policy

I Would Suck at Being Poor and So Would You

I was thinking today how bad I would be at being poor. I’m great at being broke. I handle broke like a champion. But broke isn’t poor. Broke is temporary with better things as a possibility. Poor is generally permanent; at the very least it feels that way. Poor has no clear way out. You can’t just hang in there until things get better because probably they won’t. Being poor wouldn’t make me smarter or a better person than I am now. It would give me a different skill set, yes, but less formal education. So if I were poor, I’d most likely make all the same dumb mistakes I make now but there would be much higher stakes. Every bad choice would drive me deeper into a hole instead of merely keeping my retirement account from growing properly. I’d buy my kids toys when they opened their eyes all big and asked nicely, even when they don’t need them. Even if I knew the toys were junk and going to break soon. I’d pay extra for the backpack that will help make my son fit in at school instead of the practical one. I’d probably even get myself the occasional treat I didn’t need. And I would hate being poor. I wouldn’t be poor but happy. I’d be poor and miserable. I’d know there were better things out...

The Drug That Makes You Smarter, Or Does it?

Adderall was first created to treat impulsiveness and improve focus in people with ADHD and ADD. It has since then been used to treat several disorders, such as narcolepsy. But what are the ramifications of the drug and has its use becoming uncontrollable in our society? Source:...

Mental Health in the Poverty Stricken Population

I’ve been hanging out at the wrong Starbucks, apparently. Last weekend, I was having a nice Saturday morning coffee with a fine gentleman outside of a New York City Starbucks, enjoying the beautiful weather and the lovely conversation. All of a sudden I hear a large “BANG” behind me and I see a look of udder shock on said gentleman’s face. “That man just punched the wall [the outside wall, mind you. aka, the brick facade of the building.] right behind your head!” Fast forward a few days and I’m sitting at the very same Starbucks with a fine young lady, both of us pouring over our medical school applications. I am sitting with my back to the glass window behind me. All of a sudden I see a look of bewilderment on my friend’s face. “A homeless man was just walking by, made eye contact with me, and literally hacked a loogie and spit it at me into the window.” Have I been hanging out at the wrong Starbucks? Or is there something bigger going on here? A few days after the first incident I talked to the same fine gentleman, a doctor himself. He had one sentence that I think explains all of these situations that I’m sure I am not the first to experience: “The poor are not getting the mental health care they need and deserve.” And...

How Accountable Care Will Change America

David Sayen, the regional manager for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, discusses the shift in health insurance programs from fee-for-service to an accountable care model. Reimbursement will be based on results, as opposed to type or quantity of procedures. He explains that the relationship between health care providers and programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, will change as the United States moves closer to healthcare reform. Filmed at FutureMed, in February, 2012, at Singularity...

Obesity: Is Government the Cure?

Obesity is now officially a disease, at least according to the American Medical Association. Despite this recent designation, obesity has long been a killer: 300,000 deaths are attributed to obesity annually. The condition is also associated with an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, breathing problems, arthritis, depression, and many other ailments. Although these deaths and illness are largely preventable, Washington has been slow to take up any large-scale action to combat this epidemic. But now, lawmakers have been moving on ways to fight the obesity epidemic. • The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act sets new standards for fats, sugars and sodium in meals prepared and sold in schools. • The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act aims at providing expanded treatment for obesity to medicaid and medicare beneficiaries. • State governments are setting new standards for physical education, like House Bill 11-1069 in Colorado requiring physical activity for all elementary school children. • A Group of 18 big city mayors sent a letter to the federal government pushing for a ban on the use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to buy soda and sugary drinks. • Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued an executive order and proposed 2 laws aimed at increasing visibility and access to stairs in New York City buildings. These measures presented by government officials raise the question: Is it even possible for the government...

When Does Feeding Prisoners Violate Medical Ethics?

Guantanamo detainees on a hunger strike are now being strapped into chairs and gagged as doctors push a feeding tube through their nose into the back of their throat and into their stomach as often as twice a day. It’s a disturbing new practice, but one we must examine in full as we consider whether Guantanamo reflects American values. Anyone who has had a nasogastric tube placed through their throat while awake knows why hospitalized patients often complain about the tube more than they complain about the pain of surgery. The gagging can be extreme even when patients are relaxed and cooperating by swallowing repeatedly during the procedure. Resisting the tube during its insertion, as the unwilling detainees at Guantanamo do, elicits an exacerbated rapid cycle of gasping for air and gagging or vomiting. Why is the U.S. government initiating this new round of forced gagging? It may be simply to save itself from the potential embarrassment if a majority of detainees die on a principled hunger strike. Guantanamo detainees have resorted to desperate measures to call attention to what they and many others view as human rights violations, including the disintegration of due process. A classified memo released in 2011 indicates that military officials were then aware that up to two-thirds of inmates were, at best, “low level” threats and that nearly 20 percent were believed to be “innocent.” Nevertheless, 166 prisoners...

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