15 Doctors Fired From Chicago-Area Health System | Medpage Today

At least 15 physicians have been fired from Edward-Elmhurst Health as the suburban Chicago-based health system moves to cut costs, sources told MedPage Today.

The doctors, who worked across its seven “Immediate Care” or urgent care sites, will be replaced by advanced practice nurses, according to an email sent by hospital leadership that was shared with MedPage Today. The physicians were informed late last week that they would be terminated as of April 1, 2020.

A physician who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the doctors were “broadsided” by the news. While they harbored some concerns that a few of the slower urgent care sites might be turned over to non-physician clinicians, they weren’t expecting so many of the sites to be impacted and for such a large number of doctors to be let go.

In their email, hospital system CEO Mary Lou Mastro, MS, RN, and Chief Medical Officers Robert Payton, MD, and Daniel Sullivan, MD, pointed to patient cost concerns as the reason for eliminating the jobs: “Patients have made it very clear that they want less costly care and convenient access for lower-acuity issues (sore throats, rashes, earaches), which are the vast majority of cases we treat in our Immediate Cares.”

“Beginning in the spring of 2020, we will move to a delivery model in which care is provided by Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) at select Immediate Care locations,” they wrote.

Leadership also stated in the email that they are “working closely with these physicians to assist them with finding alternative positions within Edward-Elmhurst Health or outside our system,” but doctors noted that they face a saturated Chicago healthcare market and they’re likely to have to relocate.

When asked to confirm the layoffs, Keith Hartenberger, a spokesperson for Edward-Elmhurst Health, said in a statement: “We continue to assess our care delivery models in the interest of providing cost-effective care to our patients. We shared with physicians that we have plans to change the model next year at some outpatient sites and are working with anyone affected to find alternative placement.”

The move is becoming a more familiar one as some health systems try to save money by relying more heavily on non-physician clinicians.

Last year, 27 pediatricians at a chain of clinics in the Dallas area lost their jobs and were replaced by nurse practitioners — even though the chain subsequently changed its name to MD Kids Pediatrics.

Rebekah Bernard, MD, wrote in Medical Economics that she spoke with three of the pediatricians who were fired: “They told me that they and their physician colleagues were completely shocked by the sudden firing. ‘We thought we were going to retire from this place,’ one told me.”

Also in 2018, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Atrium Health ended a nearly 40-year contract with a 100-member physician group, signing up instead with Scope Anesthesia, which says it’s dedicated to forming partnerships with certified registered nurse anesthetists. Atrium said it too was looking to reduce patient costs.

“This trend of shuttering hospital departments and firing physicians to save money is dangerous and short-sighted,” Bernard wrote.

Purvi Parikh, MD, of NYU Langone Health in New York City, and a board member of Physicians for Patient Protection, which advocates against other healthcare providers replacing doctors, said that although non-physician clinicians “are vital members of the healthcare team, they are not trained to be substitutes of physicians and as a result diagnoses are missed and improper treatments and tests [are] prescribed.”

Parikh said patients “have the right to choose a facility that is physician-only or one with physician-led care. In Chicago, luckily there are other options among competitors.”

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This content was originally published here.

Mertz Family Dentistry

Prominent Longmont family dentistry relocates and updates facilities

Everyone knows those semi-annual trips to the dentist are crucial to preserving and perfecting your smile…but something to smile about? If you’re one of the many loyal patients with Mertz Family Dentistry, it’s not out of the question that you may actually look forward to your dental visits. That sort of anticipation tends to happen when those whose services you consult provide ongoing attentive care; they become practically family. What’s more, the team at Mertz Family Dentistry are truly invested in making your experience as enjoyable as possible. This goal has just gotten all the easier to accomplish, thanks to a new, brighter, airier, more spacious setting; one which they plan to show off at an upcoming Open House from 4 – 7 p.m. on June 15.

Formerly located on Terry Street, Mertz Family Dentistry recently made the move to 1325 Dry Creek Drive, Suite 304. The new, modern facility offers twice as much space, allowing the team to optimize their capacity to provide superior care to an expanded number of patients. It offers a few new perks in comfort, too, featuring heated massage chairs with patient-operated remotes and sunlit rooms that lend a spa-like feel not typically associated with the dentist’s chair. “Our previous location was a great facility from which to provide excellent dental care in the past,” Dr. Peter Mertz says. “But looking into the future, we couldn’t be more excited about the new location and its capacity to further service our community well into the next decades. I wanted to create a facility that gave us a platform to provide the best in dental care while utilizing the latest, most up-to-date, technology. It’s a very modern, bright, relaxing setting. It’s inviting.”

Founded in 1985 by Dr. Guy Mertz, Mertz Family Dentistry is family-focused and family-rooted. In 2000, Dr. Peter Mertz joined his uncle in the mission to provide the best, most comprehensive and technologically advanced dental health care possible. Dr. Brett Nelson, who is now approaching his one-year anniversary with the practice since joining the team, says the close-knit staff of 16 is like family. “The long-term staff really distinguishes this amazing practice,” says Dr. Guy Mertz.

High-tech and high-service meet at the new Mertz Family Dentistry location to provide patients with an overall pleasant experience.

“Everyone is very dedicated. We have several employees who have been here 20, 30 years.”

Dr. Peter Mertz, who now owns the practice, has been selected as a top dentist for more than a decade consecutively, recently receiving that designation for the 11th time this year. He has advanced implant, sedation, CEREC single-visit crowns, and the most up-to-date Solea® laser systems training available.

Dr. Guy Mertz began his esteemed career 33 years ago with the opening of his practice, and is dedicated to the Longmont community. He has extensive training in laser dentistry systems. Dr. Guy Mertz was also selected as a top dentist by 5280 Magazine for the past two years.

A second-generation dentist originally from Indiana, Dr. Brett Nelson is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, American Association of Endodontists, Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Implant Dentistry, and is a certified Invisalign provider. He is further certified in sedation dentistry. Dr. Nelson takes great care to practice what he refers to as ‘golden rule’ dentistry. “I treat all patients exactly as I would treat my closest friends and family members,” he says.

Prioritizing a personalized approach, doctors and staff at Mertz Family Dentistry take time to genuinely listen and understand the needs of each patient. And, the team does all they can to ensure they are equipped to meet those needs. They are highly skilled in pediatric dental care, and sensitive to the importance and personal means of helping children develop a positive relationship with healthy dental hygiene.

Throughout all ages and stages of life, Mertz Family Dentistry is invested in the wellbeing of its patients. “We’ve watched children grow up, go to college, and start their own families,” says Dr. Guy Mertz. “We have a great staff. We all enjoy each other, and we love our patients.” Dr. Peter Mertz attributes the notable, steady increase in patients the practice serves in great part to the warmth and dedication of his team. “We believe our staff is a big reason that our patients want to come back,” he says. “They each bring a high level of caring to their work.”

Bright new spaces have a spa-like feel, emphasizing relaxation and comfort for patients.

Alongside caring and understanding, Mertz Family Dentistry offers exceptional expertise. The wide range of services goes well beyond standard offerings, including sedation dentistry, Invisalign, and Laser Dentistry. Mertz’ cosmetic dentistry includes teeth whitening, porcelain veneers and crowns. Botox and Juvederm treatments are also performed on site. What’s more, all procedures are provided as comfortably as possible.

Mertz Family Dentistry has always been committed to investing in state-of-the-art, best practice technologies that provide the ultimate in dental care for patients. In fact, Dr. Peter Mertz is one of only a very few general dentists in the area to use a surgical microscope during dental procedures. “You can’t treat what you can’t see,” Dr. Peter Mertz says, stressing the significance of this technology. “The surgical microscope ensures the greatest accuracy possible.”

At Mertz Family Dentistry, three-dimensional X-rays provide the most thorough, comprehensive information for complex dental procedures. Such technologies further increase efficiency and ease for patients. “Utilizing our three-dimensional x-ray and scanner, we can have a guide fabricated for implants before the patient is even here, allowing for minimally invasive procedures,” Dr. Nelson says, explaining a few of the many benefits.

Mertz Family Dentistry was the first in Longmont to offer a special technology, which debuted 15 years ago- an advanced system that can create a crown or set of veneers in just a matter of hours. Each step is completed right in the office for same day fittings. Mertz Family Dentistry uses a detailed camera to map and measure the contours of the tooth. The remaining specifications are added into a chair-side computer, and the new piece is milled to tight specifications, increasing capability to closely match the new surface to surrounding teeth.

Skilled, caring professionals, cutting-edge technology, and a wide range of services offered-what more could one hope for in a dental office? How about painless visits? At Mertz Family Dentistry, the use of in-office lasers allows for anesthesia-free fillings, as well as other procedures to be completed without the use of shots. For all patients, and the youngest in particular, this is significantly reassuring.

Why not check out Mertz Family Dentistry for yourself? Stop by the new office at 1325 Dry Creek Drive on Friday, June 15, from 4- 7 p.m. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine, and the opportunity to visit with staff and tour the office. “We would love to extend an invitation to our whole community to join us, see the new space, and celebrate our grand opening with us,” Dr. Peter Mertz invites. “Come on by.”

This content was originally published here.

Tanya Talaga: Toronto is getting a new Indigenous health centre

Anishnawbe Health Toronto is getting close to the finish line — it’s just $3.5-million away from its $10-million goal in a fundraising campaign for a state-of-the-art Indigenous health facility that’s set to be built next year in a prime downtown location.

There are a lot of remarkable things about that sentence.

First, after 150 years of colonization, a new health centre that’s specifically designed for Indigenous people will finally be available in a city with an Indigenous population estimated to be at least 70,000. For years, AHT has run programs scattered across three locations, in outdated and overcrowded buildings that were never intended to house traditional Indigenous health care.

Second, the new health centre and community hub will be constructed on 2.4 acres in the West Don Lands, on land that was part of the Pan Am Games athletes’ village and purchased for a nominal fee from Ontario.

Third, the largest donors to come forward to date are Alexandra and Brad Krawczyk, who gave $2 million to the fundraising campaign. Alexandra’s father, the late Barry Sherman, campaigned to bring cheaply priced generic medicine to HIV patients in Africa and was the head of the multinational pharmaceutical firm Apotex.

Like her father, Alexandra has lived a life immersed in health care. She went to nursing school in Toronto but chose to do her residency in Fort Albany First Nation along the James Bay coast. The fly-in community was home to the notorious St. Anne’s Indian Residential School, where there was a homemade electric chair to punish the students.

Alexandra remembers when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came to the community in early 2013 to listen to testimony from survivors and witnesses.

“I witnessed it for two days and I spent some time with Justice Murray Sinclair,” she said in an interview. The experience changed her.

So when Sen. Linda Frum reached out to let Alexandra know about the epic plans for a new Indigenous health centre, she and Adam Minsky, the CEO of UJA Toronto, reached out to AHT executive director Joe Hester. “We followed up, came down for a tour, met the staff, and we both said, ‘This aligns with our values entirely,’” she recalled.

It’s beyond inspiring to think that people from all walks of life are coming together to get this done, under the guidance of Andre Morriseau, the Anishnawbe Health Foundation board chair and Fort William First Nation member. Large funders for the centre are as diverse as Toronto, including the Sanatan Mandir Cultural Centre, the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada and the Toronto Diocese of the Anglican Church — not to mention a $100,000 gift from a former Anishnawbe Health client.

Canada has a woeful history of two-tier health care for Indigenous people, rooted in racism and dating back to the era of government-funded Indian Residential Schools, where 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were abused over the course of more than a century. Another arm of this genocidal act was the creation of segregated Indian hospitals, 22 of which existed by the 1960s.

The intergenerational trauma that resulted from them tore families apart and led to a host of health problems. We see the threads of trauma in the fact that nearly 90 per cent of Toronto’s Indigenous people live in poverty, are more likely than others to be homeless, unemployed or have not completed high school.

Anishnawbe Health says 65 per cent of Indigenous adults in Toronto have at least one chronic health condition such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma, heart problems. Some suffer mental health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

But when Indigenous people try to access health care, they are often treated differently. One only needs to look at what happened to Brian Sinclair, the First Nations man who was ignored as he waited for 34 hours in a Winnipeg hospital emergency room. He died waiting in his wheelchair.

Having one health care centre to call our own should be the standard — a place where, when you walk in the door, where you are not judged.

People should be treated equally and with kindness. When you are sick, you need to be treated kindly, and if you are Indigenous, you need to be surrounded in traditional healing, where the spirit is treated along with the physical self.

The new centre will have a traditional sweat lodge, counselling space for sharing circles, and even a kitchen to teach healthy cooking skills.

It’s been a long and difficult road, Hester noted, and sometimes it felt like all the pieces weren’t going to come together.

But now they are, and in a part of the city that is seeing a rebirth, a reimagining of what Toronto could be.

Tanya Talaga is a Toronto-based columnist covering Indigenous issues. Follow her on Twitter: @tanyatalaga

This content was originally published here.

Researchers Reveal How Being Around Chronic Complainers Can Put Your Health At Risk

Misery loves company, and it may come in the form of chronic complaining.  Being around complainers automatically can put a damper on your day if you don’t take steps to distance yourself. Being surrounded by hard-to-please family, friends, or co-workers creates more than merely a negative atmosphere. Indeed, it legitimately causes health consequences for you and them.

Researchers reveal how being around chronic complainers can put your health at risk.

3 Types of Complainers

Have you ever wondered why people complain?  Why do some people often express displeasure while others only do so occasionally?  What is a complaint?

In Psychology Today, a complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction.  The real problem arises in how a person expresses their dissatisfaction and how often.  Most of us have a particular bar that must be reached to complain. However, some set that bar lower than others.

One of the biggest triggers for complaining is the individuals’ sense of control over the situation.  The more powerless a person feels, the more they will complain.   Other factors may be frustration tolerance, age, desire not to make a scene, or to “look good” to others.

Another factor may have nothing to do with the actual situation.  A negative mindset tends only to see adverse events.

The environment may also play a role. A study shows that individual(s) raised or surrounded by negative thinkers tend to become negative in thinking as well and, therefore, will complain more frequently.

Not every complainer is the same.

There are three types of complainers:

1 – Chronic complainers.

We all have known a chronic complainer or have been one ourselves. This complainer only sees problems and not solutions.  They tend to focus on how ‘bad’ a situation is regardless of its actual impact or consequence to their life.

They tend to be negative thinkers and have created a pattern of complaining, which some studies have shown may wire the brain to operate negatively. This affects their mental and physical health and impacts those around them. While called a chronic complainer, it does not need to be a constant, permanent condition.  People with this mindset can change, but they will have to choose it, and it will take work.

2 – Venting.

A complainer who vents focuses on displaying emotional dissatisfaction.  Their attention is on themselves and how they feel regarding what they deem to be a negative situation.  They are hoping to glean attention from those around them as opposed to finding a real solution to the problem.   When someone provides a resolution, they only see a reason it won’t work.

3 – Instrumental complaining.

This is akin to constructive criticism.  This complainer is seeking to solve an issue that has created dissatisfaction.  They will present the problem toward the individuals most likely to be able to solve the problem.

Effects of being around complainers

In the same article, which outlined how a complainer is wiring their brain for negativity through their words, also describes how being surrounded by complainers negatively impacts others.

1.      Sympathy turns to negativity

It turns out that our capacity for compassion, attempting to place ourselves in others’ shoes, also makes our emotions susceptible to experiencing the same anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction of the complainer.  The more often you are around the individual complaining, the more neurons are being fired to associate with the emotions.  Neurons that repeatedly fire in a pattern teach your brain to think in that manner.

2.      Stress-induced health issues

Being around others with a cynical viewpoint on events, people, and life in general triggers stress in your brain and body.  As your mind attempts to identify with the person complaining, you begin to feel the same emotions of anger, frustration, bitterness, and unhappiness. This interaction leads to stress that releases hormones to prepare you to act on the stress.  The hormone released is cortisol.

Cortisol works in tandem with adrenaline as your hypothalamus responds to a perceived threat and tells your body to release the hormones.  Adrenaline creates a rise in heart rate and blood pressure as your body prepares to “fight.”  This increases blood flow to the muscles and brain to prepare you for action.  Cortisol releases sugars to provide energy.

Over time, with a repeated pattern of this stress, you increase your chances of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

3.      Shrinking your brain

In addition to the health problems created from stress, you are shrinking your brain when you expose it to repeated and constant levels of stress.

A study published in Stanford News Service demonstrated the effects of stress and stress hormones on wild baboons and rats.   What they found was that chemicals called glucocorticoids release over time as a response to chronic stress, which caused the brain cells in rats to shrink.

Later, another study was done after performing an MRI on participants.  This x-ray allowed scientists to compare hippocampi of people who have had long term depression with others of the same age, sex, height, and education but without depression.   It was discovered that the hippocampi were 15% smaller in those with depression.

The same study compared Vietnam veterans experiencing PTSD with combat veterans without a history of PTSD. They found that hippocampi were 25% smaller.

In those cases, researchers could neither prove nor disprove that glucocorticoids caused the shrinkage.  However, they did find this to be true in patients with Cushing’s disease, which made scientists believe they were on the right track with their studies in people with depression and PTSD.  Cushing’s syndrome is a brain disease in which a tumor is stimulating the adrenal glands to release of glucocorticoids.  In patients with Cushing’s Syndrome, scientists discovered the hippocampus was shrinking.

Your hippocampus is attributed to aiding the brain in memory, learning, spatial navigation, and goal-related behavior, among other necessary abilities.

Great ways to stay positive around complainers

  • Choose your daily friends wisely.

We can’t choose our family or co-workers, but we can choose our friends.  Surround yourself with people who are more positive than negative.

  • Be grateful.

Just as negative thoughts breed negativity, positive thoughts breed positivity.  Each day, or at minimum, a few times a week, handwrite what in your life you are grateful.  Consider that two items of gratitude can cancel out one negative.

  • Don’t spend energy trying to fix a chronic complainer.

While you may sympathize with a person who seems to be having a rough life, trying to fix their problems won’t change their complaining.  They currently can only see negativity and, therefore, will only find problems in your solutions.

  • When you must raise an issue of dissatisfaction, sandwich it.

Start with a positive statement, then give your concern or complaint.  End it with a desire for a positive result.

  • Use empathy

When you must work closely with someone who is a chronic complainer, remember they are seeking attention or validation. In the interest of keeping work moving along, express empathy, and then move them along to the task at hand.

  • Stay self-aware.

Pay attention to your behavior and thinking.  Make sure that you are not mirroring the negative people around you or broadcasting your negativity. Often, we complain without thought.  Pay attention to your words and actions, as well.

  • Avoid gossip.

It is pretty commonplace for a group of people to get together and complain about a person or situation.  That tends to encourage further complaining and dissatisfaction.

  • Exercise or find a

    method of releasing stress positively.

Pent up stress can create a negative outlook, which leads to complaining.  Go for a walk, workout at the gym, sit at the park or meditate.  Do something that distances you from the complainer or stressful situation that helps balance your emotions.

  • File your complaints wisely

When you feel the need to complain, make sure it is something that can be resolved or has a solution either you or someone you are speaking to can solve.

Final Thoughts on Dealing with Chronic Complainers

Being around negativity not only doesn’t feel right, but now researchers also reveal how being around chronic complainers can put your health at risk.  Complaining can become a lifestyle that can decrease your mental capability and increase your blood pressure and sugar production.  Do your best to either avoid or minimize your exposure to chronic complainers. In the end, you’ll find not only good for your state of mind but also improves your overall health.  So take your stress levels seriously and stay self-aware.

The post Researchers Reveal How Being Around Chronic Complainers Can Put Your Health At Risk appeared first on Power of Positivity: Positive Thinking & Attitude.

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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.

Opinion | The American Health Care Industry Is Killing People – The New York Times

These costs are significantly higher than in most other wealthy countries. One study on health care data from 1999 showed that each American paid about $1,059 per year just in overhead costs for health care; in Canada, the per capita cost was $307. Those figures are likely much higher today.

Wouldn’t lowering overhead costs be an obviously positive outcome?

Ah, but there’s the rub: All this overspending creates a lot of employment — and moving toward a more efficient and equitable health care system will inevitably mean getting rid of many administrative jobs. One study suggests that about 1.8 million jobs would be rendered unnecessary if America adopted a public health care financing system.

So what if some of these jobs involve debt collection, claims denial, aggressive legal action or are otherwise punitive, cruel or simply morally indefensible in a society that can clearly afford to provide high-quality health care to everyone? Jobs are jobs, folks, as Joe Biden might say.

Indeed, that’s exactly what Biden’s presidential campaign is saying about the Medicare for all plans that Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are proposing: They “will not only cost 160 million Americans their private health coverage and force tax increases on the middle class, but it would also kill almost two million jobs,” a Biden campaign official warned recently.

Note the word “kill” in the statement. That word might better describe not what could happen to jobs under Medicare for all but what the health care industry is doing to many Americans today.

Last week, the medical journal JAMA published a comprehensive study examining the cause of a remarkably grim statistic about our national well-being. From 1959 to 2010, life expectancy in the United States and in other wealthy countries around the world climbed. Then, in 2014, American life expectancy began to fall, while it continued to rise elsewhere.

What caused the American decline? Researchers identified a number of potential factors, including tobacco use, obesity and psychological stress, but two of the leading causes can be pinned directly on the peculiarities and dysfunctions of American health care.

The first is the opioid epidemic, whose rise can be traced to the release, in 1996, of the prescription pain drug OxyContin. In the public narrative, much of the blame for the epidemic has been cast on the Sackler family, whose firm, Purdue Pharma, created OxyContin and pushed for its widespread use. But research has shown that the Sacklers exploited aberrant incentives in American health care.

Purdue courted doctors, patient groups and insurers to convince the medical establishment that OxyContin was a novel type of opioid that was less addictive and less prone to abuse. The company had little scientific evidence to make that claim, but much of the health care industry bought into it, and OxyContin prescriptions soared. The rush to prescribe opioids was fueled by business incentives created by the health care industry — for Purdue, for many doctors and for insurance companies, treating widespread conditions like back pain with pills rather than physical therapy was simply better for the bottom line.

Opioid addiction isn’t the only factor contributing to rising American mortality rates. The problem is more pervasive, having to do with an overall lack of quality health care. The JAMA report points out that death rates have climbed most for middle-age adults, who — unlike retirees and many children — are not usually covered by government-run health care services and thus have less access to affordable health care.

The researchers write that “countries with higher life expectancy outperform the United States in providing universal access to health care” and in “removing costs as a barrier to care.” In America, by contrast, cost is a key barrier. A study published last year in The American Journal of Medicine found that of the nearly 10 million Americans given diagnoses of cancer between 2000 and 2012, 42 percent were forced to drain all of their assets in order to pay for care.

The politics of Medicare for all are perilous. Understandably so: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who loves your doctor and your insurance company, or who works in the health care field, I can see why you would be fearful of wholesale change.

But it’s wise to remember that it’s not just your own health and happiness that counts. The health care industry is failing much of the country. Many of your fellow citizens are literally dying early because of its failures. “I got mine!” is not a good enough argument to maintain the dismal status quo.

Farhad wants to chat with readers on the phone. If you’re interested in talking to a New York Times columnist about anything that’s on your mind, please fill out this form. Farhad will select a few readers to call.

This content was originally published here.

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.

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.

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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.