Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Access and quality are not the only health care issues

Today President Obama replied to my appeal for the Public Option.  In his letter, he mentions that "there is broad consensus among the American people on the need for affordable, high-quality health care.  The rising cost of health care is the most pressing financial challenge for families and for our Nation, and controlling this cost is essential to bringing down the Federal deficits we inherited.  We must end unfair insurance practices that leave millions of Americans without coverage, denying them access to care, and exposing them to extraordinary burdens."  Although he signed the CHIP legislation, "still more must be done to lower costs, expand coverage, and improve the quality of health care."

The following is my response to President Obama: 

Honorable President Obama,

Thank you for the prompt reply to my appeal for Medicare for All.  In it, you emphasize that the most pressing issue is affordable, high-quality health care.  You then mention insurance reform.  Access to health care, high quality health care, and health insurance are 3 very different issues.  I believe you are confusing the issues.  I disagree with you that these are the principal issues needing reform. 

Another major issue is moral.  Even Senator Kennedy mentioned the moral issue in his final letter.  

The first issue is the moral imperative for a nation to protect its citizens.  Protection is not only by military at the borders of the country; we also protect our citizens with laws, police, judges, firefighters, public health, etc., all paid for with taxes.  It is a moral imperative for a developed nation to provide health insurance to ALL citizens. 

The second is whether it is moral or ethical to profit from ill health?  Should health care be a free market commodity? 
All the aforementioned protective services are free for everyone and not market commodities.  I believe a free market for a person's life is immoral. 
One of the biggest issues has been the immorality of the health insurance companies which has driven us into this crisis. 

Your reform doesn't even mention morals or ethics.  You talk about reforming the health insurance industry but not reforming their morals.  Selling health insurance for profit is like selling a slave.  Slaves also should not be free market commodities, and profits made from trafficking are also not moral. 
Medicare is a not-for-profit health insurance policy. 

Please, don't give this "reform" away to the insurance industry.  Make the insurance industry the "private option."  Medicare for ALL is the only moral choice. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Public Option is a tiny step toward Medicare for All

On 9/9/09, President Obama said, "I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch."

I contend that Medicare works. Medicare is one of the most popular and successful legislations in American history. Let's build on Medicare to expand it to ALL. Expanding Medicare to all would NOT be "starting from scratch."

Health care for profit by private insurance companies is unethical and obviously doesn't work. We should expand Medicare for ALL with a private option.

Our nation has been attempting to provide health care for all for over 100 years. It took about 50 years of incremental legislation to culminate in Medicare in 1964. Now, 55 years after Medicare, the PUBLIC OPTION will be a tiny step toward Medicare for All.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

H1N1 flu and mandatory vaccinations

Dr. Toy sent me a notice on how to protect oneself from mandatory H1N1 flu vaccinations enabled by the Patriot Act. This is my response:

I haven't read the Patriot Act, but I seriously doubt that any government agency could force people to be vaccinated outside of the military or prisons. For example, the WHO wants every child to be vaccinated against HepB, but parents still have to sign a permit, and if they don't, there is no penalty whatsoever. Every nation in the world vaccinates their newborns against HepB, a disease of IV drug users. It is a noble ambition of WHO to aspire to wipe HepB off the face of the Earth like it did with smallpox. But parents are free to decline the vaccine. My son got himself vaccinated at age 18.

New York City schools will be conducting H1N1 flu vaccinations in October, when the vaccine will be released. But still, no one will get vaccinated without the parent signing a consent. Most assuredly, there will also be a Waiver to sign for those parents who don't want their child vaccinated. Plenty of parents already sign the waiver for the mandatory school vaccinations.

Undoubtedly, part of the H1N1 flu "pandemic" is the need to sell vaccines. Another is to sell alcohol based hand sanitizer. As a School Nurse, I have noted that schools often think hand washing is too time consuming and uses too much water, so they buy hand sanitizer at $4 per 8 oz bottle. In times of drastic budget cutting, who can afford that???

There are 3 processes to guard ourselves and our children against the H1N1 flu or any other communicable disease.
1) Hand washing. It must include lathering the soap all over the hands for at least 10 seconds, 20 preferred; tell kids to sing Happy Birthday twice while lathering, then rinse. Large numbers of students can be accommodated by mixing some liquid soap with water in a spray bottle, and spraying all the children's hands to lather up while they are waiting in line to rinse. Strategic timing to wash hands is also essential: before eating, after coughing or sneezing into your hand, after blowing your nose, after touching pets like turtles or other reptiles/amphibians, and after using the bathroom, etc.
2) Bolster the immune system with good nutrition and nutritional supplements. Get enough exercise and sleep.
3) Clean all commonly touched areas with an antibacterial cleanser. I suggest 70% isopropyl alcohol because it is cheap and the fumes are non-toxic. Just don't drink it. Clean door knobs, the phone, faucet handles, the toilet flusher, the refrigerator handle, light switches, video game controllers, computer keyboards, remote control, etc. At school, this should be done nightly. If there is a known infected person, it would be prudent to repeat it at midday.

Germs are everywhere all the time anyway. I agree with Foster Gamble, the author of the article in question, that the H1N1 flu may be no worse than any other flu. I am very hesitant to expose myself or any child to a rushed-through vaccine that hasn't yet been fully tested over the long term on large numbers of subjects. I tell the parents at school that vaccinations are an ethical issue that is up to every individual parent.

Unfortunately, we live with a government that devalues the Common Good. Historically, the government has dropped many safeguards and has rushed-through several pharmaceuticals that were not fully tested; they subsequently became fully tested by using the unwitting general public as test subjects without their consent. We have a crisis of trust with our government which protects corporate interests at the expense of the Common Good.

Another huge factor affecting our immune systems is that of pollution. As long as the government allows pollution, and our bodies become toxified with air, water, and soil pollution, our immune systems become impaired. The government would rather vaccinate us than prevent pollution and force the polluters clean up their messes. Once again, our government protects corporate profits at the expense of the Common Good.

So the H1N1 flu "pandemic" may be another way to bolster corporate profits for the vaccine and sanitizer companies. Maybe. Or maybe not. Either way, effective hand washing is the key to controlling the spread of contagious disease. Hand washing and good nutrition is more important now than ever before.