Health care reform and personal responsibility

There has been a lot of discussion and debate in the past several weeks about reforming health care and how to go about it.  These discussions have triggered some very heated debates among politicians and people all around the country. Unfortunately, we have a few elite politicians in Washington who think that they can try various forms of reform with  a proven track record of failing. But aside from the debates about how to do it,  one thing that is often overlooked is each person being accountable for  his or her own health.

A study came out last month which pretty much summed up most of our health problems. Nearly 2 out of 3 Americans are overweight. Now I know that many health problems can be out of our control, since they are largely heredity in nature.  There are many cases when a perfectly healthy person can develop heart disease  or cancer. But what we can control is our lifestyle and how we eat and exercise.

Those stats about the number of overweight Americans should come as no surprise. Go into any restaurant or fast food place and look at the menu.  The amount of fat and sodium grams in many of their products runs off the charts! Imagine how many fat grams a triple whopper has? There is always a huge temptation to overeat at any of these places.  I personally struggle with overeating at times. We all like to eat, but many folks do not have enough discipline to resist that extra serving of  food.

Exercise is another issue which many folks have a problem with.  I get sick of hearing the same lame excuse that people do not have time to exercise. That is hogwash! All you need is to donate 1/2 hour a day in your schedule to get some form of exercise. If a person is too busy for that, then they have some scheduling or priority problems. Sometimes it is just a matter of spending 1/2 less in front of the television or computer.  A good time to exercise or work out is right away in the morning. I like to get in a workout right away to start  my day.

Many of the health problems that this country faces are from poor lifestyle choices. People with poor health habits tend to be constantly running to the doctor and have a much greater chance of getting a chronic disease. In the process, they are the ones largely responsible for running up the premiums on everyone. Imagine if everyone in this country did not smoke, exercised and ate healthy. Those insurance companies would not have to shell out so much to cover those people and rates would probably be lower.

Real reform really comes from looking in the mirror and trying to live a healthy life. You will not only benefit yourself  but help out others in your insurance pool. That is my view on what real reform should be about.

Obama wins but at what cost?

A few House Democrats were on cloud nine the other night when they finally passed the health care reform bill. Despite having a majority in both the Senate and House, the president had a difficult time passing this piece of legislation. In fact, there was bipartisan opposition to the bill and several other Democrats had to be bribed in order to vote for it. Personally, I think it is disgusting to see a process come to this when so much is on the line.  In fact, the whole bill makes me sick, pardon the expression!! I find it really hard to believe that this is real health reform! To me, it is more about political ideology rather than actually making health care better.

I heard many people crowing the other night about how this will now insure about 32 million more people. This was one of the major goals of the reform. My question is, out of those 32 million, how many really cannot get health care? Many people are uninsured because they simply chose not to buy health insurance. It is not because they cannot purchase it. Some people, especially those who are younger, simply cannot afford it and chose not to have that added expense.  I think it is very unconstitutional to force someone to buy health insurance. Just another expense that many people will have to pony up to and forced to by the government.

It is true that there is a small segment of the population that cannot get health insurance due to preexisting conditions. According to this bill, those folks will be placed into a Medicaid program which is just another program  run poorly by the government. Imagine having a larger pool of people into an already struggling program. You can be sure there will be some rationing going on for sure! Due to budget problems, some of these folks may not get the type of health insurance they need which is exactly what reform is suppose to be about. So they are back to square one.

If  32 million more people are getting health insurance, how many more doctors will we hire? Imagine the wait that someone will have to experience if more doctors are not hired? I heard that many doctors are unhappy with the overall and are planning on leaving their practice. The waiting period to see a doctor might go dramatically up! Patients who need immediate care will be forced to face other alternatives. This scenario is more than likely to happen. Is that really good and improved care?

The real issue of health care reform should be the cost of health care and I see very little that really addresses this issue. Insurance companies have to jack up their rates because the cost of  getting a procedure done is increasing. What is being done about making these tests and procedures more efficient? Many doctors perform several tests for litigation purposes. I cannot understand why tort reform was not included in this bill. In my opinion, that is a huge mistake.

While on the subject of cost, how are we going to pay for this 1.2 trillion dollar bill? There will be several new taxes coming up in the next few years and unfortunately, some will hit corporations and businesses. Raising taxes during a time of recession is a horrible idea. Get used to seeing that unemployment rate stay at 9-10 percent people! In fact, I would not surprise me if that figure went up next year. I believe this bill could be a big time job killer. And of course, certain medical devices will be included in the new tax increases thus increasing the cost of procedures.

With many people out of work and the unemployment rate nearing 10 percent across the country, why is isn’t jobs creation a higher priority? Many families are suffering because of unemployment and need help. However, this current administration would rather focus on health care reform and seems to have their own little agenda. The economy and putting people back to work should be their number one focus.

Sunday night was a good night for several Democrats and they had their time to celebrate. Come November, the people of America will have their say and it is time to issue a few pink slips starting with everyone who voted for this piece of garbage. Get new leadership in who will not bribe people  and who are willing to work in a bipartisan way for the people of this country.  Maybe a few years later, we can vote Mr. Obama out of office if he keeps up this nonsense.

Thoughts and predictions on the NCCA men’s hoops tourney

A common tradition I have every March is to enter a tournament pool in hopes of claiming some prize, whether it be my office pool or some online bracket gig.  Like many people around the country, my productivity goes down dramatically at work for a few days when the tourney starts. Especially when there is an upset brewing.  This year is no exception and I am looking forward to a great tournament with a lot of dramatic moments.

Picking who will win and advance is never an exact science. If I was able to predict at least 90 percent of the winners every year, I would write a book and make millions. Forget about listening to all these experts who tell you that you should always pick a number 12 seed to beat a number 5 seed. Throughout the history of the tournament, how often has that happened? more than 50 percent? I typically will take most of my risks early on when the points are only 1 or 2 per round.  What the heck! Why not pick a few upsets? But for the most part, I tend to be conservative and play the percentages. Picking a top 4 region team to lose early on is extremely risky and could come back to bite you if that team ends up going to the final four.

But on with this tournament, I will not waste anybody’s time breaking down each game and over analysing each region. Tune in to Dick Vitale and the boys on ESPN for that. There guesses are as good as anybody else’s. But I strongly believe in a few things when picking teams to advance and reach the final four.

First of all, I am a big on playing a tough schedule in a tough conference. That is why I am high on the Big East and teams like West Virginia, Syracuse, Georgetown or Villanova should do well in the tournament.  In fact, it would not shock me to see all 4 teams make it to the final four. The Big East was by far the best conference in the country and should be well represented in the tournament.

I also like teams with big name players and superstars. Good guard play is very important in the tournament and teams with a good backcourt can go a long ways.  A team like Ohio State is very dangerous with Evan Turner and should be a legitimate choice to make the final four.

But when all is said and done, I like the Kansas Jayhawks to be cutting down the nets on April 5th. Not exactly going out on a limb, but they have the most complete team in the tournament. I am concerned about their region though. How can a number 1 seed get put into one of the toughest regions? But they will survive and beat Kentucky for the championship.

The loss of a great reporter who touched many people

A few days ago, a very fine reporter and very well know television personality here in the Twin Cities, Darcy Pohland passed away in her sleep at the very young age of 48. She had been a reporter for the CBS affiliate WCCO since 1994 and had worked other jobs for the station prior to becoming a reporter.

At first glance, one might wonder why I am even bringing up this story but her story is something everyone can learn from and appreciate.  Darcy had a disability and was a paraplegic. In 1983 when she was in her early 20’s, she had a diving accident,which left her paralyzed from the chest down.  Many people would have just given up on life at that point and felt sorry for themselves, but not Darcy. She persevered despite her disability. She had dreams to chase and goals to achieve. Being in a wheelchair was not going to stop her from being one of the finest reporters in the Twin Cities.  She had the ability to ask the tough questions and conduct a serious interview, yet there was a lighter side to her. She was a big sports fan who often did live shots at Vikings and University of Minnesota football games. Her enthusiasm, smile and sense of humor really used to brighten my day. There was nobody who was a bigger University of Minnesota football fan than her.

I was also amazed at how she could get around in a wheelchair and cover those stories, several times a week. Many reporters have a difficult time just getting around on two feet. Imagine being in a wheelchair and trying to track a story. As a viewer, I really admired her for doing that.  She was out covering stories several times a week.

We all can learn from Darcy’s story. There are many folks out there who are in wheelchairs and have disabilities yet they are among the finest workers and citizens of this country. I have a few personal friends with disabilities and they are the most determined people I know. Darcy’s determination and will to succeed is something I will never forget and should inspire everyone, especially the many folks around the country with disabilities. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes life throws lemons at you. When that happens make lemonade”.