Category Archives: medical news

ACA repeal effort pushed back . . . to what end?

Donald Trump thinks of himself as a master political strategist, the consummate dealmaker, the toughest guy on the block.

Of course, he is none of that.

He is the president of the United States, who also keeps changing strategies, his mind, his goals. He confuses me to no end.

Now he says he wants Congress to withhold plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act until after the 2020 presidential election. This comes after he declared — with the most conviction he could muster — that he wanted it done now. He didn’t have a replacement plan, but he damn sure did promise that the Republican Party would become the “party of health care.” Yep. That’s what he said.

How will that occur? That’s a mystery. To Trump. To congressional Republicans. To the White House staff. To the Department of Health and Human Services.

The strategy du jour is to wait until after the election next year. Trump says the GOP will retake the House of Representatives, strengthen its control of the Senate and, let’s not forget, re-elect him as POTUS.

There you have it. Trump predicts that the GOP will regain total control of two of three co-equal government branches.

But wait! They had that control before. They couldn’t repeal the ACA, let alone come up with a suitable replacement. Why do you suppose that happened?

I think it’s because the ACA has become more popular with Americans, the folks who are the actual “bosses.” It ain’t Congress and it certainly isn’t the White House.

Donald Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing.

GOP secretly rooting against Trump on ACA repeal effort

Psst. This isn’t really a secret, but I’ll treat it like one anyway.

Republican congressional leaders are “secretly” rooting against Donald Trump’s effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Why? They don’t have a replacement ready to go. They aren’t even close to having one on the back burner.

Plus, they got roasted in the 2018 midterm election because Democrats made enough of an issue of ACA repeal to give them control of the House of Representatives.

ACA fight scares GOP

GOP officials are scared, man. They don’t want the president to succeed in his effort to toss aside President Obama’s signature legislative triumph.

It’s not as though they like the ACA. They don’t. Reasonable Republicans see ways to improve the ACA with their own repairs to make it better. Wow! What a concept! Legislating improvements to landmark laws to allow it to deliver on the promise that its sponsors made when they enacted it in the first place.

They did that with Social Security in the 1930s. And with Medicare in the 1960s. Republicans linked arms with Democrats and improved both of those groundbreaking laws to make them suitable for most Americans. Now, who can live without either of them? Uhh, that would be no one.

It’s being argued that the president didn’t think about the follow through when he announced this past week that he intends to seek judicial rulings to toss aside the ACA. Gee, do ya think? Trump tends to avoid thinking about anything before acting on impulse.

But, there he was. Flush from a victory of sorts with the conclusion of Robert Mueller III’s investigation into The Russia Thing and he steps on his own applause line. Trump trumpeted “no collusion!” and “total vindication!” and then gave Democrats a gift by declaring war on the ACA, giving Democrats loads of ammo to launch at Republicans as they prepare for the 2020 election.

Don’t tell anyone, but I’m kind of thinking that the president doesn’t know what he’s doing, doesn’t know with whom he is dealing and doesn’t understand the consequences of his impulsive behavior.

Hodgetown: a fitting name

I have been known to speak disparagingly about naming structures after living humans, fearing that the person being honored might do something down the road that would embarrass himself or herself — and the community that honored them.

However, I also have been known to make exceptions, holding to the belief that the individuals honored would never do such a thing.

The picture attached to this blog post illustrates one of the exceptions I have made.

Hodgetown is where the Amarillo Sod Poodles are going to begin playing AA minor-league baseball in a few days. It also is going to be a venue for other community events in downtown Amarillo.

Its name honors a former city mayor and a business tycoon who has devoted much of his adult life to improving the community he has called home. Jerry Hodge is the honoree. I should note that he is so willing to share the spotlight with his wife, Margaret, who also is a force of nature in her own right.

I’ve known Jerry and Margaret Hodge for many years; I know Jerry Hodge better than I know Margaret. I’ve known Jerry Hodge as a hard-driving pharmaceutical company mogul who built Maxor into a worldwide concern. He had left the mayor’s office by the time I had taken up my post in early 1995 as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News, but he never really has stepped completely out of public view.

He has been an outspoken advocate for the city and for the Panhandle. He and Margaret used their influence and their financial resources to lure the Amarillo Sod Poodles from their former home in San Antonio to the High Plains. They also have been big hitters in bringing the Texas Tech Pharmacy School to Amarillo — which, given the Hodges’ ties to Maxor was a no-brainer. Most recently they donated $10 million to Tech toward its planned construction of the school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo.

So, you see, my aversion to naming structures after living human beings isn’t ironclad and all-inclusive. The Hodges have given much back to the community that has enriched them. It is only fitting that the ballpark formerly known only as the “multipurpose event venue” would carry their name over the main entrance.

I am proud to know them.

GOP still bent on ACA repeal; replace . . . not so much

Congressional Republicans and their pal in the White House — Donald J. Trump — remain committed to repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The replacement component remains an iffy deal.

Donald Trump has instructed the Justice Department to push for a judicial ruling that would toss out the ACA. He surprised many in Congress, not to mention some of his key Cabinet deputies, such as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Attorney General William Barr; they argued against repealing the law.

However, many GOP members in Congress have endorsed the president’s effort.

Where, though, is the replacement? Where is the legislation that would make Republicans the “health care party” that Trump said will occur?

It remains a secret. Or, more likely, there is no replacement. They just want to scrap President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement because it happens to have Obama’s name on it.

Absent a replacement, the end of the ACA will deny health insurance to millions of Americans. That is how you “make America great again”? I don’t think so!

So, the fight over the ACA will commence yet again. The GOP couldn’t repeal and replace it when they controlled the entire Congress and the White House. Democrats have seized control over one congressional chamber, the House of Representatives. So the White House is seeking a judicial solution to what should be a legislative one.

The Republican goal? Repeal the Affordable Care Act!

The rest of it, a suitable alternative? That is nowhere to be found.

What happened to that ‘pre-existing conditions’ promise?

So much for Republicans’ promise to protect those suffering from “pre-existing conditions” in the ongoing battle over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

The Donald Trump administration — namely the Justice Department — has asked the courts to toss out the ACA, all of it. The decision marks a stunning reversal from the 2018 midterm campaign when GOP candidates across the nation — along with the president himself — pledged to do all they could to protect the portion of the ACA that protects those who suffer from pre-existing conditions.

I should mention here that there is no replacement remedy in place should the court system toss out the ACA. This latest effort is expected to deny more than 20 million Americans of health insurance. Then what?

Donald Trump has joined yet another chorus that goes back on that hollow pledge.

Another broken promise

Democrats who were stung by special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to essentially clear the president of “collusion” with Russians during the 2016 campaign were given a gift of sorts. They wanted to change the subject. Donald Trump changed it for them.

I continue to scratch my head in wonderment over the GOP’s fixation with tossing out former President Obama’s signature domestic triumph. Republicans tried for most of Obama’s time as president to repeal it; they failed. Then when Trump got elected in 2016, they kept trying; they kept failing, even when they controlled all of Congress and the White House.

The 2018 midterm election changed the political calculus when Democrats took control of the House largely on fear that the GOP would continue to seek to end a health care insurance law that is growing in support across the nation.

What’s maddening, too, is that the administration decided to join this anti-ACA action despite arguments from Cabinet officials against such a move. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was one who resisted the effort.

The ACA isn’t perfect. I get all that. Why not mend it? Why not improve those portions of the law that need work?

Congressional Republicans and the president remain intent on removing Barack Obama’s fingerprints from existing law. To what end remains as muddy as ever.

Shameful.

Show us the bone spur records, Mr. POTUS

Bob Kerrey has pitched a perfectly logical notion for the president of the United States, who has been plagued by doubters who question his assertion that “bone spurs” kept him out of military service during the Vietnam War.

Show us the medical record, Mr. President. That is the suggestion offered by Kerrey, a former Democratic U.S. senator from Nebraska. Oh, I also must point out that Kerrey is a former Navy SEAL, a Vietnam War combat veteran and a Medal of Honor recipient who lost one of his legs fighting the enemy during that horrible time.

Bone spurs don’t heal themselves, Kerrey said. You need surgery to repair them. The president has never mentioned surgery.

The bone spur issue keeps recurring because Trump keeps yapping about military matters in ways that bring these questions to the forefront.

Such as his ongoing and crass attacks against the late Sen. John McCain, the former Vietnam War prisoner who died of cancer this past August. Trump once denigrated McCain’s POW status, saying he was a “hero only because he was captured.”

Trump got several medical deferments during the Vietnam War. He has cited bone spurs. Well, just like the tax returns he keeps saying are under audit by the Internal Revenue Service, he has not provided a shred of evidence that he even had bone spurs; he also hasn’t produced a letter by the IRS declaring that it was auditing his tax returns, which he said has precluded him from releasing those returns for public review.

The president also reportedly told his former lawyer/confidant Michael Cohen that he had no intention of going to Vietnam. “Do you think I’m stupid?” Cohen said Trump asked him. Kerrey has taken offense at that notion, saying that Trump “sees all of us who went to Vietnam as fools. We were the suckers. We were the stupid ones. We were the ones that didn’t have the resources to be able to get out of the draft.”

Kerrey said this, as reported by the Huffington Post: “While John McCain was flying combat operations in Vietnam, you were, I think, falsifying that you had bone spurs in order not to go to Vietnam,” said Kerrey, a 1992 presidential candidate who retired from the Senate in 2000. “Now I know lots of people who avoided the draft, but this isn’t what he’s saying. He said ‘I physically couldn’t go,’ Well, Mr. President, get your feet X-rayed and let’s see those bone spurs. I don’t think he has them.”

Frankly, neither do I.

Let there be a second school of veterinary medicine

Texas Tech University’s effort to build a school of veterinary medicine in the Panhandle is moving along.

The university is getting plenty of help from Amarillo government and civic organizations, from private citizens. The city and its economic development arm have pledged $69 million to build the school near the existing Tech medical school campus.

I want the school to be built. Tech sees a need for large-animal veterinary medicine care for the Texas Panhandle and wants to build the vet school in the community that can best serve the region’s agriculture community.

I wrote about this project in an installment posted on KETR-FM, the public radio station based at Texas A&M University-Commerce. I am glad that KETR saw fit to run it, given that I chide the A&M System for what I consider to be its silly resistance to the Texas Tech project.

It’s how I feel. I am not alone. A lot of folks in the Panhandle believe as I do, that Texas is a big enough state to be home to two university-based schools of veterinary medicine.

I want to encourage you to read my post on KETR-FM’s web site. You can read it here.

I just feel like sharing it on my blog, too. Share it if you wish.

‘Do you think I’m stupid? I wasn’t going to Vietnam’

Donald John Trump might have insulted the intelligence of millions of Americans of a certain age, according to his former lawyer/confidant Michael Cohen.

Cohen testified today before the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee. He covered a lot of territory during the seven or so hours of testimony he gave.

One of the things he disclosed was the medical deferment that young Donald Trump received from a doctor who managed to keep him out of military service, which might have sent the young man to Vietnam to fight in the war many of us remember.

Cohen attributed a statement to Trump who reportedly said, “Do you think I’m stupid. I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”

Darn. I thought I was a smart guy, even though I went to Vietnam in the spring of 1969.

You see, the U.S. Army brought me into its fold in August 1968. It taught me basic soldiering at Fort Lewis, Wash., then sent me to Fort Eustis, Va., to learn how to maintain OV-1 Mohawk aircraft. My advanced individual training company got orders for Korea, but I had my orders canceled so I could deal with an injury I suffered during training.

What did I do then? I asked for duty in Vietnam. Wouldn’t you know it? The Army granted my request and sent me to Marble Mountain, Da Nang, South Vietnam.

Trump? He stayed home, getting deferments for bone spurs the doc supposedly said he had. Cohen told committee members that he needed the medical records to show to reporters who would ask about the deferments. Cohen was a spokesman for Trump when he was campaigning for president.

The two men exchanged some conversation about those records, which reportedly — according to Cohen — was when Trump asked whether Cohen thought he was “stupid.”

A lot of us who did go to war a half-century ago might think of another pejorative term to hang on the president.

The word “coward” comes to mind.

Vet school gets a huge financial boost

I remain concerned about the fate of Texas Tech University’s planned school of veterinary medicine that is supposed to be built in Amarillo.

My concern has been lessened , though, by a donation that came from former Amarillo Mayor Jerry and Margaret Hodge, who have pledged $10 million to build the school at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center campus in west Amarillo.

Yep, the Hodges have stepped up, as is their tendency when community need arises.

And it did with the recent removal of state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, from the chairmanship of the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee.

I am not predicting that the veterinary medicine school is doomed simply because Seliger is no longer chairman of the key Senate committee charged with legislating the school into existence. However, the generosity of a prominent Amarillo couple helps protect the school and helps guide it closer toward completion.

As for Seliger and his ongoing feud with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, my hope for the sprawling Senate District 31 is that it won’t get stiffed by Patrick’s petulance against a veteran — and accomplished — state legislator.

Let us hope the school of veterinary medicine makes it across the finish line. Texas Tech will reap the reward. Better still, so will the West Texas agricultural community that will benefit from the veterinarians who will graduate from the vet school.

Many thanks, Jerry and Margaret Hodge, for stepping up.

Oh, and then there’s this ‘infanticide’ matter

While the nation gnashes its teeth over Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s alleged posing in a racist picture that appeared in his medical school yearbook, there this other matter.

Northam went on a radio talk show and appeared to suggest that “infanticide” is an acceptable medical practice if it is done a woman who gives birth consults with physicians, clergy and her spouse.

Wow! I cannot stomach the idea of anyone failing to condemn such an act.

At issue is whether a third-trimester abortion should occur while the mother is “dilating,” and “ready to give birth.”

Northam, whose other day job is as a physician, has uttered a disgusting and disgraceful policy view.

Those of us who are “pro-choice” but “anti-abortion” should be repulsed in the extreme.