Thursday, September 24, 2020

Medical Practice Today

Medicine, according to Wikipedia, is "the science and practice of establishing diagnosis, prognosis, treatment  and  prevention of disease."  You feel bad, go to a doctor, obtain a diagnosis and  establish a treatment plan. That sounds relatively straightforward and it usually is - as long as you have insurance or a wad of cash to pay for it all. Speaking of cash, your healthcare provider likely acquired a mountain of debt while attending medical school. 

Over the years the USA has evolved into a country wherein most people count on their employers to provide health insurance, a standard employee benefit. That system left 10s of millions without coverage since insurance is a benefit too costly for most small businesses to offer. Our response to that was The Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare, and more than 8 million people are signed up for coverage. But about 27 million people are underinsured or uninsured, many with preexisting conditions that make insurance virtually unattainable.

Health Insurance

Health insurance is a product in our capitalist system. There are numerous exclusionary factors - aka the aformentioned preexisting conditions. Not fair you say? Many agree, but many also say it is a business. Profit is king. Healthy people should not have to pay increased premiums for insurance because of someone else's preexisting condition. Now healthcare has become weaponized in today's political debate. While the bickering continues, Trump is attempting to totally dismantle Obamacare, a death sentence to some people insured through the plan. 

I will go on  record as saying I think healthcare is a right, and we need some form of public option to keep as many people as possible insured. It is indeed interesting that only one western power does not offer a public healthcare option, something we have not yet given up our leadership role.

Quality Care is Available

Delivery aside, excellent healthcare is available here. There are specialists available for almost anything. Family doctors should harp on preventative medicine and show you how to stay healthy and my experience has been just that. Specialists are available for everything else - as long as you have insurance or a wad of cash. A huge wad. Doctors are small business owners and those businesses aren't cheap to run. Equipment, employees, office space and oh yeah - insurance. Doctor's malpractice rates are outrageous. Why? Check out the settlement figures for malpractice. Remember - just like any school, there are doctors who performed at the very bottom of the pack.

Dr. as a Small Business

Holes in our system? Of course there are holes. Many small, rural hospitals are closing. Areas of the deep south and Midwest have no or insufficient quantities of doctors and must rely on services provided at no charge by organizations.

Holes in the System

There is a glaring hole in medical care offered for mental health issues. The level of service we provide is embarrassingly insignificant. Simply look at the number of homeless veterans.

At times one wonders why anyone wants to be a doctor. I had an interesting conversation with my cardiac specialist about just that. She is a Physician's Assistant (PA). She just smiled and said "Chuck - I make excellent money and do not have to run a business. I get to help people but not deal with the rest of the headaches."

When you feel bad, you want to feel better so you go to a doctor and if it is a Dr. Feelgood you may come away with a script that gets you pills to numb you. Or, you go to a doctor that is interested enough in your well being to help you. We have them both here. Ultimately your healthcare is up to you. You decide what you will do - whose instructions to follow. Don't like your Doctor? Change to a new one, though the new Doc will need to be one approved by your insurance provider. We are fortunate to have some of the best healthcare in the world as long as you can pay for it. But, we have a long way to go on the delivery mechanism. I do not see us ever becoming a single payer nation - too many people fear the term socialism. You would think more would fear the notion of no insurance but that looks like a topic for another time. Until then people here must wait until retirement and eligibility for Medicare unless Trump decides to dismantle that as well.

Big Pharma in Control?

Lastly there is phenomenal control over our healthcare system exercised by the pharmaceutical industry. They get paid to sell medicine and like everything in this day and age that has been weaponized - politicized like never before. Clearly this deserves more than a scant paragraph in this blog - again that deserves its own weekly topic,

That ends my quick shack take on Padmum's topic. Be sure to visit the others of this little blogging group to see what they have to say.

ConradRamana,  SanjanaPadmum,  RajuMaria & Sriniva       

Thursday, September 17, 2020

What's All the Fuss About?

Maria suggested this week's topic so lets see what all the fuss is about.

This whole crazy world is just too frustrating.

What's all the fuss about? Well, here in the USA we have an election coming up in November. No big deal - we have them regularly - it is what makes us strong and unique - a peaceful transition of power. This election, though, brings a degree of uncertainty that was simply unthinkable until recently. Our current President, number 45 to be exact, has spent the last 4 years cozying up to and supporting the leaders club of autocrats - starting with his buddy Vladimir Putin and the leaders of China and Turkey. 45 is even on track to fulfill Putin's most exciting wet dream - weakening and even dismantling NATO, the alliance mostly responsible for the dissolution of the USSR. I certainly hope Stormy Daniels was treated as well as Putin and I must say - even shirtless, Putin is nowhere as attractive as Ms. Daniels so the question is begged - what exactly does Vlad have on 45? We'll never know - perhaps if the next world dictatorship summit is held at Mar Lago we will get a hint. I hear the invitations are in the mail. Those shining lights on the hill we used to represent may be about to permanently disappear.

This whole crazy world is just to frustrating.

What's all the fuss about?

Ah yes - the mail. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Postmaster General (appointed by 45, of course) when voter safety is paramount, 45's Joy boy is doing everything he can get away with to slow down mail delivery and cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election - even AG Barr is suggesting postal workers can be bribed to cheat for a few hundred dollars. 45 daily says that he can only lose a rigged election.  Now remember he appointed a commission to root out voter fraud and they came up empty-handed. Still, 45 - who considers himself the finest President in history - says he deserves a third term. The GOP - once a Grand Old Party has become the party looking to bend the constitution to the Parties will rather than the conservative watchdogs of our noble experiment with democracy. They cast the Democrats as socialists and communists - both far from the truth. But that characterization suits the fear-mongering of 45 and his team. So voter safety be damned - do everything possible to cast aspersions on voting by mail. The pandemic will end someday. Maybe. Remember there is that herd thing.

This whole crazy world is just too frustrating.

What's all the fuss about?

Lets talk Pandemic for a bit. A newly released book by journalist Bob Woodward and backed by taped conversations between 45 and Woodward show once again our Liar in Chief - AKA 45 has been lying to the American people. Just listen to the tapes.

Trump to Woodward on the pandemic

As of this writing, we have seen over 6.5 million Covid-19 cases in the USA with over 195,000  deaths. One must ask how many of those could have been prevented with swift, effective action. Of course, he called the Woodward book fake news within 3 hours of his last conversation with Woodward - after accusing Woodward of drinking the Kool Aid. Gotta say though - Bob sure covered his derriere with those tapes he made. You'd think 45 might have recalled some tapes being somewhat important in another important story in which Woodward was involved. The late President Nixon is probably laughing his ass off wherever he is at the sheer stupidity of the great deal maker. And, this time Woodward got the info straight from the horse's mouth (luckily this is a family-friendly blog as you know what I wanted to say).

I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation

Well not in the real world. In 45's world, if his lips are moving he is testing that statement.

I'm sure you have figured out the lines from Eve of Destruction - here's Barry McGuire's somewhat updated version

Ya gotta wonder if PF Sloan thought he was so smart that his song would be as meaningful over 50 years after Barry McGuire recorded it in a single take back in the 60s.

Now the fuss is not all negative. We now have space being exciting again as we have private companies vying to provide the vehicles. Next is back to the moon and then it is off to Mars. I certainly thought this would happen sooner but I'll take it.

Professional and college sports have restarted - while the stands remain relatively empty during the Pandemic, they are all over the TV - the Stanley Cup finals are about to begin. (Go Stars and Joe Pavelski) The big 3 - NFL, NBA, and MLB have all found a way to safely return to the field.

Now if we could just find a way to make schools safe for the kids and college students things would be vastly approved.

For the record, I used  to be a glass  half full kind of guy until the damn thing broke. I just replaced it and am refilling the new one - this time with Scotch, just in case.

That's my quick shack take on today's topic. Be sure to check with the other 7 members of the blogging group to see what they have to say.

ConradRamana,  SanjanaPadmum,  RajuMaria & Sriniva       

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Why My Blog is Called Shackman Speaks and Sometimes Yells

The Old Fossil, Conrad came up with this week's blogging topic - each blogger will be substituting their blog name - Why My Blog is Called Shackman Speaks and Sometimes Yells. Well, folks, my answer is what I call a blinding flash of the obvious.

Because of many years working at RadioShack, I acquired the nickname Shackman. Since a blog is about expressing opinions, the Speaks and Sometime Yells was a natural add on to Shackman. I don't really yell much these days but I do have a tendency to be a tad sarcastic on occasion. Ya gotta have some fun once in a while. And, of course, everyone has an opinion so feel free to share as long as you can maintain a degree of civility. That degree is my choice.

Then there is the small, yet ever-expanding blogging group to which I belong. Not so long ago it was Ramana and me. Now I am part of an eight-member loose conglomeration of bloggers. For the same price as before (free) you get eight opinions for the price of one. Such a deal. Then there is the odd tune or two that I work into my little epistles. Civil discussion and entertainment - that is the root of Shackman Speaks. It also keeps me off the streets so the town of Hickory is safe.

Just for fun, here is an oldie that I am not sure was even heard in India

That completes my take on the topic chosen for us by our very own old fossil Conrad. Be sure to visit my compatriots' blogs to get their take -

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Sky is the Limit

 One thing is certain in the midst of the global pandemic, election unrest here in the USA and other countries is that change will continue to evolve. All segments of the Pharma industry are focused on the development of a vaccine to combat and prevent Covid-19 and the race is on to see who will reap the financial reward for being first to market with the vaccine.

Now, more than ever, if we can imagine it we can do it.  There is nothing to prevent someone or something from being very successfulWe have recently witnessed the launch of two American astronauts and their flight to the international space station on a vehicle provided by a private company. And, the rocket that launched the Dragon capsule was returned to earth and safely landed so it can be reused. Oh, and the astronauts were also safely returned after a successful space mission. I will save comment on their newly designed flight suits. Ahem.

Next up a moon shot and then a flight to Mars. There is competition from another company to provide the vehicles for the upcoming trips. Space travel is exciting again. We are about to once again boldly go where no man or woman has gone before.  Speaking of that, in 2021 Jeanette Epps is scheduled to be the first black woman to join the crew of the international space station.

Since the nineteen sixties, mankind has been embracing and at the same time fearing Future Shock. The rapidity of change excites the younger generations while at the same time striking fear in the hearts of older generations. As we Baby Boomers enter septuagenarian status we find ourselves in a state of fear over where our culture is headed. One need only look at how the basic boomer feels about so-called progressives like AOC, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. How soon my basic boomer brothers and sisters forget that a mere half century ago we were those progressives. As the envelope is pushed forward we are becoming our parents. Relax boomers. Our time has passed, and the baton in the relay race of life has been handed to the next leg of the race. Their ideas are different than ours but remember this - without us they would not even exist. We were a necessary step in the evolution of our society and culture. If you are a music fan, consider for example where popular music would be without the influence of those mop-topped Liverpudlians. Where would those young Brits have gone without the influence of that pseudo-surfer California kid Brian Wilson? The Beatles begat Rubber Soul which inspired Brian Wilson to create Pet Sounds (including what Paul McCartney calls the PERFECT pop song, God Only Knows) which inspired the Beatles to create Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band. The rest is history, and when in real time those were all examples of The Sky is the Limit.

Of course none of that matters until you see the Beach Boys live and they hit every note and nuance of a song like  Good Vibrations, which has and will forever remind me of that short, cute blonde with the drop dead smile (it still is) that was the first female to ever really give a damn about the big, dumb-jock wannabe I was back then. She is the definition of a BFF. Add my editor to that list and I am indeed a very lucky fellow in spite of the many missteps I have taken along my personal Route 66.

I am particularly interested in where the Indian compliment of this little but rapidly expanding blogging group. Welcome back Maria, (an Irish woman married to an Indian man and living in India), one of the most fascinating places on the planet.

That completes my take on the topic chosen for us by Sanjana, our youngest member. Be sure to visit my compatriots' blogs to get their take -
 ConradRamana,  SanjanaPadmum,  Raju & Maria

See ya next week, same bat time and same bat channel