Tag Archives: health care reform

The State of Medicine in the U.S.

Which is pretty sorry.  Let me tell you a story.  Last Thursday afternoon, I went to the pharmacy for a refill on one of the two medications I take for hypertension, and found out the prescription had expired.  I asked for a small supply to get through the next few days until I could get the prescription refilled, and they said they couldn’t do that, because it’s a “controlled substance”.  What?

It used to be you could call your doctor and ask for a refill, but now they (at least the clinic where I go) requires the pharmacy to do that.  Which the pharmacy does by sending a fax.

On Friday, I went to the pharmacy, but the prescription had not been filled yet.  They hadn’t heard from the doctor.  My clinic is closed on weekends, but I hoped they had called it in late Friday.  So I called the pharmacy.  No luck.

I waited until Monday, which was Christmas Eve, and called the clinic.  They were closed.  I got a recording which said, “If this is an emergency, please hang up and call 911 or go to the Emergency Room”.  Well no.  I’m not going to the Emergency Room (an $800 minimum charge) for a $10 generic prescription. So I called one of their sister clinics–there are seven in the area–and they said, “We can’t help you. We don’t have access to your records. But if is this is an emergency…”

One of the initiatives of the President’s health care plan is moving toward electronic records, so that any caregiver has access to your history.  I confess I was somewhat leery of that, but now I get it.

The thing is, while I wouldn’t go to the ER, it was becoming something of an emergency.  Saturday, after missing a day and a half of the medication, I had a massive headache, which I knew meant my blood pressure was up.  I chose to try to be very quiet and still and wait.  And hope I didn’t have a stroke in the meantime.  The headache never went away, and plus, I felt sick.  The kind of “sick” that you are when your blood pressure is high is not easily described.

It was no use calling either the clinic or the pharmacy on Tuesday.  It was Christmas Day, and both were closed.  On Wednesday, I called the pharmacy.  Still no prescription.  I called the clinic.  They said, “Yes, we do have the fax from the pharmacy, but the thing is, it’s still on the doctor’s desk. She’s been the only doctor here today and has had to see all the patients”.

On Thursday I called the pharmacy back.  Still no prescription.  On Friday I called again.  They had it, and it was ready.  By this time, I’m very, very sick, and was having trouble contemplating the idea of moving from the couch.

So here are a few things that are wrong:  no electronic record.  Not enough doctors.  The fact that doctors in the U.S. expect to be rich.  Which is understandable, since the cost of medical school is astronomical.  Assuming you ever make it out of that debt in your lifetime, then you’re faced with malpractice insurance, which is equally astronomical. The cost of going to the Emergency Room–which is the primary source of medical care for those without health insurance. So if you do have it, then you are paying for all those who don’t.  (Thus the $800 minimum.) So wouldn’t it be better if everyone had it?

Having said all that, I’d say that in order to have a good medical professional, you also have to be a good patient.  For instance, don’t fail to notice that a critical prescription is expiring just before the Christmas holidays.

More Sex, Lies, and Videotape

Okay…there is no sex involved here (as far as I know), but there are lies, and, of course, videotape.  In the second of my posts on political TV advertising, I will now address the race for the House of Representatives in Florida’s second district–16 counties in Northwest Florida.  The race is between incumbent Democrat Allen Boyd , who is from Monticello (near Tallahassee) and Republican Steve Southerland of Panama City. 

Let’s take Boyd first.  Boyd is one of the infamous Blue Dogs.  Democrats who claim to hold to the principles of the Democratic Party (whatever those are) but with more of an eye toward fiscal responsibility.  In other words, a DINO.  Like Republicans have a lock on the concept of fiscal responsibility, and Democrats don’t care about it?  I guess I should be grateful for the Blue Dogs, since both compromise and fiscal responsibility are essential, but part of me says, just be one thing or the other.  Realistically, however, it’s not politically feasible to be elected in North Florida unless you’re a Democrat who acts mostly like a Republican, unless you’re from Tallahassee itself. 

At the last minute, Boyd voted for the health care reform bill, after what one writer I read called “arm-twisting”.  Boyd says he changed his mind about supporting it after changes were made that he deemed to be more…you guessed it…fiscally responsible.  Here’s what I think happened:  the Democratic Party said, you don’t vote for this and you can start calling yourself a Dead Duck instead of a Blue Dog.  No money from us.  No support.  No TV ads.  We will support your primary opponent instead–a long-time loyal Democrat named Al Lawson.  Lawson was the minority leader of the Florida state Senate, who is term-limited out this year. 

My plan was to vote for Lawson in the primary.  But immediately, and I mean immediately, after Boyd changed his vote on health care, the Democratic Party started sending out emails saying Boyd needed to be supported (read: rewarded) for his “heroic” stand on health care.  And frankly, I agreed.  So I was going to vote for him, and then, the TV ads started.  His attacks on Lawson were so fierce, vicious, and untrue, that I said “What was I thinking?”  I voted for Lawson, but he lost.  Lawson is understandably bitter.  The Democratic Party abandoned him.  In return, he endorsed Charlie Crist for the U.S. Senate as opposed to the Dem candidate Kendrick Meek.  You go, Al! 

So now Boyd and the Dem Party have turned the machine guns in the direction of Steve Southerland.  Boyd’s ads say that Southerland wants to abolish Medicare and Social Security (keep in mind what I said about scaring seniors), and that he wants to repeal the 17th Amendment, the one which gives the people the right to vote on members of Congress, rather than having them selected by the states.  These allegations may even be true, but after seeing Boyd’s attacks on Al Lawson, you would have to be a complete idiot to take his word for anything. 

Lucky for Boyd, I guess, Southerland is hoist by his own petard.  In Southerland’s own ads, he says he wants to “create jobs” (code for, lower my taxes, but not necessarily yours) and he wants to help repeal “Obamacare” (code for, I have no idea what I’m talking about, but I know you don’t either and will like the sound of it).  Southerland is the owner of several funeral homes, so in the job creation arena, I have to ask myself what sort of jobs he plans to create.  In that regard, abolishing Social Security and Medicare makes perfect sense.  More customers, quickly. 

So…no thanks to Allen Boyd, I’ll vote for him anyway.  But it will be one of those choices where you are picking the best of the worst.  In an ideal world, I’d have an overwhelmingly positive choice, which is how I felt about President Obama, but “ideal” and “positive” don’t often seem to mesh with politics.

Florida Politics Again

I confess that I often can’t get worked up much about Florida politics, since when you’ve lived in Louisiana, all else pales.  There is no better way to become jaded than to live in Louisiana.  Things that people in other states  get upset about, I just want to say…you think that’s bad?  Corruption?  You don’t even know the half of it.  It’s an accepted way of life, a normal way of doing business.  People are surprised that you’re surprised. 

If you transplant someone from Louisiana to say, Iowa, they are like, What?  There are people in politics who are actually honest and sincere?  Wait…I actually think I did that (moved from Louisiana to Iowa, that is).

But now I live in Florida, although I can’t claim to be a Floridian.  Apparently that’s reserved for people who were born here and lived here all their lives, even though they are all plotting to move to Montana.  (Hint:  when you get to Montana, prepare to be an outsider.  You will never be a Montanan, or whatever they call themselves.)

But the weekend would not be complete without a political post from Fakename.  So, it’s Saturday, and Fakename’s favorite Florida political writer, Paul Flemming, wrote his usual article on Friday.   The headline was “Challenges Make Great Political Theater”.  Minutes after the health care reform bill passed, Florida’s Attorney General filed suit against the Federal government (on “Tenther” grounds).  To be fair…he and the Attorneys General of several other states. 

It so happens that Florida’s Attorney General is running for governor.  I’m sure that has nothing to do with it.  I’m sure there also no problem with the fact that he hired the law firm he used to work for as the outside attorneys in the suit.  With no bid.  And that he filed in Pensacola rather than two blocks from his office in Tallahassee.  His spokesperson says Pensacola is in a position to act more quickly, which may be true.  It also may be true that it’s more convenient to his old law partners. 

This will go nowhere. It’s the very definition of grandstanding.  I’ll go further:  it’s a cynical sucking-up to the lowest common denominator of the populace.  People who have no actual idea of what the health care reform bill means for them, how much it will help them.  Who actually buy the “government takeover” rhetoric.  I guess in every war, there have to be foot soldiers.  And Republicans are rallying the foot soldiers. 

And they scare me.  I haven’t been this scared since Vietnam.  At the moment, I think there are more of “us” than there are of “them”.  I think the biggest mistake Republicans made is in convincing themselves that Americans don’t want health care reform.  Yes, they (we) do.