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Posts Tagged ‘Americans’

A Show with No End?

Americans care less and less about politics. They’re tired of all of it. Unless, you were heading to a National Monument, you might not have even noticed the Shutdown.

Today, the headlines are all about the end of the Debt Drama. About the fact that the debt ceiling just inched a little higher. 

If the Debt Drama were a play, unfortunately, we would barely be at intermission. 

Just as Tea Partyer Ted Cruz (or Ted bin Laden as the press is calling him) was crucified, a chorus of women came on stage and prevailed upon the mostly male warriors to put aside their differences for the sake of moving forward.  

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is enjoying a resurrection that his political enemies handed him. His baby, Obamacare, whose sacrifice they were demanding, is intact. In fact, emboldened. 

The shadow of Republican attempts to attach Obamacare to government funding has been moving across the stage throughout this play and captivated the audience’s attention as it appears to have eclipsed some Republicans’ prospects in 2014.

Emerging from rear stage is the long suffering Treasury Secretary, who has been performing tricks in the shadows to pay the country’s bills, which are now twice what we bring in.

If this were actual theater, as opposed to the political theatre it has become, the writers would be furiously working overtime on their rewrites.  Fiscal liberals demanding that words like “spending”  be replaced with terms like the one I saw in today’s Washington Post, “domestic investments.”

The soothsayer is carrying a placard across the boards and lobbying for a bigger role. And despite her gloomy presence is actually being considered for a larger part. She’s carrying what  looks like a ledger that says the following … 1) Federal Debt Limit – 16 trillion dollars 2) Interest on Debt due Nov. 15 – 29 billion dollars 3) Obamacare – 6 trillion dollars.  

It seems an appropriate time to ask whether this fool has been brought in to shame the wise? Because once again, what looks like a solution, “another day that got saved in the nation’s capitol” is merely a chimera, a glittery illusion made up of disjointed parts that in reality is actually a fire breathing dragon.  

If Congress wants to hang onto its’ audience, they should probably work on the scene called, “The Budget,” which is coming up next, in January. This budget saga just leads to too many plot twists and side stories, like sequester hearings and debt ceiling crises. Why not write a scene in its’ place that brings closure, like our elected leaders failed to balance their budget and got sent home. Close curtain. 

 

 

The Wake Up Call on Obamacare

According to Kaiser, health care spending continues to be lower than it has been in years. The question is why? Maybe it’s because in a tight economy, Americans hold fast to their dollars, including their healthcare dollars. But maybe it is the sense that Americans may be shouldering more of the cost of their own healthcare. And maybe all the discussion around Obamacare has actually led to some awareness and belt tightening before the program even kicks in. That is interesting to me. Maybe there was a lot of waste in the system that is being whittled down in anticipation of lower compensation. Maybe it was time for Americans to take on more responsibility for their health and wellness. Either way, the reformers have to feel buoyed by the knowledge that spending is heading in the right direction. For the moment, that is. Here is a link to a series of articles from the New York Times to Politico.com that offer different thoughts on the subject. http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/daily-reports/2013/may/07/health-cost-studies.aspx

There is a lot of other information worth noting that may be getting lost in the headlines and general noise around who is to blame. One report I just read says that, according to McKinsey and Company, private employers could dump up to 30% of insured employees as the cost of providing coverage rises. So, the idea that getting a job is the quick fix for getting health insurance benefits is no longer necessarily true. 

And what about those State Exchanges? The most closely watched states New Jersey and Florida hemmed and hawed but ultimately, like Missouri, they decided to join the 27 states that think it is best to let the Feds run the show or at least, provide the dollars it will cost to. So much for my hope that states could join together to create bigger purchasing pools that lower costs while providing access. According to Kaiser, “17 Declared State-based Exchange; 7 Planning for PartnershipExchange; 27 Default to Federal Exchange.”

I also think it’s interesting that the employer mandate has been delayed by a year. That eases the pressure for businesses with 50 or more employees who will now have until 2015 to provide coverage or face penalties. The Republicans are saying Obamacare should have been repealed outright and that its delay is an indication of how misguided it was for the Feds to get into the healthcare business. The Democrats are blaming the Republicans and saying that if they had just freed up more money to educate the states on implementation, there wouldn’t be any delays to begin with.  

Personally, I’m back to where I began years ago, when I wasn’t reporting or working in politics, which is why couldn’t we just figure out a way to insure the uninsured and leave what was working well enough alone? Consider this article from Sarah Skiff of the Washington Post, who writes, that even with Obamacare, 30 million Americans will be left uninsured. 

Obamacare leaves millions uninsured. Here’s who they are.

By Sarah Kliff, Published: June 7, 2013 at 1:42 pmE-mail the writer

Welcome to Health Reform Watch, Sarah Kliff’s regular look at how the Affordable Care Act is changing the American health-care system — and being changed by it. You can reach Sarah with questions, comments and suggestions here. Check back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon for the latest edition, and read previous columns here.

When we talk about the Affordable Care Act, we mostly focus on the millions of Americans who will gain health insurance coverage. We talk less about the millions who will remain uninsured.

And there are a lot of them: 30 million Americans will not have coverage under Obamacare, according to a new analysis in the journal Health Affairs. 

“Even if the law were fully implemented, there would have been 26 million uninsured people,” co-author Steffie Woolhandler said in an interview Thursday. “This isn’t just about the Medicaid expansion. This is the system as originally designed.”

Thirty million is a lot smaller than the 48.6 million Americans who lack insurance coverage right now. It’s also, as Woolhandler points out, not exactly breaking news: The Congressional Budget Office estimated over a year ago that between 26 million and 27 million Americans would not have insurance under the expansion.

 

 

Foods that help you sleep

Emily Main, Organic Gardening

Tired and stressed? Join the club. Forty percent of Americans report having some symptoms of insomnia within a given year, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And it doesn’t matter whether your shut-eye is being hampered by a time change, a stressful job or some other problem in your life, being tired sucks, and it can lead to serious health problems, including heart disease and depression. But before you reach for the latest prescription drug, reach for your fork—or, at the very least, your shopping list. Revamping your diet can go a long way towards improving your sleep quality, provided you opt for foods rich in the right sleep-inducing ingredients.

Cherries
In one small study, participants drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning, and another eight ounces in the evening, for two weeks and reported better sleeping habits. Why does it work? All varieties of cherries are naturally high in melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Eat a cup of whole cherries as a late-night snack if you’d rather not drink juice.

Fish

Fish are rich in tryptophan, a natural sedative, with shrimp, cod, tuna and halibut having the highest levels, even more than turkey. But since not all seafood choices are healthy (some are high in contaminants) or for the planet (many are overfished, or methods for catching them kill other species), stick to catches like Pacific cod from Alaska or pole-caught Albacore tuna from the U.S. or British Columbia.

Lemon Balm

This lemon-scented member of the mint family has been a sleep-inducing superstar for ages, but it seems to be most effective in combination with another herb called valerian.  In one study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, 81 percent of people with minor sleep problems who took a combination of the herbs reported sleeping better than people on a placebo. Both can be purchased as supplements, or you can make a tea by steeping 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried lemon balm and 1 teaspoon of valerian root in 1 cup of hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. (If you take other medications, though, ask a doctor or pharmacist about any potential herb-drug interactions.)

Chamomile

Another herb that works as well as lemon balm, chamomile has been used as an herbal remedy for insomnia for thousands of years. In one animal study, it calmed down mice as effectively as tranquilizers, and in the only human study to study the effectiveness of chamomile, the herb reduced mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder much better than placebo. Ready-made chamomile teas are sold in every supermarket, so it’s an easy remedy to get your hands on.

Bananas

These perfectly snack-sized superfruits are packed with potassium and magnesium, two minerals that promote muscle relaxation. In fact, magnesium deficiencies are related to restless leg syndrome and nighttime muscle cramps, two conditions that can certainly interfere with your sleep. Make it a goal to eat one banana a day to see if that helps your sleep problems.

Spinach

In addition to being rich in potassium and magnesium, spinach is high in calcium, yet one more mineral that plays a role in sleep. Calcium helps the body generate melatonin, the hormone that helps your body maintain its circadian rhythm. You can get the same benefits from other dark leafy greens, such as Swiss chard, kale, turnip greens and collard greens.

Dairy

Like spinach, dairy products are rich in melatonin-boosting calcium, and a number of studies are finding that calcium deficiencies are linked to poor sleep quality. So there may be something to that old adage that a glass of warm milk will help you sleep, after all!

Almonds

They’re full of magnesium and yet another source of calcium. You can eat a handful of almonds or spread some almond-butter on a piece of whole grain bread, which will help you get to sleep for another reason (keep reading).

Carb/Protein Combos

There’s some debate as to how well your body handles tryptophan, and a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that getting it from high-protein foods can work against you, because protein can prevent tryptophan from entering your brain. But when you combine high-protein foods with carbs, the insulin your body produces in response to the carbs makes it easier for tryptophan to break through your brain’s barriers. So think oatmeal with bananas and almonds, for a real sleepy snack, or whole-grain cereal with organic milk.

 

The Mom Vivant / Latest polling on whether Americans are ready for a 3rd screwdriver head

Picture and content from The Onion:

WASHINGTON—A CBS/New York Times poll released Tuesday revealed that while an overwhelming majority of Americans are “more than happy” with the two screwdriver heads currently available to them, 64 percent would be willing to entertain the idea of using a third type. “Well, I’ve never had a problem with my Phillips or my flathead, but if the question is would I reject a new screwdriver head outright without even trying it first, then the answer is no, I don’t think I would,” said Tulsa, OK resident Joe Reynolds, adding that when it comes to new ways to tighten and fasten screws, he remains “skeptical but open-minded.” “Now, if the third type of screwdriver head didn’t work as well as the two I’m currently accustomed to, then that would be a different story; if that were the case, then I would not be inclined to use it.” Despite the poll results, numerous hardware manufacturers have confirmed they currently have no plans to manufacture or release a third screwdriver head.

 

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