A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Health Care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Health Care. Show all posts

October 22, 2015

Penalties For No Health Insurance? Going Up!

     From the very beginning, Americans instinctively knew that the Affordable Care Act was not exactly what it claimed to be; especially the affordable part.  And now, just a few years into the law being upheld by the Supreme Court, we are starting to get the real picture.
     And just so you get a feel of where we're headed, here are some facts:  The federal penalty for having no health insurance was $95 for individuals (or capped at $285 for families) for the 2014 year.  This year, the non-compliance penalty will rise to the greater of $325 for individuals or 2% of their income (and the greater of $975 or 2 % of income for families); and in 2016 an individual's penalty is projected to reach $695, or 2.5 % of income, whichever is greater.  For families, by 2016, it will jump sharply to $2,085 per family, or 2.5% of income, whichever is greater.  By 2017, all penalties will rise in line with inflation.
     But let's not forget that the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that ObamaCare is a tax, not a mandate.  So what you are seeing in these increased penalties is, in reality, increased taxes.  And it's not unreasonable to think that these increases are also designed to grow the enrollment numbers over at HealthCare.gov.  When the penalty becomes too prohibitive, people will be forced to seek health insurance, and we all see our private health insurance premiums skyrocketing, so what's a person to do?
     But it is not only private health insurance going up; the premiums of the plans offered by the government --- you know, those affordable plans --- are expected to go up, too.  And it seems as if there is no big rush to sign up.  (We all remember the horror stories of those first enrollees, right?).  Already, we are seeing that the math just doesn't add up.  There aren't enough paying customers of HealthCare.gov, coupled with penalty-paying taxpayers, to cover the millions of people getting free healthcare.  But we knew that would be the case, didn't we?
     In reading an article on the upcoming increases, I perused the comments to see how people were reacting to the news.  It was interesting to see the range of opinions.  One person suggested, "People should find a broker, or health insurance professional to work with. Someone who can navigate you through choices and options."  I can tell you that I have done that, and guess what?  Even the most experienced brokers are throwing their hands up in frustration.  They cannot advise consumers on which plans will be the most affordable, because private insurance companies cannot predict what their premiums will be next year, let alone if those premiums will remain fixed or even stable.
     Another disconnect I witnessed in the comments section was the gulf between Person A, who has health insurance through his employer, and who resents Person B, because he can't afford the high premiums on the government plan (let alone the ridiculous deductibles), and therefore elects to pay the penalty.
     First of all, Person A can afford to be smug, if his employer is paying his healthcare premiums.  He even had the audacity to question Person B, by asking, "And why don't you receive health care through your employer? Many of us responsible folks ensured we had jobs that provided benefits."  He may be singing a different tune, when his employer does the math and concludes he can no longer provide these expensive benefits.  Too many Americans have been spoiled in this manner for too long.
     They have forgotten what it is like to begin in the workforce, making $26,000 per year.  Person B  would have to pay about $375 a month for ObamaCare, with a $6,000 deductible. He would receive about $70 in subsidies to offset that, so now he would have to pay around $300 a month.  Add that monthly bill to a car payment, auto insurance, utilities, and mortgage --- oh yeah, he has to eat, too -- and you can see how this would be difficult to maintain. And with that deductible there is no way he could afford to be sick anyway.  I can see why he would decide to pay the fine. If you make $30K a year the fine at 2.5% is $750 which is still only 2 months worth of insurance payments.
     So, the bottom line in this whole conversation is that we are simply headed down another rabbit hole that is designed to destroy the American lifestyle.  Is it just one more entitlement that the Elite wants to force down the throats of ALL Americans?  And is it really designed to throw the whole system into turmoil, making the government the only option? Or is it a ramification of a spiritual problem?  Either way, it doesn't look as if there is a way out, or a way to turn the monster around.  The American people and her leaders just listened to one more lie from Satan and we are reaping the consequences.

2 Peter 2:19    "They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved."

September 12, 2015

The Christian Alternative To Yoga

    Some of you may have read of my trepidations about the practice of yoga.  Specifically I have written about it in a blog post on The Daniel Plan, a highly questionable program promoted by Pastor Rick Warren.  The key contributors to this "Christian weight loss plan" include Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Mehmet Oz, all who have strong ties to either the New Age movement, or non-Christian faiths.  Specifically, I wrote about Dr. Amen, who allegedly promotes a non-Christian form of meditation known as Kirtan Kriya, which is a 12-minute meditation exercise involving chanting that has its origins in Kundalini yoga.
     What is this particular form of yoga?  Kundalini is a type of yoga that attempts to arouse and raise the kundalini, believed to be Shakti or "creative divine energy" which supposedly sleeps in the form of a coiled snake at the base of the spine. It employs pranayama or breathing exercises, visualization, asanas (body poses) and mudras (hand positions) along with chanting and meditation to awaken and then raise the kundalini.  This gets into the promises of  "awakening the third eye", and "gaining the knowledge of God" -- very dangerous ground!
     Yet the benefits of yoga are well documented for stretching, and maintaining flexibility and balance as we grow older.  So, are Christians supposed to forego this potentially valuable form of exercise in our efforts to avoid paying homage to false gods or spirits?   Now, I am pleased to tell you that there is a Christian alternative to the spiritually harmful effects of yoga; a way to honor God as we follow a healthy lifestyle.  It is called PraiseMoves, and I'd like to share with you what I have discovered.
     When I went to the website, I was pleasantly surprised to find answers to all the questions that I had.  The organization has documented their position well and shown how traditional poses can become an opportunity to offer praise and worship to Jehovah God.  First of all, they explain why they think there is a need for this Christian alternative.  George P. Alexander, Ph.D., a personal friend of the developer of PraiseMoves, taught World Religions at Biola University and offers some insightful information.  Born in Sri Lanka, George grew up in India, the birthplace of Hinduism and yoga. He informs us that yoga poses are actually offerings to the 330 million Hindu gods.  “Many Westerners who practice yoga today are unaware that the physical positions assumed in yoga symbolize a spiritual act: worshiping one of the many Hindu gods,” Dr. Alexander said.
     “To a Hindu, yoga is the outward physical expression of a deep spiritual belief. You cannot separate one from the other," he said.  The natural question is this: Since yoga is tied so strongly to Hinduism, can there be such a thing as “Christian yoga,” or would that be an oxymoron (a contradiction in terms)? Many practicing Hindus as well as Christians agree that since yoga IS Hinduism, the two cannot be combined.  That's why PraiseMoves does not claim to be a form of "Christian Yoga", but rather an alternative.
     In fact, one of the PraiseMoves Instructors spent three months on a missionary trip to India several years ago. She said her group often saw people performing yoga poses in front of statues of the gods in the streets! Some brought offerings of flowers, some fruit, some themselves…
     In case you think I am making much ado about nothing, let me quote to you from an article entitled “An Open Letter to Evangelicals” from the January 1991 issue of Hinduism Today.  Swami Sivasiva Palani writes: “A small army of yoga missionaries – hatha, raja, siddha and kundalini – beautifully trained in the last 10 years, is about to set upon the western world. They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes... We hope this proves useful to you. I close with a quote from Swami Vivekananda, Hinduism’s greatest modern missionary, spoken in January of 1895, ‘What I now want is a band of fiery missionaries.’ It’s a hundred years late. But it appears he’s going to get his wish.”
     Besides these historical evidences, the developer of PraiseMoves, Laurette Willis, clearly states from her own experiences and those of many she knew while in the New Age movement, yoga class was the door that led them into the New Age Movement.  Now she wants to close that door and offer an alternative to Christians who are looking for a healthy lifestyle.  So how does PraiseMoves work, and how does it remove itself from the Hindu influence, while honoring God?
     PraiseMoves is a series of stretching and strength-building postures, each linked to a verse of Scripture focused upon while doing the posture.  For example, during The Angel posture, people meditate upon or speak aloud Psalm 91:11, “For He shall give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.”  The foundational scripture of the PraiseMoves organization is “For you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”  (First Corinthians 6:20).  The goal is to not only build strength, flexibility and balance in our bodies; but to also be “transformed by the renewing of (our) minds” on the Word of God (Romans 12:2), nourishing spirits and praising the Lord through His Word.
     At right, Laurette demonstrates The Angel Bow, great for balance, stretching the shoulders, spine and hamstrings. The scripture they meditate upon or speak aloud: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).
     An obvious comment is, “But wait a second, these postures sure look a lot like yoga poses.”  Yes, they do, but the developers of PraiseMoves believe that the postures are NOT the foundation of PraiseMoves. The Word of God, as found in the Bible is the foundation. The exercises are the “witty invention” to get you more into the Word, and to get more of the Word into you!  The moves may be similar to yoga, but the God to whom you are committing a spiritual act is totally different!  You are worshipping the one true God of the Universe, and not practicing some ancient praise to a foreign God.
     And in keeping with PraiseMoves commitment and Statement of Faith, there are certain poses and gestures that will NOT be done in PraiseMoves because of their appearance and close association with other religions.  For example, did you know that the so-called “Praying Hands” gesture (putting one’s palms together with fingers pointing upward) is a mudra (Hindu prayer gesture) which pre-dates Christianity?  So, even though we love the paintings of the little children with their hands in that position while kneeling beside their beds saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” it is still too closely linked with the Hindu “Namaste” greeting (“I bow to the ‘divine’ within you”) and other Eastern religious practices, that PraiseMoves chooses not to imitate that pose.
     In a final, yet inconclusive, analysis of the PraiseMoves organization and exercise program, I found it to be authentic, spiritual, committed to the Bible and a solid Christian foundation.  The testimonies from those who enjoy this program is commendable.  And I urge you to check out the website and all of its associated links.  I think you will be amazed at the message of this organization and their credibility.

Romans 12:1   "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship."


August 3, 2015

Recommended Product: Kinesiology Tape & How-To Book

Disclaimer:  I am not a medical doctor and do not claim to offer professional advice.  I am simply relating my personal experience and suggesting that this product is something you might want to consider.  Obviously, you should contact your doctor if you have a serious injury, and for advice before using this product.       

     You've probably noticed this product if you've watched any serious sporting event in the last few years.  It can be seen as those long black pieces of tape applied to the athletes in various formations, depending on which muscle groups they are targeting.  It is known as kinesiology taping, and although many medical professionals may approach it with skepticism, I can tell you that it has been a long time since I have been this excited about a product, or felt I had found something that was essential to share with you.  I am very blessed to be in good health, and I try to do some form of exercise or physical activity every day so that I do not get too sedentary or incapable of moving quickly should some kind of emergency arise.
     But I'm sure most of you can sympathize when I say that the aches and pains are more frequent and take longer to rehab with each passing birthday.  A few years ago, I hyper-extended my knee and it has taken a long time for it to heal naturally.  (An orthopedic surgeon whom I visited told me that my meniscus was probably torn -- although X-rays did not show it -- and I would get tired of the pain and would return shortly, opting for surgery as the fix).  But I wanted to try to rehab it first instead of immediately going under the knife.
     The surgeon was correct; I did get tired of the pain, but I found that through the help and advice of a good friend who is a physical therapist, and my own persistence in doing the recommended exercises faithfully, my knee has recovered and getting stronger every day.  But I will tell you that it has taken at least two years to get back to a normal state.
     That has been the only real injury that I've encountered .... until several months ago.  I began feeling some discomfort in my deltoid muscle, but couldn't recall any strain from working out with weights, or any reason for the tenderness or occasional twinges of pain.  I felt strongly that I did not have a tear in the rotator cuff, and so opted to do some stretching exercises that would relieve the stiffness in the deltoid.  When the pain began to be a real inconvenience I asked my PT friend about it, and through the process of elimination figured out that the injury was likely due to the several hours a day I sit in my chair working at my laptop -- working on this blog, typing out my notes on the Bible class I teach, and the routine maintenance of my husband's business.  It seems that the source of the problem started in the trapezius/deltoid/latissimus dorsi muscle area across the back of my shoulder.  Apparently, as I'm sitting typing, I am not providing support to my arm, so there is a "pulling down" in this muscle group, which is inflaming my supraspinatus muscle and causing pain in my deltoid.
     I bought a computer tray to bring my laptop to the correct height, added pillows to the chair arms to rest my elbows on, and did everything I could think of to take the strain off my back and neck.  But nothing seemed to work, and it was beginning to affect my sleep; I would wake up in the morning after sleeping on that shoulder and it would be stiff and painful.  Finally, I decided to ask my PT friend what he thought of kinesiology tape, and he texted me back that they had had some success using it on their physical therapy patients.
     So I bought a roll of tape, watched a YouTube video on how to apply it for the supraspinatus muscle, and within just a couple of hours, I felt relief.  The real test came with sleeping with the tape on, and the good range of motion and lack of pain that I experienced the next morning.  I then decided to test it at a pistol shooting match over the weekend, where I spent two hours competing in the hot sun ... I was able to complete the match with no pain or disruption in my performance.  That's when I knew that this was something that could come in handy in the case of an emergency and needed to be a part of my long-term storage items.
     Think about it .... we are in the middle of hurricane season here in the South, and should the worst-case scenario happen, there will most likely be lots of minor injuries and sprains and strains as people deal with the aftermath.  For that matter, any type of crisis or emergency can result in unforeseen injuries.  If this product can temporarily relieve some physical impediment and allow you to take care of yourself and family, it will be a necessary item to have on hand.  I then took that situation a step further, and thought "what if we have no electricity and internet?"  There will be no YouTube video to watch on how to tape to provide support for a sprained ankle, wrist, or knee.  So, with the help of my husband, I found Kinesiology Taping: The Essential Step-by-Step Guidewhat I think is the best book to illustrate the proper techniques for a wide variety of incidents, and I promptly ordered it.
     As you can see by the following editorial review on Amazon, this product can transcend sports injuries to be a useful tool for emergency situations; especially when no doctor is available:  This book focuses on the use of taping as a treatment for reducing pain, muscle tension, sprains, strains and many more injuries. It provides information on how you yourself can apply tape on your body for sports, exercise and daily activities. Some examples are support upright position, bruised ribs, pain in muscle movement, carpal tunnel syndrome, sore back, help with breathing, promote better healing of scars, headaches and menstrual cramps. Provided in the book are step-by-step diagrams, written instructions and width/amount of tape required for each condition. As well, there is a full body diagram of the individual muscles in the human body at the beginning of the book. This book contains considerable information for relieving pain and tension during exercise, sports and daily life. 
     The authors of the book are trained in physiotherapy and are strong advocates for self-taping to treat a variety of conditions and ailments.  I also ordered several rolls of the tape, and feel a sense of relief in that I have given our household one more advantage in dealing with emergency situations.  In the final analysis, I am all for any product that can be a positive and useful addition to our personal storehouse of resources.  And having tried it myself, I know it works, and have no hesitation in recommending it to you.  After all, anytime we can find a simple solution to the aches and pains of life, it is worth sharing.

3 John 1:2   "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."

March 30, 2015

Say Goodbye To Rural Healthcare

     When the former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons expresses her pessimistic view of how Obamacare will affect rural residents, then we'd better listen.  In an article on World Net Daily, Dr. Lee Hieb is quoted as saying she believes the architects of the Affordable Care Act want our health care system to be as centralized as possible, meaning fewer hospitals and fewer specialists.
     Because the federal government is attempting to curb the expenditures of Medicare and Medicaid, those hospitals that serve a higher percentage of the elderly and poor are finding it more and more difficult to satisfy their bottom lines.  It's only logical that rural hospitals will be the hardest hit.
     According to Dr. Hieb, “Up until now, hospitals have failed and succeeded, they’ve come and gone just like businesses ... Some are better-run than others, but the economic deck was not totally stacked against them. Now, unfortunately, the economic deck is stacked against them in such a way that, universally, smaller hospitals are disenfranchised.”  What's more, Dr. Hieb speculates that this was exactly what Obamacare was "designed" to do!
     “This is going to be like the Reichstag fire,” Hieb proclaimed. "It’s going to be an excuse to say, ‘Look, the free market failed, and now we can go in and institute universal health care, because you see, these people in these rural areas need healthcare, and you’re not getting it to them.’"
     I think I can speak for my own rural community where there is a higher percentage of government-subsidized healthcare versus private insurance payers.  As the government continues to deem certain treatments as "unnecessary", and thereby refusing to reimburse doctors and providers, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that providing adequate healthcare in these communities is getting more difficult, and much less profitable.
     We also have a growing elderly population in the surrounding countryside, which means hospitals are crowded with Medicare patients, and the reimbursements don't come close to covering hospital expenses.  We are already seeing a decline in the number of practicing doctors, and those hospitals and physician's offices that have few private insurance patients are the ones that will eventually have to consider closing their doors.  As hospitals close, and doctors move to cities with higher ratios of private versus government insurance, the few doctors who remain in rural areas will see their workloads increase, leading to stress and burnout.
     What is even more alarming is that there is an additional side effect of fewer doctors and less medical care in rural areas; the so-called "black holes", or areas without coverage for certain specialties.  People who live in the country, far from emergency medical facilities have long known that they are at a higher risk of death than those who live in the city, and have easier access to, and quicker response times from, emergency personnel.  But now, we are faced with the very real possibility of actual shortages of physicians and hospitals.  To date, the facts are that 48 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and 283 others are in danger of closing, according to the Washington Post.  Most of those closures were in the South, with 10 of them in Texas alone.
     I know I'm showing my age, but I can remember when I was just out of college, and I worked for a Medical Society in Austin, Texas.  I was managing editor of the Medical Society's monthly publication, and I was covering a Board Meeting where the members were discussing and debating the newly proposed HMO system.  One elderly physician spoke up and predicted that "we will all regret the day that we let the government get involved in our practices."  I guess they thought they could control Big Brother from inserting itself between them and their patients; but once that Pandora's box was opened, there was no turning back.  ObamaCare was inevitable; it's been the plan from the beginning, and it is just the natural progression when you open the door to socialized medicine.
     Everyone agrees that the costs of the medical industry and healthcare have skyrocketed.  The results will be larger numbers of hospital and office closures; and those who find a way to keep their doors open will pay more to do so.  But the question that nobody wants to ask is, "How many people will pay with their lives?"

3 John 1:2   "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."

November 8, 2014

Still Think Vaccines Are What They Say?

     I'm sure many of you can identify with me ... someone asks me if I'm going to get this year's flu shot; or, God forbid, if Ebola becomes an epidemic in this country, would I volunteer to receive the Ebola vaccine?  When I unapologetically state that I would not -- that I don't trust what is in the vaccines -- I get that "Oh, so you're one of them" cynical smirks.  Sound familiar?
     I don't even attempt to explain why, or to site statistics of the rise of cancer and the subsequent benefit to the pharmaceutical companies.  I don't even try to quote such World Elites as Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, or Prince Philip, who, deploring the number of human beings on the planet, has been quoted as saying, “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.”
     Well, perhaps this tidbit of news will cast some credibility on my decision to be selective about the vaccines I take.   LifeSiteNews.com reports that Catholic bishops in the African nation of Kenya are accusing the UN of sterilizing millions of girls and women under the guise of annilating neonatal tetanus by means of an inoculation program approved by the Kenyan government.
     The article quotes Dr. Muhame Ngare of the Mercy Medical Centre in Nairobi, as saying, "“We sent six samples [of the vaccine] from around Kenya to laboratories in South Africa. They tested positive for the HCG antigen ... They were all laced with HCG."  HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is an antigen that causes miscarriages in healthy women, and apparently its use was sanctioned and administered by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.  This action kind of makes a mockery of Unicef's declaration that "The chance to survive is a right owed to every child", doesn't it?
     And it is hard to ignore the proof as provided by Dr. Ngare:  "The evidence was presented to the Ministry of Health before the third round of immunization but was ignored ... This proved right our worst fears; that this WHO campaign is not about eradicating neonatal tetanus, but a well-coordinated forceful population control [and] mass sterilization exercise using a proven fertility regulating vaccine."
     Of course, you expect the same old government denial ... the vaccine is safe, and officials would even give it to their own daughters.  But Dr. Ngare is adamant in her claims that this is a secret anti-fertility campaign.  She cites the unprecedented five-shot regimen over a two-year period, which is primarily applied to only women of child-bearing years.  She further argues that the tetanus series is usually given as three shots over a 2-to-3 year period, and to men, women or children; anyone who comes into the clinic wishing to receive the tetanus vaccine.   “The only time tetanus vaccine has been given in five doses is when it is used as a carrier in fertility-regulating vaccines laced with the pregnancy hormone, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) developed by WHO in 1992.”
     So, how does it work?  According to the doctors and Catholic bishops, "HCG mimics a natural hormone produced by pregnant women, and causes them to develop antibodies against it. When they do get pregnant, and produce their own version of HCG, it triggers the production of antibodies that cause a miscarriage."
     But this isn't the first time this particular vaccine with its prescribed 5 injections has been used in treating the world's population.  Miscarriages became rampant in Mexico in 1993, and Nicaragua and the Philippines in 1994 -- three years after this vaccine was administered by organizations like United Nations Population Fund and USAID.
     And apparently the way the government is rolling out this vaccination campaign lends to suspicions as to its true purpose:  “Only a few operatives from the government are allowed to give it out. They come with a police escort. They take it away with them when they are finished."  As Dr. Ngare asks, if it is so safe, "Why not leave it with the local medical staff to administer?”
     Could it be that what Dr. Ngare alleges is actually true?  That this vaccine has been purposefully designed to help control the population of the world?  What better place to start than Africa, which is home to approximately 15% of the world's population?  Would it shock you to know that LifeSiteNews had obtained a UN report on an August 1992 meeting at its world headquarters in Geneva in which 10 scientists from “Australia, Europe, India and the U.S.A” and 10 “women’s health advocates” from around the world, met to discuss the use of “fertility regulating vaccines.”  -- or that this very same UN report describes the “anti-Human Chorionic Gonadotropin vaccine” as the most advanced?
     I know its hard for the average American to think that there is a global conspiracy to control the population of the world; and even harder to think that our own public health organizations could be involved with anything so sinister.  But this is bigger than trying to keep your flu symptoms on the mild side, or protect you from a case of shingles or pneumonia.  It's about power and money and the Elite controlling the masses.  Just listen to some of their own words:
     Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft and Billionaire entrepreneur:  "The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent."
     Penny Chisholm, Professor at MIT:  “The real trick is, in terms of trying to level off at someplace lower than that 9 billion, is to get the birthrates in the developing countries to drop as fast as we can. And that will determine the level at which humans will level off on earth.”
     Paul Ehrlich, a former science advisor to President George W. Bush:  "Nobody, in my view, has the right to have 12 children, or even three, unless the second pregnancy is twins.”
     Ted Turner, founder of CNN:  “A total world population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”
     Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice:  “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth, and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
     Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood:  “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
     John P. Holdren, President Obama's primary science advisor:  "The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births."
     So, do you still think this is some kind of crazy conspiracy theory?  Or is the evidence in Africa, and the recorded words of powerful people, enough to make you think twice about letting some foreign substance be injected into your body?
     Are all vaccines evil and subject to suspicion?  I'm not ready to make that broad statement.  However, I do believe that we are living in profoundly immoral and malevolent times, and I am cautious about subjecting my body, (which has been made in the image of God), to unknown causative agents that I'm supposed to trust are designed to keep me from harm.  I'm sorry, but there's just too much evidence to the contrary.  I'm going to trust the discernment I receive from the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 41:2-3   "The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.  The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness."

November 1, 2014

When Does Health Insurance Become Unfeasible?

    I knew it was coming.  Our quarterly health insurance premium is due December 1st, which means that any notice announcing an increase in premium would be arriving by mail at the end of October.  And sure enough, the offending piece of correspondence presented itself yesterday.
     I wasn't surprised.  Major media outlets like Fox News were covering the expected increases all week; touting double digits for most plans.  As predicted, our premiums increased by 21% --- which follows an 18% increase last year!  That means we will be paying about $666.66 per month (those numbers are certainly appropriate, aren't they?) for insurance that we barely use.
     I know that the cost may seem in line with what many Americans' costs are on their company plans.  But, since we are self-employed and don't have the luxury of "company benefits" that share the cost, this is a huge chunk out of our monthly cash flow.
     And here's what's even more frustrating ... I would consider us healthy individuals.  We have no serious health issues and rarely visit doctors, except for my annual mammogram -- no high blood pressure; no high cholesterol; no diabetes -- nothing except for the aches and pains that accompany aging.  But even considering that, we have begun a new regimen of diet and holistic supplements to combat the inflammation that is at the heart of those discomforts.  So, do my increasing health insurance premium provide any benefits for that form of health care?  Of course not, nor would I expect them, too.  I believe that each person should be responsible when it comes to their own health care; I think our "insurance mentality" has led to a near entitlement mindset and a gross misuse of our health care system.
     In fact, I would much prefer to pay out-of-pocket costs to doctors, off my health insurance plan.  Have you ever asked your doctor what he would charge you for a service or procedure, if you just paid him what it is worth?  You would be amazed at how much the "real price" is for services, versus the "insurance price."  A friend of mine recently underwent a major surgery to solve some chronic issues she had suffered since childhood.  The surgery bill was $56,000; however, the insurance company wrote off all but $18,000, and after her deductible, she only owed $1200.  Can anyone explain to me how this system has gotten so out of control?
     But like most people, we pay for health insurance to cover the unforeseen catastrophic event, such as cancer or a major car accident; anything that would require long-term hospital costs.  And we'd like to think that we have options in both cost and coverage among the various individual plans.  But it appears as if the options are diminishing, while the costs are escalating.  It's pretty apparent that individual plans will become so exorbitant as to be impractical, or simply disappear altogether.  Every insurance consultant we've spoken to has advised us to stay off the government plans being offered through the Affordable Care Act for as long as possible.  But I'm not sure how much longer we can afford to pay what is turning out to be an expensive burden.
     To be honest, I can't really figure out what is going on, but my instincts tell me that Big Pharma, Big Insurance, and Big Government are all reaping huge profits, while we, the captive consumer are ensnared in a trap we can't escape.  We are forced to purchase health insurance under penalty of the law; we can no longer afford our "old plans", which are actually morphing into less valuable propositions; and the alternative is substandard care and inferior compensation for dollars spent.
     Sadly, I don't have a solution, nor do I think the powers that be are looking for one.  This is just another example of our infrastructure nosediving into a downward spiral.  According to the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, the states were to have Medical Exchanges in place by 2014, yet for the majority of them, nothing has been done.  In the meantime, the premiums for private insurance plans continue to increase; more companies and corporations will shift the cost of health care to their employees; the standard of health care will go down as panels and boards decide what care you receive; and doctors themselves will find it increasingly difficult to meet new government regulations and still retain control over how they treat their patients.
     I know I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.  You've either received a notice from your own health insurance company, or you will soon be notified by your employer that changes are coming... and none of it is good news.  I'm afraid the American health care system has fallen irreparably ill, and there is no road to recovery.  Take your vitamins!

3 John 1:2    "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."

September 26, 2014

You Better Know What "Palliative Care" Means!

     Get ready for the new buzz word in the world of Medicine and Health Insurance/Provider jargon ... "Palliative Care".  Do you know what it means?  I didn't, but figured it must be pretty important to be at the center of a new report on End-of-Life Care by a 21-member "non-partisan committee" appointed by the Institute of Medicine, which is the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
     I don't know about you, but I get a little nervous when any "committee" gets together to decide how I should be treated in the latter stages of my life --- especially a group that is supposed to be "nonpartisan" and is appointed to provide guidance and advice to policy-makers.  When the make-up of that committee overwhelmingly consists of professors from university medical schools ... well, let's just say I'm a little suspicious of recommendations coming from academia.  A little real-world experience with actual patients might give me a little more confidence in their opinions.
     Nevertheless, this distinguished group of professionals determined that "The country’s system for handling end-of-life care is largely broken and should be overhauled at almost every level."  That's a pretty bold statement with serious implications!Among their key findings and recommendations are the following points:
•  One out of every 4 Americans over the age of 65 dies in the emergency room or hospital, which results in a burden on hospital facilities and family budgets.
•  The elderly are living longer, often with lengthy illnesses that task family resources and demand excessive time delegated to caring for the patient.
•  Most people nearing the end of life are not physically, mentally, or cognitively able to make their own decisions about care. The majority of these patients will receive acute hospital care from physicians who do not know them. Therefore, advance care planning is essential to ensure that patients receive care reflecting their values, goals, and preferences.
•  Although professional guidelines and expert advice increasingly encourage oncologists, cardiologists, and other disease-oriented specialists to counsel patients about palliative care, wide-spread adoption of timely referral to palliative care appears slow.
•  Palliative care services, including hospice, improve patient outcomes and may reduce health care costs by lessening use of acute care services. Changes are needed throughout the health care system to incentivize provision of comprehensive palliative care.
•  Medical schools and groups that accredit and regulate health providers should greatly increase training in palliative care and set standards so that more clinicians know how to compassionately and effectively treat patients who want to be made comfortable but avoid extensive medical procedures.
•  Finally, there is a need for public education and conversations about death and dying.  Americans need to know what their choices are, and the value of Palliative Care.
     That's just a quick and incomplete summary of "the panel's" findings.  But, I'm sure you noticed that term "Palliative Care" sprinkled throughout their recommendations.  So, what is it?  The dictionary defines it as:  Specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.  A little more research into the exact meaning of "palliative", and you will find the sense of soothing or calming for the terminally ill.  A little bit deeper, and you will find these terms associated with Palliative Care:  painkiller, sedatives, tranquilizers, opiates.  It's one thing, to consider Hospice Care, when that is the decision of the patient and the family.  It's quite another to consider that Palliative Care is also recognized as a method of reducing the costs of health care.
     So, while I agree that too often, the elderly and terminally ill may be subjected to painful, long-term, and expensive care that does not yield a positive result; and that there are times they would actually choose to forego such treatment, it makes me just a little bit nervous that we now have a panel of "health experts" who are recommending that Palliative Care of the elderly be incorporated (and dare I say, mandated) into our health care system.
     Even the panel, itself, issued a veiled warning with this recommendation:  "Quality standards and measures are needed to ensure that changes in payment systems, particularly those occurring under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, do not adversely affect quality of care for patients at the end of life."  Sounds like they might be just a tad concerned that Palliative Care could get out of hand and be misused in ObamaCare.    
     There is a fine line that needs to be walked here.  Would I rather die at home in my bed, surrounded by friends and family, instead of in a cold, hospital environment attached to tubes?  That's an easy answer.  Any policy that allows me to make that decision at the time it needs to be made is one that I could accept.  But to make the blanket statement, "Most people nearing the end of life are not physically, mentally, or cognitively able to make their own decisions about care", lends itself to suspicions that those decisions will be taken away from us and made by the oft-denied "death panel."
     And if I have this "Advanced Planning" discussion with my doctor, what are my options for changing or amending those decisions?  Or does that private conversation with my physician become part of my permanent medical records, which are shared with insurance providers and hospital staff, so that anytime I am admitted to the hospital, it becomes potential grounds for determining my medical care (or in this case, lack of life-saving care)?
     At what age does Palliative Care become mandatory?  If you read between the lines of these recommendations, you might become concerned about your twilight years.  We all know that our economy is suffering in many sectors, and with our aging population, the exorbitant costs of health care are coming under extreme scrutiny.  And it's not hard to get a little worried, when you read what The Blaze recently reported: "Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a former Obama administration health policy adviser and the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in a recent op-ed that 75 is the ideal age to die, claiming that “living too long” can often lead to a “deprived” state — one that sometimes causes people to be remembered as “feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”
     The last thing I want is "policy advisors" like him to start determining when I might become a burden on society.  So, maybe I'm becoming a little too paranoid, but the way I see it is that how I live the end of my life should be a determination made by myself, my family, and my doctor.  When panels and policy wonks and insurance providers start laying out guidelines, how long before my voice is no longer heard?

Leviticus 19:32    "You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord."


September 18, 2014

More Troubling News On Ebola

     The news about Ebola is not good.  News sources are now reporting that the disease is doubling every three weeks, and the number of dead is rising exponentially.  In an article on Right Side News, the head of the Center for Disease Control says that the spread of Ebola is "spiraling out of control" and that it is "going to get worse in the very near future."  So much for "there's nothing to worry about", right?
     But what is even more alarming is the report in this same article that the World Health Organization says "that we could see the total number of Ebola cases reach 20,000 nine months from now.  But computer models created for the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense are projecting that Ebola could soon be growing at a rate of 20,000 cases per month...".
    And in case those statistics are not depressing enough, a scientific model "created jointly by a researcher at the University of Tokyo and a researcher at Arizona State University has produced a "worst-case scenario" of 277,124 Ebola cases by the end of this year..."!
    Yet those are not even the worst numbers.  Right Side News provides these additional statistics:  "An 'econometric simulation model' created by Francis Smart at Michigan State University is predicting that a whopping 1.2 million people will die from Ebola in the next six months, based on the conclusions of Canadian researchers who proved the strain of Ebola in the current West African epidemic could go airborne."
     Need more proof that Ebola could affect the world?  Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a prominent German virologist reported that "hope is all but lost for the inhabitants of Sierra Leone and Liberia.  The virus will only 'burn itself out' when it has infected the entire population and killed five million people." But what's to stop it from being transmitted to other countries?  There have already been cases of foreign aid workers who become infected while treating the sick, and then returning to their home countries.
    And the American people are just now digesting the news that 3,000 American military and medical personnel will be going to Africa to try to fight the spread of the disease.  Will they be adequately protected?  Given the rapid escalation of the virus, what are the chances that many of them will come home symptom-free, only to discover within a week or so, that they are infected?  And, in the meantime, how many others will become exposed through contact with them?  The six-page "checklist", distributed by the CDC to hospitals to identify possible Ebola victims, seems to indicate that domestic cases are expected.
     The experience in Africa has shown that once the disease begins spreading, it is hard to control it; and an epidemic (widespread occurrence in a community or area) quickly becomes a pandemic (spreading to a whole country or the world).  My fear is that we are not prepared for what that looks like.
     But an article in The Guardian gives a first-hand account from an aid worker in Liberia:  I wake up each morning – if I have managed to sleep – wondering if this is really happening, or if it is a horror movie. In decades of humanitarian work I have never witnessed such relentless suffering of fellow human beings or felt so completely paralysed and utterly overwhelmed at our inability to provide anything but the most basic, and sometimes less than adequate, care.... In one afternoon last week I watched five seemingly fit, healthy, young men die. I gave the first a bottle of oral rehydration solution and came back with another for the second. In the half a minute or so in which I had been away the first man died, his bottle of water spilled across the floor. The four others followed in quick succession... It is extremely sad to see the indifference of the international community with regards to this epidemic. It is great to see an added interest and investment in research for vaccines, but we urgently need experts who are physically present and more structures on the ground here in west Africa, where the situation continues to be catastrophic.
      In this seemingly civilized and advanced world, it is unconscionable that there was not a quicker reaction to this hideous disease.  You cannot tell me that the minute that Scientists and Virologists from the Western world heard the word "Ebola", they did not discern the dangers and the consequences from inaction.  Now the negligence and apathy of governments and medical experts threatens not only the continent of Africa, but potentially the entire world.  The threat of Ebola can no longer be minimized or ignored.  Please consider what you will do if, and when, this nightmare begins in America.  The time to pray and prepare is now!

Revelation 3:10    "Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth."

July 24, 2014

Senate Vote May Determine Your Parental Rights

     It's always a good idea to check up on what's going on behind the curtain.  Our nation is focused on our border crisis, while the world is focused on Russia and Ukraine, plus Israel and Hamas.  So what better time for our government to try to sneak through an adoption of a United Nations treaty?
     Specifically, it is called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).  I wrote a post on this same treaty back in December of 2012.  We have managed to avoid its adoption until now, but it looks like supporters in the UN and Congress are back, pushing harder than ever.  In fact, World Net Daily reports that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted this week to approve the treaty, 12-6.  Now it will go before the full Senate for a vote.
     The reasons this is a bad treaty are the same ones that made it unacceptable in 2012:  the treaty states that the term "disability" is an evolving concept (meaning they can make it whatever they want to control the populace);  the UN suggests that there are attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinder the disabled from full and equal participation in society (which means they will just have to make those "barriers" go away, won't they?); and this is the most alarming position to me ... Children with disabilities shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and, as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by their parents.
     Now, if the recent case of Justina Pelletier doesn't come to mind, then let me jog your memory.  WND.com sums up her experience best ... She was "taken into state custody after her own physician’s diagnosis of a health problem was overruled, [and] her parents were told they would no longer be able to determine her treatment and future."  Does this sound like she might possibly have been a test case to see how the American public would receive such mandates?  If so, the public outcry had to be discouraging to the UN.  So maybe that's why there is this sudden and furtive attempt to get the treaty passed while our attention is focused elsewhere?
     Remember that it was almost two years before her parents were able to fight through numerous court hearings to get her released back into their custody, and resuming the medical treatment that her own doctors prescribed.  Seems to me, that more and more parents would be facing the same struggle against the System in caring for their disabled children.  Who, in their right mind, would surrender their parental rights to a global entity?
     Apparently 146 countries have already signed this treaty.  There is no need for the U.S. to take part because our Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is perhaps the strongest piece of legislation in the world that guards the civil and legal rights of persons with disabilities.  It is our domestic and sovereign law that works better for our citizens than anything the global community could dictate.
    Here's an additional factor to consider: the UNCRPD requires each nation that adopts the treaty to provide educational benefits to the disabled.  The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) fears that the treaty would override states' rights in establishing their education policies, and possibly endanger homeschoolers.  As a spokesman for HSLDA told WND, "Remember Justina Pelletier? That’s what happens when the ‘best interests’ of the child are used" as an argument for changes to our sovereign laws.
     But just as I pointed out nearly two years ago, it all comes down to this ...  as stipulated in the Declaration of Independence, treaties may not be consummated with other than sovereign nations.  The 1945 ratification of the UN Charter as a treaty is effectively un-Constitutional, because the last time I looked, the UN is not a sovereign nation!
     But the recent Pelletier case shows us that they do not intend to give up.  The Pelletier family came very close to losing their individual and parental rights.  If the Senate decides to take up this treaty during a lame duck session and manages to ratify it in the coming weeks or months, everyone with disabled family members may suffer the same battles.  Let your Senators know that we are not easily fooled!

Job 12:23    "He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away."


July 17, 2014

A "Game-Changer" or An "Eliminator"?

     I hate that I am at the point of questioning every "good" report or research discovery that comes from the latest health/government/university study.  Now, claims that the heinous disease of Alzheimer's will be the new beneficiary of ground-breaking research once again leaves me wondering if we are being helped or hindered.
     Scientists and researchers from no less than the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization; Dr Simon Ridley, head of science at the charity Alzheimer's Research UK; US researchers at Harvard Medical School; and scientists at Columbia University are all supporting their findings that simple and regular eye tests could be used to identify Alzheimer's disease at a very early stage.
     In fact, the health editor at The Telegraph, writes that "early trials of two different techniques show that a key biomarker for the disease can be identified in the retina and lens of the eye.  Both methods were able to distinguish between healthy volunteers and those likely to be suffering from Alzheimer's patients with a high level of accuracy."  She goes on to say that, "Experts said the findings could be a “game changer” in treatment of the condition."  (I'm not real thrilled with that word "likely".  Are you?)
     And here's where my cynical little mind goes to work .... a US company called Cognoptix, Inc is involved in this research and supplied an ointment that provided a promising biomarker for the detection of beta amyloid proteins responsible for the formation of plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.  The co-founders of this company just happen to be the two doctors who identified the biomarkers, and I'm assuming, developed the ointment.  Furthermore, the Cognoptix, Inc. website says "Cognoptix is currently developing combined optical scanning devices and diagnostic agents based on these discoveries for clinical, commercial and academic research use. The company is actively forming and seeking new strategic alliances with pharma partners and academic institutes, while preparing its diagnostic platform for clinical use."  (My emphasis).
     Maybe I'm just a tad bit too suspicious, but a couple of red flags just popped up!  There have been quite a few indications that Big Pharma and Obamacare are willing bedfellows; among them the connections between Liz Fowler (the architect of the Affordable Care Act) and the nation’s largest health insurance provider Well Point.  She has also lent her considerable insider Washington influence and power to pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson.
     What would keep Big Pharma, and companies like Cognoptix, Inc and the government from colluding to identify potential Alzheimer's victims, and subsequently a) denying them health care coverage, or b) passing their names on to possible "death panels"?
     Shaun Frost, the Australian scientist/researcher who led the study, said, ""We envision this technology potentially as an initial screen that could complement what is currently used: brain PET imaging, MRI imaging, and clinical tests.  If further research shows that our initial findings are correct, it could potentially be delivered as part of an individual's regular eye check-up."  So now your eye exam can be used to add you to another "list".
     Having watched family members suffer from this awful disease, I welcome any medical advancements that would help to identify and treat this illness.  But even Cognoptix, Inc. admits that diagnosing the disease is a challenge and, to my knowledge, there has been no scientific or medical breakthrough for curing it.  So, it seems to me that the positive aspect of this latest study is that it offers the opportunity for early detection, and hopefully, would encompass attempts to slow down the progress of the disease.
     I guess the negative aspects depend on whether you trust the government, the health insurance companies and Big Pharma, who stand to make a lot of money on the application of any ointments or medical procedures.
     Like I said at the beginning of this post, skepticism has become the bane of my existence when it comes to any health procedure that the academics claim will "help" me.  I wish I could feel that their concern for humanity trumped their "strategic alliances" and greed for the Pharma dollar.

Psalm 101:3    "I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me."

May 5, 2014

Update: The Justina Pelletier Story

     Amid the fear that the world is on the brink of another global war, it is easy to forget about Justina Pelletier, the young girl who was torn from her family and placed in state custody after a rushed judgment concerning her health condition.  There have been those who have stood for Justina and her family, and tried to intervene on their behalf.  But now a psychiatric nurse, who has been involved in her care for the past year, has stepped forward to shine a light on the dark motives of this case.
     HumanEvents.com has written an explosive article, based on the revelations of Kathleen T. Higgins, R.N., of Boston Children's Hospital.  Nurse Higgins alleges that the state of Connecticut has virtually imprisoned Justina against her will and that of her family.  In a written complaint to Department of Children & Families (DCF) Commissioner Olga Roche, Higgins says that in February of 2013, Justina was placed in a locked psychiatric unit, after the hospital determined that she was suffering from Somatic Symptoms disorder, a psychological condition.
     This was after her parents were charged with "medical child neglect" when they disagreed with the diagnosis.  In a letter dated January 8th, Higgins wrote that Justina "has been unjustly and illegally imprisoned for the past nine months."  If you will recall, Suffolk County juvenile court justice, Joseph F. Johnston, ruled On Feb. 15, 2013 in favor of Boston Children Hospital (BCH) clinicians and granted DCF temporary custody of the minor child.
     According to Higgins, "The pronouncement that shattered Justina’s life was rendered by a total stranger who sentenced her to undergoing the stress of radical changes in her basic medical care, before being moved to a more secure area of BCH where contact with her family would be more severely limited and more strictly monitored."
     Kathleen Higgins is very well qualified to render judgment.  She has over 20 years of experience as a child psychologist, and surmises that every shred of familiar family life was taken away from Justina, and she was placed in a sterile, compassionless environment, controlled by the State.  Even to the casual observer, it is obvious that this government control of Justina is not in her best interest.
     Justina was removed from Bader 5, her unit at BCH, in mid-January, but is still in the custody of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts against the wishes of her parents, who told Human Events that they maintain that DCF and BCH are overriding their parental rights and are preventing Justina from receiving the medical care she needs.
     Monty Weinstein, founder and board chair of Georgia-based National Parents’ Rights Association, has some serious concerns about what this case portends.  “I am against government control of children unless they are in criminal danger.  Because if they are allowed this type of thinking now, the next time the government will tell you where to go to church, what to do and how to do it."
     But Weinstein goes even further into a dark, frightening scenario.  He says the government is taking children away from parents without an imminent harm threshold (as required by law) because the financial incentives to remove children from any parent are too great.  “Government agencies get a great deal of federal money for placing children into foster care. They manipulate parental rights by using the courts.”
     Weinstein, who is a Harvard Medical School graduate, testifies all over the country in civil cases on behalf of good parents who want their children back from the government, and maintains that the child protective industry is destroying families for money and manipulation.  "Just because parents do not agree with the mode of treatment [as in the Pelletier case], does not mean the child should be lost [to the family."
     Combined with the testimony of nurse Kathleen Higgins, this assertion should strike fear in the heart of every parent.  We must realize that there is a bigger picture that is being painted here… our children are vulnerable whenever we expose them to institutions, and we disagree with the State.  I applaud the courage of Kathleen Higgins, a licensed medical professional, who has put her license on the line in coming forward to disclose this abuse of the Pelletier's and their rights.  May this be the first step in reuniting Justina with her family.

2 Corinthians 5:10    "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he has done, whether [it be] good or bad."

March 26, 2014

Hobby Lobby In The Lion's Den

     Whether you are a Christian or not, everyone is anxiously watching the Government (via Kathleen Sebelius) v. Hobby Lobby case that is before the Supreme Court.  It's really interesting to read all the views of the news sites on the proceedings and contrast it with the "culture" websites, and you wonder if these people are living in parallel, yet contradictive, universes.
     For instance, Breitbart.com says it is all about Choice .. the choice to embrace our First Amendment Constitutional rights, which say in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ...".  And that's where the main conflict arises.
     There are those on one side who say that the owners of a company -- in this case Hobby Lobby -- should, according to the Constitution, have the right to determine how to run their business.  At issue for CEO David Green is the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring almost all large employers that offer insurance to include coverage for several forms of birth control that can cause abortion by destroying early-stage human embryos.  That's where the First Amendment comes in.  If a government mandate is at odds with the owner's religious faith or beliefs, they should not be forced to comply.  That would be prohibiting them the free exercise of their faith's commandments.
      But the opposition says that right is given to individuals, not corporations.  For the writers at Salon.com, it is not David Green and his family who have to pay for the health care coverage; it's their privately-held corporation.  For Salon, the question is whether the company itself can have sincerely held religious beliefs, and — if the court is willing to recognize "corporate religion" — how can the contraception mandate place an “undue burden” on the beliefs of a corporation?
     But Paul Clement—arguing for the plaintiffs—noted that another federal law at the center of this case—the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—was explicitly enacted to protect “any exercise” of a person’s religion. Federal law generally includes corporations in its definition of “person.”
     Then there are those who look at the case from a different angle.  They feel that employees of such a company as Hobby Lobby should not be discriminated against, and prohibited from receiving benefits of the government provision, simply because of their employers religious beliefs.  It is likely that the argument for this position will be stated from the viewpoint of this student and pro-choice activist:  "I’m really just hoping that the justices see that access to birth control and reproductive health care is a fundamental human right.  Bosses shouldn’t be able to make a decision based on their personal beliefs to dictate what people have access to."
     May I suggest otherwise?  No one is stopping this young woman from taking any form of birth control she desires.  She is free to conduct her reproductive health care anyway she likes.  All she has to do is pay for it.  I simply do not understand how she can arrive at the conclusion that someone who pays her a salary has to give her the benefits she wants.  By definition, a benefit is a bonus; a perk; part of her salary package; and determined by the one who pays her salary!
     Perhaps this young woman, and those on this side of the argument, should read the following from the Employment Benefit Research Institute:  The U.S. employee benefit system is a partnership among businesses, individuals, and the government. Most employment-based benefits, such as pensions and health insurance, are provided voluntarily by businesses. The government supports these voluntary employment-based benefits by granting them favorable tax treatment. Certain other benefits, including Social Security, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and family and medical leave, are mandatory. The government also supports individual financial security programs through individual retirement accounts, favor- able taxation of life insurance contracts, and tax-free death benefits.
     Actually, maybe Kathleen Sebilius should read it!  But these arguments really go to the heart of this most important case.  And while The Washington Examiner is reporting that the Supreme Court Justices appear divided on this case, I wouldn't count on any of the early reports.  Remember how we got blind-sided the first time on the Affordable Care Act?  Remember how Justice John Roberts delivered a decision that came out of left field?  So when you hear that Chief Justice Roberts seems to indicate that he feels Hobby Lobby has a sincere belief that some of the birth control methods in the mandate are tantamount to abortion, don't think he is signaling his agreement.  Or when it is reported that Justice Scalia has expressed his opinion that the mandates will be a significant financial burden to Hobby Lobby -- don't be fooled.
    And when you hear that Justice Elena Kagan suggested the business can decide not to provide health care coverage for its employees if they pay a $2,000 per-employee penalty -- a scenario she said would save the companies money. Then, if the companies wanted to ensure their employees had health care, they could raise their salaries so employees can buy private coverage.... well, I don't know what to tell you to think of that ridiculous motion!  She's obviously never owned a company or balanced a budget!
    In the end, I don't have much hope that this case will be decided in favor of the Constitution.  After all, don't we see and feel the winds of change?  While it is true that in 2010, the Justices granted corporations the same free speech rights as individuals; and Hobby Lobby is certainly praying that this case will follow suit and we will see a favorable vote for the free exercise of religion, we have slid a long ways from adhering to the Constitution in the last three-odd years.
     Do not be deceived.  If Hobby Lobby loses this case, then the highest Court in our Land is asking us to sacrifice our sacred beliefs for the sake of the State and to bow down to an earthly government.  If we are forced to renounce our faith in favor of someone's mistaken belief that birth control is a "human right", then I fear for our future.
      And before you quote Romans 13 to me, be very sure you understand the big picture, and how we are to respond to ruling authorities.  We are to submit to earthly authorities in regard to earthly matters.  But when that authority demands that we commit an act that is against our God's mandates, then we are to follow our Divine Authority.
     Did Daniel stop praying to His God when ordered by Darius?  It got him thrown into the lion's den, but he remained faithful.  Did Peter or Paul stop preaching about Jesus when the authorities ordered them to?  It cost them many beatings and nights in jail.  Just as these faithful believers answered to a Higher Authority, so do the owners of Hobby Lobby.  If this Christian company offers 16 of the mandated 20 birth control methods, but feels that the morning-after pill and certain intrauterine devices  are designed to destroy a life, then our Constitution and God's sovereignty give them the right to hold fast to their faith.
     Now, the question is whether or not the Justices will follow God's laws or man's law.

Acts 5:29   But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men."

March 25, 2014

Suffer Me The Little Ones

     I am still reeling from the headline on The Drudge Report yesterday:  "Aborted Babies Incinerated to Heat UK Hospitals."  Has the world lost all sense of mercy and compassion?  This sounds like a headline straight from hell!
     You will remember that when the healthcare debate was raging over Obamacare, there were enough concerns about the Government-run Healthcare System in the United Kingdom to cause more than a few of us to issue warnings.  We were told to ignore the horror stories that had begun emerging from across the ocean; after all, "In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors."  And that's supposed to reassure us, how?  I mean, c'mon, look at the beautiful show they put on at the Olympics -- all the children were safely tucked into their beds by caring National Health Services (NHS) nurses.  No need to worry!
     Except that the scary stories kept coming:  patients so dehydrated that they were drinking water from flower pots; guidelines put in place to limit care to the very young and the very old;  starving, thirsty patients in soiled bedclothes; and errors made in more than 1 in 10 cases, leading to 5.2% of deaths, which was the equivalent of nearly 12,000 preventable deaths in hospitals in England every year.
     And the unthinkable has been revealed.  The Telegraph writes that the remains of more than 15,000 aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as 'clinical waste' by hospitals in Britain, with some used in 'waste to energy' plants.  
     According to Wikipedia, Waste to Energy, or its more sophisticated name, WtE, is the process of generating energy in the form of electricity and/or heat from the incineration of waste.  It is touted as a form of energy recovery.  Most WtE processes produce electricity and/or heat directly through combustion, or produce a combustible fuel commodity, such as methane, methanol, ethanol or synthetic fuels.  
     Except in this case, the"waste" was one of God's creations who was either thrown in with all the other trash, or incinerated for the purpose of generating energy in the form of heat for hospital sites.  I cannot even fathom how the heart of our Father in Heaven must be breaking.  Only soulless people without the ability to feel or care could be a part of this tragedy.  And they can't even claim ignorance!
     One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’  Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 fetal remains between 2011 and 2013.  Apparently, this hospital's budget could not cover their heating bill, so they borrowed bodies from another hospital to meet their energy needs.
     Not only is this practice disgusting, immoral and monstrous, but the article doesn't seem to indicate that hospital Boards or Trusts felt they were doing anything outside the norm of human empathy.  Unfortunately, I suspect that this incident is just a symptom of the decay in our human spirit.  It is not unlike the apostasy of the Israelites when they abandoned God to follow false religions.
    As a race of human beings, we have pretty much spit in His eye; we have renounced His statutes and declared ourselves outside His jurisdiction.  And now we have relegated the sacred status of His unborn to the incinerator.  We would do well to remember His judgment that came upon the Israelites in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom.  They burned their sons and daughters in the fire pits to a false idol, and God passed His judgment on them:  He would tread on the wicked and the dead bodies would pile up until there was no room to bury them all.  This reprehensible practice is no different.  Our time of judgment is coming.

Ezekiel 28:18    "By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries. Therefore I have brought fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, and I have turned you to ashes on the earth in the eyes of all who see you."

December 30, 2013

The State Vs. Family & Faith

     The tragic story of Jahi McMath has haunted me for days.  Today at 5:00 a judge determines whether the State or her family has the right to make decisions about her future.  During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, her story has often been relegated to 20 second sound bites during the day's news wrap-up.  But her story is one that could foretell what awaits any one of us in this new age of healthcare.
     As all the major news networks have reported, 13-year-old Jahi underwent a tonsillectomy at Children's Hospital in Oakland, California on December 9th to treat sleep apnea. After she awoke from the operation, her family said, she started bleeding heavily from her mouth and went into cardiac arrest. Doctors at Children's Hospital concluded the girl was brain dead on December 12th and wanted to remove her from life support. The family has expressed concerns about the possibility of negligence in her treatment and asked that she remain on life support.
     What ensued has been disturbing to me from both a moral/ethical standpoint, as well as legal. I will admit that I do not have any medical or legal training to offer an educated opinion in the matter, but my faith as a Christian gives me a perspective that sometimes falls outside the parameters of both medicine and law.
     So here's how I see what has happened to this beautiful child:  Children's Hospital has allegedly declined to help the family with its wishes to continue to care for Jahi.    In recognizing the hospitals reluctance, Jahi's family would like to have her transferred to a nursing facility which would continue to keep her on life support until further options for a recovery could be explored.  But before Jahi can be transferred, she must undergo two more medical procedures — the insertion of a breathing tube and a feeding tube.  However, Dr. David Durand, the hospital's Chief of Pediatrics, released a statement last Thursday, saying "Children's Hospital Oakland does not believe that performing surgical procedures on the body of a deceased person is an appropriate medical practice."
     And according to MercuryNews.com, "The family faces a court-ordered 5 p.m. Monday deadline [today] to pull Jahi off her ventilator at Children's Hospital.  Jahi's family [still] does not accept that she is dead and has been scrambling to find a long-term care facility. But hospital officials said Friday while it would send the girl to such a facility it wouldn't install a trachea or gastric feeding tube necessary for most facilities to accept her."
     To add insult to injury, an article written by Arthur Caplan, PhD, on Columbia University's bioethics.net website gave this observation:  "Brain death is death.  It has nothing to do with being in a coma.  It does not refer to a permanent vegetative state.  When it is pronounced using the standard tests and diagnostic procedures, a person is dead.  When a person is dead there is no longer any possibility of ‘life support’ by any technology or machine.  When a person is dead, life support has to end, since regardless of what parents, judges or legislators might want to believe, no physician can do anything to treat death."
     Yet, I would like to refer Mr. Caplan to an article at The Telegraph in the UK about Steven Thorpe, who at the age of 17, suffered horrific injuries in a multiple car crash, leaving him in a medically-induced coma and another man dead.  Steven was rushed to the hospital and surgeons performed a craniotomy to help alleviate any swelling on his brain.  But despite the operation being successful, brain scans failed to detect any electrical pulses and he was declared brain dead.  As expected, hospital officials recommended removing Steven from life support and suggested that his parents begin thinking about organ donations.
     But this was a case where the hospital listened to the parents, and considered their wishes.  They refused to give up and, while Steven's case has been called "a miracle" and "extremely rare", Critical Care and other specialist teams at the hospital continued to support his systems through his critical period and gave Steven a chance to recover and make progress against all the odds.
     And that's all Jahi's family is asking.  In a letter released to the public on Saturday, her family said, "We have our strong religious convictions and set of beliefs and we believe that, in this country, a parent has the right to make decisions concerning the existence of their child: not a doctor who looks only at lines on a paper, or reads the cold black and white words on a law that says "brain dead", and definitely not a doctor who runs the facility that caused the brain death in the first place... People think we are naive about what the future holds for Jahi and our family. We are not ignorant. We understand that Jahi has suffered a tragic and perhaps irreversible catastrophic injury to her brain.... We acknowledge that the odds are stacked against us. We know that the doctors have pronounced her dead. We heard it shouted at us four times by Dr. (David) Durand. We know the darkness that likely lays ahead for us, for Jahi. We have heard the criticisms that we are harming Jahi and we need to just let go....  So, we are working every minute to preserve our rights and Jahi's existence. It is our fundamental constitutional right, as it would be yours should this horror ever befall you; something I do not wish on anyone, ever..."
     Perhaps the most disgusting aspect of this case is that the family is locked in a publicity battle with a hospital who won't release their child's body and has even gone so far as to take to Twitter through the auspices of a legal/public relations firm which has bashed Jahi's weight, lifestyle and health.  As the family describes it, corporate misinformation has intentionally been blogged by paid "guns for hire."
     But today at 5:00 pm, Jahi's fate will be determined by the legal system; not by a collaboration between a loving family and caring physicians, as it should have been.  Is this the future of healthcare in our nation?  When three days after an unfavorable surgical outcome, hospital officials are ready and willing to declare that a family is out of options?  When religious concerns and family medical directives are overruled by corporations and lawyers?  Sad to say, I think we all know the answer.  Whatever the outcome today, Jahi McMath and her family are a picture of our future.

3 John 1:2    "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."