Category Archives: Health care

Reform instead of repeal and replace

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

After the American Health Care Act failed in the House Friday, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said this: “I don’t know what else to say other than Obamacare is the law of the land. It’s going to remain the law of the land until it’s replaced. We did not have quite the votes to replace this law, and so, yeah, we’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”

For seven years, Ryan and other Republicans, including Arkansas’ congressional delegation, have said Obamacare is ruining the health care system – and by extension, the rest of the country. But once they gained control of everything in Washington, they obviously did not have a replacement ready, spent a total of 18 days debating a very bad one, held one vote and then announced their focus will now be on tax reform, though now they’re talking about revisiting health care again.

How can an unhealthy nation fix health care?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

You may have noticed that a while back, a Democratic president and a Democratic-led Congress tried to fix health care, and while more people do have health insurance, health care costs are still rising. You also may have noticed that a Republican president and a Republican-led Congress now promise to fix the fix. It won’t work either.

The truth is that no health care reform can create an affordable system in an unhealthy nation.

Modern American life, in fact, is profoundly unhealthy. Americans eat too much and eat the wrong things: too much sugar, fast “food” and processed conglomerations with unpronounceable ingredients; too few fruits, vegetables and healthy protein sources. We stay up too late bombarding our brains with flashing electronic lights rather than getting the sleep we need. We drive everywhere, take elevators up one flight of stairs, and spend most of our days sitting, which research has shown is very bad for us. We are addicted to all kinds of drugs – caffeine, opiates, alcohol. Then we try to fix all of this, quickly, with short bursts of exercise that often injure us, and with diets we cannot maintain, and with pills that have harmful side effects.

Drinking from a fire hose to set pot rules

By Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

When you go to school to be a doctor or a pharmacist or a lawyer, you have to learn how to drink from a fire hose – do a lot of work and absorb a lot of information quickly while bearing important responsibilities.

Good thing that pretty much describes the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Commission, the appointees who will have a little more than a month to create rules for the growers and dispensers authorized by the Medical Marijuana Amendment, which voters passed in November.

The five members of the commission – which includes two doctors, a pharmacist and a lawyer – held their first get-to-know-each-other meeting Dec. 12. About all they otherwise accomplished was electing a chairperson, Dr. Ronda Henry-Tillman, a surgical oncologist, and agreeing to meet again on Dec. 20.

Private option water torture

By Steve Brawner
© 2016 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Voting for the private option was hard for many Arkansas Republican legislators, and every month – every dang month – it becomes harder to keep supporting it.

That’s because every month the number of Arkansans being served by the program continues to rise – past the 250,000 that was originally forecast, and now, as of the end of September, past 324,000 who are either enrolled or have been deemed eligible, or have been placed in traditional Medicaid because they were considered “medically frail.”

The private option is the health care program created by the Legislature in 2013 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Affordable Care Act – that’s Obamacare – was constitutional but that states were not required to expand government-run Medicaid to serve individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty level. Given the choice, most Republican-leaning states said no to a lot of federal dollars, but Arkansas said yes, with a twist: Instead of simply expanding Medicaid, it bought those folks private insurance.