Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sarah Préfère La Course

I attended my first film festival this Sunday. The Mill Valley Film Festival showed the American premiere of the Quebec Film "Sarah Préfère La Course", or in English, "Sarah Prefers to Run". The film is about a young woman who goes off to college and is disinterested in pretty much everything except running. My favorite part was the opening scene, starting with a track workout and then showing the competitors at the starting line of the race. It was in French with English subtitles, allowing me the opportunity to practice my French. I only wish they had taught the actress to run better. She kept swinging her arms too high in front of her and landing flat footed. Maybe next time recruit a runner?

After the film, we had the opportunity to meet the film's director, Chloé Robichaud, a demur 25 year old young woman with a strong French accent. I'm going to keep an eye out for the debut of her next film, "Country".  Looking forward to seeing Ben Stiller's premiere next Sunday. 

Sarah doing her thing
A grainy iphone selfie in the Sequoia Theater before the film began
Director Chloé Robichaud answering questions after the film. Photo © Jonathan Shensa

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why I Support the Affordable Care Act

Watching another instant classic Jimmy Kimmel clip made me realize that we supporters of the ACA have been failing. Jimmy Kimmel went to talk with people on the street about whether they supported the Affordable Care Act versus Obamacare. The joke was that everyone supported the ACA and no one liked Obamacare, highlighting the fact that most people failed to realize they were the same thing. I want to make sure you know why I support "Obamacare", aka the Affordable Care Act. 
     At a recent town hall meeting with CA Secretary of Health and Human Services Diana Dooley, she highlighted that the Affordable Care Act has three legs to it. The “Affordable” part, aka the delivery and finance reform, the "Prevention and Wellness" leg, and the "Coverage Expansion" leg. This third leg, the expansion of coverage starts this week. Each state runs its own health insurance exchange, ours is “Covered California”, which is basically an online marketplace for health insurance. You can visit the website at https://www.coveredca.com/. From my work with creating websites in the past, I have to give major credit to Secretary Dooley and her office for the user interface and ease of use. Check it out yourself, in one of the 14 languages it's been translated into. Starting now, you can “enroll” in health insurance that will go into effect on January 1st 2014. All insurance providers who enter the exchange are required to cover 10 Essential Benefits
      To give you some examples of the coverage rates. If you are single, and make $27,000 a year, your health insurance will cost $175 per month, thanks to a $2460 subsidy by the federal government. Or lets say you are a nurse with a family of 4, earning $88,800 per year, your monthly health insurance will cost $700. Compared to the old individual market, where a family of 4 could cost $2k-3k a month, these are very affordable plans. The rates vary depending on the particulars of the plans you choose of course. 
    As for the other two legs of the ACA, I’ll be brief, you need to know that with the “Affordable” leg the ACA bans discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and bans insurance caps. For us healthy folks, this doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it is a really big deal. The number one cause of bankruptcy in the US is health care costs. Now, because of the ACA, less people will go bankrupt due to hitting their insurance limits while on chemotherapy treatments or living with cystic fibrosis. With regards to the “Prevention” leg, your routine health screenings, vaccines, and birth control will be free. Many of these perks have started to kick-in already. Check out https://www.healthcare.gov/prevention/ for more. 
     Is the ACA really such a big deal? A resounding yes. The insurance reform, focus on prevention, and extension of coverage, are exactly what we need in the health care sector. The ACA will make us healthier as people, communities and as a nation. There will be bumps in the road, the ACA is not perfect (has any legislation been perfect ever?), but it is definitely a big step forward. As Congresswoman Anna Eshoo recently remarked about us Americans, “we love our history once it’s been made, but we seldom embrace the fact that we are making it. As someone who was in the Senate chambers on March 23rd 2010, watching the Senators vote for the passage of the ACA like a Giants fan in game 7 of the World Series,  I knew that I was part of something historic. I will consider it an privilege to serve my country as a doctor under the Affordable Care Act. 

I hope you’ll join me in my support and spread the word yourself. 

Weekly Goods

A good book...
Hilary Rodham Clinton's Living History
Finally finished it. My favorite part of the book was learning more about her younger days, at Wellesly College especially. It was also interesting to hear her opinions on the contrast between her image as First Lady when she tried to take on legislative roles vs advocate for women's rights internationally. Her China speech as Women's Rights being Human Rights is historic, a must watch, and an excellent call to arms. "If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights once and for all". I know that in the development world so many people are advocating for women's rights as a path towards development, and I think Hilary was the one who really set that agenda in action. I'd be proud to support her in 2016 if and when she decides to run. I couldn't think of a better candidate.

A good song...
Let Her Go
By Passenger, this is a beautiful song. I want to learn the guitar so I can play it myself.

A good film...
Miss Representation
A few facts I learned from this film... Cuba, Iraq, China, and Afghanistan have more women in politics than the U.S.... Did you know domestic abuse was acceptable denial of insurance as a "pre-existing condition?" (Thank goodness for Obamacare)...I also didn't know that the US is the only industrialized nation without paid family leave. Jennifer Newsom did a great job.

A good talk...
Stanford Population Health Symposium 
I attended Stanford's kick off conference debuting the new department of Population Health.  The best part was my lunch table conversation with Dr. Jack Rowe, former CEO of Aetna, and Dr. Mads Melbye, head of the Danish National BioBank -to say it was an interesting conversation is an understatement.

A good youtube..
Hitting the Wall
Paula Newby Frasier, one of the epic ironman triathletes in 1995 pushed herself beyond her limits. This is a heartbreaking and inspiring video illustrating her limits. "Totally surreal". It shows how dangerous athletics can be when we are strong enough to push ourselves beyond our limits. You get knocked down, but you get up again. That's the best 4th place finish I've ever seen.

Another good week in the books.