Health Care Crisis

By Claire Rogers

President-Elect Obama’s Transition Team has asked for public input regarding the health care crisis in America. We recently hosted a community discussion on the subject and we got an earful.

A recurring theme held strong among the many comments: end users are not represented in decisions about their health care. This was most noticeable with the evolution of the Medicare Part D prescription program, an initially good idea that was severely corrupted by heavy hitting drug company lobbyists.

“The pharmaceutical companies are raping us,” said Jack, when asked his opinion of the mysterious financial “doughnut hole” that is trapping many seniors. Katy had horror stories of abrupt changes to her drug coverage, leaving her the only option of periodically skipping her medications. May was overwhelmed with the paperwork involved in caring for her mother.

Consumers are put in the passive position of reacting to medical care rather than being proactive while doctors are pressured into generating high turnover rates. Is this healthy for anyone?

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New Year’s Resolution? Don’t.

This New Year’s Eve, Claire and I will dance our fool hearts out to the great swing tunes of  sixty years ago, and we’ll dance into the new year.

January first, we will do what we have done each of the New Year’s Days of our relationship: we’ll sleep late, then do one of our several favorite forms of exercise, eat one of our (healthy) favorite foods, take a nap, and enjoy the pleasures of married life, not necessarily in that order. We used to take a dip in the cold ocean, but that doesn’t work too well here in Arizona. Our tradition is to start the New Year off together doing the things we look forward to doing all the coming year. It is for us, a long and honored tradition.

It’s good to have traditions for the New Year, but not all traditions are positive. One I have done without for many years is to make a New Year’s resolution. Here’s why:

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My Take On The Meaning of Christmas

The gift of Jesus is what Christians celebrate at Christmas, but all too often, they too put the god of consumerism first. I don’t mean to criticize; it’s a cultural thing, and an economic necessity in our system of consumptive wealth-creation. It’s also so often a missed opportunity.

The Christmas story is an endearing tale, filled with subtle beautiful meaning, no matter your faith, or depth of belief. What a shame it is lost in the blur of shopping and wrapping, of Santas dropped from airplanes or delivered by fire trucks and worshiped by all.

Take time to imagine the journey of the Wise Men from the East, following a star, “…westward leading, still proceeding…” I’ve had the good fortune to pilot a sailboat hundreds of miles from land. After sunset, it can be tiring frustrating work to keep a compass heading. But when the ink black heavens are ablaze with stars, it becomes pure joy: look through the rigging, find a guide star, follow it and you will hold a true course. Should clouds interfere, you search for another guide star to hold your bearing.

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The New Homeless

The dark blue late model Buick pulled carefully into a parking spot in the back lot of a Wal-Mart store. Powerful lights cast a harsh light, displacing the final glow of a weak March twilight as it faded from the peaks of the Sacramento Mountains in New Mexico. This night would be cold and long.

We watched as a smartly dressed Caucasian woman of a certain age emerged from the Buick, stretched her back and neck, and surveyed her surroundings. She didn’t look like the usual Wal-Mart customer. She wasn’t. She walked to the back of her car, opened the trunk and began removing items: a blanket, pillow, a grocery bag with what appeared to be snack food, and a bottle of water. Then she opened one of the rear doors of the Buick and began to arrange her bed for the night.

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