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CULTURE OF HEALTH
Jennifer Johnson, MD, [
] joins the swelling chorus damning our health care system. She longs for the good old days before managed care, back when housing was affordable and Cerrillos Road was almost a wide country lane. But with the population growing almost as rapidly as its per capita utilization, the price of medicine has a hard time keeping up. Managed care became a necessity and, despite some abuses, was effective during most of the '90s in curbing rising expenses, until it was killed off by courts refusing to enforce anti-trust laws. By creating oligopolies in metropolitan areas, hospital companies have regained pricing power over insurance carriers.
Of course, there is reform needed in the system. Everyone should have insurance, whether private or government; currently, there are just as many healthy people who have voluntarily opted out as there are sick people in need. New Mexico is fortunate to have a guaranteed-issue policy. If you are a single mother of one, you can purchase it with an income of less than $41,000 for $100 per month, with minimal out-of-pocket expense, regardless of your health. The child is free if under $32,000, with no out-of-pocket expense and it includes dental coverage.
England or Canada's health systems certainly have their share of scandal (and with Cuba, that might extend to botching Fidel's intestinal surgery). So, as far as the new technology that everyone believes is their right is concerned, I don't think anyone would have MRIs or CAT scans or laser, or perhaps even endoscopic surgery today if the US had been single-payer. As the only primarily private market in the developed world, we are basically the only driver of new technology. Furthermore, government-paid Medicare and Medicaid are huge and subsidized by private insurance. Yes, there are inequalities that are wrong, and tech-driven medicine is no panacea, but nothing is as simple as has been portrayed. New Mexicare, which Diane Denish (our lieutenant governor) is foaming at the mouth to appropriate, would drive doctors out of state. A national policy might fare better, with our Father in Washington, simply because national health is the only politically palatable method of rationing care.
Unfortunately however, there are too many entrenched interests for the simplest, cheapest and best solution of all-educating and actively promoting a culture of health. Perish the thought.
PRAISE FOR BBQ
Casa Milagro is in full alignment with Gwyneth Doland's glowing review of Josh's BBQ [
]. As a nonprofit serving visionary artists, 16 of us enjoyed lunch at Josh's recently. The food was fresh, tasty and impeccably prepared. The kitchen was sparkling clean and efficient and the service was warm and inviting. Our collective dining experience was delicious in all ways. The lovely surprise was that we were guests of Josh Baum and his queso-loving wife, Ann Gordon.
Josh walks his talk-a local businessman who gives back to our community in an ambiance that respects valued employees as well as patrons. It is no wonder that Josh's BBQ is the talk of the town.
SPORTS AND WAR
In response to Seth Biderman's First Person article,
issue of the Reporter:
First let me begin by saying that I think Seth Biderman is a great teacher. One of my sons has been lucky to have him. Second, I'd like to add a quote from the baseball great Pee Wee Reese: "Sport don't build character-they only expose the character already within." Thirdly, I'd like to say that perhaps Jack's only fault was not scoring the winning point, then mocking the ump, ripping off his shirt and strutting.
We live in a country that will put somebody away for hurting a dog but will allow the same individuals to get away with domestic violence toward women with a slap on the wrist and no game loss. On college campuses, athletes make up 2 percent of the population but account for 35 percent of the violent behavior. We live in a culture that worships the individual but only if that person plays the game and sells products, be it shoes, a war or patriotism.
America needs war and, by extension sports, because it is our culture. The slogans of sports-self-reliance, self-respect, be all you can be-are interchangeable with the ads for the military. Our fashion sense centers around sports uniforms, warm-up outfits and military garb. Let's raise taxes to build another multimillion-dollar stadium for the betterment of the community while slashing school funds.
America needs war because it unites us, not the bigger ideas of culture or beauty or saving the planet or what is best for all humanity.
POT SOOTHES PAIN
I am writing in response to [Santa Fe County] Commissioner [Harry] Montoya's stance on the use of medicinal marijuana. I was severely injured in a car accident in 1995 and again in a job-related accident in 2005. As a consequence, I feel I was used as a guinea pig by various doctors/pharmaceutical companies for pain management, primarily using opiates in one form or another. Now, anyone that's gone through a prolonged period involving the use of opiates for pain relief knows the results: mood swings, anger and depression, nausea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, addiction, etc. While living in a state that allowed the use of medical marijuana, it was recommended by my doctor that I try pot as a substitute for the vicodin, Demerol, hydrocodone, loritab, codeine and other painkillers I'd been subscribed. And it worked, not only as an analgesic for pain relief, but it helped considerably with the cramping and spasms I was subject to without the annoying side effects of the pharmaceutical cures. And it didn't cost me anything as I was allowed to grow it.
Since the year 2000, there have been an estimated 2,000 alcohol-related deaths and an appalling 15,000 tobacco-related deaths in New Mexico alone. Both are drugs, both are legal, both are taxed, hence providing a profit to our government, which pays our politician's salaries. I could NOT find one marijuana-related death nationwide. Please, Commissioner Montoya, let's send the proper message to our children: the truth! And end the madness. The money spent on incarcerating people for the use of marijuana, either prescribed or otherwise, would be much better spent on rehabilitation and education about the much more dangerous, and legal, drugs out there.
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