Health officials warn Denver airport travelers of potential measles exposure after 3 children hospitalized

Three children visiting Colorado have been hospitalized with measles, leading health officials to warn people who traveled through Denver International Airport earlier this week that they are at risk for the highly contagious disease.

The children tested positive after traveling to a country with an ongoing measles outbreak. They did not have the MMR — or measles, mumps and rubella — vaccine, according to a news release from Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers three or more cases of measles “linked in time and place” to be an outbreak. However, Tri-County Health spokesman Gary Sky said the department doesn’t consider this to be an outbreak because the patients are related.

Health officials said individuals who visited these locations may have been exposed to measles:

  • Denver International Airport between 1:15 and 5:45 p.m. Dec. 11
  • Children’s Hospital Colorado’s Anschutz Campus Emergency Department between 1 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12

Local health officials have not said where the family was traveling from. But the news of the measles cases in Colorado comes the same day that health officials in California warned about exposure from patients who traveled through Los Angeles International Airport.

It’s unclear how many people are at risk of exposure.

Officials at Denver International Airport said they do not know how many people potentially came in contact with the children. Roughly 179,000 people passed through the airport via departing, arriving or connecting flights on Dec. 11, said airport spokeswoman Emily Williams.

Health officials are contacting people who are believed to be at risk for measles, including those who visited Children’s Hospital on Dec. 12. The Tri-County Health Department will likely contact “well over 100” people in its investigation, said Dr. Bernadette Albanese, a medical epidemiologist.

“We’re doing this investigation for a reason, and that reason is precisely to prevent secondary spread — and having a non-ideal vaccination rate in Colorado isn’t helping matters,” she said.

There is no ongoing risk of exposure at these two locations, however, travelers should be on the lookout for measles symptoms, which can develop seven to 21 days after contact, the news release said.

Measles has various symptoms including high fever, cough, runny nose, watery eyes and a rash. The illness can lead to pneumonia and swelling of the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Measles is highly contagious and up to 90% of people close to a person with the illness become infected if they are not immune, according to the CDC.

Representatives of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Children’s Hospital Colorado declined to discuss the measles cases and deferred questions to Tri-County Health Department.

Several measles outbreaks have occurred across the United States this year, but until now there was only one case reported in Colorado. In January, a Denver resident was placed in isolation and treated for the respiratory illness.

But health experts have warned that Colorado’s low vaccination rate makes communities here vulnerable to an outbreak. The immunization rate for the MMR shot was 87.4% during the 2018-19 school year, meaning the state doesn’t meet the threshold needed to protect a community from a measles outbreak.

The state’s low vaccination rate has come under scrutiny this year and a bill to make it harder to opt out of such shots was debated by legislators before it failed. Gov. Jared Polis has said he’s “pro-choice” when it comes to vaccinations. He said believes the solution to raise the low immunization rate is through education and access rather than eliminating nonmedical exemptions.

If a person has symptoms that could be measles they should call their doctor’s office or a hospital first, the news release said.

Due to incorrect information from a health official, this story originally mischaracterized the measles cases at Denver International Airport as an outbreak.

This content was originally published here.

Well-known Irmo orthodontist passes away at 42-years-old – ColaDaily.com | You need the news, not the paper

SHARE: FacebookTwitterLinkedinPinterestGoogle+tumblr Dr. Jim Raman. Photos obtained from Irmo Smiles website and Facebook. It was announced that a local orthodontist at Irmo Smiles, Jim Raman, has passed away. Irmo Smiles sent out a letter notifying patients of the doctor’s death, describing it as “a tragic loss.”  It was mentioned that all appointments of Raman’s wife Misti, who is also a…

This content was originally published here.

3000-year-old sawn-off tooth may be the earliest evidence of horse dentistry

Horses like these continue to be the center of Mongolia’s economy.

William Taylor

3000-year-old sawn-off tooth may be the earliest evidence of horse dentistry

Three thousand years ago, a horse in Mongolia had a toothache that was probably making it—and its owner—miserable. So the owner tried to help, by attempting to saw the painful top off the offending incisor. The procedure is among the earliest evidence of veterinary dentistry in the world, according to a new study, and the practices that flowed from it may have helped horses transform human civilization.

“It’s a great study,” says Robin Bendrey, an archaeologist and ancient horse expert at the University of Edinburgh who was not involved in the work. As horses became more important, he says, nomadic herders “are investing greater effort in understanding how to care for them.”

William Taylor, an archaeologist at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, first came across the strange sawn tooth in the collections of the National Museum of Mongolia in Ulaanbaatar. “I could not for the life of me muster an explanation,” he says.

He turned to his Mongolian colleagues, archaeologists Jamsranjav Bayarsaikhan and Tumurbaatar Tuvshinjargal, who grew up in the Mongolian countryside and have firsthand knowledge of traditional horse husbandry. The group concluded that the sawn tooth was an early, if inefficient, form of dentistry. The tooth had grown in crooked and was likely painful, but rather than pulling the incisor out completely, the notch shows that the ancient herder tried to cut its top off to restore a flat chewing surface, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (The procedure may not have worked, as the herder only made it halfway through the tooth. Shortly after, the horse was sacrificed and ritually buried.)

Together with another cut tooth from around the same time, the discovery shows that about 2000 years after horses were first domesticated, people were still figuring out the best way to take care of their teeth using basic stone tools.

The notch in this horse incisor, which had grown in crooked, shows that a herder tried to saw part of it off.

W. Taylor et al.; Origins of Equine Dentistry, PNAS, (2018)

Over time, horse dental care in Mongolia became much more systematic, Taylor and colleagues found. In the 3000-year-old horse skulls the team studied, many horses still had their “wolf teeth”—small, pointy teeth that grow in the space between the teeth in the front of a horse’s mouth and those in their cheeks. Wolf teeth are an evolutionary relic, and horses no longer use them for chewing; many horses don’t even develop them.

In today’s horses, when wolf teeth do grow in, they occupy some of the space where the bit sits. The contact between the tooth and the metal riding equipment can cause pain and tooth damage, so both Western veterinarians and Mongolian herders routinely remove these teeth.

But back when ancient herders were making their first forays into horse dentistry, bits were still made of leather. With softer equipment, early domesticated horses could keep their wolf teeth.

Beginning around 750 B.C.E., however, nearly all of the horses Taylor’s group examined were missing their wolf teeth. In many of the skulls, they could see a healed hole where a wolf tooth had been pulled out. That shift coincides with the adoption of bronze and iron bits in Mongolia, which gave riders much greater control over their horses—but meant that wolf teeth had to go.

“They’re adapting to new ways of riding and new ways of using the horse,” says Alan Outram, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom who studies horse domestication and wasn’t involved in the new research. “People innovated fairly quickly.”

 Without such innovations, world history might look a lot different. Metal bits enabled herders to use horses in war and for long distance travel, shaping Mongolia and its nomadic cultures in ways that ultimately led to the rise of Genghis Khan’s mounted army and the Mongol Empire that controlled most of Eurasia in the 13th century. “Horses absolutely transformed Mongolia into a cultural and economic center of the world,” Taylor says.

This content was originally published here.

‘I’m slowly dying here’: ‘Sedated’ Assange tells friend during Christmas Eve call from UK prison as health concerns mount

Julian Assange sounded like a shell of the man he once was during a Christmas Eve phone call, British journalist Vaughan Smith told RT, noting the WikiLeaks founder had trouble speaking and appeared to be drugged.

Assange was allowed to make just a single call from the maximum security Belmarsh prison in southeast London for the Christmas holiday, hoping for a reminder of the world beyond his drab confines of steel and concrete.

“I think he simply wanted a few minutes of escape” and to revive “happy memories,” Smith told RT, adding that Assange had spent the holiday at his home in 2010. The brief conversation was far from cheerful, however, with Assange’s deteriorating condition increasingly apparent throughout the call.

He said to me that: ‘I’m slowly dying here.’

“His speech was slurred. He was speaking slowly,” the journalist continued. “Now, Julian is highly articulate, a very clear person when he speaks. And he sounded awful… it was very upsetting to hear him”

Also on rt.com

© REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo
Assange CANNOT be extradited because of treaty between US-UK argues legal team

Though Assange didn’t say it out loud during the call, Smith said he believes the anti-secrecy activist is being sedated, noting that “It seemed pretty obvious that he was,” and said others who visited Assange were of the same opinion.

Smith isn’t the first to raise this issue, but British authorities have so far refused to divulge whether Assange has been given psychotropic drugs in prison, insisting only that they aren’t “mistreating” him. But given that he is “being kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day,” with requests by numerous doctors to examine his physical condition denied, Smith said he has a hard time taking the officials at their word.

“Julian was extremely good company over Christmas in 2010,” the journalist said, but the man he talked to on the phone last week sounded like a different person. “I just don’t understand… why he’s in Belmarsh Prison in the first place. He’s a remand prisoner. He’s not a danger to the public.”

Also on rt.com

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of  Julian Assange protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London © Reuters / Henry Nicholls
Julian Assange will ‘disappear for the rest of his life’ inside ‘inhumane’ US prison, UN envoy warns… if he makes it that far

Belmarsh is a Category A prison – the highest level in the UK penal system – intended for “highly dangerous” convicts and those likely to attempt escape, typically befitting murderers and terrorists. While Assange meets none of those criteria and was initially locked up for a minor offense of skipping bail, he was nonetheless thrown in Belmarsh and punished as if he were a violent, hardened criminal. He now awaits proceedings for extradition to the US.

The explanation may be as simple as taking revenge against somebody who dared to speak truth to power, Smith believes, and to make an example for anyone who might follow Assange’s lead in fighting state and corporate secrecy.

“What is clear that what is happening to Julian is much more about vengeance and setting an example to dissuade other people from holding American power to account in this way,” he said.

[Assange] delivered a discussion, a debate about what transparency should look like in the digital age… The debate got quashed it never really happened, instead he’s being victimized… That’s’ why he’s in Belmarsh.

Going forward, Smith said it will be important to continue pressuring the British government to answer a litany of questions about Assange, his treatment in prison and his health, as well as to push for an “independent assessment” of the situation. Confined in one form or another since taking refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 and now denied the ability to defend himself in court, Assange should finally receive a fair hearing.

“This whole thing, really we need to be asking more questions. This needs to be held much more in the open… Julian has had his freedom compromised for nearly a decade now,” Smith said. “It’s completely disgraceful. This is bullying. He deserves better.”

This content was originally published here.

Health care in America is dysfunctional — but its lack of transparency is downright dangerous

Wow, you survived cancer? What’s your secret to health care?

As absurd as that sounds, it’s a question many Americans who get sick are still asking as we ring in the year 2020. Getting health care in this country is still so circuitous it often does feel like a secret — a maze deciphered in private that’s never quite mastered. The reward for solving it? Perhaps your life; perhaps the loss of your life savings. And that’s if you’re lucky.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why. They’re pricey, and a new year brings fears that insurance premiums are once again rising. (Who knew the inflation rates on a pap smear were that high?!) Meanwhile, 14 Republican-led states are still refusing to expand Medicaid as stipulated in the ACA, even though the federal government would pay for 90 percent of the cost. Why? Something about “repeal and replace” or “socialism.” It’s hard to keep track.

Even with the Affordable Care Act, almost 30 million are without health insurance in the U.S. And if you’ve perused plans on the ACA marketplace, you’ll know why.

I traveled to three states, each with their own unique health care access challenges, for my new MSNBC special “Red, White, and Who?” Between Texas, New York and Utah there are major differences in how easy it is to see a doctor without going bankrupt. But every single person I spoke with — regardless of job, socioeconomic status or even political affiliation — had one identical anxiety: healthcare in one of the most advanced countries in the world is ridiculously, hopelessly complicated.

Get the think newsletter.

This site is protected by recaptcha Privacy Policy | Terms of Service

“I’m retired, but I feel like a have a job,” Larry Chiuppi told me sitting outside at an RV park in Houston, blocks from one of the top cancer treatment hospitals in the country. Larry has been caring for his wife Nancy Raimondi, who has blood cancer, for over a year. During that time, he himself was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Even with her Medicare and his private health plan under the ACA, navigating the billing systems for the endless hospital visits, specialists and tests — each with their own separate charges — requires a huge amount of time and vigilance. He tells me they once got a $14,000 bill for a stem cell transplant because someone forgot to link Nancy’s Medicare. Larry imagined many people would’ve just tried to pay it. And most Americans don’t have a retiree’s free time and Larry’s persistence to help them through the bureaucracy, an added burden of getting well.

When the political gets personal

We also don’t all have a mother like Sandra Stein. She and her family live in New York, a state where the uninsured population is less than five percent, and 6.5 million are on Medicaid. I met Sandra on a street corner in upper Manhattan, where activists were flyering for the New York Health Act, a bill that would give every New Yorker state-funded care. Sandra believes in single-payer healthcare because she has experienced the mind-numbing labyrinth that is the private insurance system firsthand.

When her son was nearly three, he developed a rare neurological disease that left him unable to walk or speak. At the time, she and her husband had private insurance, which was “relatively good insurance,” according to Sandra. But that didn’t make things easier. When they first went to the hospital in an ambulance, the doctors there didn’t take their insurance even though the hospital did. Her son ultimately stayed in three different hospitals over the course of 15 months.

“When we got home it was my job to figure out the pile of bills and the collections threats,” she told me. It’s been eight years, but Sandra’s voice cracked like the memory happened yesterday. I couldn’t imagine how hard it must’ve been to be afraid for your child’s life while collections agents breathed down your neck. Sandra says the billing department sought her out even while her son was in the ICU, and that there were so many billing errors that she ultimately asked for an audit.

And yet, Sandra, Larry and Nancy are the lucky ones. They have health insurance, and they have the time and resources to be able to make their way through the bureaucratic hall of mirrors and toward a fighting chance at getting well.

It’s this cruel opacity of the private insurance system, on top of the rising monthly costs of just having a plan, that can be the difference between life and death. And it keeps a surprising number of Americans away from the system altogether. Like a rodeo cowboy I met in Texas, whose story you’ll just have to watch (I’m not spoiling it all!). It’s also led Americans like Sandra to believe that a massive simplification of our health care system is far overdue.

For many, that simplification comes in the form of cutting out the profit motive and moving toward government-funded insurance, like Medicare for All, which Big Pharma’s enemy number one Sen. Bernie Sanders and I hashed out over bagels in a New York City deli.

Medicare for All and private insurance for none

Ultimately what became clear through my travels is that healthcare in America is often overpriced and even dysfunctional, but it’s the lack of transparency that can be the most insidious. You pretty much have to be a health care policy expert, or have a loved one who can quit their job to become one, in order to ensure proper help.

It’s also strange that in a country that loves the free market as much as we do, we the consumer have no idea how much anything costs when we walk into a hospital. Why would we? Our health is priceless, so we are simply at the mercy of an ineffective system. That is, unless we fight for something different.

“Red, White, and Who” premieres on MSNBC on Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. E.T.

This content was originally published here.

Christian health cost sharing ministries offer no guarantees

Eight-year-old Blake Collie was at the swimming pool when he got a frightening headache. His parents rushed him to the emergency room only to learn he had a brain aneurysm. Blake spent nearly two months in the hospital.

His family did not have traditional health insurance. “We could not afford it,” said his father, Mark Collie, a freelance photographer in Washington, North Carolina.

Instead, they pay about $530 a month through a Christian health care sharing organization to pay members’ medical bills. But the group capped payments for members at $250,000, almost certainly far less than the final tally of Blake’s mounting medical bills.

“Just trust God,” the nonprofit group, Samaritan Ministries, in Peoria, Illinois, said in a statement about its coverage, and advises its members that “there is no coverage, no guarantee of payment.”

More than 1 million Americans, struggling to cope with the rising cost of health insurance, have joined such groups, attracted by prices that are far lower than the premiums for policies that must meet strict requirements, like guaranteed coverage for preexisting conditions, established by the Affordable Care Act. The groups say they permit people of a common religious or ethical belief to share medical costs, and many were grandfathered in under the federal health care law mainly through a religious exemption.

These Christian nonprofit groups offer far lower rates because they are not classified as insurance and are under no legal obligation to pay medical claims. They generally decline to cover people with preexisting illnesses. They can set limits on how much their members will pay, and they can legally refuse to cover treatments for specialties like mental health.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” said Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, a physician who is also a financial planner in Jacksonville, Florida. “You have to depend on the largess of the program.”

The main requirement for membership is adherence to a Christian lifestyle. And the alternative sharing plans keep flourishing, especially now that the Trump administration has relaxed rules to permit alternatives to the ACA that don’t provide such generous coverage.

But state regulators in New Hampshire, Colorado and Texas are beginning to question some of the ministries’ aggressive marketing tactics, often using call centers, and said in some cases people who joined them were misled or did not understand how little coverage they would receive if they or a family member had a catastrophic illness.

On Monday, Washington state fined one of the larger health-sharing ministries, Trinity Healthshare, $150,000 and banned it from offering its product to state residents because it was operating as an unauthorized insurer.

In December, Nevada insurance regulators warned consumers to beware of these plans. “They may seem enticing because they may be cheap, look and sound like they are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (‘ACA’), when in reality these plans are not even insurance products,” the department said.

The Texas attorney general brought a lawsuit last summer against Aliera Healthcare, which marketed Trinity’s ministry program, to stop it from offering “unregulated insurance products to the public.” The Houston Chronicle featured one couple who was left with more than $100,000 in unpaid medical bills. Trinity said most members are satisfied with its services.

Aliera, which says it has stopped offering its plans in Texas, said it is working with regulators to resolve their concerns. The company says it has taken steps to make sure its customers are not confused about what they are buying.

Because the groups are not technically considered insurance, they operate with no government oversight. “Regulators haven’t been willing to assert any control or regulatory authority over these plans,” said Katie Keith, who serves as a consumer representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and teaches health law at Georgetown University. “They feel their hands are tied. At the end of the day, it’s not insurance.”

Families who have joined the groups recount winding up with medical bills not covered by the ministries, with no legal way to appeal decisions to reject coverage for care. Some groups ask their members to push hospitals and doctors to write off their bills rather than use members’ money to pay their expenses.

“These plans offer a false sense of security,” said Jenny Chumbley Hogue, who runs an insurance agency in north Dallas. She refuses to offer them to her clients.

Several states have taken action against one ministry they say has deceived people about what they are buying. “The nature of what we’re hearing from consumers around the state is absolutely heart breaking,” said Kate Harris, chief deputy insurance commissioner in Colorado, one of the states that is trying to prevent the ministry from operating there.

But health share ministries have become particularly attractive to people like the Collie family who don’t qualify for a federal subsidy and can’t afford an ACA plan. Even though premiums in the ACA market have stabilized, critics of the law insist people need alternatives. “That’s the real driver behind the growth,” said Dr. Dave Weldon, a former Republican congressman from Florida who is president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, which represents the two largest groups.

When Dan Plato left his job to become self-employed as a consultant, he discovered that an ACA policy for 2018 would cost his family around $1,300 a month. “It was very expensive and beyond our needs,” he said. Membership in Liberty Healthshare, a ministry established by Mennonites in Canton, Ohio, was less than half the price, according to Plato, who blogged about his experience.

But some Liberty members reported trouble getting their medical bills covered. Plato says a small bill for flu shots went unpaid and ended up in collection. At the end of the year, he was left wondering if Liberty would be able to cover the family in the event of a serious medical emergency. “It’s not something we could trust in that situation,” said Plato, who switched to one of the plans offered by United Healthcare also exempt from the ACA rules for 2019.

Robyn Lytle, who works as an event planner in Chicago, joined Liberty for 2018, only to find that her daughter’s medical tests were never paid for. “It’s been a year and half, and I’ve been sent to collection,” said Lytle, who says Liberty had covered some of her family’s other expenses. She switched to an ACA plan for 2019.

Liberty Healthshare declined to comment.

Other people complain that the ministries can be vague about coverage. Greg Snider and his wife joined Medi-Share, the program offered by Christian Care Ministry. Based in West Melbourne, Florida. Medi-Share says it has more than 400,000 members across the country.

Snider said he had just dropped traditional coverage when his wife was diagnosed with a heart condition, but he says he was assured by Medi-Share that her care could still be covered. She underwent surgery last year to address an abnormal heart rhythm. “After the procedure, the bills start rolling in,” Snider said, including $177,000 for the surgery alone.

Snider says Medi-Share urged him to plead with the hospital after determining he would owe more than $100,000. He said he had assumed the $800 a month he paid into a pool would help cover the expenses. After he tweeted his frustrations, the ministry told him that he would owe only $1,500 for the surgery because the hospital had forgiven the rest, he said. He now owes thousands of dollars in related medical bills and is unsure of their status.

If Medi-Share decides not to pay, Snider knows he has little recourse: “It is completely and solely up to them.” He has since gotten a job where he is covered under his employer.

Medi-Share says that more than 80% of the $774 million it collected last year went to members’ medical bills. “We take great care to ensure prospective members understand what is considered a preexisting condition and what is eligible for sharing,” it said.

It does its part to reduce medical spending, it says, through negotiating with doctors and hospitals and claims it saved members more than $500 million last year. “We consider this process to be one way in which we contribute to the overall objective of reducing medical costs,” the ministry said in a statement.

Medi-Share says it has an extensive network of more than 700,000 providers. But even if a member goes to an in-network provider, the ministry may still decide not to pay the bill. “Fundamentally, we have found that there is often a lack of understanding of what is covered,” said Brendan Miller, an executive with MultiPlan, which arranges networks for Medi-Share as well as insurers.

That uncertainty has led some hospitals and doctors in the MultiPlan network to refuse to treat ministry patients rather than absorb unpaid costs.

Colorado is one of several states, including Washington, Texas and New Hampshire, that are trying to stop Trinity Healthshare, and its administrator, Aliera Healthcare, from operating in their states because they say the ministry is misleading its residents.

In a statement, Aliera said “it’s deeply disappointing to see state regulators working to deny their residents access to more affordable alternatives offered by health care sharing ministries.”

Trinity says its website makes clear that the ministry does not offer health insurance.

Regulators also worry about these plans siphoning off healthy individuals from the ACA marketplaces, leading to higher premiums for Obamacare policies.

“The ministries have been very concerned about bad actors invading this space,” said Weldon, the alliance president, who says his members are very clear that they are not insurance companies. “They all operate call centers, and they all bend over backward to inform people inquiring that it is not insurance,” he said.

In the case of Samaritan, which says it covers 271,000 people, the ministry pointed to its Save to Share program, where members can contribute extra to cover more of their bills.

With Blake’s bills likely to far exceed the cap — Collie has not yet tallied them yet — he created a GoFundMe account to help pay for his son’s care.

Collie says the ministry remains a viable alternative, noting it paid for numerous medical bills before his son’s hospitalization. “Every single person has prayed for me and my family,” he said. But he was enormously relieved when he found out recently his son qualified for Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program, and will cover the boy’s full medical care.

In some states, officials are starting to consider requiring the groups to register, to obtain more information for consumers.

Peter V. Lee, a former Obama administration official who now runs the California ACA marketplace, said ministries should be subject to some oversight, including disclosure of how much of the money collected is spent on care.

“There should not be a religious exemption for transparency — where the money goes and if it will be there if consumers need it,” he said.

California is also requiring brokers, who are paid hefty commissions by some of the ministries to enroll members, to make sure their clients understand they are not buying insurance.

Some ministries, like Samaritan, say they do not use brokers or agents. “We also have never, nor will we ever, use insurance agents or brokers to sell Samaritan because we don’t want people to confuse us with insurance,” it said.

This content was originally published here.

U.S. health system costs four times more to run than Canada’s single-payer system

In the United States, a legion of administrative healthcare workers and health insurance employees who play no direct role in providing patient care costs every American man, woman and child an average of $2,497 per year.

Across the border in Canada, where a single-payer system has been in place since 1962, the cost of administering healthcare is just $551 per person — less than a quarter as much.

That spending mismatch, tallied in a study published this week in the Annals of Internal Medicine, could challenge some assumptions about the relative efficiency of public and private healthcare programs. It could also become a hot political talking point on the American campaign trail as presidential candidates debate the pros and cons of government-funded universal health insurance.

Progressive contenders for the Democratic nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, are calling for a “Medicare for All” system. More centrist candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have questioned the wisdom of turning the government into the nation’s sole health insurer.

It’s been decades since Canada transitioned from a U.S.-style system of private healthcare insurance to a government-run single-payer system. Canadians today do not gnash their teeth about co-payments or deductibles. They do not struggle to make sense of hospital bills. And they do not fear losing their healthcare coverage.

To be sure, wait times for specialist care and some diagnostic imaging are often criticized as too long. But a 2007 study by Canada’s health authority and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the overall health of Americans and Canadians to be roughly similar.

Some Canadians purchase private supplemental insurance, whose cost is regulated. Outpatient medications are not included in the government plan, but aside from that, coverage of “medically necessary services” is assured from cradle to grave.

The cost of administering this system amounts to 17% of Canada’s national expenditures on health.

In the United States, twice as much — 34% — goes to the salaries, marketing budgets and computers of healthcare administrators in hospitals, nursing homes and private practices. It goes to executive pay packages which, for five major healthcare insurers, reach close to $20 million or more a year. And it goes to the rising profits demanded by shareholders.

Administering the U.S. network of public and private healthcare programs costs $812 billion each year. And in 2018, 27.9 million Americans remained uninsured, mostly because they could not afford to enroll in the programs available to them.

“The U.S.-Canada disparity in administration is clearly large and growing,” the study authors wrote. “Discussions of health reform in the United States should consider whether $812 billion devoted annually to health administration is money well spent.”

The new figures are based on an analysis of public documents filed by U.S. insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, home-care and hospice agencies, and physicians’ offices. Researchers from Hunter College, Harvard Medical School and the University of Ottawa compared those to administrative costs across the Canadian healthcare sector, as detailed by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and a trade association that represents Canada’s private insurers.

Compared to 1999, when the researchers last compared U.S. and Canadian healthcare spending, the costs of administering healthcare insurance have grown in both countries. But the increase has been much steeper in the United States, where a growing number of public insurance programs have increased their reliance on commercial insurers to manage government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

As a result, overhead charges by private insurers surged more than any other category of expenditure, the researchers found.

In U.S. states that have retained full control over their Medicaid programs, the growth of administrative costs was negligible, they reported. (The same was true for Canada’s health insurance program.) But in states that shifted most of their Medicaid recipients into private managed care, administrative costs were twice as high.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, a group representing private health insurance companies, said administrative practices shouldn’t be blamed for escalating the cost of care in the United States.

“Study after study continues to demonstrate the value of innovative solutions brought by the free market,” AHIP said in a statement. “In head-to-head comparisons, the free market continues to be more efficient than government-run systems.”

AHIP cited a recent report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent body that advises Congress. The report showed that Medicare Advantage plans — which are privately administered — deliver benefits at 88% of the cost of traditional Medicare.

Even so, the study authors concluded that if the U.S. healthcare system could trim its administrative bloat to bring it in line with Canada’s, Americans could save $628 billion a year while getting the same healthcare.

“The United States is currently wasting at least $600 billion on healthcare paperwork — money that could be saved by going to a simple ‘Medicare for All’ system,” said senior author Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, a health policy researcher at Hunter College and longtime advocate of single-payer systems.

That sum would be more than enough to extend coverage to the nation’s uninsured, she said.

This content was originally published here.

The Game Changers And You: Going Vegan for Our Health and Our Planet’s

Over the past month several friends have told me to watch the The Game Changers on @Netflix  produced by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger about vegan athletes. Intrigued by the concept of a plant based diet I sat down with my husband to watch the 90 minute documentary which was indeed a personal Game changer. And, I’m so glad I watched it because, not only did I learn about improving my health, I also learned how a change in diet can improve the planet. (For more on this read: The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet)

The show is revelatory, and so much more than an examination of one’s diet. It truly is a movement and I can see why there is a huge following. Anyone interested in their personal health and the health of the planet should watch this and then decide whether to change their eating.

Not only is diet at issue, the planet is as well. What are you doing about climate change? Well, it turns out we can make a dent by giving up meat without giving up protein or health. As a matter of fact, we can improve our health at the same time.

There are so many outstanding examples of how we are devasting our planet through feeding of livestock to fuel our appetites. The case is made that we are a product of marketing and eating meat for strength is a fallacy.

The case is made not only for leaner and stronger bodies from a diet change, reduction of inflammation, even stronger erections for men, and more energy for all. A solid case is also made for a reversal of devastation to our land and water supply by reducing the demand for meat.

WATCH THIS OFFICIAL 2-minute Trailer…

I have never wanted to go vegan. It just seemed to me like another neurotic fad to be skinny unless you have digestive issues. Well, after watching this documentary, my mind has been changed.

My husband was way more skeptical and found the film to be a bit too much of an infomercial. I on the other hand saw it as a call to action.

Although I have been a non-red meat eater since 1976, and am bored by chicken and skeptical of fish these days, I had never really thought of making a “diet” around giving these proteins up as the alternatives seem complicated (i.e. complex recipes of beans, not easily findable on restaurant menus).

But, it was this lesson I learned from the documentary. My daily diet of eggs and cheese and yogurt as my go to proteins and some chicken and tuna, are not giving me the healthy protein boost I need. Apparently, I have been missing the point as the potency of the protein options is in the plants. This for me is a game changer.

But change is hard. I have been eating a poached egg for breakfast most of my life and it’s my comfort food. Giving up eggs seems impossible and my happy hour of wine without cheese equally empty. Because this plant based diet asks us to give up all animal products that means my beloved french butter must go as well.

My guess is, I will try to go vegan for a while or at least a few days a week to see if I can do it and test if I feel better. I am also motivated to do my bit to help the planet. Want to try it with me?

P.S. There are number of disclaimers about the accuracy of this documentary which are worth reading.

Here are a few take-aways from the documentary that Buzz Feed put together….

1. All protein originates in plants. The protein one gets from eating a steak or a burger are actually from the plants the animal ate.

2. The average plant-eater gets 70% more protein than they need.

3. Many meat-eaters get more than half of their protein from plants.

4. When you eat animals regularly, you begin forming plaques in the coronary arteries.

5. The plaque formation doesn’t just limit the function of the arteries, it can block blood flow and make it difficult for your heart to keep up with the demands of your body.

6. When animal protein is cooked, preserved, or digested by our gut bacteria, highly inflammatory compounds are formed and they corrode our cardiovascular system.

Click here to read more from Buzz Feed…

The post The Game Changers And You: Going Vegan for Our Health and Our Planet’s appeared first on Better After 50.

This content was originally published here.

HENRY the Dentist is bringing quality dentistry to the workplace – MedCity News

It turns out that reluctance in visiting the dentist isn’t just limited to children. According to a report from the American Dental Association, more than half of adults with private dental insurance haven’t visited the dentist in over a year.

Regular dental care helps avoid more serious and costly dental procedures down the road and can highlight potential conditions like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

New Providence, New Jersey-based HENRY the Dentist was designed to overcome the general hesitance of going to the dentist by providing services using its fleet of RV-sized mobile practices to allow employees to get dental care at their worksite.

Since its launch in 2017, the startup has signed up more than 70 customers including major enterprises like Merck, ADP and Vonage.

The startup’s mobile practices have three chairs and can see 24 patients a day. HENRY works with its client to determine the length of stay and how many times the company returns throughout the year.

The 40-person company has been boosted with a $10 million in funding led by Forerunner Ventures to expand its service offerings across New Jersey and Pennsylvania and in metro areas like New York City and Atlanta. San Francisco-based Forerunner has backed a number of successful consumer brands including Warby Parker, Jet and Hotel Tonight. 

HENRY CEO and co-founder Justin Joffe said the company was formed to update the staid image associated with dentistry and create a new Uber-like experience for patients. Joffe started the company with his wife Alex after seeing how the largely fragmented industry has failed to update its customer experience in line with other segments.

Mobile dental models have been around for a while, but Joffe pointed to his company’s differentiator as offering a full medical team as part of its mobile practice. Every HENRY mobile clinic includes a dentist, a dental assistant, two dental hygienists and one office manager.

Besides performing dental checkups, teeth cleanings and teeth whitenings, the mobile practice has the ability to fill crowns, custom fit night guards and even perform quick turnaround impressions and orthodontics work through its physical clinic.

The founding team’s experience building consumer brands has also helped them develop an updated and more comfortable experience for patients.

Instead of flipping through outdated magazines in the waiting room, patients make their appointments online and are greeted to a visit where they are outfitted with Bose headphones, have their choice of entertainment options and enjoy a massage-featured exam chair.

The company’s expansion is based around a hub-and-spoke model, with mobile clinics built around a physical brick-and-mortar location that provides enhanced specialty services and lab work. Currently the company has one physical practice in New Jersey, but is working on opening its second location in Pennsylvania.

HENRY dentists are salaried, which Joffe says incentivises clinicians to provide better and more preventive care. The company also works to ensure the same dental team is matched up with the same companies for greater continuity of care.

HENRY’s services are offered at no additional charge to its employer clients. By working with insurers like Aetna, Cigna Delta Dental – who are looking to boost utilization – the company ensures that its providers are in-network with major plans.

Ashley Thomas, a wellness coordinator at real estate company Realogy, helped institute HENRY’s services at a former employer and plans to do the same at her current company. 

“My primary dentist’s office felt like it was stuck in the 1970s,” Thomas said. “HENRY felt shiny, clean, high-tech, convenient and 21st century. I mean, I don’t know many dentists offices that let you watch TV while getting your teeth cleaned.”

Thomas added that HENRY helped her team with the outreach necessary to get employees engaged with the mobile dentistry service.

Joffe said the company is hoping to build on its strong momentum into 2020, with a planned Series B funding round to fuel expansion into five more states. Joffe’s growth plan calls for a presence in 15 to 20 states in three years as the company looks to develop national relationships with its existing employer clients.

As it expands, Joffe said the company is experimenting with new delivery methods for its services, including HENRY in the Boardroom, which would bring clinicians directly into the office for scheduled practice hours.

“We works with these great brands and companies and they often have phenomenal dental plans,” Joffe said. “Everyone needs preventive care and we’re proud to build a company that increases access to care and improves the experience for both patients and providers.”

Picture: HENRY the Dentist

This content was originally published here.

Opinion | The American Health Care Industry Is Killing People – The New York Times

These costs are significantly higher than in most other wealthy countries. One study on health care data from 1999 showed that each American paid about $1,059 per year just in overhead costs for health care; in Canada, the per capita cost was $307. Those figures are likely much higher today.

Wouldn’t lowering overhead costs be an obviously positive outcome?

Ah, but there’s the rub: All this overspending creates a lot of employment — and moving toward a more efficient and equitable health care system will inevitably mean getting rid of many administrative jobs. One study suggests that about 1.8 million jobs would be rendered unnecessary if America adopted a public health care financing system.

So what if some of these jobs involve debt collection, claims denial, aggressive legal action or are otherwise punitive, cruel or simply morally indefensible in a society that can clearly afford to provide high-quality health care to everyone? Jobs are jobs, folks, as Joe Biden might say.

Indeed, that’s exactly what Biden’s presidential campaign is saying about the Medicare for all plans that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are proposing: They “will not only cost 160 million Americans their private health coverage and force tax increases on the middle class, but it would also kill almost two million jobs,” a Biden campaign official warned recently.

Note the word “kill” in the statement. That word might better describe not what could happen to jobs under Medicare for all but what the health care industry is doing to many Americans today.

Last week, the medical journal JAMA published a comprehensive study examining the cause of a remarkably grim statistic about our national well-being. From 1959 to 2010, life expectancy in the United States and in other wealthy countries around the world climbed. Then, in 2014, American life expectancy began to fall, while it continued to rise elsewhere.

What caused the American decline? Researchers identified a number of potential factors, including tobacco use, obesity and psychological stress, but two of the leading causes can be pinned directly on the peculiarities and dysfunctions of American health care.

The first is the opioid epidemic, whose rise can be traced to the release, in 1996, of the prescription pain drug OxyContin. In the public narrative, much of the blame for the epidemic has been cast on the Sackler family, whose firm, Purdue Pharma, created OxyContin and pushed for its widespread use. But research has shown that the Sacklers exploited aberrant incentives in American health care.

Purdue courted doctors, patient groups and insurers to convince the medical establishment that OxyContin was a novel type of opioid that was less addictive and less prone to abuse. The company had little scientific evidence to make that claim, but much of the health care industry bought into it, and OxyContin prescriptions soared. The rush to prescribe opioids was fueled by business incentives created by the health care industry — for Purdue, for many doctors and for insurance companies, treating widespread conditions like back pain with pills rather than physical therapy was simply better for the bottom line.

Opioid addiction isn’t the only factor contributing to rising American mortality rates. The problem is more pervasive, having to do with an overall lack of quality health care. The JAMA report points out that death rates have climbed most for middle-age adults, who — unlike retirees and many children — are not usually covered by government-run health care services and thus have less access to affordable health care.

The researchers write that “countries with higher life expectancy outperform the United States in providing universal access to health care” and in “removing costs as a barrier to care.” In America, by contrast, cost is a key barrier. A study published last year in The American Journal of Medicine found that of the nearly 10 million Americans given diagnoses of cancer between 2000 and 2012, 42 percent were forced to drain all of their assets in order to pay for care.

The politics of Medicare for all are perilous. Understandably so: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who loves your doctor and your insurance company, or who works in the health care field, I can see why you would be fearful of wholesale change.

But it’s wise to remember that it’s not just your own health and happiness that counts. The health care industry is failing much of the country. Many of your fellow citizens are literally dying early because of its failures. “I got mine!” is not a good enough argument to maintain the dismal status quo.

Farhad wants to chat with readers on the phone. If you’re interested in talking to a New York Times columnist about anything that’s on your mind, please fill out this form. Farhad will select a few readers to call.

This content was originally published here.

UNHCR - Turkey scholarship lets star Syrian student pursue dentistry dream

Since she arrived in Turkey six years ago, Syrian refugee Sidra has mastered a new language, worked in a factory to support her family and graduated top of her year in high school.

Her breakthrough came when she won a university scholarship. She is now in her second year of a dentistry degree, and fulfilling a life-long dream

“I am very passionate about education,” said the 21-year-old, who fled war-ravaged Aleppo with her family in 2013. “My dream was to go to university, and I studied very hard to achieve this dream.”

Her achievement reflects a single-minded determination to continue her education, even when it seemed she might not get the chance. She missed her final year of high school in Aleppo when fighting forced the closure of local schools, and when she first arrived in Turkey, she lacked the paperwork needed to enroll.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful.”

Unable to study, she took a full-time job packaging goods in a medical supplies factory while teaching herself Turkish in her time off from books and YouTube videos. A year later, when she secured the refugee documentation needed to resume her education, she vowed to make the most of it.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful,” she said. “The worst thing about war is that it destroys children’s futures,” she continued. “If children don’t continue their education, they won’t be able to give back to society.”

After graduating from high school top of her class with an overall mark of 98 per cent, Sidra then went one better to score 99 per cent in her university entrance exams. The results helped her to secure a vital scholarship from the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB).

While tuition fees at Turkish state universities have been waived for Syrian students, the scholarship provides Sidra with monthly support, enabling her to concentrate on her studies. Without this support she says she would not have been able to study her preferred subject of dentistry due to the extra cost of buying equipment such as cosmetic teeth to practice her skills.

Sidra practices her dentistry skills at home while her younger sister Isra looks on. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra attends a practical lesson at Istanbul University, where she is studying dentistry. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra stands outside her home in Canda Sok on the outskirts of Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra spends time with a friend on the historical Galata Bridge in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Once a week, Sidra teaches classical Arabic to Malak, an 8-year-old Turkish girl, at her home in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

“Without the scholarship, I would have had to choose a different major, different to dentistry, and to work to cover my university expenses,” she explained.

Sidra is one of around 33,000 Syrian refugee students currently attending university in Turkey. The country is host to 3.68 million registered Syrian refugees, making it the largest refugee hosting country in the world.

Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, YTB has provided 5,341 scholarships to Syrian university students, while a further 2,284 have received scholarships from humanitarian partners. This includes more than 820 scholarships provided by UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – under its DAFI programme.

Access to education is crucial to the self-reliance of refugees. It is also central to the development of the communities that have welcomed them, and the prosperity of their own countries once conditions are in place to allow them to return home.

Enrolment rates in education among refugees currently lag far behind the global average, and the gap increases with age. At secondary school level, only 24 per cent of refugee children are currently enrolled compared with 84 per cent of children globally, with the figure dropping to just 3 per cent in higher education compared with a worldwide average of 37 per cent.

In Turkey, this average has been raised to close to 6 per cent thanks to the priority attached to education, including higher education for refugees.

Efforts to boost access and funding for refugees in quality education will be one of the topics of discussion at the Global Refugee Forum, a high-level event to be held in Geneva from 17-18 December.

Turkey is a co-convenor of the event, which will bring together governments, international organizations, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, host community members and refugees themselves. The event will look at ways of easing the burden of hosting refugees on local communities, boosting refugee self-help and reliance, and increasing opportunities for resettlement.

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in.”

Sidra is convinced that education holds the key to her own future success, and is determined to live up to the nickname she has earned among her fellow students.

“People call me ‘çalışkan kız’ which means: ‘the girl who studies a lot’,” she explained. “With education we can fight war, unemployment and illiteracy. With education we can reach all our goals in life.”

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in,” she continued. “Turkey has given me a lot of facilities, and it honors me that one day I can give back to its people and be an active member [of society], to work and practice dentistry with their support. I take pride in this.”

This content was originally published here.

Travelling to the U.S.? Watch out: Ontario is about to scrap out-of-country emergency health care coverage. Here’s what you need to know. | The Star

When Toronto resident Jill Wykes had a health scare over a racing heartbeat in Florida a few years back, the $3,000 hospital bill for a two-hour visit and three tests added insult to illness.

Fortunately, the seasoned snowbird had a comprehensive travel health insurance policy that paid the full tab.

But the incident, which turned out to be nothing serious, served as a reminder that medical emergencies can happen any time, anywhere.

Buying enough travel insurance to cover all eventualities becomes even more important for Ontario residents when the province scraps its out-of-country coverage of emergency health care expenses on Jan.1.

Until Dec. 31, OHIP will continue to pay up to $400 per day for emergency in-patient services and up to $50 per day for emergency outpatient and doctor services. Starting next year though, that coverage stops.

A new program will provide kidney dialysis patients with $210 toward each treatment — actual prices in the U.S. range from $300 to $750 — but travellers will be on the hook for everything else.

The province says it’s cancelling the existing “inefficient” program because of the $2.8-million cost of administering $9 million in emergency medical coverage abroad each year. OHIP’s reimbursements also tended to offset only a fraction of the actual expenses.

Without private insurance, travellers can face “catastrophically large bills” for medical care, warns Ministry of Health spokesperson David Jensen, who “strongly encourages” people to purchase adequate coverage.

YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN…

Health care south of the border, in particular, costs an arm and a leg. On average, fees in the U.S. are double those of other developed countries, according to the International Travel Insurance Group.

The insurance provider cites an array of costs, including: ambulance, $500 and up; ER visit, $150 to $3,000; hospital stay, $5,000 per day; MRI, $1,000 to $5,000; X-ray, $150 to $3,000; hip fracture, $13,000 to $40,000.

The monetary ouch factor can be especially painful for snowbirds, who are flocking to warm spots like Florida, Arizona and Texas in growing numbers as baby boomers reach retirement age.

But a significant number of vacationers of all ages are putting their financial health at risk.

According to a recent survey by InsuranceHotline.com, 34 per cent of Canadian respondents said they were unlikely to buy travel insurance, often in the mistaken belief their province would cover them. And 40 per cent had unrealistic expectations of health care costs, thinking, for example, that emergency medical evacuation would be under $2,000. In reality, the service can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Jill Wykes and her husband Pierre Lepage leave nothing to chance during winters in Sarasota, Fla., an annual trek since 2011 when she retired as a travel industry executive.

The couple, now in their 70s, purchase a multiple-trip plan with a 60-day top-up for their four-month sojourn, which includes driving there and back and flying home for two short visits. Her policy costs about $900 while his is $1,600, because he falls into an older age bracket. They’re each covered for up to $5 million.

Wykes, a blogger and editor of snowbirdadvisor.ca, calls it “foolish” to travel anywhere without health insurance and advises against thinking “you would just drive or fly home if you were sick.” The financial fallout from an accident or sudden illness “can quickly rise into six figures” in the U.S., she adds.

Anne Marie Thomas of InsuranceHotline.com, which provides free quotes for all types of insurance, echoes Wykes’s advice.

“Now, more than ever, you need travel insurance because there will be zero coverage (as of Jan. 1),” she says.

There’s no one-size-fits-all policy and insurance can cover everything from trip cancellation or interruption to lost baggage and medical costs, Thomas explains, so it’s important to match your needs and situation. A sunseeker driving south, for instance, wouldn’t need trip cancellation.

YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN…

As an example, Thomas says a 70- or 80-year-old flying to Florida would pay about $2,000 for all-inclusive insurance for 15 weeks with a $10-million limit on medical costs.

The non-profit Canadian Snowbird Association (CSA) calls the government cuts “short-sighted,” predicting they’ll boost the cost of private insurance by an estimated 7.5 per cent.

The CSA has always “strongly recommended” purchasing adequate insurance prior to departure, president Karen Huestis reminded travellers last month.

Get more business in your inbox
Get the business news and analysis that matters most every morning in our Star Business email newsletter.

Fledgling snowbird Linda Lanteigne, who’s driving to Florida with her husband in mid-January for a two-and-a-half-month stay, is unhappy about OHIP’s cancelled program.

As a taxpaying Canadian, “I don’t think it’s right to take away our coverage,” says the Ottawa-area retiree who’d like to see the government cover the same amount of emergency medical care that people would get in Canada.

Lanteigne, a former operating room buyer in a hospital, shopped around before deciding on a travel policy with the Canadian Automobile Association that will give her $5-million coverage for about $500.

Octogenarian Mae Youngman is living proof that health emergencies can happen anywhere. She’s had three surgeries outside Canada after suffering an aneurysm in Fort Lauderdale, an appendectomy in Sarasota and broken elbow in Mexico.

“It would have been very, very expensive,” to cover the costs without insurance, recalls the retired owner of a travel agency near Windsor, Ont., who’s heading to Cuba for two weeks.

“I’d never leave home without it.”

How to make sure you’re covered

Experienced travellers and representatives from the travel and insurance industries offer these tips:

  • Retirement benefit plans and credit cards may provide health insurance, but read the policy for any limits or exclusions.
  • Compare apples to apples when shopping for a policy. The cost will also depend on your medical history, age and length of vacation.
  • Before purchasing coverage, be aware of your health status, including pre-existing conditions, which must be stable for the required period.
  • Complete the insurer’s medical questionnaire thoroughly and accurately, and let them know if anything changes pre-departure.
  • Always read the policy, including fine print, so you understand what is and isn’t covered.
  • Check travel advisories before you leave; ignoring warnings about an impending hurricane, for example, could cancel your medical coverage.
  • Your purchased insurance has a start and end date so if your holiday is interrupted and you plan on returning, notify your insurer.
Carola Vyhnak is a Cobourg-based writer covering home and real-estate stories. She is a contributor for the Star. Reach her at cvyhnak@gmail.com

Error!We have suspended your account in accordance with our Code of Conduct. For more information please visit Code of Conduct

What do you think about the decision to cancel out-of-country emergency health care coverage? Share your thoughts

Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

This content was originally published here.

Mental health professionals read Trump’s letter: A study in “the psychotic mind” at work | Salon.com

On Wednesday night, Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives. Trump will now — perhaps after some delay — be put on trial in the Senate, where he will then be acquitted by Republicans who have sworn personal fealty to him.

Trump’s impeachment is one of the few moments in his life when he has ever been held accountable for his behavior. Consequences are the enemy of Donald Trump. As such, in response to the Ukraine scandal, the Mueller report, the 2018 midterm elections and various other moments when Democrats and the public defied Trump’s authoritarian goal of becoming a de facto king or emperor, he has lashed out in the form of (another) temper tantrum.

Advertisement:

On Tuesday, Trump continued with this ugly and deeply troubling behavior in the form of a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fueled by exaggerated rage that Democrats had dared to impeach him. Reportedly co-authored by Stephen Miller, Trump’s white supremacist White House adviser, Trump’s letter continued numerous obvious lies about impeachment, the Ukraine scandal and other matters.

In keeping with his strategy of stochastic terrorism, Trump’s letter is an incitement to violence by his followers against the Democrats for the “crime” of impeachment.

Trump is possessed of the delusional belief that he (and by implication his supporters) is a victim of a “witch hunt” akin to the famous event in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. In keeping with his malignant narcissism, Trump’s letter, of course, boasts of his strength and fortitude against the Democrats and other enemies.

Advertisement:

In total, Trump’s “impeachment letter” to Nancy Pelosi is but one data point among many demonstrating that he is mentally unwell and a threat to the safety of the United States and the world.

To gain more context and insight into this ongoing crisis, I asked several of the country’s leading mental health experts for their thoughts on Trump’s impeachment letter and what it indicates about the president’s emotional state and behavior.

Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor, Yale University School of Medicine and president of the World Mental Health Organization. Lee is editor of the bestselling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”

Advertisement:

This letter is a very obvious demonstration of Donald Trump’s severe mental compromise. His assertions should alarm not only those who believe that a president of the United States and a commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military should be mentally sound, but also those who are concerned about the potential implications of such a compromised individual bringing out pathological elements in his supporters and in society in general. I have been following and interpreting Donald Trump’s tweets as a public service, since merely reading them “gaslights” you and reforms your thoughts in unhealthy ways. Without arming yourself with the right interpretation, you end up playing into the hands of pathology and helping it — even if you do not fully believe it. This is because of a common phenomenon that happens when you are continually exposed to a severely compromised person without appropriate intervention. You start taking on the person’s symptoms in a phenomenon called “shared psychosis.”

It happens often in households where a sick individual goes untreated, and I have seen some of the most intelligent and otherwise healthy persons succumb to the most bizarre delusions. It can also happen at national scale, as renowned mental health experts such as Erich Fromm have noted. Shared psychosis at large scale is also called “mass hysteria.”

Advertisement:

The president is quite conscious of his ability to generate mass hysteria, which is the purpose of the letter.

The book I edited, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” contained three warnings: that the president was more dangerous than people suspected; that he would grow more dangerous with time; and that ultimately, he would become “uncontainable.” We are entering the “uncontainable” stage because of shared psychosis.

Dan P. McAdams, chair and professor of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, author of the forthcoming book “The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning.”

Advertisement:

Venomous and vitriolic, obsessively focused on the self and nothing else, this letter is what we have come to know as vintage Trump. Had we been handed this document just three years ago and told it was once written by a president of the United States, we would have been aghast, and we would have considered it to be one of the most remarkable texts ever unearthed — worthy to be remembered as the antithesis of, say, the Gettysburg Address.

In terms of what we have come to expect from President Trump, the only remarkable thing about this letter is that it is so long — and that it contains a few big words, like “solemnity.” But in nearly every other way, the letter is like the vitriolic, grievance-filled tweets he sends out every day, full of falsehoods, hyperbole and hate. As an extended expression of who Trump really is, the letter shows you how his mind works and what his raw experience is like.

For over 50 years, Donald Trump has lived this way. Trump has fought ever day of his adult life as if he were being impeached by his enemies. And there have always been countless enemies, because his antagonism brings them out of the woodwork. To quote what Trump told People Magazine when asked to recite his philosophy of life, “Man is the most vicious of all animals and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” This is truly how Trump has always experienced the world. The letter merely reinforces his world view.

Advertisement:

Moreover, Trump is right about the Democrats.  Many of them have been wanting to impeach him since Day One. They recoil against him just the way countless others have recoiled against Trump going back to his real estate days in the late 1970s. Trump needs to hate Democrats. If suddenly all his enemies lay down as lambs and promised to cooperate with him, he might kill himself. He would have no reason to go on. He needs enemies as much as he needs air to breathe.

Dr. David Reiss, psychiatrist, expert in mental fitness evaluations and contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Content-wise it is the typical Trump distortions, outright lies, and exclusive focus on his feelings. For Trump, his feelings define reality.  It would be interesting if someone in the media was able to ask Trump, “What does the word ‘fair’ mean to you?” Because, objectively, Trump complains he is being treated “unfairly” anytime he does not get his way, his feelings are hurt, and/or others are not accepting what he says at face value and without question — even if it is contrary to proven fact or internally inconsistent.

Whoever actually wrote the letter, it accurately reflects Trump’s immaturity that has been obvious in public as long as he has been a public figure: insisting that his needs be met in a child-like manner; having very poor problem-solving ability; having an inability to take responsibility for anything and projecting his own negative attributes onto others; an inability to look at consequences of his statements or actions. Basically, acting as a frustrated or emotionally hurt toddler would react, looking for a parent to protect him and “make the bad people go away.”

Advertisement:

Dr. Lance Dodes, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry (retired), Harvard Medical School, currently training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He is also a contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Mr. Trump’s letter shows his incapacity to recognize other people as separate from him or having worth.

As he always does, he accuses others of precisely what he has done, in precisely the same language. When confronted with violating the Constitution he says his accusers are violating the Constitution. When others point out that he undermines democracy, he says they undermine democracy. Through these very simpleminded projections he deletes others’ selfhood and replaces who they are with what is unacceptable in himself.

The letter also has a remarkable list of boasts about what he says are his successes, stated as facts, with no acknowledgment that Speaker Pelosi has a vastly different view (about gun control, appointing judges who conform to his views, withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, etc). It is as if her independent views are unworthy of noting or existing. She is treated as invisible in his eyes.

Advertisement:

In reflecting his projecting (paranoid) view of the world and his primitive focus on himself with denial of the rights and feelings of others, the letter is consistent with what we already know about Mr. Trump.

Dr. John Gartner, co-founder of the Duty to Warn PAC and co-editor of “Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump.”

When you read excerpts of the Trump letter to Pelosi it doesn’t do justice to how unhinged, paranoid and manic it is in its entirety.

It shows the usual formal properties of a Trump rant: proclaiming himself the victim of an evil conspiracy, while projecting onto his critics everything bad he is actually doing.

Advertisement:

For example:

You are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy…

All blended seamlessly with outright lies:

Worse still, I have been deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process from the beginning of this impeachment scam right up until the present. I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses …

Dr. Justin Frank, former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, and author of “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.”

When I first read Donald Trump’s six-page letter to Speaker Pelosi, I marveled at the ease with which he shared what goes on in his mind openly, and without reservation. His letter is the quintessential example of how professional victims actually think. They turn the prosecutor into the persecutor.

Trump’s letter is just such an expression of entitled, delusional grievance. He accuses Pelosi of injuring his family, but it is his nepotism that exposes his older children to public scrutiny and his teenager (to whom he refers as “Melania’s son”) to life in a fishbowl. More damning, in making her a public figure, he subjected the First Lady to humiliation. He knew full well he paid a stripper $130,000 not to talk about their affair and was surely aware that this and other unsavory behaviors would surface when he sought the presidency.

Trump is a con artist who succeeds by tricking his marks into not seeing the con. But the biggest mark — bigger than the GOP and his base — is himself. He believes the lies he tells, the delinquent traits he disavows. It’s what psychoanalysts call delusional projection. We see it the simple sentence he wrote to the speaker: “You view democracy as your enemy.” Trump confirms my findings published in “Trump on the Couch.” But now his defenses are writ large, because instead of changing in moments of crisis, people become more the way they are. Trump has reverted to the most familiar means to cope with fears of being caught, punished and humiliated.

Finally, the letter is a treasure trove for psychiatric residents who want to study the psychotic mind. Trump’s paradoxical sleight of hand makes him think he can hide in plain sight. But he can’t anymore. This is why he accuses Pelosi of hating democracy: It is he who hates a system that promotes the idea that no one is above the law.

This content was originally published here.

Santa’s reindeer receive clean bill of health, cleared to fly on Christmas Eve

HERSHEY, Pa. (WJW) — Santa’s reindeer have been cleared for take-off!

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, and State Veterinarian, Dr. Kevin Brightbill, met with Santa Claus and his nine reindeer at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Thursday to announce that they’ve received a clean bill of health and can fly on December 24.

The reindeer, answering to the names of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, and Rudolph received clearance to fly from Alaska’s state veterinarian.

“Not everyone knows what takes place behind the scenes to allow Santa and his nine reindeer to take flight on Christmas Eve,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Thanks to Dr. Brightbill, his counterpart in the North Pole, and Santa’s due diligence, we can expect gifts under the tree Christmas morning.”

Pennsylvania State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill holds up a clean bill of health for Santa’s nine reindeer, and that they’re cleared for take-off on December 24, at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Thursday, December 19, 2019. (Courtesy: Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture)

The reindeer received a certificate of veterinary inspection and permit to ship that allows them to fly from rooftop to rooftop for the purpose of toy delivery.

State officials said that for animals that travel between states, such certificates help ensure that contagious diseases are not spread.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture veterinarians supplied Santa’s reindeer with the certificate this year since they are residing at Hersheypark for the next few days.

“Hersheypark is honored that Santa trusts his nine reindeer to the care of our ZooAmerica team throughout the holiday season,” said Quinn Bryner, Director of PR at Hersheypark. “We’re the only place to see them all together in the Northeast through Jan. 1 so we wish them a magical flight before they come back to Hershey!”

Make sure to track Santa and the reindeer’s flight path on December 24 using NORAD’s Santa Tracker.

Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment
Missing Attachment

This content was originally published here.