Why Medicaid Is Important

President Trump’s budget proposal reveals that his administration plans to cut a whopping $610 billion from Medicaid funding over the next ten years. Including the additional $839 billion that the American Health Care Act plans to slash from Medicaid, the total cuts to the largest health insurance program in the U.S. could round up to nearly $1.5 trillion. That’s an enormous cut. But, it’s expected from a Republican-controlled government that prides itself on fiscal conservatism (sometimes at the expense of people’s livelihood). Medicaid is often criticized, for reasons other than how expensive it is to fund. The main criticisms are that it is an entitlement program that actually provides bad coverage. Some of these criticisms are fair. For instance, individuals on Medicaid have limited access to providers, while providers are reimbursed at low rates for treating  patients—both of these factors sum up to bad coverage. But, criticisms seem to ignore the essence of why Medicaid is important in the first place—it provides coverage to individuals who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access health care. In fact, studies show that its expansion may actually have a positive effect on health care by improving affordability and access. A report by the United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) found that 78 percent of Medicaid expansion enrollees indicated that they wouldn’t have been able to access or afford care prior to its expansion....

The Cancer Moonshot and the Rise of Immunotherapy

The discovery of a cure for cancer has long been awaited. Although death rates dropped by 25 percent between 1991 and 2014, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease. In an effort to reach the goal faster, the Cancer Moonshot was created to develop new research, trials and eventual treatment methods. Designated by former President Barack Obama in 2016 and led by former Vice President Joe Biden, the initiative aims to complete 10 years of cancer research by 2020. High-level goals include the expansion of cancer prevention and detection strategies, minimizing treatment side effects, establishing a network to allow for direct patient involvement, increasing data sharing, and devoting research time and money to immunotherapy. Many doctors and researchers envision immunotherapy becoming the best treatment option we’ve seen in years. Still early in its development, this cancer treatment utilizes the body’s natural defense system to fight off cancer cells. These cells, normally hidden from the body’s immune system, are unveiled when one of three main types of cancer immunotherapy is involved: First used in 1981 to fight liver cancer, cancer vaccines are a form of immunotherapy. Therapeutic vaccines are injected once a person is already diagnosed with cancer as a form of treatment to stop growth or recurrence. (Although vaccines for cancer can also be preventative, like the HPV vaccine, that...

Five Tips For Choosing The Right Medical Field

When a student decides to study medicine, there can be an overwhelming amount of choices to be made. There are many options in the medical field that can be explored. It is also important to choose something that suites you. Keeping an open mind to the other options available is an important start. Once you’ve managed to do that, you can move forward. When we think about the medical field, our minds seem to limit the options to only a ‘Medical Doctor’. Many students cannot get into medical school because there is only a limited amount of students accepted every year. So let’s say, you’ve applied at an institution to become a medical doctor, but unfortunately was unsuccessful. What other options do you have? How do you determine which of these other options will suit you best? Your base Before you apply for any studies, decide on where you would like to build a career. Look at the current industry needs and make sure that you will be able to find employment in your preferred area. You may be busy submitting a recommendation letter for nursing school, only to find out that the area you want to work in does not have job openings. This is why you need to make sure that wherever it is that you are setting your heart on to pursue a career, will be...

How Do You Find A Mentor?

One of the greatest moments of third year is when you figure out (or confirm) what you want to do with your life. (I know this doesn’t happen for everyone, and I’ll address that topic in a future post.) Okay, so you know what you want to be when you grow up. What now? You need to find a mentor. If you’ve read my blog before, you probably know how strongly I feel about mentorship. (My very first post was on this very topic.) But what is the purpose of this particular mentor? A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. Right now you need someone within your specialty to help you choose letter-writers, decide which programs to apply to, and prepare for interviews. You need someone to bolster your confidence when you get anxious about this process. You also need someone who will tell you things you don’t want to hear, so that you can match into the best possible program within your chosen specialty and not end up scrambling (or whatever they call it now). So what should you look for in a mentor? I recommend choosing someone who has expressed confidence in you, whose career you admire, and whose personality is somewhat similar to yours. Also look for someone well-versed in resident selection in your specialty or someone who has been through residency fairly recently. It’s...

Pros and Cons of The California Single Payer Bill

The California state Senate passed SB 562 on June 1. The California Single Payer Bill would put an end to private health insurance, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, and replace it with a single-payer health care system. Under a single-payer system, all California residents will be eligible to receive health insurance from a single state-sponsored insurance system called Healthy California. All funding for insurance will come from the state government, which means that there are no out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Single-payer health insurance systems are widely used in European countries, and they have been lauded by Democrats in the United States because they guarantee health insurance for all. In many ways, a single-payer system seems like a dream come true—everyone is covered and consumers don’t have to pay a dime! But, like every health care system, a single-payer system has it’s drawbacks. To better understand what the The California Single Payer Bill will look like, here’s a list of pros and cons: PROS California Single Payer Bill Means Insurance for everyone! This is perhaps the greatest and most palpable benefit of a single-payer insurance system—everyone is eligible to enroll in Healthy California. Under Obamacare, California’s uninsured rate dropped from 17 percent in 2013 to 7 percent today. This is a dramatic improvement, but there are still roughly 3 million people in California that are uninsured. This problem of access will be eradicated completely...

New Applications That Diagnose Patients In Minutes

Diagnosis can be a long, laborious journey, but novel technologies have the potential to drastically shorten that journey. The company RightEye has developed a test that uses eye tracking and infrared sensors to determine autism risk in children between the ages of 12 and 40 months in a matter of minutes. FACE2GENE, a test based on facial analysis and artificial intelligence technologies developed by digital health company FDNA, can recognize rare genetic disorders in seconds by analyzing a photo of a child’s face. Quicker diagnosis means earlier treatment, so these technologies aren’t just dazzling, they can make real differences in the lives of patients. FACE2GENE is a “search & reference tool provided for informational purposes and not intended to replace the clinician’s judgment or experience, nor should it be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions.” The application is not meant to be used by those without proper medical training. You can download the application on Android and iTunes. For RightEye’s: For 30 years, eye-tracking science and research languished in the halls of academia, only occasionally stepping out into the real world. During this time, vast amounts of health and vision research and testing, while fragmented, created a cumulative understanding of: How our eyes work and how they are connected to the brain; how injuries and illness change the ways our eyes work in consistent and predictable ways; and how eye-tracking...

A Look Back At Those Early Days As A Pre-Med…

One of the many perks of being a medical student is possessing the (purported) wisdom to guide those who will come after me. When I was in the ranks of those aspiring pre-med students who looked forward to a potential career in medicine, I often wondered how one acquired the kind of eloquence and understanding of what it takes to be in the medical field. While I definitely do not assume the ultimate authority on the importance of things to be done during one’s undergraduate career, I would like to take a stab at the most salient points in this arena by reflecting on my own experiences, hopefully helping out a handful of prospective aspirants who wish to join our ranks in what I believe to be one of the most rewarding professions in the world. Stay Committed This goes without saying, but it is still a point that is often underemphasized. The only way for medical schools to assess an applicant’s propensity to stick to the medical field over the long run is by measuring their experience in specific positions on a long-term basis. Whether it is climbing the ranks of a student organization on campus, volunteering with the same high school for the last three years, or writing for The (Almost) Doctor’s Channel once every two weeks (a little self-plug there), all of these activities showcase one’s...

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