Posts Tagged ‘Health care’

Sticky fingers

June 22, 2017

A rose (grave not included).

The Senate’s Elefinks have released their double-secret “health care” bill, and it’s just about as bad as you might expect.

It boils down to: “Oi! You there! Sickies, crippies, olds and poors! Mind giving us a hand with this yuuuuuge sack of cash? We’re taking it over to the richies! Try not to sneeze or bleed on it, will you?”

The good news is, they won’t forget to put roses on your grave.

Oh, who are we kidding? Of course they’ll forget.

At ‘cross purposes

May 5, 2017

When it comes to taking a tonic for what ails you, there’s nothing like a little sand in your craw.

After yesterday’s health-care debacle I prescribed myself an antidepressant: 90 minutes on a Steelman Eurocross cyclocross bike, doing laps around the Elena Gallegos Open Space.

The old beastie still performs (I’m talking about the bike here). Reynolds 853 tubes; Shimano Ultegra eight-speed STI; 175mm RaceFace 48/36 cranks and a 12-28 cassette; Mavic Open Pro SUP rims with Dura-Ace hubs, DT spokes and Michelin Jet tires; Paul’s Neo-Retro and Touring cantis, augmented by Froggleg top-mounted levers; Cinelli Eubios bar with Off the Front tape; Ritchey stem; Time ATAC pedals; and a RockShox boingy post wearing the usual Selle Italia Flite saddle.

Riding a racing bike after a steady diet of touring machines felt seriously weird at first, but it started getting good to me after a half hour or so. Nearly slid out in one sandy hairpin — that rear Jet is starting to look like a slick — but happily, I did not require medical attention, as cyclocross and crashing are both pre-existing conditions.

Vision quest

May 4, 2017

We’re all bozos on this bus. Some of us more than others.

Well, it seems the House is fixin’ to vote on a bill that they’ve not seen, and that the CBO has not scored, and since it only affects, oh, about a sixth of the economy, well, nothing to see here, move along, move along.

There is precedent, after all.

I’m thinking that a sizable portion of the electorate never looked at Ronald McDonald McTrump before they voted for him. 

Meanwhile, here are some thoughts from Charles P. Pierce on what it means to be healthy (or unhealthy) in the United States of 2017.

Waiting to inhale

May 7, 2014
"Uh, sir, you're supposed to inhale, not chew."

“Uh, sir, you’re supposed to inhale, not chew.”

Having enjoyed the tender mercies of military medicine as a child and the early days of HMOs as a young professional, I should be long past being surprised by the behavior of anyone working in what we jokingly refer to as health “care” in this country.

Still, even I can be taken aback from time to time. This morning, for example.

Our neighborhood doctor’s office was absorbed by a corporate entity a while back, and since has undergone the usual transformation, acquiring a “Brazil”-style voice-mail system, a shitload of attitude and a mania for following orders, as long as they don’t come from a patient.

For the purposes of our tale you should know that I’m a lifelong asthmatic, diagnosed around age 8 in Texas. And I like to hit the old albuterol inhaler a time or two before exercise, the way you might squirt a bit of ether into an old carburetor before firing up your ’54 Chevy. Last year, while getting a bum knee examined, I mentioned that I’d had trouble getting an albuterol prescription refilled and the doc grumbled, “We have to test for that, and I don’t have time today.”

Test for that? I’m only been asthmatic since 1962. The Air Force sawbones who diagnosed me is presently pushing up the daisies that are making me wheeze. “No, time, no time,” he said, scurrying off like a roach on a griddle.

Next time I saw him, concerning a tenacious case of Snotlocker Surprise, he had the time. “Wow, you really do have asthma,” he remarked, and wrote the ’script. No shit, Doctor Fuckin’ Welby. I examine the package upon pickup: One inhaler, “no refills, dr. auth. required.” Fuck me. Well, what the hell, I only use it before all the bike riding I’m not doing anyway.

Last week I noticed I was about two weeks away from running out of the stuff in one of the worst allergy seasons in recent memory and rang up the doc’s office to get a refill. Ha, ha, etc. The robot says doc doesn’t do that any more — patients are to phone the pharmacy’s robot, which will in turn ring up the doc’s robot, which will tip off the doc, who will OK the refill, whereupon the doc’s robot will give a thumb’s up to the pharmacy’s robot, which will call you when your prescription is ready for pickup.

None of this ever happens, of course, and my follow-up phone calls to both doc and pharmacy prove unproductive, like a bad cough.

So I pop round to the doc’s office, and that’s when it all goes pear-shaped.

The receptionist wears the expression of a intake officer at the county lockup. “Name! First name! Date of birth! When were you last here! Who did you see!” So right off we’re already enjoying each other’s company. I’m expecting the back room and the bullet-nosed flashlight at any moment.

And it got worse. The doc I saw was apparently not the one who wrote the ’script. That person works in another office. The robot spoke to her. She did not reply. Nevertheless, you were telephoned and informed that you must be seen before any drugs will be issued to you. You must see, you vill see Ze Doktor!

Um, no, Brunhilde. I couldn’t pick this ’script-writing phantom of whom you speak out of a lineup at gunpoint. I saw the dude, not her. Nobody ever called me or my wife — not him, her, or anyone else, including your robot. And no, I don’t need to be “seen,” what I need is some albuterol.

About this time someone in scrubs inserts her long and snoopy proboscis, like Brunhilde blessedly bereft of any glimmer of knowledge about the situation, and confirms that ja, ja, I must, I vill see Ze Doktor! Ve are only following orders! At no point, mind you, has either of these “health-care providers” apologized for inconveniencing a customer. I say “customer” rather than “patient,” because neither had either inquired about my actual health.

“Can you breathe? Sir, are you having an asthma attack? Your face seems to be swelling ominously and turning a fiery red. …”

And at that point I may have inquired whether my getting a simple prescription refill without physician intervention might free up Scrubby’s time for treating an actual sick person in dire need of her mad skillz, and she may have suggested that I seek my medical care elsewhere henceforth, and I may have praised her for providing the first sound medical advice I’d ever received from her organization, and proclaimed that I intended to take it straight away, while adding that under new ownership what once was a friendly neighborhood doctor’s office had become as penetrable as North Korea with the sort of customer service one expects from a pimply teenage malcontent stocking shelves at a K mart scheduled for closure and demolition.

Take a deep breath, you say? I got 17 more of ’em left in this inhaler.

Rollin’ on the river

April 8, 2010
The bike path down around Fountain.

The bike path down around Fountain.

Nice day. I abdicated all professional duties and rode the creekside trail south until it dead-ended at someone’s pasture, just east of the Fort Carson exit off Interstate 25. It made for a rolling, 36-mile round trip from the DogHaus. Headwind out, tailwind back. Doesn’t get any better than that.

By the way, in case I haven’t mentioned it, my Nobilette cyclo-cross bike rocks. Sucker flat disappeared under me as I was riding it today. I felt as though I’d copped a ride on Aladdin’s magic carpet.

Herself and I had a couple buddies over for snacks and wine afterward and as usual we agreed that the body politic is afflicted with boils in dire need of lancing. But none of us has health care that’s worth a shit, and we can’t afford to catch anything, so we’ll leave the doctoring to someone else.

Hey, look, a shiny object! Is that iPhone 4.0 or Steve Jobs’ wiener in my ear?

A sickening health-care bill?

December 24, 2009

I forgot to add AlterNet to my bookmarks when I shifted operations to the new iMac, and so only stumbled across this post today. It’s a Dec. 21 transcript of a “Bill Moyers Journal” show featuring Rolling Stone‘s Matt Taibbi and The American Prospect‘s Robert Kuttner discussing health-care reform and President Obama’s role in same.

Both Taibbi and Kuttner are deeply critical of Obama’s performance in the passage of what Kuttner calls “a very feeble bill.” Yet Kuttner would vote for it, if only to bitch-slap the GOP and pray that the win helps the prez grow a pair. Taibbi would not. And Kuttner warns that Obama had better start acting like the champion of the people against the special interests if he wants to catch the social-movement tsunami he sees on the horizon:

“One way or another, there is going to be a social movement. Because so many people are hurting, and so many people are feeling correctly that Wall Street is getting too much and Main Street is getting too little. And if it’s not a progressive social movement that articulates the frustration and the reform program, you know that the right wing is going to do it. And that, I think, is what ought to be scaring us silly.”

• Extra Credit Reading: Kevin Drum and Paul Krugman beg to differ.

Pass the bill, change the rules

December 18, 2009

Over at The New York Times, Paul Krugman is saying, “Pass the health-care bill awready, jeez.” But with more elegance, of course. Like Kevin Drum, he says the measure is flawed, but better than nothing, which is what history shows we will have for the better part of quite some time if this latest attempt at reform goes down in flames:

“Whereas flawed social insurance programs have tended to get better over time, the story of health reform suggests that rejecting an imperfect deal in the hope of eventually getting something better is a recipe for getting nothing at all.”

I’m not nearly as smart as Krugman — you may not be, either — but it’s clear to even a dummy like me that our present system is unsustainable. Health insurance constitutes the second biggest bill we pay here at the DogHaus, right behind the mortgage, and we’re just two people who are reasonably healthy when not falling off our bikes. And nearly every experience we’ve had with an insurer has involved a monumental clusterfuck of some kind, including botched billings, unintelligible paperwork and exorbitant premium increases that make a mob loan shark seem positively angelic by comparison.

Some of this has to do with the employer-based structure of U.S. health insurance. I don’t have an employer, so I can either cut a deal on my own — the last time we did that it involved a monumental deductible and paying full retail at the sawbones and pharmacy — or piggyback on Herself’s policy, which at various times and places has looked not unlike robbery with violence, with one plan for single people and another for families, but no mid-priced offering for a man and wife unencumbered by offspring.

Drum concedes that the Senate plan kowtows to powerful interests like the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, adding, “But that’s why they’re called powerful interests: because they can kill your legislative priorities if you don’t assuage them.” In return, he continues:

“(T)he Senate bill brings down insurance rates, expands Medicaid, offers the prospect of moderately priced insurance to tens of millions of the uninsured, forces insurers to take you on even if you have a chronic pre-existing condition, mandates minimum levels of coverage, and takes several small but important steps toward reducing the future growth of healthcare costs.  That’s an enormous advance for the progressive agenda.”

We’ll see. Or maybe not. It’s far from a done deal. But if the sausage gets made, Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson should be next to go into the grinder. And let’s toss the filibuster in there with the sonsabitches. Krugman again:

“The filibuster, and the need for 60 votes to end debate, aren’t in the Constitution. They’re a Senate tradition, and that same tradition said that the threat of filibusters should be used sparingly. Well, Republicans have already trashed the second part of the tradition: look at a list of cloture motions over time, and you’ll see that since the G.O.P. lost control of Congress it has pursued obstructionism on a literally unprecedented scale. So it’s time to revise the rules.”

Can the Donks play that kind of hardball? Stay tuned.