Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Obama on Healthcare

Click here to view a video of President Obama addressing the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons).

Some of the points the President made were:

* We need a better bang for our healthcare dollar. The rising costs are not leading to a corresponding improvement in healthcare.

* He talked about commonsense measures, emphasising prevention by using methods such as immunisation and testing.

* We need clear, easy-to-understand insurance.

* We can save money on medical costs.

The emphasis on prevention goes completely against the way healthcare has been practiced in the West for the past 150-200 years. The emphasis has been on “curing” problems rather than preventing them. This is often the opposite of traditional methods such as acupuncture, where it is recognised that prevention should be the priority.

I’m sure your grandmother told you that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Somehow, with healthcare provision in the West, this message has been lost.

The President talked about the fact that providing the right care in the first place will save money. So he was talking in terms of dollars and cents, and using a system that makes sense financially while improving the quality of healthcare being provided.

He also talked about changing the way we reward doctors. Rewarding them for the quality of healthcare they provide for ongoing and chronic conditions, rather than for the number of times they see the same patients. This is groundbreaking stuff.

It was very moving to hear the President speak about his mother, after her cancer diagnosis, being accused by insurers of having had a pre-existing condition, which would have made her ineligible for coverage. She had to spend weeks writing back and forth to insurance companies from her hospital bed after she had been paying premiums right along. And this happens to people right across the country. This causes people and their loved ones a great deal of fear and anxiety because of the prospect of losing their health coverage.

He spoke about having a system of health insurance that actually makes sense.

For example, at the moment, the more times you have to return to the hospital for treatment, the more that hospital gets paid. The more often you see a doctor for treatment for the same condition, the more that doctor is paid. And the insurance company can decide not to pay for your treatment because you lose your job or you change jobs, or for some other reason. And you don’t find out until it’s too late.

This is truly shameful. This is a scandal nobody talks about. Doctors, healthcare providers and insurance companies are making profit at the expense of those seeking treatment.

Here in the UK, because we have socialised medicine, we do not have many of these problems. We don’t find that when the time comes, the doctor is not paid for, or the hospital care is not paid for. Everything is paid for and Britons expect to receive free heathcare from the cradle to the grave. We have to pay for prescriptions, but it’s at a flat rate which at the moment is just over £7, or about $10-11. And people who have a large number of prescriptions, e.g. more than five, can purchase a pre-payment prescription which means you can pay one flat rate for three months or one year, thus making prescriptions very affordable.

One statistic the President revealed today is that in the U.S., prescriptions cost 77% more than they cost in other countries. I am shocked by this but not surprised. I know prescription costs are high in the U.S. but I am shocked at how high they are, and that this has been allowed to go on for so long.

Of course, we have different problems here in the UK. The system is virtually bankrupt. We have what is called a “postcode lottery” which means that some treatments are not available to everybody in every part of the country. We have long waiting lists, which means some people who can afford to opt to go private do so, in order to access treatment promptly.

So it’s not a perfect system.

I agree with the President. There is a lot of waste in the current system and reducing that waste will reduce healthcare costs. This will be better for those who use healthcare, and for the country as a whole.

However, some of the providers are making so much money with the current system, and healthcare is such big business in America, that there will be many people who will be unhappy with the President’s plans to reform healthcare and health insurance in the U.S. They will simply lose too much money – they money they are now making by ripping people off.

What the President is proposing is very courageous and I salute him.

See also:

Barack Obama, African American Success Story

Celebrating Barack Obama

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Mandela

As Villager has said, yesterday was Nelson Mandela's birthday.

I can remember standing on the 24-hour nonstop picket line outside the South African Embassy in London's Trafalgar Square in the 1980s.

A friend of mine used to go come down every Friday evening, after a full work week, to stand on the picket line. I remember when she was arrested for obstruction one night. I went to court to support her and was pleased when the case was thrown out.

We made very small sacrifices. We boycotted certain fruits. Why did the ones from South Africa always appear to be the plumpest and freshest?

On our visits to the supermarket, we dug our fingernails into the avocados to stop anyone else from eating them.

Mandela sacrificed many years of his life, but somehow managed not only to keep his dignity, but to treat his enemies with respect, and win them over with his kindness and his wisdom.

I can remember the days when we thought the end of Apartheid would inevitably involve violence, destruction and bloodshed on a massive scale. Yet, miraculously, it came about peaceably. Mandela played a major role in the peace process.

To read more about this, see:

Long Walk to Freedom: Nelson Mandela's Autobiography
Endgame: The Beginning of the end of Apartheid.

I remember, too, that when he visited London after his release from prison, he challenged the police about their handling of the Stephen Lawrence enquiry. Up until then, the enquiry had not been prioritised or pursued seriously by the police. Mandela's involvement ensured that this issue was given the prominence it deserved.

This great African leader is an inspiration to people all over the world.

Happy birthday, Mandela!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Unlimited Power

In Positive Change and Transformation, I recently wrote about the fact that those of us fro a political background often come from a position of blame. Blaming white folks, blaming those in power, blaming whoever. Even blaming ourselves and each other.


By individuality, I mean valuing oneself and others and respecting one’s own ideals and values. For more about this, see The Key to Confidence.

Individuality is not the same as being individualistic or selfish. Nor does it mean doing something because “Black people do it”. In order to be individuals, we need to honour our uniqueness.

The more we behave as individuals, and treat others as individuals, the more we can become free of the group mentality which lies at the hear tof the blame culture.

Instead of blaming, we need to take responsibility.

Passivity vs. Blame

At the opposite end of the spectrum from blaming is passivity. The “let God take care of it” attitude that many of us from a religious background tend to have.

I think this is a cultural difference between Black and white people. People from European backgrounds tend to be confident about self-power, but they tend to fear other power. We, on the other hand, tend to be overly reliant on other power, and lack confidence in our self-power.

We need both. We need a balance between self-power and other-power.

Although I have said that they are opposites, passivity and blame often go together. This is because we feel frustrated by our own passivity and then project it onto others.

I saw a post on an online forum recently where someone who had worked in a care home was writing about the corruption she had witnessed on a daily basis. She had seen residents of the home being abused. She wrote, “I was going to challenge it, but then I decided to leave it to God”.

People, we cannot afford to “leave it to God”.

When I was a Christian and believed in a god, I also believed that “God helps those who help themselves”.

To put it another way, everything we do is matched with energy from the universe. The universe matches and multiplies whatever energy we put out.

We can only do this if we focus on our own power – not other people’s. For more about this, read Allowing Success.

Imagine you have unlimited power to attain anything you want, and fulfill your dreams.

You do have this power, you were born with it . Reach down inside yourself to draw on this power. You are unstoppable.

For more about this, see The Higher Self.

As I said in Success Strategies for Black People, never say "I can't". Say "How can I?".