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By Marilyn M. Singleton, MD, JD
In an effort to cut carbon emissions from burials and cremations, the state of Washington, led by staunch environmentalist Governor Jay Inslee, became the first U.S. state to legalize human composting.
To think, people can be criminally prosecuted for disrespecting a human corpse, a symbol of a once-living person. But the religion of Mother Earth now supersedes all cultural decency.
We’ve already cemented the contempt for life at the front end. I thought we had evolved since the ancient Greek elders determined that only the strong newborns survived and the weak were left to die. Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam made it clear that infants were once again throwaways at will.
In explaining the procedure of an “abortion” of a child who was born alive, he said “the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”
Now we must be acutely aware of what is happening at the other end of life’s spectrum. In the U.S., elders are all too often considered expendable by society at large and sadly, by their own families. Such disregard in some 10 million cases escalates to abuse in many forms. Government-certified entities make a significant contribution to this contemptible crime.
In many states court-appointed guardians cravenly plunder their wards’ assets with no repercussions. A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report identified hundreds of allegations of abuse, neglect, and exploitation by guardians in 45 states and the District of Columbia between 1990 and 2010.
An investigation of a small sampling of the allegations found that court-appointed guardians had stolen or otherwise improperly obtained $5.4 million from 158 incapacitated victims, mostly older adults. Moreover, such crimes were frequently overlooked by judges.
Soon after coming into office, President Trump signed into law the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act that provided for 90 prosecutors and “elder justice coordinators” nationally to prosecute those committing elder abuse, including guardianship cases. Currently, a sleepy little bill in the wings, the Stamp Out Elder Abuse Act, will direct the proceeds of a new postage stamp to enforcing laws against elder abuse.
These new laws may be for naught with the advent of more physician-assisted suicide laws. New Jersey is the latest, complete with a cute acronym: MAID – Medical Aid in Dying.
All the calls for government-controlled medicine are terrifying to those of us who remember a dystopian film where in 2022, with rampant food shortages and homelessness, the only food available is a high-energy wafer purportedly made from plankton. Alas, we witness humans entering a processing center for a happy death and emerging as the main ingredient of Soylent Green.
I contend that the trend of placing older people into hospice before the ink is dry on the hospital admission papers is a new form of elder abuse. Hospice has become the new Medicare cash cow for unscrupulous facility owners who abuse and neglect patients.
One study found that 8% of the hospices studied did not provide a single skilled visit—from a nurse, doctor, social worker, or therapist—to any patients who were receiving routine home care in the last two days of life in 2014.
Recall that President Obama robbed Medicare of $716 billion to fund the Affordable Care Act, including $56 billion from hospitals serving poor people. Recall that an ethics adviser for ObamaCare, Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, advocates for the “Complete Lives System” of medical care where resources are directed to those with “future usefulness.”
Dr. Emanuel proudly claims he wants to die at 75 years of age. Tell that to the countless lives Mother Teresa transformed when she was in her 80s. Tell that to John Glenn, who went back into space for 9 days at 77, and to the 20 million other over-75 disposables—or should I say, recyclables.
Quite coincidentally, eliminating the over-75 crowd from the insurance pool would help fund government-sponsored insurance for this country’s remaining uninsured. In other words, hurry up and die before the Medicare program goes bankrupt.
My gratitude goes to those congressper- sons who recognize that our elders need protection. Given that the federal trust fund that finances much of the Medicare program is projected to run out in 2026, let’s hope these compassionate people realize that the first losers of Medicare for All are our elders.
Dr. Singleton is a board-certified anes- thesiologist. She is president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). She attended UC Berkeley Law School, focusing on constitutional law and administrative law.
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By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Americans should be able to draw 100% of their social security benefits at age 65 but they can’t.
The year 1983 began a gradual age increase from 65 to 67, which occurred over a 22 year period. For those who are already past 65 it’s too late to care much. People who began collecting at age 62 don’t care either.
If you started paying into Social Security by the age of 25 and most Americans did or will, then forty years is long enough to pay into a fund that should give you the maximum payout based on what you paid into the fund. Many American workers began paying into a retirement account younger than 25 and then were able to draw 100% of their retirement after 27 or 28 years of work. This means some people, like school teachers, government workers and others might retire as young as 50. Fifty is significantly earlier than 66 or 67 to begin collecting your full Social Security benefits.
Many Americans will pay into Social Security and never collect a penny although there may be family benefits.
Americans can begin collecting Social Security at age 62 at a reduced benefit. The problem this creates for many Americans is they are limited to additional income. Why should the “62” crowd of Americans only be able to make $17,640 a year? If they are paying into Social Security from what they are earning from a job then they are only supplementing a system they are collecting from.
Many Americans are forced into double trouble. They have reduced benefits at age 62 because they want to go ahead and collect the income. Next, they are only allowed to make up to $17,640 additional money from working a job. They end up with a smaller amount of Social Security for life and could become totally unable to work a job thus creating a lifetime dilemma.
The average senior will collect $17,532 in Social Security benefits a year or $1,461 per month with the 2.8% 2019 cost of living increase. Some Americans are collecting $2,788 per month or $33,456 a year if they paid in the maximum taxable earnings for 35 years. The maximum amount is now $132,900! How many Americans will make the maximum amount of earnings for 35 years? Each year about 6% of covered workers have earnings above the taxable maximum income.
Sadly, once America gives up something we seldom get it back. For example, full Social Security at age 65. Our government is starved for cash. Our government has borrowed about $3 trillion from our Social Security fund. Our government “borrows” from the Social Security fund ad nauseam to cover their wasteful spending. If the government can get its way it will increase the Social Security age to 70 or higher. So beware!
Start talking to your representative or senator about your Social Security benefits. If you are under 65 you need to care now.
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author and is read in all 50 states.
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By Sally C. Pipes
Americans have health on their minds. Nearly four in 10 voters think health care is the most important policy issue our country faces.
Some lawmakers -- including several Democratic presidential candidates -- think a government takeover of the nation's health insurance system is the answer.
But Medicare for All isn't what voters are looking for. It would drive doctors from the profession and cripple hospitals. Fewer of America's brightest students will pursue medicine. Ultimately, Medicare for All would make it harder for patients to gain access to care.
Already, the United States is facing shortages in the supply of care. Our nation will be short more than 120,000 doctors by 2032. Rural and underserved communities will be hit hardest.
In many ways, this is a stress-driven shortage. More than four in 10 physicians report being burnt out. Around half plan to change career paths. A similar proportion wouldn't recommend that their children go into medicine.
A survey of physicians found that "bureaucratic tasks" were the most common contributor to burnout. More than one-third cited long hours as a stressor; a similar share pointed to insufficient pay. Two of every 10 doctors said government regulations contribute to burnout.
Medicare for All would make these problems worse. A government takeover of healthcare would smother doctors in new bureaucratic tasks. Meanwhile, patients would consume even more care, now that it's free. Doctors would have to work longer hours to meet that demand.
And they'd do so for less pay. Medicare for All envisions paying doctors at Medicare's rates, which are significantly lower than those for private insurance. Physicians would receive about 30 percent less for procedures including hernia repairs or gallbladder removals, compared to current private rates. Reimbursement rates for emergency visits and chest x-rays would be 60 percent lower.
Asking doctors to treat more patients for less money is no way to address the looming physician shortage. Practicing doctors will leave the profession, and budding doctors will consider other lines of work.
Hospitals would also see revenues decline under Medicare for All. Currently, hospitals receive just 87 cents for every dollar they spend on Medicare patients. Over two-thirds of hospitals lose money on Medicare inpatient services.
Hospitals depend on private insurers to stay in the black. By eliminating private insurance, Medicare for All will deprive hospitals of the revenue they need to balance their books. One study estimates hospitals will lose $151 billion in annual revenue under Medicare for All.
Hospitals would likely have to cut staff or eliminate services. Some might close entirely. Already, one-fifth of rural hospitals are in such poor condition that they are at risk of closing.
These dire scenarios are not hypothetical. They're the reality in single-payer systems in other countries.
In the United Kingdom's National Health Service, a majority of general practitioners said in 2017 they felt pressure due to long working hours, increasing workloads, and burdensome paperwork. Two in five planned to leave direct patient care by 2022. That's twice as many as were planning to quit in 2005.
Many British hospitals lack the funds to replace outdated and low-quality equipment.
Voters are right to focus on health care. But if Democrats interpret that level of interest as an opportunity to sell Medicare for All, they'll be sorely disappointed.
Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO, and Thomas W. Smith Fellow in Health Care Policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Her latest book is The False Promise of Single-Payer Health Care (Encounter). Follow her on Twitter @sallypipes. This piece originally ran in the Oklahoman.
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By: Camille Howard
We all are enamored by the word “free” and its derivatives.
We love those BOGO advertisements - buy one get one free! We like when businesses have an open house and offer free food, free drinks and signing up for free door prizes.
In reality, if we posted a huge sign in front of our office with the word “FREE” on it, people would stop in.
That’s marketing strategy.
We also are enamored by the idea that we are a free country and have freedoms not found in other countries. We have the Bill of Rights giving us freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of the press. We are the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” We use slogans like “let freedom ring” and “mountaineers are always free.”
That’s law and tradition.
But free stuff isn’t really free and freedom isn’t really free. Somewhere along the line someone has to pay or has already paid.
The grocery store offering buy one get one free didn’t happen to find a manufacturer or farmer who donated a truckload of items to give away. The hot dog you consumed at a recent open house was purchased by the business owner. And the freedom we enjoy in the U.S. was bought and paid for by thousands of lives: explorers, settlers, political and religious refugees, law officers, soldiers, suffragettes, civil rights leaders and even politicians.
Yet socialism has reared its ugly head once again in opposition to freedom and is taking hold in what was once thought the least likely place - here.
And what is its battle cry? “Free!” That word lures people in with the promises of an easier life. Free health care is the biggest flag it’s waving.
The idea of having free health care is pretty enticing. Who wouldn’t want to be relieved of the burden of premiums, copays and deductibles? But at what cost?
Is socialism the answer to our economic and physical ills?
Socialism is an economic and political system based on public ownership (also known as collective or common ownership) of the means of production. Those means include the machinery, tools, factories and agriculture used to produce goods that aim to directly satisfy human needs.
Examples of socialist countries include Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela and China, among others.
Those who favor this type system say socialism creates equality and provides security - a worker's value comes from the amount of time they work, not in the value of what they produce. They assume that the basic nature of people is cooperative and everyone wants to work happily and unselfishly toward the common good.
In a purely socialist system, all legal production and distribution decisions are made by the government, or a small group of individuals, many times a dictator, who determines what the common good will be. All citizens rely on the state for everything from food to healthcare and are forced to comply to a determined common good. Will the treatment and payment of your serious medical condition be for the common good?
Socialism discourages innovation, competition, entrepreneurship and private ownership of property and business, to name a few.
If you want a current example, look at what’s happened in the country of Venezuela and see how socialism has almost destroyed it. Once the wealthiest country in South America, dictator Victor Chavez’s nationalization of its agriculture and industry along with price controls and expansion of welfare programs has led to abject poverty of its people. A sad fact, though, is that the people voted for it. For what they were convinced would be a better world.
True socialism has never been successful. Yet its sirens song draws many closer to the rocks ... “the government cares about your plight as a poor downtrodden individual. It will take care of you. All things will be equal.” Are you being drawn in?
Once the government starts making all the decisions about where you work and what job you will do, how much money you can acquire, how much food you get, and when and if you get to see a doctor, is when your freedom will cease to exist.
No matter how hard you work and how lazy the person is you work with, the outcome will be equal for both. That’s life in utopia. Take your head out of the sand and pay attention to what’s being said by those vying for political offices in the next election and by those already in seats of power. The idea of “it can’t happen here” or “what I don’t know can’t hurt me” is building the foundation for socialism.
Winston Churchill said it best, “The inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”
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By Jane M. Orient, M.D.
People are dying all over the country from opioid overdoses. There’s a movement to have the antidote naloxone available in all ambulances and even over the counter. This temporarily reverses the fatal effect of opioids, which stop the patient’s breathing. First responders themselves may need a dose because of contact with a tiny amount of fentanyl, an extremely potent narcotic, while attending a patient.
No, the fentanyl does not come from the patient’s bottle of legal prescription drugs.
Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) introduced a proposal that he claims would “go a long way to fight the practice of doctor shopping for more prescription pain pills amid a deadly opioid crisis.” Doctor shopping “involves visiting multiple doctors.” Hardly new, this proposal, now passed by the House of Representatives as an amendment to a $99.4 billion Health and Human Services appropriations bill, lifts the ban on funding a Unique Patient Identifier (UPI).
The UPI is part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. You don’t have one yet because former congressman Ron Paul, M.D., (R-Tex,) sponsored a prohibition on funding it as part of a 1999 appropriations bill. Rep. Foster’s amendment repeals Dr. Paul’s prohibition.
So how is this 1996 idea supposed to work? And why would it be better than the Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) now in effect in nearly every state? Every prescription for a controlled substance must be reported to the PDMP, and the doctor must check it before writing a prescription, to be sure the patient is not lying about having prescriptions from other doctors. This costly program that creates time-consuming hassles for doctors has not prevented opioid deaths.
PDMPs are ineffective because doctor shopping is not the cause of the problem. Only 2.5 percent of misused prescription pain medicine was obtained by doctor shopping. And this small percentage apparently increased after PDMPs. More than 97% of misused medications are obtained from a single physician—or from an illicit source. The spike in opioid deaths after 2013 was caused by illicit fentanyl, as Dr. John Lilly concludes from painstaking analysis of official data.
If Rep. Foster’s amendment is not removed, you might have to have a UPI to get legitimate medical care—“no card, no care”—but the drug cartel won’t mind. You can shop drug dealers as much as you like. There is a flood of fentanyl, mostly from Mexico or China, coming across our borders. Rep. Foster is apparently unaware of the armed lookouts protecting the smuggling routes in the Tucson sector. And once here, the drugs go to distributors—such as illegal aliens protected in sanctuary cities.
So, what about the other touted benefits of the UPI? “Specifically, assigning a unique number to a patient would give doctors a way to immediately identify a patient’s medical history,” said Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.). He says it “would lower the cost of medical mix-ups due to misidentification.” His elderly father was nearly given the wrong medication.
To prevent medical errors, you need alert nurses and doctors—and the UPI is not going to fix the hazards of the electronic health record. The EHR, touted as the solution that will bring efficient, quality care, has created its own type of errors.
There is no guarantee that a UPI will improve access to the record, and critical information will still be buried in voluminous, repetitious data of dubious reliability, some of which may have been cut-and-pasted from another patient’s record. There may be critical gaps as patients withhold information they don’t want in a federal database. The new problem that brings the patient to the hospital won’t be in the old record—but may be the result of an old misdiagnosis that should be corrected instead of copied.
Patients need to be able to shop for doctors, especially if the one they have has not solved their problems. Some of them desperately need opioids, which are increasingly difficult to obtain. They do not need a UPI, and neither does their doctor.
The UPI is ideally suited for government tracking and control of all citizens. People like J. Edgar Hoover or Lois Lerner might find it very useful. But it would be the end of privacy, and the foundation for a national health data system.
Dr. Orient is the executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Sur- geons and is a policy expert with the Heartland Institute. For more reactions to the mid- term election, go to heartland. org under news and opinion. The Heartland Institute is one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks.
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By Dr. Glenn Mollette
We have watched corporations and famous Americans have ups and downs throughout the years.
We've all watched as Tiger Woods, Robert Kraft, and most recently, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein have had low moments.
Sadly we heard last weekend about coal billionaire Chris Cline's tragic and fatal helicopter crash.
Time and again we learn none of us are too famous, too successful or too rich to encounter a human downward life turn and tragedy.
The Nike athletic shoe and apparel corporation is the world leader in athletic and apparel sales. They made about $34 billion in 2017. They have a global presence of athletic sales in over 160 countries. Their products are sold through 22,000 retail accounts worldwide. They are the largest supplier of athletic footwear in the world.
Almost all of Nike shoes are made outside the US in Asia and Latin America. Nike does not make the shoes themselves but they contract production out to other companies. There are various reports about who Nike employs and how much their workers make. One report claims Nike has 100,000 people making their shoes in Indonesia and that these workers make about $3.50 per day or about $3,500 a year. Thus Nike is very profitable and has massive dollars for marketing.
For example, Nike entered into a $50 million endorsement deal with tennis star Serena Williams in 2003. When golfing star Tiger Woods turned pro in 1996 Nike lavished him with a $40 million five-year golfing endorsement. They would later go on to pay Woods $30 million a year in endorsements. From 2002 to 2012 Nike paid Michael Jordan $44 million a year to represent their brand. They still pay him. Forbes estimated Nike paid Jordan $100 million in 2015 as Jordan's brand still made $3 billion for Nike in US sneaker sales. Lebron James is reported to receive as much as $1 billion from Nike in endorsement money by the time he is 64 years old.
Colon Kaepernick was already on Nike's payroll before he became controversially famous for not standing for the National anthem. Nike wasn't using him and reportedly didn't know what to do with him until he became famous over his social issue stance. Kaepernick is currently not playing professional football. No one has signed him after he became a free agent but he is making millions a year by being the face of Nike's revived "Just Do It" campaign.
Recently Kaepernick ignited controversy by reportedly telling Nike to pull its Air Max 1 Quick Strike Fourth of July sneakers. Nike said he told the company he believes the colonial flag used on the shoes is offensive, because it was flown when slavery was legal. While there has been much consternation toward Nike's decision, Nike's stock has risen $3 billion within the last week. If you can find a pair of the Betsy Ross shoes they are going for about $2,500.
The question is this, Can Nike do no wrong? Are they too big to fail? Nike is utilizing controversy well to breathe new air into its products. With major national sports figures wearing and promoting the Nike brand and cheap Asian labor Nike has locked into a formula that appears unstoppable.
Nike will continue on their path of global success if the American people buy their products. It's a free country. If Americans decide to stop buying Nike products it would be financially troubling. Either way, Nike's continued success or failure will be decided by how Americans utilize Nike's slogan, "Just Do It," and how Americans decide to "Just Do It."
Glenn Mollette is a syndicated columnist and author and is read in all 50 states.