Radio Talk Show - Water, Health, Environment, Dehydration, Dry Air, Dry Eye
Date aired: December 17, 2007
Guest #1 - Rep. Ron Maurer, (Rogue River, OR), Oregon State Legislator, health care provider and health insurance reform advocate.
"Health and Health Insurance in a Changing Global Environment"
Guest #2 - Art Bernstein (Gold Hill, OR), naturalist and author
"Endangered AmericanRivers, Part 3"
Sharon (paraphrased): Good morning everyone. My special guest today is Oregon State Representative Ron Maurer. Ron, could you tell our international audience who you are and what you represent?
Ron Maurer (paraphrased): Iím a State Representative from Josephine County, Oregon. Iíve been in politics a little over a year. I also own a small health care clinic in the town of Rogue River, Oregon, where my wife is the nurse-practitioner. Before that, I spent 21 years in the military.
S: As my listeners know, Iím a big supporter of the U.S. military. Last July, my company donated a large quantity of our Bio Med Wash first aid product to U.S. troops in Iraq.
R: I was aware of that.
S: What have you been learning about health care in Oregon?
R: The best way to view the problem is to drawn an analogy with water, which is also essential and also increasingly scarce. Where I live, in Oregonís Illinois Valley, water is not abundant and there is an ongoing struggle for it between agriculture and residents. Nationwide, the water problem is growing exponentially and we are seeing a major battle, for example, between Arizona, Nevada and California for Colorado River water. A similar battle is brewing in the Southeast, where nobody is willing to send their precious water to Georgia.
S: Actually, water in the U.S. is relatively abundant and we have the infrastructure to clean it and move it around. In some countries, they spent the bulk of their day carrying water, and it isnít even drinkable by our standards. Regarding U.S. health care, I know the cost of insurance is skyrocketing. What are we doing to assure that everyone has access to the health care system?
R: Weíre still debating whether or not health care is a right. I contend it is not. Putting responsibility on government to meet every single need, such as clothing, jobs, housing, health, etc., just isnít realistic. Of course the government is correctly concerned about making sure the public has reasonably easy access to these things.
S: I believe that each of us is responsible for our own health. We must all learn to eat, sleep and exercise correctly (and drink enough water). I call it the ďLife Olympics.Ē The government can provide education, but should it be responsible for fixing all your mistakes? †
R: The government is moving inevitably towards universal health care, which I believe will stifle individual responsibility. Not that Iím against poor people having access to health care.
S: Most people do not go to a doctor for prevention. They go when theyíre sick and need a quick fix. Thatís also when health care is the most expensive and least beneficial.
R: Prevention should always be #1. If you choose to smoke, drink alcohol, use narcotics or avoid exercise, why should society have to pay?
S: Also, I doubt if making the government pay will change the behavior. On the contrary.
R: There needs to be consequences for failing to take care of yourself, and for treating illnesses that could have been prevented. That is a huge insurance cost.
S: What are your ideas on health care?
R: There are a thousand answers but no ďsilver bulletĒ solution. Every step that improves health and makes people more responsible, within the bounds of common sense, is beneficial.
S: Iíve always advocated common sense. But I worry that health insurance is so expensive and getting more so. Itís forcing a lot of people to gamble that they and their children can make it with no major health problems. How can we best help people to take care of themselves?
R: The biggest debate today is centered on covering people who are uninsured. I believe itís much more important to get costs under control.
S: Insurance companies, of course, need to make a profit for their investors. And their expenses are extremely high. Can they be profitable yet responsible?
R: They provide what people want. For example, there are no hospital wards anymore, which were much more cost effective. Also, thereís a whole culture among medical providers, around milking insurance companies. Their justification to the patient is, ďWhy should you care? Youíre not paying for it, your insurance is.Ē Also, insurances are now required by law to pay for acupuncture, massage, Naturopathy, etc. We also have radical new life saving techniques that are ridiculously expensive. And the coast of malpractice insurance is soaring because everyone likes to sue.
S: Are there more clinics than there used to be?
R: Urgent care clinics are an excellent alternative but people still use the emergency room way too often for things like minor ear infections, which is very expensive.
S: What is a ďretail clinic?Ē
R: It is a health clinic located in a shopping mall, which offers limited services at a reduced price. They treat things like sore throats, earaches, fevers, etc. Of course if you have chest pains, you MUST go to the ER.
S: What about a prescription question?
R: See the doctor who prescribed it, go online, or talk to a pharmacist. Actually, pharmacists are getting increasingly into medical treatment. You can now get flu shots at some pharmacies.
S: Why is that?
R: Flu shots are not economical. And if the doctor gets reimbursed by Medicare, it could take six months. That was OK when the cost of a flu shot was a couple dollars but not today. Most insurances pay fairly quickly once they know the provider. I find it ironic that the government is quick to slap on penalties if a citizen is late in paying, but can delay payment for months or years with no penalty. The point is that there are many possibilities and a lot of changes that need to be made. Itís very complex.
S: And, of course, the best way to encourage personal responsibility and prevention is to invest in public health education.
R: We also need to remember how lucky we are in the U.S. I recently spent time in East Timor, near Indonesia. There was no clean water, food was scarce and there was no infrastructure to provide it. If you needed antibiotics because of an ear infection, it simply wasnít available.
S: Thank you very much, Ron. My next guest is our good friend, naturalist Art Bernstein, from Gold Hill, Oregon, who is going to tell us more about endangered rivers. Today, Art will tell us about the Passaic River in New Jersey, and the Chicago River in Illinois.††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††††††