Ricky's Riffs:

Random Thoughts on Travel, Education, Health, and the World in General


Bernie’s Big Adventure: Medicare-For-All, A Most Radical Proposition

September 27th, 2017

On September 13, 2017, Bernie Sanders—the Independent Democratic Socialist—stood with fifteen Democrats and introduced the “Medicare-For-All Act”, HR 676.  Bernie has been introducing varying versions of this legislation for many years; but without any co-sponsors.

My, how things have changed.

It appears that the Democratic Party is now a center left party.Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business And How You Can Take It Back” by Elisabeth Rosenthal

August 2nd, 2017

The Republican Congress has been doing its best to bring down the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and replace it with the cruel joke that would be known as “Trumpcare.” Despite the fact that only 17% of the public supports the Republican proposals, the GOP is still trying to burn the ACA to the ground.

It is in this environment that Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal’s new book–An American Sickness–has arrived. The timing could not be better!Read the rest of this entry »


Public Option: Next Step Toward Universal Health Care

April 29th, 2017

The Republicans have failed to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  They stated this would be their first order of business upon coming into power.  Although they will surely continue their efforts, it is unlikely that they will succeed.

It is now time to move forward with real health care reform.Read the rest of this entry »


How the ACA is “Blowing Up” the Health Care System and Why That is a Good Thing

April 4th, 2017

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) was written, presented, lobbied for and rejected within the first 60 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. For eight years, the Republicans had made “repeal and replace Obamacare” their rallying cry.  Yet even with control of both the executive and legislative branches of the Congress, Republicans were unable to pass what was to be their “signature” piece of legislation. It died a messy death in the House of Representatives.

The rushed and poorly thought out bill was defeated by the Democrats as well as by the Freedom Caucus, the ultra-conservative wing of the Republican Party.

The bill’s defeat was a victory for the Democratic party, but also for America. The Affordable Care Act (ACA)—an important step on the path towards universal health care coverage for all Americans—was, for the time being, preserved.Read the rest of this entry »


Obamacare and the Shifting of the American Mind

March 20th, 2017

The first order of business for Donald Trump and the Republican party was to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare.

Obamacare was the signature piece of legislation of President Obama’s eight years in office.  In terms of historical significance, it has been compared to Social Security and Medicare. It was a big leap–and a messy one.Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Excitement Disorder (TED)…or Tribal Fever

March 7th, 2017

The shock of Donald Trump’s election has left many people disoriented.  Assumptions about the nature and order of the world have been upended.

Few, but not all, on the left side of the political spectrum believed Trump could be elected.  Yet here we are, six weeks into a Trump presidency.  He has moved with lightning speed, issuing executive orders at a dizzying pace, working diligently to undo the work of President Obama.

I described some of the effects of Trump’s election in my last piece “Trump Induced Stress Disorder: A New Diagnosis for a New Era”.  In that article, I described the physical and emotional effects on the millions of people who were aghast at his electoral victory.

But the Trump supporters are now displaying their own spectrum of signs and symptoms. I label their syndrome “Trump Excitement Disorder,” or TED.Read the rest of this entry »


Trump Induced Stress Disorder (TISD): A New Diagnosis for a New Era

January 3rd, 2017

On November 9, 2016 I was in my office, getting ready to see patients. It was the morning after Donald Trump had been elected President of the United States of America.

His election sent shock waves through the country and the world.

A dark cloud seemed to hang over my patients.  Most expressed disbelief that this person—one who ran a campaign of misogyny, racism and Islamophobia, who lied with impunity and who picked as his vice presidential running mate a hard core homophobe and creationist—could possibly win.  Yet he had.

The election of Donald Trump has no parallel in modern (or perhaps in all of) United States history. I have been trying to understand it. One way I have found is to think of Trump’s ascendance as an exotic virus that has entered our national bloodstream, infecting the body politic.  I call it “Trump Induced Stress Disorder,” or TISD.Read the rest of this entry »


Pain and Suffering of the Digital Natives

October 25th, 2016

“Digital natives” are those young women and men who have been raised from childhood on computers. We see them everywhere:  Toddlers in strollers playing with iPhones, pre-teens on iPads in restaurants, strategically distracted to allow their parents to eat in peace; Junior High and High School kids doing schoolwork on laptops in the classroom or at home, sitting or lying in bed.

For the digital native, the computer is an extension of his or her body.  By the time they enter pre-school, many can navigate apps.  Ten-year olds can program software. Adolescents live their social lives on tiny screens.  Most of the digital native’s life runs through this digital medium.

Read the rest of this entry »


Incrementalism vs. Revolution in Health Care, Part 2: Is Obamacare Crashing?

August 26th, 2016

The recent announcement that Aetna would be pulling out of a large number of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) exchanges, affirms a fundamental truth about health care and insurance in our country. Business and health care do not mix.

The ultimate goal of health care is to heal patients.  The goal of private industry, based upon shareholder mandate, is to generate profits.Read the rest of this entry »


A World of Pain

June 30th, 2016

In our highly medicated society, Americans consume more mind and mood altering drugs—legal, illegal and prescribed–than any other people in the world.  Cocaine, heroin, marijuana, Xanax, Ambien, Atavan, alcohol and many more: a full spectrum of pain, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and stimulating medications.

We all know people affected by the overuse of these substances. Some of us know people who have died from them.

But why are we in so much pain?  So depressed?  Why can’t we sleep? Or focus?Read the rest of this entry »