From Norbert Goldfield, M.D., Ask Nurses and Doctors (AND)
We are continuing to build up health professional networks in preparation for the 2022 elections. As part of this effort, Jeff Lerner (AND lead in Pennsylvania) and I appeared on the Robert Hubbell podcast last week. Hope to see you all next week on March 9 at 730 pm when AND will host a webinar on Engaging Social Media and Policymakers as we build and prepare for the elections. Appearing will be
Jeff Lerner PhD, President Emeritus, ECRI and adjunct senior fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics of the University of Pennsylvania; AND consultant; director of AND PA
Dan Stone MD: Medical Director Cedars Sinai Hospital Los Angeles, CA AND Consultant
Gail Wilensky PhD Project Hope and CMS Administrator under President GHW Bush, AND Board of Advisors
It never happened to me before during this pandemic – out of the 23 patients, I saw last Tuesday I had four who I convinced to get the vaccine. I failed at two others including one patient of mine. But I felt an incredible high; what a strange idea – again unique during my lifetime that I feel a sense of exhilaration at the end of the day having convinced four previously unvaccinated individuals to change their minds.
A remarkable COVID statistic: in the six months between April and October 2021, the number of children experiencing the death of a parent or primary caregiver as a result of COVID-19 nearly doubled to more than 5·2 million globally – surpassing the total number of reported COVID deaths worldwide. The mental health and substance abuse impact is staggering. Just as I am writing this, I am working with a young mother using ten bags of heroin a day laced with fentanyl (she has Narcan) who is now in withdrawal and we are trying to convince her to switch to suboxone.
Many of you have heard of the new CDC Covid guidelines. Bottom line, I will continue to wear masks when I go to the grocery store. As the Post reported, instead of focusing on eliminating transmission of the virus, the framework is aimed at preventing hospitals and healthcare systems from being overwhelmed and protecting people at high risk for severe illness, officials said.
Public health in the U.S. is deteriorating with public health officers continuing to leave their positions. Not surprisingly, private companies have stepped into this increasing void. After bankruptcy, the Detroit Public Health Department was privatized with disastrous consequences. Trust is the key. National public health systems simply will not occur at this point in the US. But they could happen, I am convinced, at a state level. I continue to have meetings in Massachusetts. Poor public health services exacerbate the social disparities impact of COVID. Here are some specifics: In Virginia, 41% of Medicaid enrollees 5 and older are vaccinated, compared with 76% of state residents in that age group. Sadly the new surgeon general in Florida is not clear that vaccines work and that ivermectin doesn’t.
Vaccines for all, throughout the globe, should be a basic public health tenet. We are still falling short on this goal – both in terms of the financial commitment of all countries including the US and the willingness of countries such as the U.S. and Germany to waive intellectual property rights on the vaccines and allow countries to produce this life-saving treatment at a lower cost.
Bob Herman from Axios gave a very nice summary of the overall challenges the U.S. health care system faces. An overarching issue is the price. Take the example of hip replacement: Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield paid $98,000; Cigna paid almost $71,000; UnitedHealthcare paid $66,000. Medicare paid around $20,000. Most agree that Medicare payment is “reasonable.” But while Obamacare was a significant step forward, there is no agreement on next steps. Health professionals and voters will have a significant role. As we look to the 2022 election midterm elections AND continues to work on vaccines, public health and healthcare reform.
Reminder: join us if you can on March 9 at 7:30 pm eastern. We are beginning to build our health professional networks now, in preparation for the 2022 elections. Hopefully, you can either play a part for just 1 hour/month. Perhaps you know health professionals who are interested. Effective use of social media is key.
Just click here to join on March 9 7:30 pm: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2548017298.
Also, you will like the short 30 minute podcast that aired last week on the work of AND.
Norbert Goldfield, M.D.