Mental health professionals read Trump’s letter: A study in “the psychotic mind” at work | Salon.com

On Wednesday night, Donald Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives. Trump will now — perhaps after some delay — be put on trial in the Senate, where he will then be acquitted by Republicans who have sworn personal fealty to him.

Trump’s impeachment is one of the few moments in his life when he has ever been held accountable for his behavior. Consequences are the enemy of Donald Trump. As such, in response to the Ukraine scandal, the Mueller report, the 2018 midterm elections and various other moments when Democrats and the public defied Trump’s authoritarian goal of becoming a de facto king or emperor, he has lashed out in the form of (another) temper tantrum.

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On Tuesday, Trump continued with this ugly and deeply troubling behavior in the form of a six-page letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, fueled by exaggerated rage that Democrats had dared to impeach him. Reportedly co-authored by Stephen Miller, Trump’s white supremacist White House adviser, Trump’s letter continued numerous obvious lies about impeachment, the Ukraine scandal and other matters.

In keeping with his strategy of stochastic terrorism, Trump’s letter is an incitement to violence by his followers against the Democrats for the “crime” of impeachment.

Trump is possessed of the delusional belief that he (and by implication his supporters) is a victim of a “witch hunt” akin to the famous event in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. In keeping with his malignant narcissism, Trump’s letter, of course, boasts of his strength and fortitude against the Democrats and other enemies.

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In total, Trump’s “impeachment letter” to Nancy Pelosi is but one data point among many demonstrating that he is mentally unwell and a threat to the safety of the United States and the world.

To gain more context and insight into this ongoing crisis, I asked several of the country’s leading mental health experts for their thoughts on Trump’s impeachment letter and what it indicates about the president’s emotional state and behavior.

Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor, Yale University School of Medicine and president of the World Mental Health Organization. Lee is editor of the bestselling book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”

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This letter is a very obvious demonstration of Donald Trump’s severe mental compromise. His assertions should alarm not only those who believe that a president of the United States and a commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful military should be mentally sound, but also those who are concerned about the potential implications of such a compromised individual bringing out pathological elements in his supporters and in society in general. I have been following and interpreting Donald Trump’s tweets as a public service, since merely reading them “gaslights” you and reforms your thoughts in unhealthy ways. Without arming yourself with the right interpretation, you end up playing into the hands of pathology and helping it — even if you do not fully believe it. This is because of a common phenomenon that happens when you are continually exposed to a severely compromised person without appropriate intervention. You start taking on the person’s symptoms in a phenomenon called “shared psychosis.”

It happens often in households where a sick individual goes untreated, and I have seen some of the most intelligent and otherwise healthy persons succumb to the most bizarre delusions. It can also happen at national scale, as renowned mental health experts such as Erich Fromm have noted. Shared psychosis at large scale is also called “mass hysteria.”

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The president is quite conscious of his ability to generate mass hysteria, which is the purpose of the letter.

The book I edited, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” contained three warnings: that the president was more dangerous than people suspected; that he would grow more dangerous with time; and that ultimately, he would become “uncontainable.” We are entering the “uncontainable” stage because of shared psychosis.

Dan P. McAdams, chair and professor of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, author of the forthcoming book “The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump: A Psychological Reckoning.”

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Venomous and vitriolic, obsessively focused on the self and nothing else, this letter is what we have come to know as vintage Trump. Had we been handed this document just three years ago and told it was once written by a president of the United States, we would have been aghast, and we would have considered it to be one of the most remarkable texts ever unearthed — worthy to be remembered as the antithesis of, say, the Gettysburg Address.

In terms of what we have come to expect from President Trump, the only remarkable thing about this letter is that it is so long — and that it contains a few big words, like “solemnity.” But in nearly every other way, the letter is like the vitriolic, grievance-filled tweets he sends out every day, full of falsehoods, hyperbole and hate. As an extended expression of who Trump really is, the letter shows you how his mind works and what his raw experience is like.

For over 50 years, Donald Trump has lived this way. Trump has fought ever day of his adult life as if he were being impeached by his enemies. And there have always been countless enemies, because his antagonism brings them out of the woodwork. To quote what Trump told People Magazine when asked to recite his philosophy of life, “Man is the most vicious of all animals and life is a series of battles ending in victory or defeat.” This is truly how Trump has always experienced the world. The letter merely reinforces his world view.

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Moreover, Trump is right about the Democrats.  Many of them have been wanting to impeach him since Day One. They recoil against him just the way countless others have recoiled against Trump going back to his real estate days in the late 1970s. Trump needs to hate Democrats. If suddenly all his enemies lay down as lambs and promised to cooperate with him, he might kill himself. He would have no reason to go on. He needs enemies as much as he needs air to breathe.

Dr. David Reiss, psychiatrist, expert in mental fitness evaluations and contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Content-wise it is the typical Trump distortions, outright lies, and exclusive focus on his feelings. For Trump, his feelings define reality.  It would be interesting if someone in the media was able to ask Trump, “What does the word ‘fair’ mean to you?” Because, objectively, Trump complains he is being treated “unfairly” anytime he does not get his way, his feelings are hurt, and/or others are not accepting what he says at face value and without question — even if it is contrary to proven fact or internally inconsistent.

Whoever actually wrote the letter, it accurately reflects Trump’s immaturity that has been obvious in public as long as he has been a public figure: insisting that his needs be met in a child-like manner; having very poor problem-solving ability; having an inability to take responsibility for anything and projecting his own negative attributes onto others; an inability to look at consequences of his statements or actions. Basically, acting as a frustrated or emotionally hurt toddler would react, looking for a parent to protect him and “make the bad people go away.”

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Dr. Lance Dodes, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry (retired), Harvard Medical School, currently training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He is also a contributor to “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.”

Mr. Trump’s letter shows his incapacity to recognize other people as separate from him or having worth.

As he always does, he accuses others of precisely what he has done, in precisely the same language. When confronted with violating the Constitution he says his accusers are violating the Constitution. When others point out that he undermines democracy, he says they undermine democracy. Through these very simpleminded projections he deletes others’ selfhood and replaces who they are with what is unacceptable in himself.

The letter also has a remarkable list of boasts about what he says are his successes, stated as facts, with no acknowledgment that Speaker Pelosi has a vastly different view (about gun control, appointing judges who conform to his views, withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, etc). It is as if her independent views are unworthy of noting or existing. She is treated as invisible in his eyes.

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In reflecting his projecting (paranoid) view of the world and his primitive focus on himself with denial of the rights and feelings of others, the letter is consistent with what we already know about Mr. Trump.

Dr. John Gartner, co-founder of the Duty to Warn PAC and co-editor of “Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump.”

When you read excerpts of the Trump letter to Pelosi it doesn’t do justice to how unhinged, paranoid and manic it is in its entirety.

It shows the usual formal properties of a Trump rant: proclaiming himself the victim of an evil conspiracy, while projecting onto his critics everything bad he is actually doing.

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For example:

You are violating your oaths of office, you are breaking your allegiance to the Constitution, and you are declaring open war on American Democracy…

All blended seamlessly with outright lies:

Worse still, I have been deprived of basic Constitutional Due Process from the beginning of this impeachment scam right up until the present. I have been denied the most fundamental rights afforded by the Constitution, including the right to present evidence, to have my own counsel present, to confront accusers, and to call and cross-examine witnesses …

Dr. Justin Frank, former clinical professor of psychiatry at the George Washington University Medical Center, and author of “Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.”

When I first read Donald Trump’s six-page letter to Speaker Pelosi, I marveled at the ease with which he shared what goes on in his mind openly, and without reservation. His letter is the quintessential example of how professional victims actually think. They turn the prosecutor into the persecutor.

Trump’s letter is just such an expression of entitled, delusional grievance. He accuses Pelosi of injuring his family, but it is his nepotism that exposes his older children to public scrutiny and his teenager (to whom he refers as “Melania’s son”) to life in a fishbowl. More damning, in making her a public figure, he subjected the First Lady to humiliation. He knew full well he paid a stripper $130,000 not to talk about their affair and was surely aware that this and other unsavory behaviors would surface when he sought the presidency.

Trump is a con artist who succeeds by tricking his marks into not seeing the con. But the biggest mark — bigger than the GOP and his base — is himself. He believes the lies he tells, the delinquent traits he disavows. It’s what psychoanalysts call delusional projection. We see it the simple sentence he wrote to the speaker: “You view democracy as your enemy.” Trump confirms my findings published in “Trump on the Couch.” But now his defenses are writ large, because instead of changing in moments of crisis, people become more the way they are. Trump has reverted to the most familiar means to cope with fears of being caught, punished and humiliated.

Finally, the letter is a treasure trove for psychiatric residents who want to study the psychotic mind. Trump’s paradoxical sleight of hand makes him think he can hide in plain sight. But he can’t anymore. This is why he accuses Pelosi of hating democracy: It is he who hates a system that promotes the idea that no one is above the law.

This content was originally published here.

UNHCR - Turkey scholarship lets star Syrian student pursue dentistry dream

Since she arrived in Turkey six years ago, Syrian refugee Sidra has mastered a new language, worked in a factory to support her family and graduated top of her year in high school.

Her breakthrough came when she won a university scholarship. She is now in her second year of a dentistry degree, and fulfilling a life-long dream

“I am very passionate about education,” said the 21-year-old, who fled war-ravaged Aleppo with her family in 2013. “My dream was to go to university, and I studied very hard to achieve this dream.”

Her achievement reflects a single-minded determination to continue her education, even when it seemed she might not get the chance. She missed her final year of high school in Aleppo when fighting forced the closure of local schools, and when she first arrived in Turkey, she lacked the paperwork needed to enroll.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful.”

Unable to study, she took a full-time job packaging goods in a medical supplies factory while teaching herself Turkish in her time off from books and YouTube videos. A year later, when she secured the refugee documentation needed to resume her education, she vowed to make the most of it.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful,” she said. “The worst thing about war is that it destroys children’s futures,” she continued. “If children don’t continue their education, they won’t be able to give back to society.”

After graduating from high school top of her class with an overall mark of 98 per cent, Sidra then went one better to score 99 per cent in her university entrance exams. The results helped her to secure a vital scholarship from the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB).

While tuition fees at Turkish state universities have been waived for Syrian students, the scholarship provides Sidra with monthly support, enabling her to concentrate on her studies. Without this support she says she would not have been able to study her preferred subject of dentistry due to the extra cost of buying equipment such as cosmetic teeth to practice her skills.

Sidra practices her dentistry skills at home while her younger sister Isra looks on. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra attends a practical lesson at Istanbul University, where she is studying dentistry. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra stands outside her home in Canda Sok on the outskirts of Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra spends time with a friend on the historical Galata Bridge in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Once a week, Sidra teaches classical Arabic to Malak, an 8-year-old Turkish girl, at her home in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

“Without the scholarship, I would have had to choose a different major, different to dentistry, and to work to cover my university expenses,” she explained.

Sidra is one of around 33,000 Syrian refugee students currently attending university in Turkey. The country is host to 3.68 million registered Syrian refugees, making it the largest refugee hosting country in the world.

Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, YTB has provided 5,341 scholarships to Syrian university students, while a further 2,284 have received scholarships from humanitarian partners. This includes more than 820 scholarships provided by UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – under its DAFI programme.

Access to education is crucial to the self-reliance of refugees. It is also central to the development of the communities that have welcomed them, and the prosperity of their own countries once conditions are in place to allow them to return home.

Enrolment rates in education among refugees currently lag far behind the global average, and the gap increases with age. At secondary school level, only 24 per cent of refugee children are currently enrolled compared with 84 per cent of children globally, with the figure dropping to just 3 per cent in higher education compared with a worldwide average of 37 per cent.

In Turkey, this average has been raised to close to 6 per cent thanks to the priority attached to education, including higher education for refugees.

Efforts to boost access and funding for refugees in quality education will be one of the topics of discussion at the Global Refugee Forum, a high-level event to be held in Geneva from 17-18 December.

Turkey is a co-convenor of the event, which will bring together governments, international organizations, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, host community members and refugees themselves. The event will look at ways of easing the burden of hosting refugees on local communities, boosting refugee self-help and reliance, and increasing opportunities for resettlement.

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in.”

Sidra is convinced that education holds the key to her own future success, and is determined to live up to the nickname she has earned among her fellow students.

“People call me ‘çalışkan kız’ which means: ‘the girl who studies a lot’,” she explained. “With education we can fight war, unemployment and illiteracy. With education we can reach all our goals in life.”

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in,” she continued. “Turkey has given me a lot of facilities, and it honors me that one day I can give back to its people and be an active member [of society], to work and practice dentistry with their support. I take pride in this.”

This content was originally published here.

Santa’s reindeer receive clean bill of health, cleared to fly on Christmas Eve

HERSHEY, Pa. (WJW) — Santa’s reindeer have been cleared for take-off!

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Agriculture, Russell Redding, and State Veterinarian, Dr. Kevin Brightbill, met with Santa Claus and his nine reindeer at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Thursday to announce that they’ve received a clean bill of health and can fly on December 24.

The reindeer, answering to the names of Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Blitzen, and Rudolph received clearance to fly from Alaska’s state veterinarian.

“Not everyone knows what takes place behind the scenes to allow Santa and his nine reindeer to take flight on Christmas Eve,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “Thanks to Dr. Brightbill, his counterpart in the North Pole, and Santa’s due diligence, we can expect gifts under the tree Christmas morning.”

Pennsylvania State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill holds up a clean bill of health for Santa’s nine reindeer, and that they’re cleared for take-off on December 24, at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane on Thursday, December 19, 2019. (Courtesy: Pennsylvania Dept. of Agriculture)

The reindeer received a certificate of veterinary inspection and permit to ship that allows them to fly from rooftop to rooftop for the purpose of toy delivery.

State officials said that for animals that travel between states, such certificates help ensure that contagious diseases are not spread.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture veterinarians supplied Santa’s reindeer with the certificate this year since they are residing at Hersheypark for the next few days.

“Hersheypark is honored that Santa trusts his nine reindeer to the care of our ZooAmerica team throughout the holiday season,” said Quinn Bryner, Director of PR at Hersheypark. “We’re the only place to see them all together in the Northeast through Jan. 1 so we wish them a magical flight before they come back to Hershey!”

Make sure to track Santa and the reindeer’s flight path on December 24 using NORAD’s Santa Tracker.

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GOP senator claims birth control and HIV testing is not ‘actual health care’

Sen. Martha McSally’s campaign attacked the health care services provided by Planned Parenthood.

GOP Sen. Martha McSally’s campaign is on the attack against Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state’s largest sexual health organization, saying it does not provide residents with “actual health care,” the Hill reported Friday.

McSally’s comments came in response to Planned Parenthood’s announcement that it would run ads in Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina about the Trump administration’s restrictions on health care funding that limit how doctors can interact with patients. All three of the states have closely watched Senate races in 2020.

“Senator McSally is focused on providing access to actual health care for women all across Arizona, while Planned Parenthood is only focused on protecting their business model,” Dylan Lefler, the Arizona Republican’s campaign manager, told the Hill.

Planned Parenthood Arizona serves more than 90,000 Arizona residents, according to its website, offering a wide range of real health care services, including annual well-woman exams, birth control consultation and supplies, HIV testing, emergency contraception, and pregnancy testing. Research from the Guttmacher Institute, a group focused on reproductive health, has shown that providers serving low-income patients, including Planned Parenthood, play a vital role in the public safety net, and may be the only health care available in some areas.

The Trump administration unveiled new rules earlier this year stating that federal funds from the Title X program can no longer go to organizations that either perform abortions or refer patients to facilities to receive abortions. Prior to the new rules, organizations like Planned Parenthood were already barred from using federal funds to perform abortions, but the new rule gagged the ability of health care professionals to even discuss the medical procedure.

After the rules went into effect, Planned Parenthood was forced to withdraw from the Title X program, the only federal program dedicated to providing family planning services, birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing, and annual exams, to low-income Americans. Most of the patients who rely on Title X services are people of color, according to Planned Parenthood.

The ads aim to pressure lawmakers to overrule Trump and allow organizations like Planned Parenthood to once again participate in Title X and offer health care services to low-income people.

However, the McSally campaign identified Planned Parenthood as a “hysterical liberal special interest group” invading Arizona “with false, negative ads.”

McSally has previously voted to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds whatsoever. She also voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which requires health insurance companies to cover maternity and newborn care.

“Republican senators are attacking access to affordable birth control and other vital reproductive health services by standing with the Trump administration’s dangerous gag rule,” Sam Lau, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s director of federal advocacy media, said in an email. “Congress has the power to take action, and the American people want them to stop putting politics over their health and protect access to affordable health care.”

The post GOP senator claims birth control and HIV testing is not ‘actual health care’ appeared first on The American Independent.

This content was originally published here.

The President, the US private health giant, and top NHS officials – special relationships? | openDemocracy

In the UK, we have a simple take on the US healthcare system as a for-profit, private system that fleeces its customers and fails the poor.

But here’s the secret: the US has its own ‘mini NHS’. Smaller than the UK’s system, but still a government funded, (mostly) publicly-run system that serves people according to their need. It’s called the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

And Donald Trump wants to privatise it.

What’s more, to set the reforms in motion, the firm that’s been appointed to create and expand new private networks within the Veterans health system is Optum, the profitable ‘healthcare services’ arm of America’s biggest private health insurer, UnitedHealth Group.

Optum and UnitedHealth are familiar names to anyone who has been following the silent takeover of the NHS by private healthcare firms in recent years, though aspects of their involvement are fully exposed here for the first time.

Health privatisation, US-style – sounds familiar?

But first, it’s worth a closer look at what’s been happening to the US’s own ‘mini-NHS’ – because there are some remarkable parallels with what’s happening on this side of the Atlantic.

The Veterans Administration has a budget of $70billion with which it provides healthcare for some nine million US military veterans. It has experienced serious capacity issues in the past, but a study last year found the quality of care it provides is the same, or significantly better than the private sector.

Regardless, Trump passed a law last year that allows extensive latitude for a significant proportion of this care to be outsourced to private healthcare corporations.

The President’s plan is backed by a small cabal of right-wing politicians and lobby groups on a crusade to talk down the care the Veterans Health Administration provides – and then to ‘fix’ it, through pushing veteran patients towards private providers. Trump began by replacing senior Veterans Administration officials that stood in the way and reportedly allowed his close political associates and donors to influence the reforms. All the while running a PR campaign, led by officials and their Koch-backed advisors, denying that funnelling billions of taxpayer dollars to private healthcare providers amounts to privatisation. On being appointed, Trump’s new VA secretary told senators: “I will oppose efforts to privatize the VA.”

Democrat Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says the real beneficiaries of Trump’s reforms are “pharmaceutical companies, insurance corporations and, ultimately… a for-profit health-care industry that does not put people or veterans first.” If he really wanted to “fix the VA so badly,” she added at a packed rally earlier this year, “let’s start hiring, and fill up some of those 49,000 [staff] vacancies.”

All of this will sound eerily familiar to campaigners defending the National Health Service against privatisation: from chronic understaffing to legislative reform in the face of massive opposition, and all the while strenuously denying that the changes amount to privatisation at all.

We’re told one thing about NHS privatisation – health firm investors are told another

“There is no privatisation of the NHS on my watch,” Matt Hancock assured MPs earlier this year. Boris Johnson has since echoed his words: “We are absolutely resolved. There will be no sale of the NHS, no privatisation.”

Look at the message US private healthcare firms are giving their investors, however, and a different story emerges.

“We’ve been planting seeds and I would say that we’re strong with the NHS,” US healthcare executive, Larry Renfro told investors in 2016. Renfro was then chief executive of Optum – the very same US company that’s recently been awarded huge contracts to take over the US’s ‘mini NHS’.

“We’re strong with [the regulator] NHS improvement. We are getting stronger with the Minister of Health, as well as the Secretary of Health,” Renfro said. His colleague and Optum’s Executive Vice President, Jeffrey Berkowitz, spoke of the years Optum had spent building a “very strong foundation of work on the ground with the Department of Health”.

Investors and financial analysts were told this, but not the British public.

Official records show only that Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, held an ‘introductory’ meeting with Optum in March 2017 and that health minister Philip Dunne visited Optum in Boston and again, a couple of weeks later in London.

It is only because Renfro told investors that a health minister is “as we sit here today, with us… on tour”, that we know that Lord Prior, now chair of NHS England, also visited Optum at its headquarters in Minneapolis in October 2016.

Donald Trump, the private healthcare execs, and NHS senior officials

This was one of many visits in recent years made by politicians and senior health officials to Optum’s various US offices. This includes officials from NHS Digital – guardians of NHS patient data – whose head of data was given a tour of Optum’s capabilities at its Washington office in January 2018. As an Optum lobbyist said in 2014, the trips, some of which it paid for, are part of its efforts to “develop and mature” its relationship with the NHS.

It is also only through documents released under Freedom of Information law that we know that Ed Smith, the chair of the NHS’s powerful regulator NHS Improvement, held a series of ‘working dinners’ with UnitedHealth Group CEO, Stephen Hemsley – first in September 2016 and again in January the following year. Another ‘working dinner’ took place with Renfro in March 2017. The documents don’t reveal what these men discussed.

In February of that year, Hemsley visited the White House to meet Donald Trump [photos from the meeting: second right and slightly hidden here; leaning forward hands on table behind Mike Pence here]. The President tweeted: “Great meeting with CEOs of leading U.S. health insurance companies who provide great healthcare to the American people.”

Once declared the highest paid CEO in the US, Stephen Hemsley is now executive chair of UnitedHealth Group. He earned a reported $65m last year. Fortune described him as the “corporate chief who’s arguably created more wealth for shareholders… than any sitting CEO”.

The secrecy of these trans-Atlantic meetings matters. It has allowed the UK government to tell one story to the public, while quietly inviting a giant, for-profit US corporation, bent on overseas expansion, to embed itself in our NHS.

Optum’s parent company, UnitedHealth Group, which reported earnings in 2018 of over $220 billion, is opposed to efforts in the US to introduce a universal, public health system like the NHS. Its current CEO said Medicare for All, as the proposals are known, would “destabilize” the American healthcare system. It goes without saying, they would also eliminate its industry.

Healthcare markets – why are we looking to US firms to help shape our healthcare?

As support rises in the US for an NHS-inspired ‘Medicare for All’ system to replace the current broken model, in contrast, the Conservative Party has spent the past decade rushing to adopt a US model in its reform of the NHS. This has involved taking our national health system and breaking it up into mini healthcare markets (known as Accountable Care Organisations, or ACOs) to be run, increasingly, with technology and expertise supplied by companies like Optum.

Optum specialises in using data and algorithms to predict and make decisions about who gets what care, something it has honed in America’s private health insurance system, where the more insurers cut costs and ration care, the more money they make. Optum’s algorithm was also recently found to show dramatic biases against black patients.

“Nationally, there are various things going on with data and information and digital that we are actually working with them [the UK] very, very closely right now,” Renfro told investors in April 2017. The health secretary and a “subset of the NHS board” were due to visit, he added: “So things seem to be breaking a lose [sic] right now.”

All of which adds up to quite a different picture to the one used by the Conservatives to sell the reforms to the public in 2010. Health secretary Andrew Lansley’s pitch back then was that his changes were about handing GPs control of the NHS budget to spend locally as they saw fit.

Optum had been involved in discussions from the start in 2010, as revealed in Lansley’s diary (which was released only after a court ruling). Four years later and documents released under FOI showed Optum in prime position to pick up some of the first wave of contracts. In April 2017 – by which time the NHS had been divided into 44 regional areas, each with a plan for reforming its region – Renfo updated investors on “what we’re doing in the UK” and Optum’s UK “44 market strategy”.

“So in February, we won our first business…. with one of those [regions]…. that’s where you’re going to manage with an ACO process. And so we’re tying in everything we do in the States into that win that we just received.” According to Renfro, it was “very, very close” to picking up another two regions and the firm had moved people over to the UK to manage the projects.

Since then, it has been hired by NHS England to “accelerate” these reforms across the country. In the West Midlands, for example, Optum has advised the region’s GPs, hospitals and local councils on their plans. With its partner, PwC, it provided a 12 week programme of training for senior health officials across Birmingham, Solihull, Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. It has also gone into partnership with GP “super-practice”, Modality.

Among the other regions receiving Optum coaching and support are: Cumbria; Cambridge and Peterborough; South East London, Staffordshire and Norfolk, Optum was also brought in to help remodel health services in the region spanning Bedford, Luton and Milton Keynes.

Yeovil Hospital, which has led the reforms in Somerset, said: “The ACO model born in the US market is new to the UK, and as such we have partnered with globally experienced Optum who are guiding our journey into this new world.”

At the same time, Optum has been on a hiring spree across the country of former NHS staff to undertake the work, led by former NHS England directors who have also passed through the revolving door. Ultimately, though, the man steering these reforms is Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England. He previously, spent a decade at the top of UnitedHealth Group as Executive Vice President and president of its expanding global health businesses.

The health secretary will still deny that privatisation is occurring on his watch. And Boris Johnson will continue to insist that the NHS is not for sale. Meanwhile, the seeds that Optum has been planting for a decade under the Tories are beginning to bear fruit.

openDemocracy approached the Department of Health for comment on the extent to which the public were being kept in the dark about the extent of the NHS’s engagement with private US health firms, specifically Optum, but they declined to comment, citing pre-election ‘purdah’ rules.

This content was originally published here.

The Game Changers And You: Going Vegan for Our Health and Our Planet’s

Over the past month several friends have told me to watch the The Game Changers on @Netflix  produced by James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger about vegan athletes. Intrigued by the concept of a plant based diet I sat down with my husband to watch the 90 minute documentary which was indeed a personal Game changer. And, I’m so glad I watched it because, not only did I learn about improving my health, I also learned how a change in diet can improve the planet. (For more on this read: The Reducetarian Solution: How the Surprisingly Simple Act of Reducing the Amount of Meat in Your Diet Can Transform Your Health and the Planet)

The show is revelatory, and so much more than an examination of one’s diet. It truly is a movement and I can see why there is a huge following. Anyone interested in their personal health and the health of the planet should watch this and then decide whether to change their eating.

Not only is diet at issue, the planet is as well. What are you doing about climate change? Well, it turns out we can make a dent by giving up meat without giving up protein or health. As a matter of fact, we can improve our health at the same time.

There are so many outstanding examples of how we are devasting our planet through feeding of livestock to fuel our appetites. The case is made that we are a product of marketing and eating meat for strength is a fallacy.

The case is made not only for leaner and stronger bodies from a diet change, reduction of inflammation, even stronger erections for men, and more energy for all. A solid case is also made for a reversal of devastation to our land and water supply by reducing the demand for meat.

WATCH THIS OFFICIAL 2-minute Trailer…

I have never wanted to go vegan. It just seemed to me like another neurotic fad to be skinny unless you have digestive issues. Well, after watching this documentary, my mind has been changed.

My husband was way more skeptical and found the film to be a bit too much of an infomercial. I on the other hand saw it as a call to action.

Although I have been a non-red meat eater since 1976, and am bored by chicken and skeptical of fish these days, I had never really thought of making a “diet” around giving these proteins up as the alternatives seem complicated (i.e. complex recipes of beans, not easily findable on restaurant menus).

But, it was this lesson I learned from the documentary. My daily diet of eggs and cheese and yogurt as my go to proteins and some chicken and tuna, are not giving me the healthy protein boost I need. Apparently, I have been missing the point as the potency of the protein options is in the plants. This for me is a game changer.

But change is hard. I have been eating a poached egg for breakfast most of my life and it’s my comfort food. Giving up eggs seems impossible and my happy hour of wine without cheese equally empty. Because this plant based diet asks us to give up all animal products that means my beloved french butter must go as well.

My guess is, I will try to go vegan for a while or at least a few days a week to see if I can do it and test if I feel better. I am also motivated to do my bit to help the planet. Want to try it with me?

P.S. There are number of disclaimers about the accuracy of this documentary which are worth reading.

Here are a few take-aways from the documentary that Buzz Feed put together….

1. All protein originates in plants. The protein one gets from eating a steak or a burger are actually from the plants the animal ate.

2. The average plant-eater gets 70% more protein than they need.

3. Many meat-eaters get more than half of their protein from plants.

4. When you eat animals regularly, you begin forming plaques in the coronary arteries.

5. The plaque formation doesn’t just limit the function of the arteries, it can block blood flow and make it difficult for your heart to keep up with the demands of your body.

6. When animal protein is cooked, preserved, or digested by our gut bacteria, highly inflammatory compounds are formed and they corrode our cardiovascular system.

Click here to read more from Buzz Feed…

The post The Game Changers And You: Going Vegan for Our Health and Our Planet’s appeared first on Better After 50.

This content was originally published here.

Warren: Middle-Class Taxes Won’t Go Up ‘One Penny’ for $52 Trillion Health Care Plan

In a long-awaited plan released Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) pledged to not raise middle-class taxes to pay for her proposed single-payer health care system.

After months of dodging questions about whether she would hike middle-class taxes to pay for Medicare for All, the 2020 candidate made a firm promise to voters about a $52 trillion system involving $20.5 trillion in new federal spending over the next 10 years.

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“We don’t need to raise taxes on the middle class by one penny to finance Medicare for All,” Warren wrote in a post detailing her proposal.

“As I have said repeatedly, under my Medicare for All plan, costs will go up for the very wealthy and big corporations, and costs will go down for middle-class families,” she wrote. “I will not sign a bill that violates these commitments. And as my plan to pay for Medicare for All makes clear, we can meet these commitments without a tax increase on the middle class – and, in fact, without any increase in income taxes at all.”

Today, I’m releasing my plan to pay for #MedicareForAll. Here’s the headline: My plan won’t raise taxes one penny on middle-class families. In fact, we’ll return about $11 TRILLION to the American people. That’s bigger than the biggest tax cut in our history. Here’s how:

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) November 1, 2019

Warren’s prior slipperiness on the subject had made her a target of criticism from fellow presidential candidates who do not support eliminating private insurance. South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg (D.) called her “extremely evasive,” and former vice president Joe Biden told voters she wasn’t being “straightforward” about the tax increases her plan would necessitate.

Instead, Warren claims her plan would be paid for by a variety of tax increases, including a new 6 percent wealth tax on billionaires, directing corporations to pay trillions to the government by redirecting what they would have spent on employer-sponsored health insurance, and a restructured tax on capital gains.

She also promised to cut administrative costs with the elimination of private health care, reduce the country’s “unsustainable” level of defense spending, and raise more revenue through immigration reform.

Her $20.5 trillion federal spending estimate is a dramatic scale-down of the left-leaning Urban Institute’s estimated $34 trillion cost to the government for Medicare for All. She said the federal government would have “real bargaining power to negotiate lower prices for patients” under the program.

Warren’s plan represents what would be the most dramatic transfer of money into the government’s hands in the nation’s history. The $20.5 trillion figure is equal to roughly one-third of what the government is projected to spend over the next 10 years, the New York Times reported.

The post Warren: Middle-Class Taxes Won’t Go Up ‘One Penny’ for $52 Trillion Health Care Plan appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

This content was originally published here.

‘Pay to breathe?’ ‘Oxygen bars’ hit New Delhi as India chokes under pollution & declares health emergency

A new fad sweeping India offers customers a breath of fresh air – literally. As pollution in New Delhi hits toxic levels, “Oxygen bars” are popping up in the city to help locals breathe easy, but some found the idea off-putting.

Officials in New Delhi were recently forced to declare a public health emergency over the city’s hazardous air quality after pollution levels soared to around 20 times what the World Health Organization deems safe, halting construction projects and closing schools across the capital. While the smog-choked air is inescapable for many, those with the cash may find a brief reprieve at their local oxygen bar.

Also on rt.com

© ANI via REUTERS
‘Theater of the absurd’: Delhi kids run mini marathon as city drowns in toxic smog (PHOTOS)

One such establishment is tucked in the corner of an upscale shopping mall in New Delhi, dubbed Oxy Pure, with bright lights and gadgets glowing through its clear glass storefront. Here, customers can pay between 299 and 499 rupees (around $4 to $7) for a 15-minute oxygen session, with their choice of several fragrances: orange, lavender, cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass or peppermint.

Delhi: An oxygen bar in Saket, ‘Oxy Pure’ is offering pure oxygen to its customers in seven different aromas (lemongrass, orange, cinnamon, spearmint, peppermint, eucalyptus, & lavender), at a time when Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city is in ‘severe’ category. pic.twitter.com/dZuVnY03jn

— ANI (@ANI) November 14, 2019

“Air pollution is going to dangerous levels so people are coming here to breathe pure oxygen,” Oxy Pure owner Aryavir Kumar told The National.

Each winter, air quality suffers in cities around India as winds die down and farmers burn the remnants of crops to make room for the next harvest. This time around, Kumar says New Delhi’s worsening smog has driven a surge of business at his establishment.

“We would get 15-20 people a day [before]. Now we are getting 30-40 customers every day,” he said. “There is a tremendous increase in the numbers of customers in the last two weeks.”

Conjuring images of a pulmonary ward, the bars deliver O2 through a standard cannula device which customers hook up to their nostrils, cranked out of a “concentrator” machine that pulls clean oxygen out of the polluted air. While Kumar is careful to insist the “oxygen therapy” does not cure any diseases, he says the air can rejuvenate “like a spa.”

Oxygen bars are not all that uncommon.

It offers a ‘natural high.’ We’re not used to breathing air which is > 20% oxygen. So, when you take a hit of oxygen at an oxygen bar, you immediately start to saturate your blood with oxygen, which can heighten concentration.

— TheRudim3nt (@TheRudim3nt) November 18, 2019

Despite the potential for benefits, many online found the concept downright dystopian, suggesting a future in which only the wealthy can afford to breathe non-toxic air.

Delhi is #1 most polluted air of 1,600 global cities AND #2 richest city in India. 15 minutes in “Oxygen bar” costs ₹ 500. Negligible for the rich, out of reach for poor, migrants living on ₹ 1,134/ month. The sweet privilege of clean air, clean water #EnvironmentalJustice

— Trishna | तृष्णा (@TrishnaTweets) November 18, 2019

This is your future India. “Pay to breathe “. Oxygen bar. And if you still don’t realise what petty politics / divisive politics does to you , you have lost the cause already. #DelhiPollution #Emergency #AirPollution pic.twitter.com/W4QsOwDx8Z

— bhupendra chaubey (@bhupendrachaube) November 15, 2019

“Commodify oxygen already,” tweeted another frustrated user. “F–k it, Commodify EVERYTHING. Subscriptions to life. $1.99 a minute.”

Here we are, even breathing is now becoming a commodityhttps://t.co/wyND3xTXoS

— Giulia Guidi (@giuliaguidi) November 18, 2019

Even so, the naysayers are unlikely to put a stop to the trend anytime soon. With India home to 15 of the world’s 20 most polluted cities, the country’s air quality woes are here to say for some time, perhaps pushing a greater number of Indians into oxygen bars like Oxy Pure – at least those who can afford it.

Also on rt.com

© Stewart Goldstein
‘You still owe us $1,400’: Woman dependent on oxygen tank dies after provider cuts off electricity

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Think before you 3D print: DIY orthodontics receive warning from USC – 3D Printing Industry

Experts from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California (USC) have expressed concerns about businesses offering direct-to-customer 3D printed aligner services.

The worry with such services is that patients are missing out on crucial care steps provided by a one-to-one consultation with an orthodontist. This can include jaw x-rays, and general dental health checks, which are fundamental to the overall well-being of the teeth.

USC alumni Nehi Ogbevoen, now an accomplished orthodontist, explains, “There’s a lot of things we can catch on an X-ray — for example, impacted teeth. There are other things we can catch that, if you aren’t seeing a dentist regularly, can be really scary.”

“We not only want to improve aesthetics but also the function of the bite,” he adds,

“We’re trying to plan your bite and smile and how they are going to age over the next 30, 40 years.”

The open-source dental opportunity

In 2016 famed designer Amos Dudley shed significant light on the power of 3D printing in dentistry by creating his own corrective braces at home. The blog charting his homegrown dental care project comes with a disclaimer advising readers against taking such action on their own. However it seems it has sparked some concern within the professional dental market.

Not only this, but entrepreneurs seeking to cash-in on the opportunities offered by dental 3D printing have also started cropping up. And this, in particular, is what comes under scrutiny at USC.

The problem with “DIY” dentistry

As an established brand within dentistry Invisalign is of course a respected business within this sphere. However, “the world’s largest user of state-of-the-art 3D printing technology for making highly accurate, customized aligners,” is not the kind of opportunist targeted by USC critics.

Invisalign requires patients to organize an appointment before seeking treatment. It is instead such businesses that seem to solely operate online that have come under fire. Those that allow a patient to submit their own 3D scanned dental model for consideration, without consultation.

The problem here can be that any existing dental-health conditions can fly under the radar, causing deeper issues for the patient. In particular Hany Youssef, faculty member at the  USC Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, has come face-to-face with a patient who suffered negative side effects due to a condition missed when undertaking this type of “DIY” dental care.

How to get low-cost dental care

Rather than scaremongering though, the recommendation here is that patients should be asking lots of questions before they go ahead with the low-cost alternative. It is also making orthodonists reflect on the high cost of treatment and, USC experts, believe that this new, more convenient approach will have a trickle-down effect on the wider dental industry.

Glenn T. Sameshima, chairman and program director of USC’s Advanced Orthodontics Certificate Program, says accessibility needs to be taken into account. “I see a future,” he adds, “20 to 30 years from now, when they’ll be able to do a combination of clear aligners and braces, with 3D printing bringing these costs down.”

Nominate your Dental Application of the Year and more in the 2019 3D Printing Industry Awards now. 

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This content was originally published here.

Embracing the future of dentistry: Rendezvous Dental now offering Tele-dentistry

The future of medicine as we know it is evolving, whether we like it or not. You may have even heard the term “telemedicine” in recent talks about healthcare.

With the introduction of internet and technology, a world of possibilities could open up; from access to top medical professionals all over the world, to medical assessments conducted from the comfort of your home.

The ability to diagnose (and in some cases, treat) remotely are made possible. For obvious reasons, this new technology could have some positive implications for rural communities like ours.

As healthcare as we know it evolves, the same rings true for oral health. The dental field is adopting Tele-dentistry which involves “the exchange of clinical information and images over remote distances for dental consultation and treatment planning.” .

What does this mean for patients?
For you, the patient, this could mean access to better oral healthcare, online consultations, and in some cases lower costs. For example, you can now get a professional opinion from your dentist without taking time off work or pulling your kid out of school.

Here locally, Rendezvous Dental is embracing the future of dentistry.
Forward-thinking dentists, like Dr. Colton Crane at Rendezvous Dental are already using this cutting-edge technology to improve the patient experience.

Let’s try it!
Tele-dentistry with Rendezvous Dental is easy. Visit their website and follow the instructions. Fill out the online form, describe your concern in detail, and attach two images from different angles. For just $25, you can have a response from Dr. Crane within 2-3 hours (during business hours)!

In most cases this is enough for Crane to decide if your problem is cause for immediate concern or something that can wait until your next cleaning. In a pinch, antibiotics could be prescribed too. Should an x-ray or further exam be in order, Rendezvous Dental will apply your $25 as a credit.

This new service is currently available online at rendezvousdental.com/tele-dentistry. For more information, call Rendezvous Dental at  or stop by their office at 312 N 8th St. W. in Riverton.

This content was originally published here.