Category Archives: Health care

No P virus

I am a little reticent about pulling my family into my blog. Not nearly reticent enough, however, according to my family.

I happen to think that a little personal revelation gives balance and perspective to my online rants and eye winks. Those rants and eye winks have diminished greatly since last Fall’s election because I’ve been attending to two year’s worth of neglected home and family projects as well as taking on new challenges. The biggest of all the challenges has been grandparenthood.

The Tan Man has a new little brother “Jakie-Jake”. The Tan Man even chose Jake’s first name. Like all babies the new brother is cute as a button and when placed in a grandparent’s arms immediately brings down the heart rate.

Ten days ago he also raised our heart rates by picking up something called acronymically the RSV virus. I find it easier to remember if I think of it as the “no P” virus (as in RSVP).

Like all viruses it disobeys God’s commandment not to evolve so that it is constantly finding new ways to bedevil folks. In Jakie Jake’s case it probably would have killed him if I’d been left in charge of him two friday’s back. He was turning blue but he’d just been to a Doctor who hadn’t quite realized how hard the virus would hit the little fellow. Hindsight allows me to see the reality I wasn’t able to see when I was holding him in my arms poking him with his bottled milk trying to get fluids into him per the doctor’s orders. I’d jab his mouth with its rubber nipple and he would open his eyes wide, look at me and then shut them again. He was not taking in his fluids. He was not pink. He was swaddled but not fighting it and not waving his arms like the little signal corpsman he usually is.

Smarter heads took him to the emergency room and within moments of admission he was being triaged and given oxygen to combat the apnea that would likely have done him in. He’s out of the hospital now but its been a hectic week. Even now its 4AM and I’ve been up a couple hours. I haven’t had so little sleep since my active war with the Duluth School District last fall and that was strictly a matter of conscience not life and death.

By the way, the RSV virus is running rampant in Duluth these days. When we brought Jacob into the hospital for a second overnight stay there were three babies with it in the same wing and a couple more in the emergency room waiting for admission. One online article my daughter googled told her that 2% of RSV infected babies get hospital admissions. The disease can be a killer. you can read more about it and its prevention here.

I still find time to consume information even if my public comments and postings have become spotty. I was sent this thought provoking column about the possibility of a surprising and well deserved Pulitzer nomination for the scruffy and disreputable National Enquirer. I would highly recommend it to the publisher of the Duluth News Tribune.

Real sore losers

Here’s a very interesting graph and a blog post worth pondering on the day of the Massachusetts special election to replace the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy.

I may sound like a sore loser but I don’t think I fit that description very well. A much better example of sore losers would be the plethora of faux pundits whose sophistry makes them big money on Fox News and the Clear Channel by milking the angst of old white people over the election of President Barack Obama.

Roger Ailes has made billions for, Rupert “I put naked breasts on the front pages of London Tabloids” Murdoch, with his stable of ultra-paranoid, media whores.

corn syrup

My family just spent the weekend in Iowa. We have roots there and we reap a small windfall from all the corn we saw growing in the fields. Its heavily subsidized to the tune of $50 billion. Its also making Americans fatter and we will pay a heavy price for these subsidies as we also pay to treat more people for medical ailments related to obesity. It would be ironic if the best way to keep corn syrup from adding to our girth would be to pay to have Americans stomachs stapled.

For a little more detailed explanation of the problem look at this short post.

Cure for Health Insurance – Capitalism

Barrons has a provocative review about a new book which suggests that there is nothing wrong with American health care that a little capitalism can’t cure. Here’s a sample.

“Imagine the expense of car insurance if it covered oil changes and routine maintenance, the way health insurance covers annual check-ups and routine medication. Imagine, further, the cost of car insurance if there were no insurance adjusters, so that people could take their car to any body shop or mechanic without inquiring about the price in advance.

The 46 million uninsured Americans turn out to include considerably fewer seriously afflicted people than we usually hear: Their numbers are not growing any faster than the total population. About half who don’t have insurance at any particular time get it within five months. One-third of the 46 million earn more than $50,000 in the year in which they are counted. Many are in good health and simply don’t need medical care. If they do get sick and are poor they can sign up for Medicaid at the hospital emergency room.”

Daughter’s orders

I plan on checking in on my Mother this afternoon before I go to Almanac’s couch with Rod and Jim. The last time I took my daughter to visit Mom it broke my daughter’s heart.

She ordered me never to get Alzheimers which has been passed down through two generations on my Mom’s side. I would be next in line.

I swim a mile a day most weekdays and keep reading and eating healthy in part to fend it off. Mom was always worried about getting Alzheimers. I always thought I’d rather commit suicide rather than let it take hold of me. I still feel that way.

Now there is a new potential remedy one I used to use recreationally long before Alzheimers was an issue. I gave it up because I preferred keeping my mind clear. Now I can imagine taking it to keep my mind clear and staving off suicide.

The Republican Party would prefer to put me in prison for using it and continue pushing up the federal debt but that’s only because they have God on their side.

In need of a solution

I just came back from Chris Correia’s inaugural forum with Don Ness of the City Council. Like many new ventures into the unknown there were a few technical glitches. I did learn one remarkable thing. The City of Duluth manages 150 health care plans. Each employee keeps the insurance plan they had when they retired. At most the Duluth School District only had six or seven plans to contend with. Its fewer now.

Consider how dense and complicated a single health insurance plan is then imagine having to know what 150 different plans offer in the way of benefits!

Don says he hopes the City whittles itself down to managing one or two plans. I wish him luck.


Duluth Solutions – Noon to 1 today

My campaign Manager, Chris Correia, is holding an online discussion with Duluth City Councilor, Don Ness, today at noon on his forum  Its open to anyone who logs in. I’ll probably lay low because I’m challenging Don’s employer Congressman Oberstar and Chris is my campaign manager.

Don is given lots of grief about being such a friendly, smiley guy but he’s genuine. When Don saw me gathering petitions to run against his boss last July in downtown Duluth, he gave me a pained but friendly smile and asked: “Harry, What are you doing to me!”

I don’t envy the task Don and the other city councilors face in Duluth with a looming $300 million liability to cover retiree’s healthcare benefits. It’s reportedly growing by $40,000 every day that the city does nothing. I have strong opinions about the failure of the City to limit its liabilities starting from the moment it self-insured itself decades ago when health care seemed a cheap trade off. I’m sure that the topic will come up as it has been hashed out in the media for the past two years.

Anyone wishing to bone up on the story before typing in some questions for Ness might check here or here.

After thinking about the partisan nastiness in Washington D.C. over the past decade I can’t help but admire anyone as cheery as Ness. Its too bad cheeriness can’t will away problems like the ones Duluth faces.

Those interested in taking part in the conversation or keeping their options open for doing so are advised to register at the site in advance. If they don’t they will only be able to watch it unfold online.