December’s Features

Live Your Bliss
• Terry Cole-Whittaker

From the Publisher: Greed, Drywall, Living & Dying

Resilience: Bouncing Back
- Alternative Medicine
• by David Gersten, M.D.

The Great Equalizer
• by Aluna Joy Yaxkin

Planetary Cycles
• by Carola Eastwood

Top 10 Ways to Green for the Holidays
• by Chris Prelitz

Big Love: Secrets from Soulmates Arielle and Brian

News and Events in Southern California

Book Reviews

Music Reviews


Greed, Drywall, Living & Dying


As we continue to move toward controlling insurance company abuses, medical costs and expanding health care to more Americans—oops, sorry, requiring everyone to buy health insurance—what’s most significant is that the discussion has continued. Unlike most other legislation, the details of what is being proposed are being aired out and debated as they come up.

And I mean discussed! Google “health-care issues” and you’ll get 190 million articles to read. Whittle it down a bit by googling “health care debate 2009.” Then you’ll be down to 52.4 million, much more manageable. Wonder if they count my articles?

Both of those figures are dwarfed, however, by another, 422 million. That’s the number of dollars spent during the first nine months of 2009 on health-care lobbying. (Center for Responsive Politics.)

At least one thing we are not hearing is “they gave us ten thousand pages to read overnight and vote on in the morning”—what we heard with the Homeland Security legislation. Anyone who is interested in health-care reform has the chance to find out what’s going on.

It’s been endorsed by the AMA and the AARP—not as perfect—but as a better choice. Adjustments, it appears, are being made based on how much people are responding to what’s going on. Women want mammograms, for instance. So it’s definitely time to participate and stimulate debate and adjustments.

Still unclear is whether it’s the health consumer, the insurance companies, or even drug companies who benefit the most. Getting care through insurance companies still costs 30% more than government-run programs.

They are obviously profit-making companies who pay their sales people commissions. How many of us does it take to pay for those insurance commissions? It feels a little like getting a placebo instead real medicine.

Have you seen any polls where health consumers are asked if they would rather pay their current rates to insurance companies or pay 30% less to the government in the form of taxes?

One thing fairly certain is that if our taxes all of a sudden doubled, the way health premiums can and have for me more than once, people would “notify” Congress. Probably the way they did with the Stupa-id amendment.

Republicans and Blue Dems joined forces on that one to basically say no one gets an abortion. No one, because the amendment stated that people who paid for their own abortion were no longer eligible for any kind of government medical care.

They gained the upper hand at first because they already had signs that read, “Don’t Let the Government Get Between You and Your Doctor” and needed to add only “Except for Us.”

Word is they were pushed by heavy financial backers who were part of the “We made sure you were born—now you’re on your own” branch of the pro-lifers.

You know, those who say if things go wrong—such as hurricanes in New Orleans—you’ve obviously been bad and God’s punishing you. Likewise, if you’re born into a family below the poverty level with 10 siblings and live in a ghetto full of crime, remember that it’s abortions that are really criminal. Obviously people being punished shouldn’t be helped, they say. Just born, I guess.

Abortions are not easily forgotten. They are disturbing and not to be taken lightly, but isn’t bringing more people into some environments or adversely affecting a woman’s health also criminal? Why is it OK when insurance company panels (death panels) make life and death decisions?

There are a lot of hard decisions and adjustments to be made. There’s a lot at stake, and if $442 million is being spent to lobby this, how much more is being given to the decision makers? At least we can voice and email our two cents and when enough of us do they listen.


Did you hear about the drywall, or gypsum, that is making people sick? At first it was reported to have come from China and mostly distributed to the “hurricane” states that needed so much rebuilding the last several years. Now it appears there are similar problems with some U.S.-made drywall, too.

What happens is that the drywall out-gases sulfur fumes strong enough to melt copper. It most commonly affects wiring, even in air conditioners, TVs and appliances, turns gold necklaces black and gives off a rotten-egg odor. Not surprisingly, it has made residents sick.

Over 2100 people complained. All had insurance, however, so no fear, and the insurance companies did come to the rescue. They were not going to put up with bad drywall in any house they were insuring, so they cancelled their homeowner policies until the homeowners fixed the problem. Some were too sick to work and are losing their homes. There may be over 100,000 homes with drywall like this.

I heard that and wondered who are these people who take your money until you need them? Where do they come from? China?

If not, maybe it’s time for them to show us/US.

Another report in the newspaper said that drug companies have been quietly raising drug costs the last six months—almost 10%.

It’s right to want to be reimbursed, but drug companies are not hurting. Insurance companies are not hurting. It just seems that too many approach it as an opportunity to get as much as they can get. Can health care ever be affordable if everyone’s focus is on getting the biggest piece of the pie they can?

The question may really be: is greed or even profit compatible with affordable health care? Do hospitals need to be profitable—or sustainable? Pay people well, met your costs and take care of people. Why a profit?

We all want security; maybe that’s what companies seek too. Having insurance, however, certainly doesn’t provide security for us. What did people do before insurance companies? When a barn burned down people got together and rebuilt it. They probably figured you’d be there for them. We had communities.

Living & Dying

Another thing they did was die more naturally.

Television’s 60 Minutes recently did a program about the costs of keeping people alive during the final year or so. Much of the cost sustains us only a short time. They mentioned one drug that costs $55,000, and it prolongs life an average of only 45 days.

There seem to be legitimate places to cut expenses. As it is now, it’s up to the patient or the family to end life.

I feel good, but know that if I suddenly took ill and needed a lot of care I would still want to stick around. But then, of course, one’s quality of life and pain or suffering level comes into the decision too.

I have to think that it comes down to doing daily what’s the most joyful and complete.

A friend said something like that when describing my friend Carmela Corallo Jackson, who died a couple of months ago. At a certain point she would not allow the doctors to artificially keep her alive. Every day for her, however, was complete. She lived that way, doing the things she wanted as she went along. Happiness was a road, not strictly a destination, and she definitely accomplished a lot.

It makes me think that being ready to die may require that we fully live first; that we are doing those things we want to be doing the most while we still can. Maybe not enough of us do that. That would change health care.

Can’t we say that the way we live and the way we die—the choices we make as we go— are still the most important health decisions that anyone makes?

Have a great month,