Tag Archives: healthcare

Healthcare Forum: We Want to Hear Your Stories

 

Banner University Medical Center

High-tech medical care at Banner University Medical Center

For the past 30 years, my career has focused on health promotion, disease prevention, behavioral research, and communications. I have seen, photographed, and written about the good, the bad and the ugly parts of our country’s healthcare “system”.

I saw the rise of HMOs (health maintenance organizations) in the 1980s. I cheered the Clintons for at least trying to fix the overly complicated mess in the early 1990s. I saw costs going up every year and service going down. I saw a health insurance system that was creaking under the weight of its own complexity, while big insurance and big pharma collected huge profits. As managing editor of the American Journal of Medicine, I stood proudly by the Editor-in-Chief when he and the Editorial Board called for Medicare for All on multiple occasions.

Along the way, I have heard stories about huge medical bills, uncompensated hospital care, outrageously expensive drugs, limited or delayed access to medical care, premature death and disease, medical bankruptcy, and the medical consequences of poverty.

Now, as a member of the Arizona House and the ranking Democrat on the Health Committee, I want to hear your stories.

Do you have concerns about the future of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Kids Care? Is the cost of medical care or prescription drugs a worry for your family? How would dramatic cuts to these programs impact you? Come to the 200 Stories: Tucson Healthcare Forum on Oct 29.

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New Research: Regular Marijuana Users See Pre-Diabetes Benefit

MJ-leaf-gr-blby Pamela Powers Hannley

A new research study published today in the American Journal of Medicine found that current marijuana users had significantly lower fasting insulin, were less likely to be insulin resistant (a pre-diabetic state), and were more likely to have high HDL (good cholesterol). (Read the study here.)

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) has been used for centuries to relieve pain, improve mood, and increase appetite. Outlawed in the United States in 1937 and further restricted under the Controlled Substances Act by the Nixon Administration, marijuana use has continued to increase. There are an estimated 17.4 million current users of marijuana in the United States. Approximately 4.6 million Americans smoke marijuana daily or almost daily. With the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado and the legalization of medical marijuana in 19 states and the District of Columbia, US public opinion has moved toward less stringent laws.

In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Joseph S. Alpert of the University of Arizona College of Medicine calls on the federal government to open the doors of medical research to marijuana, allowing free investigation of the drug. Study details after the jump.

This new study about insulin control and pre-diabetes was conducted by a multicenter research team which analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES) between 2005 and 2010. They analyzed data from 4,657 patients who completed a drug use questionnaire. Of these respondents, 579 were current marijuana users, 1,975 had used marijuana in the past but were not current users, and 2,103 had never inhaled or ingested marijuana. Fasting insulin and glucose were measured via blood samples, and insulin resistance was calculated.

Participants who reported using marijuana in the past month had lower levels of fasting insulin and insulin resistance and higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Large waist circumference also is linked to diabetes risk, and this study also sowed significant associations between marijuana use and smaller waist circumferences. 

These associations were weaker among those who reported using marijuana at least once, but not in the past thirty days, suggesting that the impact of marijuana use on insulin and insulin resistance exists during periods of recent use. Current users had 16% lower fasting insulin levels than participants who reported never having used marijuana in their lifetimes. 

“Previous epidemiologic studies have found lower prevalence rates of obesity and diabetes mellitus in marijuana users compared to people who have never used marijuana, suggesting a relationship between cannabinoids and peripheral metabolic processes, but ours is the first study to investigate the relationship between marijuana use and fasting insulin, glucose, and insulin resistance,” says lead investigator Murray A. Mittleman, MD, DrPH, of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

Although people who smoke marijuana have higher average caloric intake levels than non-users, marijuana use has been associated with lower body-mass index (BMI) in two previous surveys. “The mechanisms underlying this paradox have not been determined and the impact of regular marijuana use on insulin resistance and cardiometabolic risk factors remains unknown,” says coauthor Hannah Buettner.

The investigators acknowledge that data on marijuana use were self-reported and may be subject to underestimation or denial of illicit drug use. However, they point out, underestimation of drug use would likely yield results biased toward observing no association.

“We desperately need a great deal more basic and clinical research into the short- and long-term effects of marijuana in a variety of clinical settings such as cancer, diabetes, and frailty of the elderly,” said Editor-in-Chief Joseph S. Alpert, MD, Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. "I would like to call on the NIH and the DEA to collaborate in developing policies to implement solid scientific investigations that would lead to information assisting physicians in the proper use and prescription of THC in its synthetic or herbal form.” 

This is the second major study released this week about the medical benefits of marijuana. On Monday, a study showing decreased bladder cancer risk among marijuana smokers compared to cigarette smokers:
Marijuana Linked To Lower Bladder Cancer Risk, Study Says

I think it is high time [pun intended] that the US government end its polilically motivated, schizophrenic policies toward marijuana. States should stop putting up economic roadblocks to medical marijuana clinics. (What other legal industries have been victimized in this way?) And the Obama Administration should stop the crackdowns on clinics and open up the doors to research, which were closed by President Nixon.

Progressives Shut Out of Koch Brothers Medicaid Forum

Loft2013-03-07-2-sm72-sigby Pamela Powers Hannley

Thanks to publicity on this blog, social media, and e-mail blasts, progressives and other Democrats came to the Americans for Prosperity "public forum" on Medicaid expansion last night at The Loft Cinema. Too bad we couldn't get in.

Approximately 20 pro-healthcare reform advocates, plus six journalism students, and two bloggers were shut out of the tightly controlled forum. In addition, City Councilman Steve Kozachik was "uninvited" to participate in the panel. Although public announcements of the event in the Tucson Weekly, the Arizona Daily Star, and the Pima County GOP website didn't say that reservations were required, the only people who were admitted were those who RSVP'd to the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity e-mail blast, linked to this article.

The only two members of Progressive Democrats of American (PDA) Tucson who were admitted are both doctors. (Of course, they were not wearing PDA Healthcare Not Warfare stickers. None of us holding the banner in front of The Loft or trying to distribute Healthcare Not Warfare stickers got in.)

After the jump, read a first hand account by Dr. Eve Shapiro, head of PDA Tucson's healthcare reform issue organizing team, and more about Koz and job creation with Medicaid expansion.

From Shapiro…

We stayed for almost the first hour. Tom Betlatch, director of AHCCCS, spoke first and gave a very good overview of AHCCCS, Prop 204, and the current state of the uninsured and the effect on the hospitals, etc. He also read some stories from their website about people losing insurance and facing death.

Don Hughes spoke next; he is [Governor Jan] Brewer's health policy advisor. He talked about Brewer's struggle with the issue and why she chose to go with the expansion (I think as a way to get the audience to see why Republicans should support it). He also talked about the effect on rural hospitals of increasing the uninsured population.

Next Tom Jenney (from Americans for Prosperity) spoke and said a lot of inaccurate information about AHCCCS: its a bad program that gives poor care, it would cost the state a lot of money, etc. At one point, he said doctors are fleeing AHCCCS at which point Paul [Shapiro's husband] and I yelled out that that wasn't true and that we are physicians. I think he lost his cool a little at that point.

Betlatch responded by asking what proposal Jenney would make instead and challenged some of his statements as not factual. Jenney couldn't answer and acknowledged that he had no alternative. Hughes challenged him about the value of AHCCCS. The next speaker was [former State Senator] Frank Antonori, and we decided we couldn't stand any more and left.

The audience was pretty significantly oriented to Jenney's group [Americans for Prosperity], although many of us clapped for Betlatch and Hughes. [Former State Representative] Dr. Matt Heinz was up to speak after Antonori, and Dr. Jane Orient was there as well (libertarian doctor). The audeince was obviously a lot smaller than we had anticipated, since it was in the new room at the Loft which probably doesn't seat mores than 100 people.  I doubt any minds were changed, since the people there only cared about taxes. I think they represent a small group, though, and I doubt it will have any impact on the debate. The event was recorded. [Emphasis added.]

It's really too bad that the venue was small and that the journalism students, bloggers, and people with differing viewpoints were not allowed into the theater. I had my video camera and was ready to record the event– as I have with other truly public, bipartisan forums. We should have expected this. Prior to the event, Tea Party organizers played politics with the panel invitees. Initially, Kozichik was to represent the Grand Canyon Institute on the panel, but he was uninvited. State Senator Steve Farley was billed as being on the panel, but word is that he may have declined to participate because of the pre-event gamesmanship with the panel. 

Did the Tea Party dump Koz from the program because they're still pissed off about his defection from the Republican Party, or did they not want the Grand Canyon Institute's message heard– and taped? According to a report from the Grand Canyon Institute, Medicaid expansion would save the Arizona general fund $1.2 billion and create 21,000 jobs. (Read the full report here.)

Create jobs and save billions? That's not a message the Koch Brothers want people to hear; instead, they want to spoon feed the public messages like the one from last night's anti-Obamacare movie, Sick and Sicker. It is a scare tactic hit piece about expansion of coverage and long wait times for doctor visits in Canada. The movie trailer includes quotes from a doctor who predicts that Americans will die waiting for healthcare if the Affordable Care Act is allowed to go forward and cover more of the uninsured. The key point that is left out? People are dying now because they don't have access to care or they delay care because of the cost.

Since so many voices were shut out of this forum, the sole video record will show a homogeneous audience opposed to healthcare reform and big guv'mint. It's ironic that the Tea Party, which claims to be all about preserving the Constitution, shut out the public voice and the media.

Koch Brothers Organize to Stop Medicaid Expansion in Arizona, Nationwide

Ted15-sm72-sigby Pamela Powers Hannley

In recent months, a handful of Republican governors have softened their stances on Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Showing a bit of financial savvy and (dare I say) compassion for the millions of poor Americans who would be covered by this, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and others have decided to take the feds' funds and allow expanded healthcare coverage for their citizens who can't afford insurance. 

Unfotrunately for the people who would benefit from Medicaid expansion, Big Brother Brothers don't like it when their puppets… er… politicians brake ranks with the 1%. Americans for Prosperity– the Koch Brothers' astroturf  group– is organizing the citizenry to fight against their own self interests to defeat Medicaid expansion.

This battle is coming to Tucson on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Americans for Prosperity has organized a public forum on Medicaid expansion at The Loft Cinema, 6:30-8:30 p.m. After a showing of "Sick and Sicker", an anti-Obamacare propaganda film, there will be a panel, which is heavily packed with Tea Party types– like former State Senator and perpetual blow hard Frank Antenori, State Representative Ethan Orr, and Tom Jenney, Arizona Director for Americans for Prosperity. The sole Democrat on the panel is State Senator Steve Farley. (Go, Steve!)

If you believe that healthcare is a human right and if you believe that "We the People" should take care of each other (and not fight over crumbs left by the 1%), come testify at this forum. This is your chance to tell your story. If you support Medicaid expansion in Arizona, you can also go to this link on the AHCCCS website add your name as a supporter. Comments and healthcare stories can be sent to Share@azahcccs.gov.

Flyer and details about Americans for Prosperity's efforts in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Florida after the jump.

From Crooks and Liars

AFP's [Americans for Prosperity] efforts are intended to deny health care to 542,000 uninsured and poor residents of Pennsylvania so billionaires can buy another bauble for their wife. It's disgusting to see these people actually organize their astroturf in order to deny people the right to have access to affordable health care.

In Florida, their efforts were rewarded Monday with a key House subcommittee voting to block Governor Rick Scott's decision to expand Medicaid into that state. The Florida legislature has a Republican supermajority, so the only question to be answered is whether or not Rick Scott will acquiesce to their cruelty or veto it.

I think we all know the answer to that. They've given him the political cover he needs with that bill, just as the Pennsylvania legislature will do for Governor Tom Corbett. A few dying residents won't matter to these people, because the only pity they have in their hearts is for the billionaires.

From Amercans for Prosperity

 
To all Arizona Taxpayers and Health Care Consumers:

Despite the fact that Gov. Jan Brewer and powerful lobbyists are pushing Arizona to impose statewide taxes, including a hospital bed tax, to fund an expansion of Medicaid (AHCCCS) under ObamaCare, we think there is a strong chance we will win this battle. Here are three reasons we are likely to win:

1) Grassroots activists (YOU and your friends!) have been putting strong pressure on Legislators.

It is vitally important for Arizona to stop the proposed Medicaid expansion, because the human and fiscal costs of that expansion would be enormous. If you haven't sent an email to your Legislators, please TAKE ACTION NOW.

2) Conservatives on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are likely to fight to protect taxpayers and defend Prop 108. 

With your encouragement, we are confident that the members of the Appropriations Committees will make sure that any Medicaid expansion bill contains a Prop 108 clause, thus requiring a two-thirds vote of the both chambers of the Legislature. Please send those members (listed below) a note of encouragement. Your email or voice mail message can be very short, for example: "I am writing to thank you for all you do for Arizona taxpayers on the Appropriations Committee, and to encourage you to make sure that any tax or fee increase for the Medicaid expansion is subject to a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Legislature, as required by Prop 108." More info about Prop 108 and the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion: http://tinyurl.com/stopunelected 

Rep. Paul Boyer  pboyer@azleg.gov 602-926-4173
Rep. Tom Forese  tforese@azleg.gov 602-926-5168
Rep. Rick Gray  rgray@azleg.gov 602-926-5993
Rep. John Kavanagh  jkavanagh@azleg.gov 602-926-5170
Rep. Adam Kwasman  akwasman@azleg.gov 602-926-5839
Rep. Justin Olson  jolson@azleg.gov 602-926-5288
Rep. Michelle Ugenti  mugenti@azleg.gov 602-926-4480

Sen. Chester Crandell  ccrandell@azleg.gov 602-926-5409
Sen. Gail Griffin  ggriffin@azleg.gov 602-926-5895
Sen. Al Melvin  amelvin@azleg.gov 602-926-4326
Sen. Rick Murphy  rmurphy@azleg.gov 602-926-4444
Sen. Don Shooter  dshooter@azleg.gov 602-926-4139
Sen. Kelli Ward  kward@azleg.gov 602-926-4138

3) The more Legislators learn about the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion, the less likely it is that two thirds of them will vote for it.  

Perhaps that is why none of the Governor's staffers and no hospital lobbyists joined us for our February 21 panel on the Medicaid expansion — despite getting a month's advance notice and an offer of equal time for pro-expansion arguments. At the event, Michael Cannon of the Cato InstituteChristina Corieri of theGoldwater Institute and Phoenix surgeon Jeff Singer explained in depth why expansion would be a bad option for Arizona citizens and for the state budget. To view video from the event (a great way to learn more about the arguments for and against the Medicaid expansion), go here. And thanks to WesternFreePress.com for the video!  

TUCSON DISCUSSION — March 7

On Thursday, March 7th, please join us for a discussion of the proposed ObamaCare Medicaid expansion in Tucson, at the Loft Cinema 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Panelists will include AZ State Senator Steve Farley (Democrat — LD 9), AZ State Representative Ethan Orr (Republican — LD 9), AFP-Arizona director Tom Jenney, former AZ State Senator Frank Antenori, Tucson physician and health care reformer Dr. Jane Orient, M.D., TucsonCitizen.com columnist John Newport, PhD, and Arizona Board of Regents member Tyler Bowyer.  

RSVP: Christine Bauserman, 520-235-2234 / cb12221@gmail.com

DONATE!

Please help AFP-Arizona fight the battle for health care freedom by going to www.aztaxpayers.org and clicking on the Donate button at top. A contribution of $10, $25, $50, or $100 would be helpful to our efforts, and would enable us to mobilize more activists and put more pressure on elected officials. Every little bit counts, and we can’t do what we do without great people like you standing with us!

For Liberty, Tom

Tom Jenney
Arizona Director
Americans for Prosperity
www.aztaxpayers.org
tjenney@afphq.org

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is a nationwide organization of citizen-leaders committed to advancing every individual's right to economic freedom and opportunity. AFP believes reducing the size and intrusiveness of government is the best way to promote individual productivity and prosperity for all Americans. AFP educates and engages citizens to support restraining state and federal government growth and returning government to its constitutional limits. AFP is more than 2 million activists strong, with activists in all 50 states. AFP has 34 state chapters and affiliates. For more information, visitwww.americansforprosperity.org

And from the Democrats…

PCDP Banner

We need a show of strength from fellow Democrats at this meeting to counter the Republicans who oppose reasonable, common-sense healthcare for the poor and disadvantaged.

  

Medicaid Forum

Discussion of Governor Brewer's idea to expand Medicaid in the state of Arizona

The Loft Cinema 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
Thursday, March 7th
6:30 – 8:30 pm

AZ State Senator Steve Farley, LD9
AZ State Representative Ethan Orr, LD9
Tom Jenney,Arizona Director, Americans For Prosperity
Former AZ State Senator Frank Antenori, Political Activist
Dr. Jane Orient, M.D., 1974 Columbia University
Tyler Bowyer, Regent, AZ Board of Regents

 

 

Gloves and hankies: Lessons from the 1918 flu pandemic

by Pamela Powers Hannley

NOTE: I am re-posting this old story as a public service. There is some nasty shit… flu… out there now. 

If it hadn’t been for the flu pandemic of 1918, I wouldn’t be here.

You see both of my grandparents lost their first spouses to the flu or complications from the flu. Grandma had two sons, and Grandpa had one. After they married in the early 1920s, they had two daughters, my aunt and my Mom. They built an early yours-mine-and-ours family and a 50+ year marriage on the tragedies of the largest pandemic in US history.

According to my Mom, Grandma was relieved that her first husband Charlie didn't have to go to World War I but was devastated when he died from the flu just a few years later. Lessons from the flu stayed with my Grandma her entire life. Learn Grandma's tips after the jump.

For months now we have been hearing scare stories about the coming of the H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu, and now it’s here. Will 2009 be a repeat of 1918 with an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide?

Wash your hands thoroughly and often appears to be the primary message from the US government, but are there other things you can do?

I believe my Grandma would have some suggestions. Grandma never left home without the gloves on her hands, a hat or scarf on her head, and an embroidered hankie tucked into the waistband of her dress. I always thought this was just her personal style, but when you think about her experiences with the 1918 flu, it’s apparent that her accessories had a purpose.

Gloves. Of course, in the winter, people wear gloves for warmth, but my Grandma wore gloves whenever she went out. She wore them to church and to the store—everywhere she would be meeting people, shaking hands, or touching objects that had been touched by others—faucets, door handles, railings, produce, you name it. Gloves can be both fashionable and functional. Will they be the new fashion statement for 2009? I hope so.

Hats and scarves. Growing up in the 1950s, everyone’s grandma had a collection of little hats for church or fancy occasions. My Grandma was religious about covering her head—hats for church and babushkas (scarves) for everyday wear. When it’s cold out, you lose a lot of body heat through your head. Throw away your vain worries about hat head and wear a hat or a scarf this winter.

Hankies. Grandma had a whole drawer of embroidered hankies to match her cotton gloves of every color. Obviously, hankies can be used to blow your nose, but Grandma also used them every time she coughed or sneezed. The advice these days is to cough into your elbow rather than cough into your hand. Whatever you do, don’t cough or sneeze into the air or into your hand (unless you wash your hands immediately afterward.)

Sharing. Grandma was decidedly not into sharing: don’t drink out of someone else’s glass, use their plate or eating utensil, taste their food, eat or drink out of a container, or even use another family member’s bath towel, hairbrush, or toothbrush. These are especially important for families with small children. Children who are attending school or pre-school are little germ magnets, and they bring these germs home. Protect your family by making it a practice to wash your hands when you come home.

Take a few lessons from Grandma and prevent disease by intervening with potential disease vectors. Wash your hands, wear gloves, cover your head, cover your mouth, and don’t share. And, of course, if you are able, get a flu shot.