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Walgreens gets it's wings
Friday Pulse Check
Good morning and happy Friday,
Welcome to the Friday Pulse Check.
In the news this morning:
The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Alphabet Inc-owned Wing and Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc will be partnering to deliver multiple products from the store via drones in the near future. The trial run for the service will be conducted in Little Elm, Texas, a Dallas-Fort Worth suburb. Some of the products that will be delivered include first aid kits, pet prescriptions, and ice cream. Apparently, Walgreens is Wing’s biggest customer and the partnership could signal the future of over-the-counter and even prescription drug delivery in the future.
Many European nations and the United Kingdom have dropped mask requirements on flights and one health expert told CBS News that the decision has caused the spike in cases. Swiss budget airline EasyJet canceled 202 of its 3,517 flights UK departing flights last week but says they are gearing up for the surge of travel ahead of the Easter holiday. This comes as US airline executives (including those from American, Alaskan, United, Delta, and Southwest) have called on the Biden administration to drop the mask mandate in the US.
The Kaiser Family Foundation’s COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor has published its data for March and finds that 59% of Americans have returned to some or “very few” of their pre-pandemic activities. They also found that most people say that most people should mask up in public (59%) and but the other four in ten people think masking should be dropped altogether. Views on the airline mask mandate are split down the middle.
Access to healthcare
This week on the FLATLINING Podcast, Ron and I continued our discussion on the fundamental problems with the American healthcare system. As we said last week, most people want quality, affordability, and access. Unfortunately, it is impossible to obtain all three. Throughout the next few weeks, Ron and I will discuss all three of these things and how it affects doctors and patients.
This week, we discussed access or universality. Senator Bernie Sanders and other proponents of Medicare-for-All or similar systems, spend many words in speeches and newspaper columns decrying the fact that we don’t have universal coverage in the United States. What is important to remember is that coverage does not equal access. Coverage, when used by Sen. Sanders refers to the ability to pay or insurance coverage for healthcare. When someone says they want universal coverage, what they are saying is that they want insurance coverage for everyone so that no one will have to pay out of pocket for care.
Universal access, on the other hand, is something that we pretty much already have in this country. Universal access is the ability to get care whenever and wherever. Anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, can go to an emergency room and must be evaluated and stabilized before anyone can ask about payment. This is an incredible advantage that other countries do not have.
During this discussion, we also talked about the UK’s NHS and Canada’s Medicare system and discussed how those two systems might look if we imported them into America.
Let’s meet in the middle
Ron wrote two pieces this week focusing on one of the (many) problems in Washington; that is, what he calls, the “opposition virus.” The opposition virus has spread throughout our nation’s capital (and I’m sure our state legislatures as well) and it is deadly. It forces our representatives to the extremes, and nothing is agreed upon.
In his first article, Ron discussed the confirmation of the new Supreme Court justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. She was confirmed yesterday with a vote of 54-47. This is similar to our previous few confirmation hearings where nominees either got no votes from the opposing party or very few. If this is the case about something that should be solely based on qualifications, how is anything ever going to be done about something that necessarily forces people to make comprises? I’m speaking about healthcare.
Ron also framed the problem in the context of fighting children. One wildly over exaggerates the wrong against him or her and the other wildly over exaggerates the circumstances in which he or she did the thing. The truth is somewhere in the middle.
I can’t be the only one that sees this in our politicians. They wildly exaggerate the proposals of their opponent, saying Medicare-for-All/universal healthcare/public options will completely destroy our country. The other side over exaggerates and says that it is completely the government’s fault that there are uninsured people in America. The truth is in the middle.
Now, I have serious reservations about the Medicare-for-All proposals that I have seen in recent years, but I also agree with Sen. Sanders that the current position we are in is not sustainable. The truth is in the middle.
Fortunately, I am not in Washington, and I don’t have to get 535 members of Congress to agree on one or many proposals to fix our system. I would probably go insane. But there are people who, for better or for worse, have decided to run for elections and won and are now in charge of our government and responsible for coming to adult conclusions about disagreements.
Perhaps I am being a bit too cynical, but the reality is that Washington has voted along party lines now for decades on everything from abortion to the Affordable Care Act to SCOTUS nominations to COVID-19 to impeachment. All of these things should be unanimous or at least should have had some reasonable compromise. This type of opposition government is not good for itself, and it is not good for Americans. My point is that if we are hopeful that meaningful healthcare reform will come in the future, we should be willing to convince ourselves it won’t be in the near future.
Finally, let’s focus on Ukraine for a moment. The World Health Organization is making preparing for “chemical assaults” by Russia. This means that the west is beginning to take threats from Moscow seriously. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe gave a press briefing in Lviv last week. He said, "WHO is considering all scenarios and making contingencies for different situations that could afflict the people of Ukraine, from the continued treatment of mass casualties to chemical assaults.”
He didn’t go into much more detail than that. Russia’s defense ministry has claimed, without evidence, that Ukraine has been planning to use a chemical attack against its own people so they can blame the Russians. To quote US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, this is straight out of the Russian playbook; blame your enemies for something you are about to do.
Have a good weekend,