Democratic Candidates Push Big Plans for Universal Health Care and Major Political Reforms

We are only three months into the new year and the 2020  campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination seems to be in full swing, just waiting now for former Vice President Joe Biden to join the race.    What is amazing about presidential campaigns is that we get to hear big ideas expressed and candidates emerge taking a different approach and sketching out programs that have not seemed  in the past to have enough political support to be possible.

So far, most of the candidates have embraced Medicare for All in theory though they are differing in whether to support single payer health insurance which eliminates private insurance or opt for a public option to the Affordable Care Act.  Other proposals being touted would make Medicare a choice on the exchanges for the Affordable Care Act.   All of these ideas are focused on providing universal health care that is more accessible and affordable than the current system.

Outrage over high drug prices and out of network costs is growing.  Just last week, CBS News had a story about how some hospitals have out of network emergency rooms housed in their facilities and patients end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars if that emergency room was not in their insurance plan.  That sort of arrangement would never exist under any of the universal health care plans.

It’s amazing that the candidates are also coming up with other ideas that no one dared speak of such as term limits for the Supreme Court, or expanding the number of justices, eliminating the Electoral College, a universal income for all Americans, a national holiday on election day and getting rid on gerrymandering.

To me, all of this is a reminder of the beauty of a real democracy.  Our system of government has been corrupted for so many years by big money controlling it and partisans trying to suppress voters and by growing inequality that it was inevitable that grassroots activism and an national political campaign would usher in an urgent call for some of the greatest reforms in decades.

Study of Apple Watch Shows Success in Identifiyng Irregular Heart Activity

A large new Apple watch study of over 400,000 persons who are using the watch which has sensors which can do an EKG has shown success in identifying irregular heartbeats and atrial fibrillation.  While the watch sometimes produces “false positives” that identify heart activity that is not irregular, most of the cases have helped people to follow up and get checked by a doctor.  34% of the people who were identified by the watch as having irregular heart activity had atrial fibrillation when tested.  Medical personnel say that percentage is good, given that a-fib is not a continuous heart activity but something that comes and goes over a period of time.

A media report noted the following:

“The study reportedly enrolled 419,297 people who had one of the earlier watches and an iPhone. Most were young people, but nearly 25,000 were aged 65 or older—the age group at the highest risk of the condition. The watches monitored for irregular heart rhythms and, if one was detected, notified the users and prompted them to set up a telemedicine consultation with a doctor involved with the study. The notified users were then able to get a separate ECG patch, which they were asked to use for a week to record their hearts’ electrical rhythms for comparison with watch data.

Apple and other companies are seeking to develop wearable products that can get personal health information which can promote more patient engagement and empowerment.  Apple has a health app on its IPHONE that allows patients to monitor exercise and other personal health data during the day.