A Single-Payer Healthcare System for All Americans

KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple, Stupid. (I got this cartoon on Facebook and decided to share.)

For most of us, getting healthcare in this country is way too hard, as the video at the end shows. So to those in Congress who would make it even harder, I say, “Keep It Simple, Stupid,” with a single-payer healthcare system for All Americans.

WHERE’S THE VISION?

I responded to an article in The Guardian that critiques Democrats’ healthcare arguments, and another article in The New York Times that criticizes Republicans. The NY Times article describes a structural flaw in modern capitalism, where tremendous income gains have gone to those at the very top while prospects have diminished for those in the middle or bottom.

Both polarized political parties seem to lack a clear vision for America, and without a strong vision, Republicans have been separating themselves from traditional conservative policy. Even the term “compassionate conservatism” has vanished. I voted for Bush, but without compassion and goals I can believe in, I can no longer call myself a Republican.

Because I’m a consumer advocate, I must oppose policies that seem to be, “for us to win, you must lose.” That selfish meanness is why I now call myself a Progressive. It’s why I founded Modern Health Talk five years ago, why I voted for Obama, why I supported the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and why I still advocate long-term for a single-payer universal healthcare system like Medicare-for-All. It’s also why I endorse a public option as a path toward that objective.

Unlike modern Republicans (and many Democrats), I have a vision for America where government and individual citizens cooperate in a functioning society and share responsibility and benefits. We must collectively invest in public education, public safety, public infrastructure, public utilities, and a skilled, healthy and productive workforce to drive innovation, profit, and GDP. You see, I value capitalism like Republicans, but I also know the benefit of public-sector organizations and initiatives. And I know that no individual or company “makes it” on their own. With that in mind, one of my first articles here described a hybrid public/private healthcare system that blends the best of socialism and capitalism.

MY ADVICE FOR DEMOCRATS

I like most of the populist message of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but I worry that they both are too far to the left and may scare away moderates. I’m not sure they share my vision for America, because their rhetoric seems to blame wealthy corporations and individuals, and capitalism, and their plans seem intent on punishing with high taxes and strong regulation.

Sure, Progressive policies and tax reforms are needed, but the Democrat’s message needs to be simpler, gentler and more inclusive. Make the case that we as a nation must share both the responsibility and benefits, and invest strategically – i.e. work together.

As for healthcare, quit complaining about Republican efforts to repeal & replace Obamacare, because that’s what they campaigned on, and your arguments are landing on deaf ears. And quit trying to save Obamacare as it stands, because it does have flaws, and Republicans know how to break it. Take the high road and the initiative by reaching across the aisle with a better plan – a plan that has broader objectives that both sides can support, like saving over $1.5 trillion each and every year in overall healthcare costs, while also improving outcomes and developing that skilled, healthy, and productive workforce.

MY ADVICE FOR REPUBLICANS

Republicans had 7 years to step back, ask the right questions, and then work with Democrats and all stakeholders to craft a workable Obamacare replacement. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Medicare-for-All would satisfy campaign promises to replace Obamacare with a system that provides everyone with care that’s better and cheaper. I find it ironic that Republicans still claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility but failed so poorly to see the potential savings of universal healthcare. There’s still time to change course, knowing that 80% of the nation doesn’t want their hastily and secretly devised plan.

MEDICARE-FOR-ALL

As the latest Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare stalls in the Senate, Democrats like Robert Reich argue that basic healthcare should be a right and guaranteed for all Americans.

OUR HEALTHCARE SAVINGS POTENTIAL IS IMMENSE

The U.S. now spends over $3.3 trillion/year on healthcare – in total, including insurance premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket expenses, and government subsidies. That’s more than 17% of GDP, and it’s going up with 11,000 people turning age 65 every day and needing more care in old age.

The big savings potential is because our total spending is twice as much as what the other advanced nations pay, yet we still live sicker and die younger. Those other nations also struggle to constrain rising costs, but they have simpler and more-efficient single-payer systems that make coping with aging populations easier. Their incentives better align with goals.

To reach the savings potential, politicians must go beyond universal healthcare, because Medicare-for-All is not enough. It’s just another way of paying for health care. Although it’s far more efficient than any private health insurance, it doesn’t reduce the need for care in the first place. For that we need to focus on health, wellness and prevention, because as Benjamin Franklin said 250 years ago, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

TECH INNOVATION WILL IMPROVE CARE DELIVERY

Moore’s Law and the FUTURE of Health Care” is an article I wrote from the perspective of a retired IBM technologist and futurist. It looks at the convergence of information science (processors & networks), biology (chemistry, genes & proteins), cognitive & neuroscience (neuron signaling), and nano technology.

SPECIAL INTEREST LOBBYING WILL SLOW PROGRESS

While I’m guardedly optimistic that tech innovation will greatly improve care delivery, I worry about misaligned incentives that promote profit from disease management rather than health & wellness, and about special interest lobbying. In his TIME Magazine report, “Bitter Pill: Why High Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” Stephen Brill describes the Medical Industrial Complex, which spends 3-times as much on lobbying as the military industrial complex. They obviously don’t want to lose $1.5 trillion/year in revenue and will oppose any of the reforms I suggest. Unfortunately, Brill’s article is now behind a subscriber pay-wall, but I posted a summary and a video interview with the author.

IF AIR TRAVEL WORKED LIKE HEALTH CARE

This satirical video makes fun of our overly complex healthcare industry, looking at what the airline industry might be like if it worked the same way.

Let’s Change the way we see Health Care

Rather than a Wall, America needs to build a Giant Mirror to reflect on what we've become.

Rather than argue over who pays for what and who gets health insurance or access to care, and who doesn’t, maybe we need to step back and ask different questions, starting with…

“Is basic health care a human right, or is it an earned privilege?”

And if people can’t afford it, does that mean they aren’t working hard enough, aren’t determined enough, or are just Losers and don’t deserve it? Read More …

Healthcare as Public Utility

healthcare as a public utility - image of health care practitioner with handheld mobile deviceComputing functions once associated with PCs are moving back to big servers in the Internet Cloud, leaving mobile client devices to handle the user interface (UI) but not the data storage and analysis. I find this shift especially interesting, having grown up in the mainframe world at IBM as computing functions moved to PCs.

In the case of speech recognition and Apple’s SIRI artificial intelligence, even the UI function is now split between client & server. This has huge implications for healthcare, with IBM’s Watson and AT&T’s analytics engine aimed at different parts of the healthcare problem.

The networked mobile device (phone, tablet, etc.) will serve as a health gateway between a host of medical & environmental sensors and cloud-based services that collect & analyze the collected data. The benefits will not just target individual patients but be applied across large populations.

Read More …

Wall-E, End of Work, and Universal Basic Income

EDITOR’S NOTE:  I’m reposting this article with new information from a U.N. report that warns countries to prepare for the day when technology, automation, and artificial intelligence replaces jobs. They expect 75% of the world population to become unemployable, and that day is coming sooner than most people realize. It will have immense social consequences.

Wall-E is a fun & warm-hearted animated movie by Pixar that also warns against ignoring environmental pollution and the obesity epidemic. It presents future humans as super-obese couch potatoes living in a robot & technology-dominated world set some 700 years in the future. By then, mankind had so completely trashed Earth’s environment that humans were forced to relocate to spaceships and evolved into large, floating fat blobs – the Axioms.

But the future doesn’t have to be as foretold. We learned that from the classic movie, A Christmas Carol. By knowing the risks of possible futures that our current behavior may take us to, we can change. We can change course to save the environment, improve our health & well being, and find solutions to wide unemployment.

I hope you enjoy the video clips below, as well as the additional links and discussion that follows.

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Medical Errors versus Malpractice Lawsuits

Medical Errors versus Malpractice Lawsuits

With every legislative session, lawmakers seem to further reduce the rights of people injured by medical errors and malpractice.

Often described as a form of corporate welfare, Tort Reform makes it more difficult for people to file lawsuits and caps any award they get for damages. Some states even require the losing party to pay the court costs of the opposing party, making malpractice lawsuits extremely risky for individuals facing opponents with deep pockets. Read More …

Why Republicans Want to Repeal Obamacare

Robert Reich on Why Republicans want to Repeal Obamacare

Here’s what Reich says about an Obamacare repeal:

  • 32 million people will lose coverage, [UPDATE: 24M per Congressional Budget Office]
  • Tens of thousands of American’s will die as a result,
  • Medicare and Medicaid will be left in worse shape, and
  • The rich will get richer in a massive redistribution of wealth.

Missing from this list, and discussed after the video, is how Republicans can use the repeal to maintain control of Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court, even as a demographics shift works against them. Read More …

US Healthcare System has Cancer. Can Trump Fix it?

By Wayne Caswell, founding editor, Modern Health Talk

Dr. Sudip Bose says, "The epicenter of health care is the doctor-patient relationship."

Opening his January 16, 2017 Huffington Post article, Dr. Sudip Bose said, “One thing is certain about the future of Obamacare, and that is that it will change under a Donald Trump presidency.“ Given his public statements, Trump will clearly make sweeping changes sooner than later, but what those changes will be is anything but clear. That’s why today’s article describes what I hope for, if not what I expect.

The US healthcare system has cancer – a malignant form that started way before Obama became President, and it has taken decades to grow to its current condition, where our very existence is threatened. It’s my hope (remember Hope & Change?) that healthcare reform under Trump will not just treat the symptoms of a growing healthcare cancer, like the lack of insurance competition or price transparency. I hope Trump will recognize the need to treat our healthcare system’s cancer aggressively, naturally and holistically. Will he? Read More …

The Big Heist – Become a Benefactor

The Big Heist, a satyrical documentary about our broken healthcare systemYou can be part of History by becoming a benefactor of The Big Heist, at any amount. This documentary-in-process is a satirical, follow-the-money film about healthcare, the status quo, and efforts to fix our broken system from the ground up.

The Big Heist blends the comedy & parody styles of ZDoggMD and The Daily Show — to entertain and educate with the goal of transforming the public’s understanding of our nation’s healthcare system, along with the causes of its dysfunction, and how to truly fix it. This has been my personal passion since founding Modern Health Talk five years ago. I’ve already published over 100 articles on different aspects of healthcare reform public polity, sharing my own technical & futurist perspective and insights, and I love hearing other viewpoints with similar aims. Read More …

Are Crypto-Currencies Safe?

Here's a Bitcoin - at least a representation of one since they're actually electronic

Here’s a Bitcoin – at least a representation of one since they’re actually electronic

Last week Yvonne and I closed on the sale of our Austin home and the purchase of another home in the Dallas area. The process was simpler than I remember from the past, and since we paid cash for the new home, we didn’t even need a notary. I just downloaded a few forms, signed them on the kitchen table, scanned into the computer, and sent them back to the Title Company through a secure email service. This experience foretells the future, but are crypto-currencies safe? Really safe?

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting research papers related to blockchain applications in healthcare. Blockchain is the enabling technology behind BitCoin and other crypto-currencies, and it’s catching on fast — maybe too fast. Judge for yourself. Read More …

Research Funding and Hope for Alzheimer’s Disease?

Is there hope for Alzheimer’s disease?

Can Alzheimer's be stopped? a NOVA broadcast

This past week NOVA aired Can Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? (watch below) The program covered research funded by drug companies as they race to cure Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The profit potential from discovering a breakthrough cure, as noted at the beginning, is well into the Billions. Sadly, a treatment without a cure may be worth even more. So hence the race, given the large and growing numbers of people affected and the devastating impact the disease has on them, their caregivers, and society. Read More …

Wireless Networks and Electromagnetic Radiation

Schumann Resonance

RESONANCE is eye-opening documentary, revealing the biological harm from and health impact of wireless networks and electromagnetic radiation. The entire documentary is included here with some added comments. Most troubling to me are the long-term effects of electromagnetic radiation on cellular structures, cancer, and Melatonin, an important antioxidant and sleep-inducing hormone. Read More …

New technologies to prevent senior injuries at home

Fall Risk - ActiveProtective's airbags for pedestrians help prevent senior injuries at home

By Daniel Lewis

Airbags for Pedestrians

There’s no doubt that people are living longer now than ever before. That’s largely because of advancements in medicine and technology, and these advancements mean that hundreds of thousands of elderly people can now live on their own and enjoy a more fulfilling life. However, a simple fall can change all that; and falls are the most common way seniors injure themselves. Here’s just one of the new technologies that help prevent senior injuries at home.

It’s not always easy to prevent our loved ones from falling at home, because we just can’t be there all the time to keep an eye on them! Thankfully, however, technology is coming to the rescue again!

Automatically inflated car airbags deploy in microseconds to take the brunt of an impact and have saved thousands of lives. There have even been airbags designed for use when riding a motorcycle. And now ActiveProtective’s smart belt is an airbag for the waist, designed to prevent hip fractures. Built-in 3D sensors can detect when someone is falling and, just like the car airbags, air bags will inflate down the side of the hips to protecting them. Early tests have shown a 90% reduction in the force of impact. The product should be available at the end of 2016. What do you think?

Some related articles about preventing falls include:

Wearable sensors

A relatively new product to the market is the wearable sensor, the most advanced versions of which can monitor heartbeat, breathing patterns and even learn the routines of the wearer. They can send this information to you and, most importantly, tell you if there’s a significant change in normal patterns. This will alert you in case an emergency or other issue; whether they have injured themselves.

Some related articles about wearable sensors include:

OnStar for PeopleUnaliwear Kanega watch can help prevent senior injuries

It is now possible to buy a voice-controlled smart watch for seniors that can be worn all the time, even in water, and that does not need a phone subscription. Unaliwear’s Kanega will start shipping in the summer of 2016 and includes its own cellular and GPS capability. For someone who is lost, the watch provides voice directing the way home. It can connect to an emergency service if needed and even reminds you to take your pills. A built-in accelerometer can detect falls and lack of response and make emergency calls on your behalf, directing first responders to your location. In many ways, this is the latest and most advanced watch to date.

Wireless sensors

It’s become easy to fit your senior’s home with a variety of wireless sensors, connected to either a phone system or the Internet. They can then detect if someone has fallen and automatically alert emergency services. Researchers are also studying how these sensors can give an early warning system by identifying deviations from learned patterns. Sensors can beep when approaching a trip hazard to a fall before it happens.

The same wireless sensor systems that turn on lights or track motion patterns to detect or prevent a fall can also be linked with home security systems to detect an intrusion.

Google's NEST thermostat is just one of the wireless sensors that can help prevent senior injuries at home

PROVO, UT – JANUARY 16: In this photo illustration, a Nest thermostat is being adjusted in a home on January 16, 2014 in Provo, Utah. Google bought Nest, a home automation company, for $3.2 billion taking Google further into the home ecosystem. (Photo illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)

Some related articles about wireless sensors include:

There is no doubt that technology will make life easier and safer for all elderly people. However, in special circumstances your loved one may have to be put in a nursing home. Today’s care homes are no longer cold and unappealing; quite the opposite. There are high-tech facilities with 24/7 surveillance and advanced technology to help your seniors recover and sustain their mental abilities for as long as possible. Why should you risk their wellbeing when you can do what’s best for them and their health? Make a sensible choice and allow these new technologies to prevent your loved ones from getting hurt.

About the Author

Daniel Lewis is interested in writing about health and fitness related issues. He has a deep knowledge of this field and writes for a site (http://www.foresthc.com/) providing elderly care homes and retirement villages.

‘The Patient Will See You Now’ Envisions New Era

The Patient Will See You Now (book)The Patient Will See You Now’ is a book by Dr. Eric Topol that envisions a New Era in healthcare where we consumers take more responsibility for our own health and wellness and have the tools to do so. Often these are smaller, cheaper, and easier to use versions of what doctors have used for years, but digital and in some cases more accurate or beneficial.

Dr. Abigail Zuger wrote a review of Topol’s book for The New York Times and described the overall thesis as “the old days of ‘doctor knows best’ are as good as gone. No longer will doctors control medical data, treatment or profits. Instead, thanks to the newest science, humanity will finally achieve truly democratic health care: Up with patients! ‘Our Bodies, Our Selves’ for all!”

As Tool says in the following video, “What bothers me most about healthcare is the unwillingness to give rightful info to patients.”

Read More …

Tribute to Steve Jobs (1955-2011), iPhone 4S and iPad 2

iSad candle imageEDITOR: This 2011 article is being republished in support of CNN’s documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, which aired the first week of 2016.

With his vision, marketing savvy, attention to design & usability details, and ability to deliver total solutions around complete value chains, Steve Jobs revolutionized almost everything he touched, even turning technology into fashion. Those white earbuds, for example, tell people you are cool. The CNET video below takes us through the ups & downs of a career that changed both the tech industry and our culture at large.

In his 2005 “connecting the dots” Stanford commencement speech, Jobs spoke of finding work you love and the inevitability of death, which he described as “the single most important change agent of life.” Jobs said the end of one life makes room for others and told graduates, “your time is limited, so don‘t waste it living someone else’s life.” He concluded by advising them to “Stay hungry; stay foolish.”

Somehow I find it ironic that Jobs later got a Liver transplant ahead of many others because he was wealthy enough to have access to a private jet to get him there stat. I’m not complaining, just reflecting on this as an example of medical ethics issues that I find difficult & fascinating.
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What Caregiving Looks Like, Really

Caring for RobertaAccording to AARP, more than 40 million Americans are unpaid caregivers for elderly family members or friends. On average they spend more than 24 hours a week providing this service, with the value of their time alone estimated at $470 billion a year, and that’s before considering the impact on their career advancement from taking time off, or their own health from the added stress.

To put that $470B into perspective, it’s more than total Medicaid spending ($449B), and close to the annual sales of the four largest U.S. tech firms combined (Apple, Hewlett Packard, IBM and Microsoft), which came to $429B in 2013.

The following six short videos, each just 3 minutes or less, show what caregiving looks like. They’re from a contest sponsored by AARP and the Ad Council to feature the care given by friends and family. But what about those seniors who don’t have a support system? With changing demographics, their numbers are increasing, even as there are fewer left to provide care.

Figaro

This first video, which shows friends taking on the role of “family” caregivers, earned AARP’s top prize.

In the Moment

In this 2nd place video, the brother and sister team of Jeff & Patti work together to help their 92 year-old mom Lulu live in the moment even as she struggles with dementia and the loss of short-term memory.

The Baton – Kaypri Marcus

Kaypri speaks of how thankful she is to have the opportunity to finish her mother’s autobiography about being a southern white woman involved in the civil rights movement. This reminds me of the importance of leaving a legacy and capturing your story while you can. (See related articles here).

The Van

Donating an unneeded van was a random act of kindness, and an unexpected blessing, for this family since their own minivan often needed repair and was on its last leg with more than 270,000 miles.

Roberta’s Home

92 year-old Roberta’s daughter and grandson moved in to help her stay in the home she designed and built. Barbara’s role reversed from daughter to caregiver, and Blake formed a much deeper relationship with his grandmother.

It Takes a Family

This short shows what can happen when a wife becomes a caregiver and then needs to rely on additional help from her children and their spouses.

Share Your Story

I love how personal each of these stories are and would like to hear yours in the comments below or via email, and with your permission I’d like to share it as an article here, with whatever photos or videos you provide.

One Poll surveys 1000 people about Sleep – Interesting

New Survey Explains the Importance of Sleep

By Paula Davis-Laack, Lawyer turned burnout prevention expert

OnePoll Sleep SurveyAre you a sleep worker?

No, not a sleepwalker, but a person who goes to work and attempts to function on too little sleep? It turns out, one-third of American workers are sleep working — not getting enough sleep to function at peak levels, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School.

On the home front, men and women experience interrupted sleep, but often for different reasons. Women are more than twice as likely to interrupt their sleep to care for others, and once they’re up, they are awake longer: 44 minutes, compared with 30 minutes for men.

According to a new sleep survey conducted by One Poll, 1,000 people aged 18 – 55+ were asked a series of questions about their sleep habits. Here are some of the findings: Read More …

Are Our Plates Too Full? A Nation Confronts Addiction

By David L. Katz

Earlier this month, thanks largely to the influence and convening power of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the nation was invited to talk about addiction. Among those weighing in to lend support, on air and via social media, was the nation’s Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy.The National Night of Conversation - about Addiction

The symbol chosen for the campaign was an empty plate, the image meant to convey that this night — the conversation and related food for thought — matter more than the food. Something additional suggests itself to me, however, especially as I try to get this column written (as I promised I would): catch up and then keep up with demands as furious and frenetic as a swarm of bees. Maybe our plates are generally way too full.

I really have no cause to complain on my own behalf. Yes, I am too busy, and yes, I do often feel like Sisyphus. But I have a loving family and plenty of support. Many are not so fortunate. Read More …

Secrets of the Brain – from cradle to grave

My interest in the brain started with an understanding how sleep affects health and performance; so I was especially inspired by the PBS programs I share in this post. They help us understand how wonderful and adaptable this three pound organ is, how our abilities and personalities are formed, and how external forces impact our choices and even our politics. The videos will give you new perspectives of mental health, whether you have an aging loved one with Alzheimer’s or a young child with a learning disability. Read More …