she and Adam Minsky, the CEO of UJA Toronto, reached out to AHT executive director Joe Hester. “We followed up, came down for a tour, met the staff, and we both said, ‘This aligns with our values entirely,’” she recalled.

It’s beyond inspiring to think that people from all walks of life are coming together to get this done, under the guidance of Andre Morriseau, the Anishnawbe Health Foundation board chair and Fort William First Nation member. Large funders for the centre are as diverse as Toronto, including the Sanatan Mandir Cultural Centre, the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada and the Toronto Diocese of the Anglican Church — not to mention a $100,000 gift from a former Anishnawbe Health client.

Canada has a woeful history of two-tier health care for Indigenous people, rooted in racism and dating back to the era of government-funded Indian Residential Schools, where 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were abused over the course of more than a century. Another arm of this genocidal act was the creation of segregated Indian hospitals, 22 of which existed by the 1960s.

The intergenerational trauma that resulted from them tore families apart and led to a host of health problems. We see the threads of trauma in the fact that nearly 90 per cent of Toronto’s Indigenous people live in poverty, are more likely than others to be homeless, unemployed or have not completed high school.

Anishnawbe Health says 65 per cent of Indigenous adults in Toronto have at least one chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma, heart problems. Some suffer mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

But when Indigenous people try to access health care, they are often treated differently. One only needs to look at what happened to Brian Sinclair, the First Nations man who was ignored as he waited for 34 hours in a Winnipeg hospital emergency room. He died waiting in his wheelchair.

Having one health care centre to call our own should be the standard — a place where, when you walk in the door, where you are not judged.

People should be treated equally and with kindness. When you are sick, you need to be treated kindly, and if you are Indigenous, you need to be surrounded in traditional healing, where the spirit is treated along with the physical self.

The new centre will have a traditional sweat lodge, counselling space for sharing circles, and even a kitchen to teach healthy cooking skills.

It’s been a long and difficult road, Hester noted, and sometimes it felt like all the pieces weren’t going to come together.

But now they are, and in a part of the city that is seeing a rebirth, a reimagining of what Toronto could be.

Tanya Talaga is a Toronto-based columnist covering Indigenous issues. Follow her on Twitter: @tanyatalaga

This content was originally published here.

Researchers Reveal How Being Around Chronic Complainers Can Put Your Health At Risk

Misery loves company, and it may come in the form of chronic complaining.  Being around complainers automatically can put a damper on your day if you don’t take steps to distance yourself. Being surrounded by hard-to-please family, friends, or co-workers creates more than merely a negative atmosphere. Indeed, it legitimately causes health consequences for you and them.

Researchers reveal how being around chronic complainers can put your health at risk.

3 Types of Complainers

Have you ever wondered why people complain?  Why do some people often express displeasure while others only do so occasionally?  What is a complaint?

In Psychology Today, a complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction.  The real problem arises in how a person expresses their dissatisfaction and how often.  Most of us have a particular bar that must be reached to complain. However, some set that bar lower than others.

One of the biggest triggers for complaining is the individuals’ sense of control over the situation.  The more powerless a person feels, the more they will complain.   Other factors may be frustration tolerance, age, desire not to make a scene, or to “look good” to others.

Another factor may have nothing to do with the actual situation.  A negative mindset tends only to see adverse events.

The environment may also play a role. A study shows that individual(s) raised or surrounded by negative thinkers tend to become negative in thinking as well and, therefore, will complain more frequently.

Not every complainer is the same.

There are three types of complainers:

1 – Chronic complainers.

We all have known a chronic complainer or have been one ourselves. This complainer only sees problems and not solutions.  They tend to focus on how ‘bad’ a situation is regardless of its actual impact or consequence to their life.

They tend to be negative thinkers and have created a pattern of complaining, which some studies have shown may wire the brain to operate negatively. This affects their mental and physical health and impacts those around them. While called a chronic complainer, it does not need to be a constant, permanent condition.  People with this mindset can change, but they will have to choose it, and it will take work.

2 – Venting.

A complainer who vents focuses on displaying emotional dissatisfaction.  Their attention is on themselves and how they feel regarding what they deem to be a negative situation.  They are hoping to glean attention from those around them as opposed to finding a real solution to the problem.   When someone provides a resolution, they only see a reason it won’t work.

3 – Instrumental complaining.

This is akin to constructive criticism.  This complainer is seeking to solve an issue that has created dissatisfaction.  They will present the problem toward the individuals most likely to be able to solve the problem.

Effects of being around complainers

In the same article, which outlined how a complainer is wiring their brain for negativity through their words, also describes how being surrounded by complainers negatively impacts others.

1.      Sympathy turns to negativity

It turns out that our capacity for compassion, attempting to place ourselves in others’ shoes, also makes our emotions susceptible to experiencing the same anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction of the complainer.  The more often you are around the individual complaining, the more neurons are being fired to associate with the emotions.  Neurons that repeatedly fire in a pattern teach your brain to think in that manner.

2.      Stress-induced health issues

Being around others with a cynical viewpoint on events, people, and life in general triggers stress in your brain and body.  As your mind attempts to identify with the person complaining, you begin to feel the same emotions of anger, frustration, bitterness, and unhappiness. This interaction leads to stress that releases hormones to prepare you to act on the stress.  The hormone released is cortisol.

Cortisol works in tandem with adrenaline as your hypothalamus responds to a perceived threat and tells your body to release the hormones.  Adrenaline creates a rise in heart rate and blood pressure as your body prepares to “fight.”  This increases blood flow to the muscles and brain to prepare you for action.  Cortisol releases sugars to provide energy.

Over time, with a repeated pattern of this stress, you increase your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

3.      Shrinking your brain

In addition to the health problems created from stress, you are shrinking your brain when you expose it to repeated and constant levels of stress.

A study published in Stanford News Service demonstrated the effects of stress and stress hormones on wild baboons and rats.   What they found was that chemicals called glucocorticoids release over time as a response to chronic stress, which caused the brain cells in rats to shrink.

Later, another study was done after performing an MRI on participants.  This x-ray allowed scientists to compare hippocampi of people who have had long term depression with others of the same age, sex, height, and education but without depression.   It was discovered that the hippocampi were 15% smaller in those with depression.

The same study compared Vietnam veterans experiencing PTSD with combat veterans without a history of PTSD. They found that hippocampi were 25% smaller.

In those cases, researchers could neither prove nor disprove that glucocorticoids caused the shrinkage.  However, they did find this to be true in patients with Cushing’s disease, which made scientists believe they were on the right track with their studies in people with depression and PTSD.  Cushing’s syndrome is a brain disease in which a tumor is stimulating the adrenal glands to release of glucocorticoids.  In patients with Cushing’s Syndrome, scientists discovered the hippocampus was shrinking.

Your hippocampus is attributed to aiding the brain in memory, learning, spatial navigation, and goal-related behavior, among other necessary abilities.

Great ways to stay positive around complainers

  • Choose your daily friends wisely.

We can’t choose our family or co-workers, but we can choose our friends.  Surround yourself with people who are more positive than negative.

  • Be grateful.

Just as negative thoughts breed negativity, positive thoughts breed positivity.  Each day, or at minimum, a few times a week, handwrite what in your life you are grateful.  Consider that two items of gratitude can cancel out one negative.

  • Don’t spend energy trying to fix a chronic complainer.

While you may sympathize with a person who seems to be having a rough life, trying to fix their problems won’t change their complaining.  They currently can only see negativity and, therefore, will only find problems in your solutions.

  • When you must raise an issue of dissatisfaction, sandwich it.

Start with a positive statement, then give your concern or complaint.  End it with a desire for a positive result.

  • Use empathy

When you must work closely with someone who is a chronic complainer, remember they are seeking attention or validation. In the interest of keeping work moving along, express empathy, and then move them along to the task at hand.

  • Stay self-aware.

Pay attention to your behavior and thinking.  Make sure that you are not mirroring the negative people around you or broadcasting your negativity. Often, we complain without thought.  Pay attention to your words and actions, as well.

  • Avoid gossip.

It is pretty commonplace for a group of people to get together and complain about a person or situation.  That tends to encourage further complaining and dissatisfaction.

  • Exercise or find a

    method of releasing stress positively.

Pent up stress can create a negative outlook, which leads to complaining.  Go for a walk, workout at the gym, sit at the park or meditate.  Do something that distances you from the complainer or stressful situation that helps balance your emotions.

  • File your complaints wisely

When you feel the need to complain, make sure it is something that can be resolved or has a solution either you or someone you are speaking to can solve.

Final Thoughts on Dealing with Chronic Complainers

Being around negativity not only doesn’t feel right, but now researchers also reveal how being around chronic complainers can put your health at risk.  Complaining can become a lifestyle that can decrease your mental capability and increase your blood pressure and sugar production.  Do your best to either avoid or minimize your exposure to chronic complainers. In the end, you’ll find not only good for your state of mind but also improves your overall health.  So take your stress levels seriously and stay self-aware.

The post Researchers Reveal How Being Around Chronic Complainers Can Put Your Health At Risk appeared first on Power of Positivity: Positive Thinking & Attitude.

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.

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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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.

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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.

Psychiatrists lobby to testify on Trump’s mental health despite never examining him

A group of doctors and mental health experts insists that it’s not a crazy idea for House Democrats to get the experts’ take on President Donald Trump’s mental health — even though they have never met Trump, and their profession’s code of ethics expressly states it would be unethical to offer their opinion of the president without examining him personally.

“We don’t believe there is the need for any further evaluation, and we are making ourselves available for the impeachment hearing because we believe that mental health issues will become critical as pressures from the impeachment hearings mount,” Dr. Bandy Lee, a Yale School of Medicine psychiatrist, said, according to the Washington Examiner.

“In other words, the more successful the impeachment proceedings become, the more dangerous the psychological factors of the president will become,” Lee said.

Lee said that the group of four psychiatrists, a clinical neuropsychologist, a neurologist, and an internist will be available to legislators for consultations. The group has dubbed itself the “Independent Expert Panel for Presidential Fitness.”

“We think that hearing about mental health aspects in the context of the impeachment hearings is critical, partly because, for the past 2.5 years we have been very deeply concerned about mental instability of the president, and pretty much all that we have said has born out to be true,” Lee said.

Lee said that the public record, from speeches and tweets to the report of former special counsel Robert Mueller gave the experts all the information they needed to arrive at their conclusion.

“The president lacks mental capacity to fulfill the duties of his office,” Lee said.

Lee said that the group can give answers to questions about Trump’s capacity to protecting the United State and what actions legislators should take to ensure America’s safety.

The group will not, however, weigh in directly on impeaching Trump, Lee said.

“Those things are up to politicians to decide. That’s not our domain,” Lee said. “But our medical assessment is that those dangers need to be removed one way or another.”

In June, Lee told Salon in an interview that Trump was a grave danger to the world.

“Trump would have remained psychologically disordered as an individual, and therefore not doing much harm, if he had just remained a private citizen. As a real estate builder and a reality TV personality, Trump’s power to do harm to society would be vastly limited,” she said.

“But because he rose to the level of president of the United States, this is why I and other health professionals have a medical obligation to speak publicly, to sound the alarm about this whole situation. Donald Trump is the center of vast levels of harm being done to a wide segment of society. This is a public health and public safety issue,” she said.

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association adopted the “Goldwater Rule” as part of its code of ethics. The rule constrains mental health professionals from commenting on the fitness of public figures they haven’t personally examined, according to Psychiatric News, the newsletter of the American Psychological Association.

According to Psychiatric News, the rule states:

“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general. However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.” (Emphasis added.)

The rule was adopted after mental health professionals went public with damaging opinions about 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

But, as Time magazine reported in 2017, Trump opponents in the mental health field have questioned whether the rule should still apply.

In the interview, Lee — who has edited a book titled “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” — was asked about her role in an impeachment process.

“I do not involve myself in direct discussions about impeachment or the political process because that is outside of my realm of expertise. My expertise is medical. In that capacity I can state that unless Donald Trump is contained or removed, he is posing a danger to public health and safety. As president, Trump represents a condition of imminent danger to the country and the world. Therefore, my recommendation is that Donald Trump be immediately contained and certain powers are taken away from him,” she said.

At the time, she issued a prediction.

“With Donald Trump there will be unacceptable levels of danger of him either destroying the United States or perhaps even human civilization. Donald Trump is a national emergency,” she said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

The post Psychiatrists lobby to testify on Trump’s mental health despite never examining him appeared first on WND.

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BYU-Idaho no longer accepts Medicaid. Now students who can’t afford other health insurance say they might drop out of school.

(Photo courtesy of Casey Wilson) Pictured is Casey Wilson, holding her oldest son, Nordin, and standing by her husband, Tanner.(Photo courtesy of Kaleigh Quick) Pictured is Kaleigh Quick and her husband, Matt, holding their kids.(Photo courtesy of Tanner Emerson) Pictured is Tanner Emerson and his wife, Amanda, holding their daughter.(Photo courtesy of Jessica Knoeck) Pictured is Jessica Knoeck and her son.(Photo courtesy of Kris Lasswell) Pictured is Kris Lasswell and his wife, Naomi.(Photo courtesy of Andrew Taylor) Pictured is Andrew Taylor, a student at Brigham Young University's campus in Idaho.

Casey Wilson took some time off from school last year when she found out she was pregnant with her second baby boy.

The young mom had hoped to miss only a semester or two at Brigham Young University’s campus in Idaho. She was just a few credits away from earning her degree in art education and set a goal of finishing before Kelvin, who’s 4 months old now, started to talk.

But before Wilson could sign up for classes beginning in January, as she planned, the college announced it would no longer allow students to enroll with only Medicaid as their health insurance.

And now, she can’t afford to return at all.

“I am devastated,” Wilson said, choking back tears as her baby cooed in her arms. “I love school. I want to graduate. But we’re a struggling family, and we don’t have the money for [private insurance].”

The controversial decision from BYU-Idaho — a private school owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints — came as a surprise to students last week. School administrators announced the change in an email one day after Idaho received approval letters from the federal government for its Medicaid expansion plan, which voters in the state overwhelmingly supported last year.

As many universities do, BYU-Idaho requires students to have health insurance before they can register. Previously, Medicaid qualified as adequate coverage. But now, students with Medicaid as their primary insurance, the school said, would have to either purchase another health care plan on the private market or sign up for coverage at the campus’ Student Health Center.

Plans there — which are administered by Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators, established by the LDS Church — cost $536 per semester for an individual or $2,130 for a family. Medicaid is free or low-cost coverage for low-income people who qualify.

Wilson and her husband, Tanner, who’s also a student at BYU-Idaho, are both on Medicaid, as well as their two sons. Many college students who aren’t working while they finish school and who have families to support are eligible.

Without it, the 24-year-old Wilson said, they wouldn’t be able to see a doctor.

Already, they can barely afford the rent on their tiny apartment in Rigby. “And it’s infested with mice,” Wilson said. They scrimp on groceries, too, even with some help from family. But there’s nothing left in their bank accounts by the end of each month. And most of what they have to spend is from loans.

“There’s just not $500 sitting around for us to buy insurance from the school,” she added.

Tanner is getting his degree in software engineering and is slightly closer to finishing than Wilson (though the couple had hoped to graduate together). Now, Wilson said, it’s likely he’ll continue going to school while she stays home and watches their kids. That way, she and the boys can stay on Medicaid and they’ll only have to pay for Tanner to get the school’s health insurance.

They’re praying he can get a well-paying job when he’s done.

“We both came from poor families. And we wanted to go to school and get degrees,” she said. “I don’t want to be someone who has to rely on Medicaid my whole life.”

Many others at BYU-Idaho are facing a similar dilemma. So far, there aren’t a lot of answers.

The school, which sits in the small town of Rexburg, has largely refused to explain the change. When reached by The Salt Lake Tribune for comment, spokesman Brett Crandall said he is “not conducting any media interviews.”

Wilson has called the Student Health Center several times, too, and each time she was put on a list and never heard back from anyone. When The Tribune called there, a receptionist said they are not commenting. And the LDS Church referred all questions back to the school.

“This one I would defer to BYU-Idaho,” wrote spokesman Eric Hawkins in an email that inquired whether the policy was supported or encouraged by the faith’s leaders.

Meanwhile, BYU’s main campus in Provo is not instituting a similar policy — even with Utah pursuing its own Medicaid plan, which might end in a similar expansion. “We do not anticipate any changes,” said spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.

The faith generally encourages its members to obtain government help for which they qualify before asking the church for assistance. Some BYU-Idaho students told The Tribune that staff at the Student Health Center believed the Church Board of Education in Salt Lake City made the decision. Other students and church members have wondered on social media whether BYU-Idaho doesn’t support students using Medicaid coverage because it covers birth control, abortions in extreme cases and some services to assist transgender individuals in transitioning.

The church condemns “elective abortion for personal or social convenience” but permits the procedure in cases of rape or incest, severe fetal defects, or when the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy. Birth control is considered to be a matter between a couple and the Lord. But the faith holds that members are defined by their “biological sex at birth.”

BYU-Idaho is the largest private university in the state and has roughly 20,000 students. About a quarter, or 5,000, are married. Many of those are likely on Medicaid and more will qualify with the expansion. Coverage in January will stretch from those earning less than 100% of the federal poverty level to 138% of that amount.

After continued pushback from students, the campus in Idaho sent out a second email Wednesday, suggesting for the first time that the decision was based on the state’s Medicaid expansion and a concern that students would overwhelm health care providers in the area.

The email said: “Due to the healthcare needs of the tens of thousands of students enrolled annually on the campus of BYU-Idaho, it would be impractical for the local medical community and infrastructure to support them with only Medicaid coverage.”

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, though, disputes that reasoning.

While Rexburg sits in Madison County, which does have the highest concentration of potential Medicaid expansion enrollees in Idaho, the state has assured residents that providers have prepared for the expected wave of new patients. There are plenty of doctors in the region, said Niki Forbing-Orr, spokeswoman for the state health department.

“As far as we can tell, there shouldn’t be any kind of problems with access for those folks,” she added.

An estimated 91,000 residents statewide could qualify when Medicaid expansion takes effect in January; nearly 2,400 live in Rexburg. It’s a lower-income community in eastern Idaho with a population of nearly 30,000, where roughly 42% are considered as living in poverty, based on statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The college town has few job options for its predominantly white population. And many students choose to go to BYU-Idaho specifically because of the cheap tuition — which the university’s president, Henry J. Eyring, touted in his inaugural speech.

“The school prides itself on being affordable and not requiring students to get loans,” said Connor Pack, a 26-year-old there studying music education. “This policy just runs counter to those ideals.”

Pack, his wife Laura and their daughter use Medicaid. Laura graduated in 2017, but Pack’s still got three semesters left. They’ve stayed in Rexburg for him to finish, but now they’re wondering if they can afford it or if they should move elsewhere where there might be more opportunities.

“I’m definitely worried about finding the money,” Pack said. “We’re barely breaking even as is, and we’ve got another baby on the way.”

Pack has joined hundreds of students in protesting the change. They’ve called and emailed administrators. But they haven’t gotten responses. They’ve posted on the school’s social media pages. But those comments have been deleted. Now, they’re planning a sit-in for Monday outside the offices for executives at BYU-Idaho. And they’ve started a petition that has more than 7,000 signatures.

“What place do they have to tell me what insurance I can and can’t have? If my insurance is federally acceptable then it should be acceptable for the school, too,” said Tanner Emerson, a senior in civil engineering.

Many students have said they’re frustrated to have to pay for the school’s insurance when they’re already covered under Medicaid. Some have questioned whether the university or the church is trying to make more money from them. The BYU-Idaho plans might have seen a drop in enrollment as some newly qualified students switched over with the Medicaid expansion.

Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators, or DMBA, is a private, nonprofit trust that manages benefits for many church-owned enterprises. Since it’s not an insurance company, it doesn’t have to comply with federal requirements for coverage. Its health plans are not considered minimum essential coverage under the nationwide Affordable Care Act.

DMBA plans have a $370,000 annual cap on care — while limits such as that have been banned under federal plans. They don’t include care for pregnancies, which many of the families on Medicaid and going to the school need. And birth control is not covered either.

So some of the students who are signing up for the school’s plans don’t expect to use them.

“They can’t treat any single one of my medical diagnoses,” said Jessica Knoeck, 35, who said she has severe rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and lupus and planned to return to BYU-Idaho in January when she qualified for the Medicaid expansion. “Buying their medical plan makes no sense.”

Emerson and his wife, Amanda, have one child and are expecting another in April. He’s currently working 20 hours a week in maintenance to earn enough money to cover their rent, which is already subsidized by the government. And they’ve both got federal grants helping to pay for tuition.

“This imposes a financial burden that doesn’t really seem necessary,” he said. “It happened overnight, came out of nowhere and blindsided us.”

For Andrew Taylor, the extra expense is so high and so unexpected that he said he has to drop out of school. “We really can’t afford this.”

He and his wife are living paycheck to paycheck already — and they’ve missed their last phone bill and aren’t sure how they’ll cover their next rent payment. She’s close to graduating, but he’s just starting. Now, he’s looking for a job to help her get through school.

“This is a way that they are trying to discriminate against people of low socioeconomic status,” he believes.

Kaleigh Quick said that she and her husband, Matt, have already deferred a payment on their car so they could get their kids Christmas gifts. Now, they’re worried they’ll have to use that money for the insurance at BYU-Idaho so Quick can finish her last seven classes.

Kris Lasswell, a sophomore in earth science, hasn’t been to a doctor in four years because he hasn’t had insurance. He’ll qualify for the Medicaid expansion in January. But with his wife, Naomi, expecting a baby and rent going up, he said he can’t afford BYU’s $500 insurance on top of that.

“It would mean the difference of me being able to live here and go to school or not being able to go to school at all. It’s the difference of me being able to pay rent or be homeless,” he said.

Reclaim Idaho, a group that has pushed for Medicaid expansion in the state, condemned the school in a statement this week for its “unexplained decisions” to strip students of health care coverage.

“The vast majority of students and families we’re hearing from can’t believe the university would make such punitive decisions without explaining why,” said Rebecca Schroeder, the group’s executive director. “In one paragraph in a press release, they dropped a bombshell on hundreds, if not thousands, of students and are wiping their hands of the issue.”

Wilson said the lack of answers has been one of the most frustrating parts of the change. But she’s more disappointed that she won’t have a degree.

She wanted to show her sons that even though she grew up without much, she pushed herself through college. She’s not sure if that will happen any more.

This content was originally published here.

Influencer Said Kids Shouldn’t Learn About World War 2 Because It’s Bad For Their Mental Health

People have lashed out at the young influencer who spoke out and said that children shouldn’t learn about World War 2 because it negatively impacts their mental health.

As 22-year-old reality TV star and Instagram influencer Freddie Bentley claimed during his appearance at Good Morning Britain, learning about WWII had negative impacts on the mental health of millennials.

Stuart C. Wilson – Getty Images

While the young man said he didn’t want to be disrespectful to those who earned his freedom, he claimed that learning about the war has no value and should be replaced with more practical topics such as how to get a mortgage.

Good Morning Britain

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

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

GETTY – CONTRIBUTOR

“There’s 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.”

While the 22-year-old maintained he only had good intentions, viewers of the TV show were quick to confront him.

“They wouldn’t be here if these brave souls didn’t give/risk their lives for our freedom. Unbelievable. Selfish, deluded younger generation. Who think they are entitled. 1939-1945. A date to be remembered. What is happening to Britain?” someone responded.

Another one wrote: “ARE YOU HAVING A LAUGH!!!!! Not talking about the war in school? Not educating them on what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again!? You need to learn respect young man.”

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The post Influencer Said Kids Shouldn’t Learn About World War 2 Because It’s Bad For Their Mental Health appeared first on Small Joys.

This content was originally published here.