Notes To My Grandson

Hospital parking lot.

Hospital parking lot.

On the day you arrived, temperatures dropped into the single digits. A winter storm had battered northwest Oregon. For three days, feathers of dry snow fell in the mountains and throughout the Columbia Gorge. The Hood River Valley, which is named for the town that will be your home, rested under a thick white blanket.

Schools closed and the interstate shut down. A weather advisory halted activity in most communities. But you were safe in the care of your intrepid mom and dad. They arrived at the hospital at 5:30 am, having navigated blizzard-like conditions with the aplomb for which they are renowned. Your parents possess the determined grit of athletes, a trait you will inherit.

You and mom.

You and mom.

We knew when you would be born. A C-section was scheduled for January 11, 2017. Risk factors that arose after your sister’s delivery, three years ago, predicated the operation that brought you into the world. Your birth occurred at 8:28 am. You weighed 9.7 pounds and measured 21 and 1/2 inches in length.

You emerged from surgery with bruises on your upper arms and a red abrasion on the back of your head. At my first sighting in the maternity ward, your skin glowed with colors ranging from light pink to deep purple. You had remarkably long fingers and toes. Chubby, well developed arms and legs reflected the strength of the woman who carried you for the nine months of your development.

You quickly took to nursing even though mom’s milk did not flow the first day. With each attempt at feeding you lay contented on your mother’s chest nuzzling and bonding alongside she who would be your primary guide during infancy.

You and dad.

You and dad.

Everyone took turns holding you. First of all, your dad. His self-confidence is one of your birthrights. As a builder, he gets things done. You will come of age in a community built, in part, by your father and his friends.

After dad came Grammy Jennifer, Gramma D, Nana, Papa Guerra, and myself. You have adoring grandparents who were present on the day you were born. Grandpa Jeff came a day later, equally proud and excited by your arrival into the world.

Your long wavy hair resembled big sister Savannah’s at the time of her birth. She had spent the morning with the grandmas, then visited for the first time in the middle of the afternoon. You were not yet eight hours old when she held you gently in her arms. If you fussed, she consoled you with soft reassurances. Mostly, though, she marveled at your twitches and reflexes … your aliveness.

You and Nana and big sister Savannah.

You and Nana and big sister Savannah.

Soon, her every move will captivate your attention. Her creative play and caring nature are personality traits you will mimic. You could not ask for a better role model.

On day two, donor breast milk satisfied your hunger. This led to long naps punctuated by squeaks, snuffles, and murmurs. I held you for 20 minutes during one of these rest periods. If you stirred awake, gentle rocking helped you relax.

By the third day, your sleep periods increased further. Again, I cradled you in my arms, this time for over an hour. You slept peacefully, occasionally shrugging your big shoulders and kicking the blanket off your feet.

Courtyard of the hospital cafeteria.

Courtyard of the hospital cafeteria.

Later that day, Friday the 13th, you exited the hospital. Packed snow covered the streets. The temperature hovered at 17 degrees. Your birth certificate read, Samuel Edward Smith. The first name has a solidity that appealed to your parents. Your middle name is a tribute to grandfather “Papa Guerra,” your mom’s dad.

I like the name. Nonetheless, given the wildness of the winter’s weather, I felt partial to calling you Stormy.

Tagged: C-section, Caesarian Birth, Childbirth, Columbia River Gorge, Donor breast milk, family, grandchildren, healthcare, Hood River, Hood River Valley, Oregon, Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital, weather

Please seek out patients, we want to help

Waiting for my chemo treatmentFeb 2013: About to begin 9 months of chemo

  • If you’re organizing a healthcare gala or patient-focused conference, ask yourself what can be done to include patients as speakers or attendees.
  • If you’re a healthcare startup or conducting research that will benefit patients, seek out their advice throughout the development cycle.
  • If you’re teaching future healthcare professionals, invite a patient to guest lecture.
  • If you’re a student wanting to be a healthcare professional or working on a disease-related project, reach out to a patient for a personal perspective.

We welcome the opportunity to share our knowledge. Please seek us out. We want to help.

The post Please seek out patients, we want to help appeared first on Fade to Play.

Obamacare’s Broken Promises

Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) said in his March 8th, 2011 piece, “Americans want the health care they need, from the doctor they want, at a price they can afford. The new law fails this test. It’s only taken a year to break almost every one of the president’s promises.” Then Senator Barrasso describes a broken promise for each month since March 2010.

    March ’10:

Promise: Obamacare would reduce the deficit.
Truth: The Democrats cut over $500 billion from Medicare to start a new entitlement, which produces an increase to the deficit by $260 billion.

    April ’10:

The cuts to Medicare could drive up to 15% of hospitals out of business.

    May ’10:

In order for over 200,000 Americans with preexisting conditions and expensive health insurance to be eligible to enroll in the new high risk pools (created in the health care law), they’d first have to drop their insurance and go without coverage for 6 months.

    June ’10:

The Associated Press blew the whistle on the administration about the “tax credits” to small businesses. The only businesses eligible for these credits employed fewer than 25 people. For companies who employ more than 10 people with salaries over $25,000, the tax credit “drops off sharply”.

    July ’10:

This administration’s Justice Department “confirmed the individual mandate penalty is a tax increase.” But, when ABC news’ George Stephanopoulos asked the President if the mandate penalty was a tax increase, the President ‘rejected that notion.’ Contradictions?

    August ’10:

The President assigned Dr. Donald Berwick to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, without a Congressional hearing. This is the guy who says he gets a ‘romantic feeling’ over the UK plan. Dr. Berwick believes in *government rationing* and at least honestly states, “the only issues is whether we ‘ration with our eyes open’.” President Obama promised not to ration care. Another broken promise.

    September ’10:

Remember when President Obama repeated over and over and over again that if you like the coverage you had today, you can keep it? He promised the same about keeping your doctor. The new rules estimated that 80 percent of small businesses would be forced to change the coverage they offer their employees.

    October ’10:

Obama’s cronies from unions and big corporations began complaining about the expensive mandates. So, for those “politically connected to this administration”, “waivers” were handed out. What about all the fairness this President and the liberal Democrats preach about? Let’s see—the American families still will be expected to take on the law’s expensive burdens – just not the President’s “favorites”. That’s reassuring.

    November ’10:

The majority of the American people made it very clear they did not want this law. They were totally and wholly ignored and even ridiculed by the President and Democratic party. As a result, the Republicans were handed their biggest majorities in the House of Representatives since President Eisenhower.

    December ’10:

President Obama and the Democrats said the country needed this law. The same law that one of the biggest unions in the country, the SEIU (Service Employees’ International Union), admitted that fulfilling the requirements of ObamaCare would be “financially impossible.” A federal judge in Virginia ruled that it was unconstitutional to force Americans to buy a product.

    January ’11:

“… the Medicare actuary called the administration’s claim that the health care law would bring down costs “false, more so than true.” Also, a federal judge in Florida struck down the entire law as unconstitutional.”

    February ’11:

“In February, we learned that the IRS’ 2012 budget specifically mentions the health care law 250 times as a source of authority and funding for new powers. They called the health care law “the largest set of tax law changes in more than 20 years.” To begin implementing these changes will require thousands of new Washington bureaucrats.”

Nancy Pelosi stated, “We have to pass the bill so you can find out what’s in it.” Now we know….it should be repealed and replaced.

Choices

In January, I met with Dr. M. Once again, my cancer showed signs of awakening. I feel good. I am not overtly symptomatic. Nevertheless, the myeloma stretched and yawned. After a nearly 2 1/2-year nap, my drug-free remission was about to end.

When in doubt, trust your instincts.

Since last October, we’ve discussed a course of action. I digested statistics from clinical trial findings. The doctor weighed in with his experience. Opinions from several other respected sources aided me in my deliberations. Finally, I assessed my own treatment history. No doubt, the chemo I received in 2008 altered the environment of my bone marrow. Those drugs subdued the disease. Over time, though, the cancer adapted and the surviving cells began to grow.

During the intervening months while thinking about what to do, MM claimed the lives of two members of my support group and an online acquaintance. That, coupled with the undeniable activity of my disease, broke the resolve to withhold treatment. I agreed to begin a maintenance therapy of 10mg of revlimid daily, three weeks on, one week off … indefinitely.

My rationale is a gut decision as much as it is about the clinical findings. Stable disease lulls one into complacency. This creates a Hamlet-like dilemma for the patient. Do you strike out at the cancer, or wait? No matter what you decide, it’s a coin toss with your life in the balance. Heads or tails; make the call.

A pretty winter morning, then the rains came.

Elsewhere, life goes on indifferent to my stewing over the choices. Winter arrived with enthusiasm. Ski resorts opened early. The season’s frigid momentum persisted through the holidays, clenching the long nights in an icy grip. Then, with New Year’s arrival, its hold loosened when the rains of El Niño drenched the western states.

At home, our modest sized Hood River, swollen to flood stage, growled with boulders tumbling downstream. Pear farmers renewed the premiums on their crop insurance as the thawing ground awakened the roots of trees accustomed to dormancy.

Dormancy, as blood cancer patients and farmers know, is a good thing. Temporary inactivity helps plants rest and rejuvenate. Nature’s balance depends on a period of suspended animation that unleashes itself in a nurturing climate. Too early, and the plant is vulnerable; too late and it may not mature.

Sleeping trees-That's Mt. Adams to the north.

Cancer, on the other hand, is more about co-existence with a situation that is out of balance. A patient, such as I, attempts to stay one step ahead. If eliminating the disease is unlikely, then perhaps suppressing it can moderate the ill effects. With luck, a durable remission is possible. In fact, given the dynamics of research into multiple myeloma, surviving until new treatments become available is a reasonable strategy.

Am I convinced about my decision? No. But I feel fortunate to have choices. The dirty little secret about revlimid is that a 21-day supply of this miraculous drug can cost over $10,000.00. That is not a misprint. Obviously, I don’t pay that. I have health insurance that happens to cover the drug. But for those that don’t, the choices about their cancer treatment are much more difficult than mine.

Lack of Water Causes Patients to Drink from Vases

What a sad and alarming situation in this UK Hospital. According to this LINK, “Donald Berwick, director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has claimed a love affair with Britain‘s NHS and it’s government-run program. His critics say his “love” and approach will eventually lead to the cost-cutting dilemma patients such as Baily’s mother have experienced first-hand.” – – Well, after you read the article below…you’ll know what happened to Bailey’s mother. When I see something like this in the NHS system, I can’t help but recall that diarist on this site who dedicated an entry to dogging me and those of us in the U.S. who favor a private health care system. God help us if our health care system continues down the path of being handled by our government. When you have overworked and disenchanted workers in a tax-funded system, this is what it always turns into…

Bella Bailey (left) died at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital after being admitted with an enlarged hiatus hernia

Grieving: Julie Bailey, pictured with others who have lost relatives at Stafford Hospital, told the inquiry patients were left without water at night and were left 'screaming' out in pain on chaotic and under-staffed wards

Patients at scandal-hit hospital ‘forced to drink from vases after being left on ward without water’
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:34 PM on 23rd November 2010

Thirsty patients were forced to drink from vases of flowers after they were left on a ward without water, an inquiry heard today.

Campaigner Julie Bailey, whose mother Bella died at the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital, said patients were left ‘screaming’ out in pain on chaotic and under-staffed wards.

She said that when she raised the issue of lack of water on the wards with the nurses, she was told they could not leave drinks out for patients during the night because of ‘health and safety’.

Grieving: Julie Bailey, pictured with others who have lost relatives at Stafford Hospital, told the inquiry patients were left without water at night and were left ‘screaming’ out in pain on chaotic and under-staffed wards Miss Bailey, who slept at her mother’s bedside in the hospital for eight weeks, told the inquiry: ‘They couldn’t find anything else to drink so they were drinking from flower vases.

‘I saw that myself on several occasions, it wasn’t just one occasion.

‘There were just no fluids available for patients.’
Miss Bailey also told how her 86-year-old mother once collapsed on a ward after being left without her oxygen supply.

The grieving daughter set up the campaign group Cure The NHS after the death of her mother at Stafford Hospital, which has been heavily criticised for putting targets and cost-cutting ahead of patient welfare.
It has been claimed that hundreds of patients died at the hospital, run by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust, as a result of sub-standard treatment.

Following the death of her mother in 2007, Miss Bailey lobbied for an open investigation into how appalling standards of care were allowed to persist.

A public inquiry into the care provided by the trust between 2005 and 2009 was launched earlier this month.

Bella Bailey (left) died at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital after being admitted with an enlarged hiatus hernia
Today Miss Bailey told inquiry chairman Robert Francis QC that her mother collapsed on Ward 11 of the hospital after being left in a chair with no oxygen supply because there were no nurses available to reconnect the canister.

Miss Bailey said the pensioner, who had a hiatus hernia and suffered from breathing difficulties, had left the ward to undergo an endoscopy and was placed in a chair upon her return by a hospital porter.

She said her niece, who had been visiting, was told repeatedly that a nurse would reconnect the oxygen supply, but after 45 minutes no nurse had arrived and her mother collapsed.

Miss Bailey said: ‘The healthcare assistant kept saying, “the nurse will be with you in a minute, the nurse will be with you in a minute” but she never came.
‘So mum collapsed and my niece telephoned me.’
She added: ‘I believe that if my niece hadn’t gone in to see my mum at that particular time when she collapsed then she would have died there that day. I am convinced of it.

‘After that I decided that mum would never be in that hospital alone and that is what we did.’

Describing the ward, Miss Bailey said: ‘It was absolute chaos. There were people screaming out, shouting “nurse, nurse”. It was just bedlam.

‘There were just relatives waiting all the way down the corridor which I later learned was people, relatives, coming in for visitor hours and then waiting to talk to staff.

‘It was just like clutter all the way down and people shouting out.

‘It was just, it appeared to be, utter chaos on the ward.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1332070/Stafford-Hospital-inquiry-Patients-left-water-forced-drink-vases.html#ixzz16AGmlll1

NOTE: It’s always interesting to check the site & view readers’ comments. Just sayin’….

Let the Death Panels Commence

A few weeks back I’d read about the drug Avastin, something about its approval maybe being pulled back. It’s a very expensive drug prescribed as a last-ditch effort for breast cancer patients. It’s not a cure, but it provides an extension of life and quality of life in the hope (that America has no shortage of), that a cure might be obtained.

I’m not in favor of America’s “Obamacare”, though I am in agreement improvement in our existing system is…was needed. I’m not in favor of bureaucracies making decisions about treatments and drugs based on financial records and cost-benefit analyses. That is appalling to me. Anyway, this article shows just how things will work with Obamacare…and this is just the beginning. However, rather than appear all doom & gloom, I have faith in this great country that we’ll either repeal Obamacare and then make incremental improvements that are in the best interest of the patient, the doctor, the hospital, the system, the cost, the debt OR we’ll just remove about 1,990 pages of the 2000 page bill (those #’s are not accurate, but you get my drift…) – and keep the good part.

Perhaps I should have written an entry on the Avastin when I first read about it, as my first thoughts was ‘here we go already’. But this columnist wrote a much better article on the topic than I ever could.

Let the death panels commence
Peter Heck – Guest Columnist – 8/30/2010 10:00:00 AM

On Friday, August 7, 2009, Sarah Palin wrote on her Facebook page: “The Democrats promise that a government healthcare system will reduce the cost of healthcare, but [it] will not…it will simply refuse to pay the cost. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide…whether they are worthy of healthcare. Such a system is downright evil.”

The response of Democrats and the media to Palin’s assertion can only be described as outrage. Howard Dean went on ABC and called it “totally erroneous,” concluding, “She just made that up.” Even David Brooks, the closest thing to a conservative the New York Times can bring themselves to hire, proclaimed on Meet the Press, “That’s crazy…the crazies are attacking the plan because it’ll cut off granny, and that – that’s simply not true. That simply is not going to happen.”

And even last week, Newsweek magazine ranked the idea that there would be bureaucratic boards making life-and-death decisions for people as one of the “Dumb Things Americans Believe.”

The only problem for Dean, Brooks, Newsweek and the whole lot is that it now appears that under ObamaCare there are bureaucratic boards making life-and-death decisions for people.

Take the anti-cancer drug Avastin, which was fast-tracked by the FDA years ago. It is primarily used to treat colon cancer, but is also prescribed now to treat nearly 18,000 women a year who are fighting the late stages of breast cancer. While Avastin doesn’t cure the disease, it can and does significantly lengthen and improve the quality of a victim’s last months. Perhaps to be expected, Avastin is also very expensive, costing up to $100,000 a year.

But now suddenly, despite the stringent objections being made by both the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance on behalf of patients, the FDA is considering removing Avastin from its approved drug list for breast cancer. Such a move would mean ending its coverage by both Medicare and the government program for low-income women.

ObamaCare proponents say this FDA action has nothing to do with the expensive nature of the drug, but rather about questions over its effectiveness. That’s possible…but there is strong circumstantial evidence to suggest otherwise.

Consider that if the FDA continues to approve Avastin, it puts the ObamaCare system in a very difficult and awkward position: it could either subsidize the expensive drug for low-income women, or refuse to subsidize it.

If it does the former, the government will be shelling out billions of taxpayer dollars a year for a drug that is increasingly popular, but doesn’t cure the disease. That destroys the promise of ObamaCare to lower costs. But if it does the latter, thereby denying treatment to patients that they could have received prior to ObamaCare, they prove Sarah Palin and conservative critics of the plan totally correct on the issue of rationing.

So to avoid this uncomfortable dilemma, Obama’s FDA simply pulls its recommendation of the drug altogether. This may allow ObamaCare’s supporters the chance to temporarily dodge the political fallout of what they’ve foisted on the American people, but it also devastates the families of nearly 18,000 women who will suffer the deadly consequences.

Is this the vaunted “compassion” our president and his allies promised they were delivering to our healthcare system?

ObamaCare has already devolved into the nightmare we should have seen coming from the moment the president told Jane Strum in a town hall meeting that perhaps her 100-year-old mother should have gotten a pain pill instead of a life-saving pacemaker.

The frightening reality is that this controversy over Avastin is only the beginning. This is what our healthcare system is on the verge of becoming under ObamaCare: battles with faceless bureaucracies who make decisions about treatments and drugs looking at financial records and cost-benefit analyses, not people.

Covering the Avastin story in the Washington Post, reporter Rob Stein begins, “Federal regulators are considering taking the highly unusual step of rescinding approval of a drug that patients with advanced breast cancer turn to as a last-ditch hope.” Highly unusual…until now.

Welcome to Obama’s brave new world where “perhaps you’re better off with a pain pill.” I dare say that for those of us with family members or friends who have battled breast cancer, Sarah’s not looking quite so crazy anymore.

Link to Article above: http://www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=1141010

Pain in the Gas

Gas is the biggest pain in the —gut. When my spinal cord first started atrophying, I began building up gas. I just knew I had a tumor in my abdomen. It turned out to be – gas. That was over two years ago. I even went to the emergency room one time. But this was before I knew what was going on. What a strange time that was for me.

When I was first diagnosed with Myeloma, I was too busy worrying about my finances that I had very little time to worry about the cancer. By the time I got my financial situation pretty much squared away, I have been so fixated on the pain and discomfort this spinal cord damage causes that I rarely think about my Myeloma.

I’ve yet to figure out whether that is a good thing or not.

Bottomline, I must be doing good because at my six month teeth cleaning, my dental hygenist said that she thought I was getting around & looked better than ever. If you’d ask me, I’d say I was in more discomfort and pain and was having a little more difficulty getting around. My spirits seem to be Okay, though. God, wonderful children, family, and Sisters-in-Christ do wonders.

I’ve not changed my sleeping, eating, or activity patterns, so I don’t understand why I seem to have more pressure down there, but I do. I’m fairly sure it’s gas. I know, I know, you’d think I would know whether it’s gas or not. But I don’t. This “gas build-up” doesn’t really escape all that obviously. The obvious, you’d think, would be that I would “pass gas”, but I don’t…really…at least to my knowledge. Put it this way, the pressure doesn’t match what output, if any. (That’s about as delicate as I can put it.) How humbling it is to come down to this….oh well…such is life.

But why I keep changing my sensations and symptoms when I’ve not changed anything else is mind-boggling. But as I write this I do recall mentioning that thought to my physical therapist. While I do not remember his explanation, I remember that he was not surprised that with a spinal cord injury sensations change.

When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, that ugly “cancer” word, I imagined such an evilness inside of me. I was so eager to put more evil (medicine) inside of me to kill off the evil cancer. For a long time – and even still – I did’t recognize my body any longer. It’s no longer “mine”. Cancer does funny things to both our bodies and our minds, I guess.

Probably since I have spinal cord damage, along with the painful sensations, I’m especially prone to feeling like a stranger in this body. When anyone who’s had cancer feels any new sensation in his or her body, I think it’s normal for that person to immediately suspect it’s the “cancer” causing the symptom. So, when I feel more gas or pressure, I think I’m dying. It’s so silly, but I know quite normal.

For around $25 Wal-mart has this little thing with pedals. I’ve used it about four or five times. For about five days in a row I pedaled for 5 minutes and then did some upper body exercises with light weights. The last few days I’ve felt a little yucky, so backed off. It’s that darned GAS!! I know movement produces gas, but this pressure almost prevents me from moving! Persistence….ugh! It was so much better when I could jog. I miss those days so much.

One day I enjoyed my patio for a couple of hours in the morning with a cup of coffee and Scripture & devotional reading. It sure made a difference in my outlook.

I dread the upcoming changes in our Healthcare system. What a time to get sick. This is such an irritation, but I know I’m best to not let it overtake me. Politicians after power and trying to “fundatmentally change” this country irritate me to no end. I must remember that they will someday answer to their evil deeds. Why we couldn’t just fix the problems rather than do a complete overhaul is beyond me. It’s never as it seems. No, if it was for such noble causes, then those designing the changes for us “serfs” would apply the changes to their own healtcare – but no, their care will remain better. They had the chance to receive the same care pushed off on the rest of us peons – but they’d have none of that.

The young and those with no experience with an illness and decent insurance coverage don’t understand; they hear “free” and “for all” and they are sold. While improvements are definitely in order, anyone who’s had private health insurance and experienced a major illness will know they’ve been robbed. For all the propoganda out there about private health insurance, I’ve experienced illnesses that total cost was well over $80,000 and my total cost was well under $300, if that much. Now that I’m forced on Medicare, it is horrible. It pays for less procedures or treatments and for what it does cover, it covers less. Thank God my private insurance (from my employer) is still my secondary insurance and picks up what Medicare doesn’t. Still, since Medicare must be my primary, then I have worse coverage. When I worked, benefits were important to me. I intentionally worked hard for a company where I received decent benefits. Anyone has that choice. And for those who don’t or can’t do that, then there are options and things to do to assist the smaller percentage of people needing help. But to overhaul the entire system rather than fix simply the “broken” piece is ridiculous.

I think Private insurance – competition – makes for better service. What these people are thinking to turn our lives over to a beauracracy – is beyond me. I’ve come across a few people who immigrated here from the U.K., and one said, nearly true to quote, “Whatever you do, DON’T do this Obamacare!” Then she proceeded to tell me about her sister’s care in the U.K. compared to hers here in the U.S. If someone from the U.K. reads this, I’m sorry and I don’t mean to be offensive. I am stating “my” experience, and that’s all I can do.

But I’ve come to the conclusion, I’ve reminded myself anyway, that God is in control. All I can do is vote and share what I know and think with others. Other than that, it’s best to go with the flow of things as best as one can do.

Obamacare Taking On Water

Obamacare taking on water
By: Jeffrey H. Anderson
Special to the Examiner
05/28/10 9:34 AM EDT
As they followed one another off the political cliff in voting for the health-care overhaul, Democratic senators and representatives comforted themselves with their own self-created myth that, although ObamaCare was horribly unpopular as a bill, it would prove to be quite fetching as a law. Furthermore, this transformation, this change they could believe in, would take place sooner rather than later — as voters would reward rather than punish them for passing ObamaCare in clear and open defiance of popular will.

In the two months since, President Obama has pulled out all the stops, aggressively trying to sell the overhaul while also rolling out ostensibly popular provisions ahead of schedule. These provisions include a federal mandate that insurers cover all “children” up to the age of 26 on their mom’s and dad’s policies, with costs being borne through somewhat higher premiums for all families; and a tax credit for small businesses, but only — or at least mostly — for very small businesses (those with nine or fewer workers) with very low-paid full-time employees (those averaging less than $25,000 in annual income).

Unfortunately (from the perspective of ObamaCare supporters), a steady stream of revelations of previously undiscovered horrors buried in the bowels of ObamaCare appears to have more than negated any gains that the administration might otherwise have made.

Since passage, reports have revealed that ObamaCare would cost over $1 trillion by any standard, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), not “merely” $940 billion as previously reported (while its total costs in its real first decade, 2014 to 2023, would continue to be well over $2 trillion); that ObamaCare has prompted major corporations to discuss dropping their employer-provided health-care plans; that businesses would have to file 1099s not only for every person to whom they pay $600 in wages but for every vendor with whom they do $600 in business, thereby imposing a paperwork nightmare and incentivizing companies to avoid doing business with a myriad of small firms rather than a handful of big ones; that ObamaCare would create 159 new federal agencies, offices, or programs; that the Obama administration’s Medicare Chief Actuary says ObamaCare would raise U.S. health costs by $311 billion in relation to current law and would shift about 14 million people off of employer-provided insurance — and some of them onto Medicaid; that ObamaCare’s would discourage employment, as — for example — hiring a 25th worker would cost a business $5,600 in addition to wages and benefits; that ObamaCare would impose a severe marriage penalty, offering additional subsidies as high as $10,425 a year if couples merely avoid marriage; that a lone provision in ObamaCare, which would penalize employers if their employees spend more than 9.5 percent of their household income on insurance premiums, would cut the net income of businesses like White Castle by more than half; that even though ObamaCare was supposed to get people out of emergency rooms and into doctors’ offices, those who build emergency rooms say the effect will be just the opposite and that they are gearing up for increased business; that doctors shortages are looming and would be accentuated by ObamaCare, both because more people would seek care (otherwise, what would the $2 trillion be buying?) and because fewer people would likely enter a demanding profession that would now promise greater restrictions and lower pay; and that President Obama’s nominee to head Medicare and Medicaid under ObamaCare is an open advocate of the British National Health Services’ NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) and its methods of rationing care.

These revelations appear to have taken a toll. Together, they seem to have made a notoriously unpopular law significantly less popular.

In its May poll (conducted from May 11-16), Kaiser Health detected a noticeable decline in ObamaCare’s popularity. Almost alone among the polls, the monthly Kaiser poll had never showed ObamaCare facing a public-opinion deficit at any time this year. This is partly because Kaiser polls all Americans — not merely registered or likely voters — and ObamaCare polls better among the politically disengaged.

In April, Kaiser showed that the gap between ObamaCare’s supporters and its opponents was 3 percentage points — in ObamaCare’s favor. Now, in May, it shows that gap to be 6 percentage points in the other direction — a 9-point swing in just one month. (In a poll of likely voters, released in May but not in April, Kaiser shows ObamaCare to be facing a 10-point deficit.) Movement from last month has been even greater among those with strong sentiments, as the gap between those who strongly support the overhaul and those who strongly oppose it has widened from 7 points (30 to 23 percent) to 18 points (32 to 14 percent). Furthermore, only 44 percent now say they are “confused” by the law, compared to 55 percent last month. To know ObamaCare is apparently not to love ObamaCare.

Condemningly, Politico writes that the Kaiser poll “suggests the accelerated implementation schedule has failed to sway a skeptical public — or even keep health reform’s most ardent supporters on board.” Supporting Politico’s statement, the percentage of Americans who strongly support the law has dropped from 23 to 14 percent in just one month.

Rasmussen, whose poll includes only likely voters, has recently registered a similarly dramatic shift against ObamaCare. In the first eight weeks following the overhaul’s passage, Rasmussen showed strong and consistent support for repeal. The average gap between those who supported repeal and those who opposed it was 16 points, and it was never lower than 12 points or higher than 20. This week, the gap has ballooned to 31 points. Americans now favor repeal by a margin of almost 2-to-1, with 63 percent favoring repeal and just 32 percent opposing it.

A more detailed look at the numbers provides even more encouragement for those who are actively pushing for ObamaCare’s repeal. Independents support repeal by a full 50 percentage points: 72 to 22 percent. The number of voters who “strongly” favor repeal (46 percent) dwarfs the number who oppose it even “somewhat” (32 percent). Fewer than half of the President’s own party is against repeal (49 percent). And, per capita, it’s easier to find a Democrat who supports repeal (36 percent of them do) than any voter — regardless of party — who opposes it (only 32 percent do). By a margin of at least 15 points, every income group except for those making less than $20,000 a year (who oppose repeal by 8 points) supports repeal, with those making between $20,000 and $40,000 supporting it by the widest margin: 49 points.

Perhaps the most ominous sign for President Obama and the Democratic Congress is evidence that younger voters are jumping ship. In the first eight weeks after passage, an average of 58 percent of likely voters under age-30 supported repeal — 2 points higher than voters as a whole. This week, 70 percent of them support repeal — compared to 27 percent opposed, for a margin of 43 points. The only group that’s even more supportive of repeal, at 72 percent, is those in their 30s. But, in truth, every age-group is overwhelmingly supportive of repeal; it’s just a question of degree. The smallest margin in support of repeal, logged by those between the ages of 50 and 64, is 19 points.

President Obama talked a lot about the need to pass ObamaCare and put it in the history books. Americans are now making it clear that they want to relegate ObamaCare to the history books.

And once it is gone, there will be no shortage of ideas that can replace it — ideas that will actually lower health costs, make health care more accessible for all, and not compromise quality. A fine example was presented in these pages two weeks ago by Peter Hansen, who wrote that the truly effective way to lower health-care costs is to give people the opportunity and incentive to shop for value — for the highest-quality care, at the lowest-possible prices.

To do so, and to increase fairness, Hansen argued that we should allow all Americans to deduct their full health-care costs (not just their insurance premiums) from their taxes — and not just from their income taxes but also from their payroll taxes (a more important deduction for lower-income workers). This would level the tax playing-field between those with employer-provided insurance — whose taxes wouldn’t change (except that they could now also deduct out-of-pocket expenses) — and those who purchase insurance on the open market and would no longer have to do so with after-tax dollars.

Hansen’s proposal could be paid for in part by taking a page out of my small-bill proposal (www.smallbill.org) and gradually rerouting and putting to better use some of the funds that provide federal assistance for emergency rooms. It could also be paired with a couple of other small-bill proposals, like allowing the purchase of insurance across state lines and providing some federal funding for state-run high-risk pools to help give access to insurance for those with prohibitively expensive preexisting conditions. In addition, his proposed $1,000 tax deduction for buying insurance could be changed to a $1,000 tax credit, which would more profoundly reduce the number of uninsured. And I would cap the health-care deduction at some defined level of annual health-care spending, perhaps at $50,000 or so, to try to prevent taxpayers from having to subsidize cutting-edge, unusual, or perhaps even unnecessary procedures purchased out of pocket by the truly rich.

With or without the incorporation of these suggestions, Hansen’s proposal is refreshingly simple and keen-sighted, and it rightly focuses on the one thing that ObamaCare doesn’t really focus on much at all: lowering health costs. In truth, the Obama administration’s obsession with insurance (and with government control) has kept it from focusing on making health care more affordable — which is what Americans really want.

A huge part of the problem with our health-care system today is that far too much money is funneled through insurers, which keeps patients from controlling and allocating their own health-care dollars more efficiently and which also adds an unnecessary layer of costs. Dr. Marcy Zwelling, a Southern California private physician, says that the same MRI for which insurers are billed $2,000 to $3,000 — and for which they might actually agree to pay something like $1,000 (depending on their negotiated rates) — costs only $300 to $400 for patients who pay cash. Two weeks ago in these pages, Tony Mecia cited Dr. Brian Forrest, a North Carolina doctor who says that the prostate-cancer screening test for which a lab bills insurers $184 can be purchased by his patients for $30 in cash. It makes no sense to be funneling so much money through an unnecessary middle-man.

Yet, according to the CBO, in ObamaCare’s real first dozen years (2014 to 2025), it would funnel $1 trillion from American taxpayers, through Washington, to private insurers — in exchange for insurers’ largely giving up their autonomy to the government. Thus, ObamaCare would further entrench insurers’ position as an inefficient middle-man — that’s a key reason why insurers largely supported the overhaul — while simultaneously entrenching an even more problematic and inflexible middle-man in the form of the federal government.

Conversely, Hansen’s plan would empower patients, make prices more transparent, give patients more opportunity and incentive to shop around, and thereby lower health costs — all without reducing liberty or lowering the quality of care.

Hansen’s plan, or one like it, would be like a breath of fresh air. But first we have to get rid of Obamacare.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/obamacare-taking-on-water-95104599.html#ixzz0pO8XMTeX