Tag Archives: healthcare

The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

CBD in MN

Cannabidiol—CBD  is a chemical compound in cannabis that is beneficial from a medical standpoint. It gives people the medical benefits of cannabis, without getting the “high” or “stoned” feeling. CBD is still paving way for acceptance but has still has a stigma since it derives from the marijuana plant.

There has been tons of testing done on the benefits of CBD especially when we talk about seizures and general body inflammation. The major break through right now with Minnesota Medical Solutions is that they have developed a more potent strain of marijuana to extract CBD from. This is a vital procedure because it cuts production costs by making it easier to produce the plants, and making it cheaper to refine CDB from. Since Minnesota is one of the most restrictive states with medical marijuana it is a great opportunity to get rid of another obstacle standing in the way of patients in need of medicine that isn’t as harsh, and  providing an alternative solution to their medical needs.

Image from: https://grandvalleyhempinfusions.com/what-is-cbd/

From my point of view on CBD, if there is a medical solution with out experiencing the intoxicating aspects of marijuana it should be used medically. It has very minimal or close to none side effects and can help a large sum of our population. Obviously we still have a long journey on the way to legalization on both state and federal levels, but having medical CBD available is a step closer to legalization.

PDF on CBD testing results: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1250/8949/files/GRLabSheetPacketOctober.pdf?12689755168953608911/

StarTribune Article: http://www.startribune.com/minnesota-medical-marijuana-manufacturer-hopes-new-plant-will-push-down-prices/362716951/

Minnesota Medical Solutions website: http://minnesotamedicalsolutions.com/

 

 

 

 

 

Big Data Can Be a Big Help

Big data3

As we have been learning about big data in class, the pros and cons have been analyzed and discussed. Much of our discussion around the usage of big data has been on how it is used to sell things to us and/or manipulate our behavior for the profit of corporations. Since our discussion, I have discovered two examples of how the collection of big data is being used that I would argue are for the greater good of public health.

First is the tracking of Wikipedia flu symptom searches to monitor the trend of flu outbreaks. According to a Washington Post article, this is a much better way to gather real-time information, than gathering reported visits for treatment. For one, many people many never even go in for treatment at all, therefor missing out on the chance to even capture that data at all. Also, the Wikipedia searches usually happen as one is deciding whether to go to the doctor, so prior to their visit. The information then gets captured directly, and there is no delay waiting for the healthcare providers to get reports out.

This faster capture of better data creates the opportunity to prepare for outbreaks and to  decrease their severity. For instance, if a small community hospital can be warned that a wave of flu is coming in their direction, they can increase the amount of ventilators they have on hand. Schools & workplaces can put stricter policies in place around staying home when you are sick. Health care providers can more strongly encourage the use of vaccines.

The other example of the use of big data I found really made me cheer. Washington State is using a shared database of information on patients who visit the emergency room. They are saving money, $33.7 million reduction in 2013 Medicaid costs to be exact & reducing wasted services. I have seen folks abuse the use of emergency care so many times . They may be seeking drugs or attention, have no insurance, don’t have a regular doctor or just feel the world should serve them at their convenience. Additionally, many people don’t always remember what tests they have had done, when they were last seen or what the doctor told them.

The data base provides information that eliminates repeating expensive or risky tests. This increases patient safety, improves the accuracy of diagnoses and saves everyone time & money.

Although it is a weird feeling to have someone collect YOUR data, the data collected may one day be the key to helping YOU.