Friday, February 19, 2010

Why I write?

This week, the Creative Writers of Del Rio did a "quick write" about why we each write. The group formed a year ago after a new resident Diane Stroud discovered she missed her writer's group in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.

She gathered writers one by one. Today, Diane has moved on to cooler climates, but her legacy remains on Wednesdays as now up to 14 writers gather to share their current works in progress or just a frustration or two about a computer glitch.

While my writing projects have been scattered and undisciplined in recent months, I'm really glad that Walt asked us to think about this.

In a few minutes, I came up with this list of Why I Write, which chronicles bits and pieces of my writing career:
  • I write for food.
  • I write to persuade public opinion.
  • I write to help people!
  • I write for release — to put an experience on paper and get it out of my head.
  • I write for purpose — to focus on one story, one day and one year.
  • I write to think new thoughts.
  • I write to share my opinion.
  • I write to challenge myself to do something different and to think something different.
  • I will write for food.
So, why do you write?

So, who's on first?

It would be funny, if it were not so serious.

I read a report yesterday about how Americans are facing an increase in health care costs. Some Californians are facing huge increases in their health insurance coverage — to the tune of 39 percent. The increase is essentially for those folks who buy individual insurance policies.

Who is most likely to buy an individual policy? Someone who is unemployed or doesn't receive insurance coverage through work.

The article points out that only five percent of non-elderly Americans have individual insurance and 60 percent are covered by employers. That leaves a large chunk of folks with no coverage or whose care is covered by government programs.

Politically, the rate hike in California, which impacts about 800,000 people, creates a new talking point for health care reform (or the new buzzword health insurance reform).

How can people afford health insurance, if the rates continue to increase? There are other cases of premium hikes in Maine and Indiana, too. My guess is that there are cases in every state.

The economy isn't helping the situation. Many folks who are unemployed and need medical insurance are signing up for these individual policies. Younger people, who are unemployed are not buying policies. They are "winging it" and hoping they don't get sick.

With a more concentrated pool of sick people buying insurance, the companies are increasing prices to cover the services. The quandary now is that folks who really need health insurance to cover their medical conditions cannot afford it. When these people with known medical issues fail to seek treatment or must seek emergency treatment without medical insurance, who pays the bill?

See, I'm thinking the government — really taxpayers — eventually pick up the tab for this medical care. While some people have died from lack of health insurance, as a general rule, we do end up taking care of many people. Services are provided whether an individual can pay for them or not.

I know many people are adamantly opposed to health care reform, but I think we're talking in circles as we argue against reform. It's like that Abbott and Costello joke, "Who's on first?" If we just listened to the details, we would understand who is really paying for medical care when people don't have access to health insurance.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Texas case puts chill in the air

A friend recently shared an article from the New York Times about a nurse, who faces a felony charge for anonymously reporting a physician to a state medical board.

The nurse faces up to 10 years for "misuse of official information." She wrote an anonymous letter to Texas regulators about a physician at her rural hospital.

She contends she had a professional obligation to protect patients from what she witnessed at the hospital. Prosecutors intend to show at trial that she had a history of making "inflammatory" statements about the doctor and intended to damage his reputation.

While reading this story, I couldn't comprehend that a medical complaint would rise to the level of a felony charge against the person making it. I have complained about medical professionals and facilities before. It's something that I believe as a patient and/or a caregiver I have a right to do.

It's simple. If something is bad, tell the people in charge. If they don't do anything, go to the next level, etc.

In Texas, it might not be that simple. This case is significant, because it's not a patient or a family member who has blown the whistle. It's a nurse. A nurse, who with access to medical charts and with a trained medical background, could provide a complaint against a physician or medical organization in greater detail than a patient or family member.

The nurse on trial and another one have lost their jobs over the complaints. If all this can happen to a nurse, what will happen to patients and family members who complain about the quality of their medical care and the people who provide it? This is one trial I hope the prosecution can't prove.