Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Heat-Related Illnesses TV News Spot

Yesterday was my 3rd interview on local TV news talking about health related issues. The video is above. The topic was "Heat-Related Illnesses" - namely heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. I only had 2 1/2 minutes, but I think things went ok. My critique will follow in a future post. If you find this helpful, you may want to check out my other videos at mikesevilla.tv. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Blue Dog Dems in Health Care Debate

Everyone wants a piece of this legislation. Late last night, CNN posted a story called "Blue Dog Democrats May Block Health Care Bill." Rep. Mike Ross, D-Arkansas, (pictured above) is a leading negotiator for the Blue Dog Democrats on health care. According to the article, they are threatening to block to keep it from getting out of committee.
The conservative Democrats don't believe the legislation contains sufficient reforms to control costs in the health care system and believe additional savings can be found. Their letter to leaders raised concerns about new mandates on small businesses. Blue Dogs also say the bill fails to fix the inequities in the current system for health care costs for rural doctors and hospitals.
And, the beat goes on. Let's see what today's news cycle has to offer. I'm curious to see the responses to the statements yesterday, and to see who is not happy today with either the house or senate proposal, or both....

Health Care Reform: Not Imperative?

Well, you knew it was only a matter of time until the press started covering the court of public opinion - meaning polls. This story came out last night from the Houston Chronicle entitled, "Poll shows falling support for health care reform." It seems as if the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Zogby International - have found that public support for congress and health care reform seem to be declining.
The authors conducted an online poll that found 50 percent of respondents oppose a bill introduced by U.S. House Democratic leaders this week that would overhaul the system and pay for it by raising the taxes of the wealthiest Americans. Forty-two percent said they support the bill.
Now, I know what people say at this point - it's bad data - who was the polling sample of - blah, blah, blah. One poll says this and another poll says that - who do you believe? It doesn't matter who you believe. It matters who the people inside the beltway believe as they start to see these numbers come out.
The poll shows there is strong support for providing insurance for all Americans, but little for increasing taxes to pay for it. Increasing cigarette taxes was favored by 50 percent of respondents, the only tax option favored by at least half of respondents. Less than 20 percent favored increased co-pays and deductibles, rationing care, eliminating Medicare Advantage plans and decreasing home care reimbursement.
Does anyone really think that this will all be done by the August recess? As usual, the strategy is to push something through the House, something through the Senate, and the real bill be decided behind closed doors in conference committee. It worked with the so-called "stimulus" bill. But reading the quotes coming out of the Senate, a lot of people, on both sides of the isle are uneasy with this timeframe. Each day gets more interesting, and not in a good way.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Solution to Health Care

This is the House Republican interpretation of what the House Democrat proposal is for Health Care reform. At minimum, this graphic is amusing. The sad part is that as the debate continues in both the House and the Senate, I see this graphic getting more and more complicated. What will it look like in the end? It's anyone's guess.

Ohio Budget Cuts Mental Health Funding

July 1st was a very important day at the state house in Columbus. It was the day that a balanced state budget had to be passed. As usual, politics got in the way of that and they subsequently passed a 7-day budget as negotiations continued. During week one, the impasse continued, and a second 7-day state budget passed. Negotiations continued....

Since I have been in Boston for the past few days, I've been curious to see what was going to happen to the state budget. When I checked the Columbus Dispatch website yesterday, I was surprised that an agreement was reached. In reading the quotes from the politicians, it was a budget that "no one" was happy with." Then, why did you pass it? That confuses me.

The big winner was not the citizens of Ohio, but the racetracks of Ohio. Yes, the racetracks - and probably the Governor (when is he up for re-election again?) According to the article "Budget Plan, Keeping Score," "The state's seven horse tracks will get up to 2,500 video lottery terminals each and half of the gross profits."

Meanwhile, the mental-health funding of the patients that I treat in this great state of Ohio will be cut (in addition to assisted living/assisted living care while nursing homes and hospitals having to pay "fees")
• Mental-health services: Chopped 34 percent for local, non-Medicaid funding. In addition, funding for mental-health community group homes was slashed 42 percent

• Nursing homes: Will pay $184 million more in fees to the state than they will receive in reimbursements, essentially a 5 percent cut

• Home care/assisted living: Cut $30 million over the biennium, a move that advocates say will create waiting lists of up to 10,000 for PASSPORT and other services aimed at allowing people to remain in their homes or less-restrictive settings than a nursing home

• Hospitals: Will pay $145 million more in franchise fees in the two-year budget period
Thanks politicians in Columbus for standing up for the citizens of Ohio and passing a responsible state budget for the next two years. What's going to happen next? Will I be required to go to those race tracks to gamble so that I can help balance the budget? Probably not. You'll just raise my taxes. Thanks a lot!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Regina Benjamin, MD, Family Physician

I was pleasantly surprised when I turned on the TV at the noon hour to see the President nominate Regina Benjamin, MD, MBA to be the next Surgeon General. Since the election, there has been much speculation on who the next Surgeon General would be. And, even today, this news is probably going to be overshadowed by news like the President's nominee to the Supreme Court.

I just wanted to share an experience that I had with Dr. Benjamin which continues to inspire me today. If you didn't already know, Dr. Benjamin is a Family Physician (like I am). I first heard Dr. Benjamin's story when she was a keynote speaker at the 2006 American Academy of Family Physicians National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Medical Students. I chaired the planning committee that year. (I also moderated a panel that year. Click here to learn more about that).

To put this into context, this conference was almost exactly one year following Hurricane Katrina. I don't exactly remember the theme of the conference, but the concepts of service and helping those in need resonated in the selection of the speakers that year. The committee was very excited when Dr. Benjamin was able to be a speaker.

If you haven't already heard her story, I encourage you to read this article from the conference for a more complete compilation of her remarks. She founded a rural health clinic on Alabama's Gulf Coast in 1990. When she started to tell the story of Katrina and the aftermath, the room of medical students, residents, doctors, and guests, became silent hanging on her every word.
Family physicians are "truly blessed" by the trust that patients give them, said Benjamin, calling on residents and students to become leaders in their communities. Patients tell FPs their deepest, darkest secrets and allow them to hold their babies, she said. But with that gift of trust comes the responsibility to lead, she added.

"Kids look up to you, and as you continue to rise in your positions of leadership, you always have to reach back and pull someone else up with you," Benjamin said. A good leader will push those rising stars out in front and support them from behind, she added.

As she neared the end of her presentation, Benjamin encouraged her audience with these words: "It costs money to keep our doors open, but money isn't everything. We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give. The most valuable thing you can give is yourself."
There are many times on this blog when I have scoffed at government - especially at what it does and does not do. But, this time, I support Dr. Regina Benjamin and hope that she is confirmed to be the next Surgeon General. In her words at today's announcement, she said that she wants to become "America's Family Physician." I support her in this endeavor.

My only concern is how the White House utilizes her in seeking to pass their version of health care reform this year. A lot of docs, especially family docs like myself, will be watching this very closely. My hope is that Dr. Benjamin will continue to keep the patient first and not let politics get in the way of that.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Asthma TV News Spot

The video above is a local TV news spot that I did on Monday, May 18th, 2009 for the 5 o'clock newscast. This is a great opportunity I was given by the hospital. I think this figures out to be once every other month for me. Today's topic was asthma. It's been kind of frustrating for me, because on three other occasions, I was scheduled to be on, but for whatever reason, the segment was cancelled. So, that's why I really didn't mention things beforehand.

Last weekend, as I have done on three other occasions, I went through my slides that I was going to present. I rehearsed the pace at I was going to speak (I tend to talk fast when I get nervous) and rehearsed the inflections (I did not want to sound monotone), and of course, I rehearsed the content of the slides.

I thought that my almost 100 shows on live internet radio would prepare me for live TV. I was wrong. There were three cameras there and I got flustered as to which one I was supposed to talk in to - or was I supposed to talk to the camera - maybe just to the anchor.

It went by so fast. I really don't know what happened until the end. As I left the studio, everything felt ok. I mean I got all the content out there and I thought that I didn't talk too, too fast. Initial feedback has been positive. But, there are those "wise guy" people out there who said I looked fat or looked like I gained a lot of weight since they saw me previously. I guess you're gonna get that type of feedback. And, I guess maybe I could wear a darker color the next time - But, I like my red shirt!

Anyway, I post this for your curiosity. Feel free to leave comments below. I have to check my calendar the next time for when I have my next appearance. This was definitely a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to my next health segment on local TV news! (Originally posted 5/18/2009)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Another Podcamp Ohio Vid

This is a quick video from Chris Abraham who is from the DC area and drove all the way out to Columbus for Podcamp Ohio 2. On his you tube page, he titles this video,"Is Doctor Anonymous Clark Kent? No! Superman!" Funny title. Thanks Chris!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

I always associate patriotic holidays like July 4th with Ray Charles and America The Beautiful. Before I head out for the day with friends and family to have a great time, I will say a prayer for all those who have given their lives for my freedom and I will think about all those men and women out there right now fighting for and defending my freedom. I hope you will, too. Have a Happy and Safe Independence Day!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Welcome Interns

With the beginning of July comes the beginning of a new academic year at the nation's residency programs. Ah, yes, the memories of the first day of internship as a young family medicine physician. Man, glad, I don't have to do that again - Sheesh! Above is a CNN story talking about one of the nation's newest physicians on her first day of work and telling a little bit about her life story.