Division, radioactive springs, dengue fever, and other things
The Friday Pulse Check
Good morning and happy Friday. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Pulse Check.
In the news…
Rural Nevada county turns down money to create a public health department
As we continue to look at our country in the aftermath of the 2022 midterms, I want to point your attention to Nevada, not because of its hotly contested Senate race but because of a rural county’s decision not to create a public health department. As Ron and I have discussed on the FLATLINING Podcast on several occasions, political polarization is bleeding into healthcare. In Elko County, Nevada, county commissioners voted not to accept aid from the federal government to create a local public health department. When the idea was first brought up last year, residents took to the public comment section of the hearing to air grievances against the CDC and the federal government. At least the commissioners seemed to follow the will of the people? Read more from NBC News.
Wendell Potter and Rep. Schakowsky decry Medicare Advantage
In a column published in NEWSWEEK, former Cigna insider Wendell Potter and Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) seemingly quoted our own Ron Howrigon by saying the “devil is in the details” when discussing what they say the realities of Medicare Advantage plans are. They claim that despite the incentives insurance companies talk about in their television ads, Medicare Advantage networks are limited “and often inadequate” and that Medicare Advantage plans do not have enough skilled nursing or rehab facilities in-network. They also claim that MA plans are just a cash grab for insurance companies who get large, federal subsidies for these plans. Read more in NEWSWEEK.
Do state laws on vaccines trump tribal sovereignty?
It is an interesting question being raised in Montana right now. In November 2021, the State of Montana passed a law that prohibits governments and businesses from asking for someone’s vaccination. Communities in the Blackfeet Nation, however, are ignoring it. They are instead suing the state saying the Montana government has no jurisdiction over their land because their agreements are detailed in an 1855 treaty with the federal government. Generally, federal law gives precedence to tribal law over state law, but it gets murky when non-tribal members own land within the boundaries of a reservation. Read more from Kaiser Health News.
Other interesting reads:
As STDs proliferate, companies rush to market at-home test kits. But are they reliable? - CBS News
85 healthcare leaders' workplace predictions for 2023 - Becker’s Hospital Review
What Will UnitedHealth’s New Trove of Claims Data Mean for Consumers? - ProPublica
FDA approves lab-grown meat for the first time - CBS News
Divided we vote
This week on the FLATLINING Podcast, Ron and I were able to get our two cents in on the 2022 midterms. As I discussed in last week’s edition of the Friday Pulse Check, Republican losses can largely be blamed on former President Donald Trump. Additionally, America is extremely divided (who’d have thought?) and that played a role in Republicans’ splish splash as well.
Ron mentioned something that made me stop and think though. It isn’t a polarized split just along party lines, but around what the most important issues are. Roughly half of Americans thought abortion was the most important issue going into the polling booth. The other half thought it was the economy.
These aren’t just disagreements on how to solve these issues; these are disagreements on what issues are important.
The economy is undoubtedly bad right now. Inflation is high (although its increase rate is slowing) which is driving up the costs of everything. Yet half of Americans thought abortion access was more important. If you look at the country from these voters' perspective, who can blame them? These voters thought a fundamental right was taken away by the Supreme Court back in June. In many states, Republicans left themselves vulnerable to attack ads from remarks they made (in many cases years prior) about abortion and they didn’t even bother to respond. For voters concerned about abortion, they appeared to be more interested in money than human rights.
From the other side now: voters concerned about the economy are, in many cases, struggling. Gas continues to be just under $4 per gallon where I live in Metro Detroit, a dozen eggs cost almost that much, and utility bills run high as we enter the winter months. For many of these voters, even if they are pro-choice, abortion access is a luxury right now compared to the economic pressures many are facing.
As a friend of mine commented on my LinkedIn page last week, Trump is another factor. Most of his candidates who ran in contested races lost. Some might argue it is for the reasons above, and they are probably right to a certain extent, but there is no denying the fact that Republican candidates who avoided Trump did better. To quote Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), it is the end of the Republican party as we have known it since early 2016.
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In case you missed it, we had a bonus episode of the FLATLINING Podcast this week. We don’t normally do this, but we ran long in our recording session and decided to break out our discussion on Dr. Joseph Mercola into its own bonus episode.
So, if COVID-19 conspiracies are your thing, we talked about whether or not the FDA and CDC are hiding data that the jabs are deadly and if you can get radiation from your mattress springs.
Here is an unrelated image of Springy from the Simpsons.
The United Nations Development Programme is raising awareness about the mental health challenges brought on by the war in Ukraine. As you might expect, war is stressful and obtaining good mental health in that country is difficult as Russia continues to bomb power plans, knocking out power to civilian hospitals. Read more from UNDP.org.
In public health news, officials in Maricopa County, Arizona are reporting that a person has been diagnosed with dengue fever who appears to have obtained it locally. "While previous dengue cases in Maricopa County have been related to travel to countries where dengue commonly occurs, it is important to understand if others could have been exposed or if this is an isolated incident," medical epidemiologist Dr. Nick Staab said in a statement. There have been ten other cases of dengue fever in Arizona this year, all of which were contracted from traveling. Read more from CBS News.
Have a good weekend,