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01/25/2023

Upcoming Interviews and Climate Crisis-Related Writing (January 25th)

On February 8th I'll I'll discuss with Georgetown Professor Toshihiro Higuchi his work, "Political Fallout, Nuclear Weapons Testing and the Making of a Global Environmental Crisis."   Though the Manhattan Project ended 75 years ago everyone alive today has been exposed to the radiation substances the project produced.      

On February 15th I'll speak with BYU Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad about the health effects of social isolation.  See her recent perspective essay in the NEJM, at: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2208029.

My interview with University of Exeter Professor Kelly Thornber about mitigating the pharmaceutical industry's damage to the environment has been postponed until the spring.  Listeners will recall a related piece I published in STAT last June.   

Concerning the climate crisis, last week I submitted a seven-page comment letter in response to an EPA RFI that solicited public comments for related education, technical assistance and partnerships to lower carbon emissions and to improve corporate public reporting of GHG emissions and plans to reduce emissions.   Go to: https://www.regulations.gov/docket/EPA-HQ-OAR-2022-0878 and search for my name under "Browse All Comments."  

 

01/24/2023

275th Interview: John Abraham Discusses the Continued Rapid Increase in Ocean Heat Content (January 23rd)

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(Listeners may recall Professor Abraham discussed 2021 ocean warming last year on January 18.)

As a possible reminder, oceans, that cover 71 percent of Earth’s surface, absorb 93% of the heat energy trapped by greenhouse gases, termed ocean heat content (OHC).   Increased OHC in 2022 is not surprisingly when you consider global CO2 emissions increased by over two billion tons or rose by 6% to a total of 36.3 billion tons in 2021,  their highest ever level.  In 2022 the planet’s seas absorbed about 11 Zetta joules of heat—equivalent to the energy of seven nuclear bombs exploding every single second of the year or 19 times as much as the total energy produced by all human activities in 2020.  The consequences of warming ocean water to human health and survival are innumerable and incalculable.   For example, warning ocean water cause huge disruptions to marine life from phytoplankton and zooplankton that substantially threatens the availability of food we consume and of oxygen we breathe. 

This 34 minute interview begins with an overview of Prof Abraham's and his colleagues' publication in Advances In Atmospheric Sciences, discusses why ocean warming will continue or ocean heat content will continue to increase long after we stop emitting GHG gasses, the ability of oceans to continue to absorb GHG gasses and heat, uneven ocean warming, the continued amplification of the global hydrological cycle, explains El Niño and La Niña and what it means that 2023 is anticipated to be an El Niño year, increasing ocean acidity and what it means, the lack of interest or recognition of OHC in healthcare policy conversations but why they matter to human health.          

John Abraham, Ph.D., is a Professor and Program Director in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.  He studies largely concerning the geophysical Abraham-John science related to the climate crisis that includes the rate at which the planet is warming, particularly oceans.  His team’s warming measurements provide insights on future climate crisis effects over the coming decades.  Professor Abraham also studies the impact of increasing heat on the human body - information that has important health consequences particularly for at risk and minority populations.   Professor has conducted approximately 400 scientific studies that have been published widely.  He is a frequent television and radio guest having participated in over 100 television and radio interviews.   Professor Abraham earned his BS, MS and Ph.D. in  mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota.

Professor Abraham and colleagues' January 11 article, "Another Year of Record Heat for Oceans," is at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00376-023-2385-2.   

01/21/2023

Attorney Ms. Jayne Conroy Discusses Prosecuting Healthcare Fraud in Part Via Use of Criminal Statutes (January 19th)

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US healthcare fraud remains pervasive.  For example, this past November Pro Publica and The New Yorker published, “How the Visionary Hospice Movement Became a For-Profit Hustle."  (The article may remind readers of Eric Hoffer’s comment, “every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.")  The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association estimates healthcare fraud across the entire industry can be as high as 10% of total annual healthcare spending, or approximately $400 billion.     

During this 37 minute conversation, Ms. Conroy begins by describing decisions her firm recently achieved in civil court against Walgreens, CVS and Walmart related to opioid prescribing and discusses criminal convictions against Purdue Pharma related to Oxycontin that, however, did not include prison sentences.  She discusses the use of criminal codes, for example the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO), or how they can come into play in cases of alleged healthcare fraud, and RICO's utility for civil litigation attorneys.  Ms. Conroy next discusses fraudulent healthcare billing largely in context of civil litigators' ability to publicly expose related corporate information, she discusses prosecution of fraudulent pharmaceutical marketing, and concludes with comments regarding healthcare fraud can be, or is being, better policed.            

Ms. Jayne Conroy is a named shareholder at Simmons Hanly and Conroy overseeing practice areas in the firm's Complex Litigation Department that Jane_Conroy_Color addresses addresses mass torts, class actions, product liability, pharmaceutical and sexual abuse litigation.  She serves or has served on dozens of court appointed leadership committees in complex legal actions of national scope.  In 2022, Law360 named her a Titan of the Plaintiffs’ Bar.  Previous honors include induction into the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame, election as a member of the exclusive American Law Institute, recognition as an Elite Women of the Plaintiffs Bar Winner by The National Law Journal, and the American Association for Justice’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Ms. Conroy was graduated from Dartmouth College and the New England School of Law. 

The ProPublic hospice article is at: https://www.propublica.org/article/hospice-healthcare-aseracare-medicare.

The Lown Institute 's 2023 Shkreli awards noted in the introduction is at: https://lowninstitute.org/projects/shkreli-awards/.
 
Kaiser Health News' "The System Feds Rely on to Stop Repeat Health Fraud Is Broken," is at:

01/06/2023

My Latest Publication, "FYI: The Health Care Industry Is Not Decarbonizing" (January 6th, 2023)

Last night The Hill published my latest climate-crisis related writing titled, "FYI: The Health Care Industry Is Not Decarbonizing."  

It's at: https://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/3801506-fyi-the-health-care-industry-is-not-decarbonizing/.

Though the title is self-explanatory, please read why I've drawn this conclusion. 

Comments are welcomed.  Again: dmintr@gmail.com

 

 

12/17/2022

Dr. Susan Linn Discusses Her Just-Published Book, "Who's Raising the Kids: Big Tech, Big Business and the Lives of Children" (December 16th)

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(This interview is dedicated to my friend Randy Lee, a dedicated public health nurse, who passed away earlier this week.)   

Justin Smith in his book published earlier this year, The Internet is Not What You Think It Is, argued the internet is addictive, its use of algorithms leaves our lives warped and impoverished and despite these problems there is little or no federal regulatory oversight.  Concerning the internet’s effects on children, Dr. Linn argues in her recently published work, Who's Raising the Kids, that our digital landscape essentially invades children’s privacy in order to use their personal information to drive endless consumerism.  Children’s screen use, that amounts to upwards of 7.5 hours on average per day - substantially longer for poor and minority children - is having profound negative effects on children of every age.  Generally by threatening childhood development and more specifically Dr. Linn noted by, for example, driving childhood anxiety, conflictual relationships with parents and family stress, depression, diminished language development, eating disorders, erosion of creative play, materialistic values, obesity, precocious sexuality, sleep disturbances, underachievement in school and youth violence.

During this 35 minute interview Dr. Linn begins by explaining how Mattel's Aristotle (never commercially launched) and Epic's Fortnite are designed to drive revenue.  She discusses how digital games erodes or undermines children's creative play, how the use of various marketing tools or approaches drive every digital experience leading to a purchase, for example, by creating "frictionless" online experiences.  She discusses the influence corporations have in formal education programming via Sponsored Education Materials (SEMS), discusses what parents can do to monitor children's screen use, what federal policies have been proposed to protect children's privacy and regulate how digital game design and what action the American Psychological Association has taken.               

Dr. Susan Linn is currently a Research Associate at Boston Children’s Hospital and Lecturer on Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  She has lectured on the importance of creative play, the impact of media and marketing on children and the use of puppetry as a therapeutic tool in venues Linn_susan
throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.   From 2000 to 2015 Dr. Linn was the Founding Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.  Dr. Linn and her puppets appeared in several episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.  She has written and appeared in a number of video programs designed to help children cope with issues ranging from mental illness to death and loss. This Secret Should Be Told, a syndicated TV program for children about sexual abuse won her a coveted Action for Children’s Television and earned Dr. Linn a New England Emmy Award.  With Fred Rogers’ production company, Dr. Linn created the acclaimed educational video series Different and the Same: Helping Children Identify and Prevent PrejudiceDifferent and the Same has been used in classrooms in all 50 states and won numerous awards including the two top prizes from the International Communication Film and Video Competition and the Media Award from the Association of Multicultural Educators.  Her book, Consuming Kids helped launch the movement to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers.  Her work has been featured on Good Morning AmericaTodaySixty MinutesDatelineThe Colbert Report, and the acclaimed documentary The Corporation.  Among other honors, Dr. Linn received an UNIMA-USA citation for excellence; a special award for puppet therapy from Puppeteers of America; A Champion of Freedom Award from the Electronic Privacy Information Center; The Creative Leadership Award from the Puppet Showplace Theater; and, a Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association for her work on behalf of children.

Information on Who's Raising the Kids is at: https://thenewpress.com/books/whos-raising-kids

12/10/2022

Andrew MacCalla Discusses Reducing Healthcare's Carbon Emissions Via Solar Microgrids (December 9th)

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Listeners are aware I recently posted two articles related to decarbonizing the healthcare industry.  One regarding Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) tax credits and another arguing CMS update two, 2016 regulatory rules to allow providers to use for solar microgrids for their emergency power supply.  Listeners are also aware I’ve conducted well over 25 climate crisis-related interviews over the past several years.   For these reasons, this discussion is an attempt to help providers know better how to develop renewable energy power for their own use, specifically solar plus storage microgrids, i.e., what operational advantages solar microgrid power offer, how these renewable energy microgrids are funded and constructed and benefits they offer providers and the patients they treat.  With me to discuss this topic is Mr. Andrew MacCalla, the CEO and Co-Founder of Collective Energy.   

As a related aside, please note on December 8th the National Academy of Medicine launched, under its "Grand Challenge on Climate Change, Human Health and Equity," its “Climate Community Network” initiative.  For related information please go to: https://nam.edu/programs/climate-change-and-human-health/climate-communities-network/

During this 33 minute interview, Andrew begins by describing Collective Energy's goal, i.e., moreover to prevent patients from dying via power outages.  He explains reasons for the increasing need for reliable or uninterrupted power, e.g., outages are more frequent and lasting longer.  He provides a general description of planning and installing solar/clean energy microgrid power using a recent installation at a community health center in New Orleans, explains how and why this work is becoming increasingly turn key, how financing is achieved, i.e., how construction can require no out of pocket costs in part via use of forthcoming Inflation Reduction Act tax credits, and the return on investment to the provider or community health center and the benefits to the provider's patient population.                    

Mr. Andrew MacCalla is the the Co-Founder and CEO of Collective Energy Company, a social business specializing in bringing clean and reliable power to non-profit community health centers in the US and abroad.  Andrew is also the Principal Advisor to Direct Relief’s Power for Health Program.  He previously served as the Vice President of Emergency Response and New Initiatives at Direct Relief that provides over $2.5 billion in medical resources and over $100M in grant funding to people in over 100 countries and 55 US States and territories annually.  Andrew spent two years living AMacCalla_Headshot in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and was on the ground overseeing responses to emergencies like Hurricane Sandy in New York, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Ebola crisis in W Africa, the Syrian refugee crisis, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Dorian, wildfires in CA, and the Covid19 pandemic. Andrew also led the team in Puerto Rico who have implemented over 400 recovery projects on the island since Hurricane Maria.  He has also overseen numerous post-disaster infrastructure and energy projects, including the installation of over four megawatts of solar and battery storage for critical health facilities and community water wells that lost power after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.  In the Bahamas, Andrew led efforts to repair and rebuild health facilities that were damaged or destroyed in Hurricane Dorian.  Mr. MacCalla studied philosophy at University of California, Santa Barbara and earned a MA in Public Policy and Management at the University of Melbourne.  He has written numerous articles for the Huffington Post and The Sacramento Bee. 

 

11/21/2022

Just Published, "One Small Regulatory Update Can Lay Out a Path Toward Decarbonization" (November 21st)

This past Friday, the American Hospital Association's American Society for Healthcare Engineering published my brief essay that I titled, "One Small Regulatory Update Can Put the Healthcare Industry on the Path Towards Decarbonization."  The article is at: https://www.hfmmagazine.com/articles/4609-one-small-regulatory-update-can-put-the-health-care-sector-on-the-path-towards-decarbonization. 

The article opens with, "Within health care circles Hurricane Fiona’s damage to Puerto Rico’s power grid once again begged the question how best to distribute diesel fuel among health care providers for emergency power.  What has been left undiscussed is a far more significant question.  Why does the health care sector still use diesel fuel?" 

I'll just add two points: first, this writing was rejected by at least ten journals and media outlets including Health Affairs, JAMA, Modern Healthcare, NEJM and STAT; and second, the title was revised and the opening paragraph uses the word "sector" because the American Hospital Association does not allow the largest "sector" in the largest economy in the world to be termed an "industry."   

 

11/02/2022

Dr. Jeroen Struijs Discusses Designing Alternative Payment Insurance Models to Green the Healthcare Industry (November 1st)

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Having posted over 25 related climate and health-related interviews over the past several years, podcast listeners are aware that the healthcare industry effectively exists in a harm-treat-harm cycle where providers cause patients harm via their greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution - that requires treatment causing providers to emit more harmful GHG pollution added - that leads to more patent harm - that leads to . . . .    In September I posted an article that appeared in Health Affairs in which I argued CMS design a Medicare Part A hospital Value Based Payment program and a similar program under Medicare’s Part B physician Quality Payment Program that financially incent healthcare providers to reduce their GHG emissions.  Doing so, I argued, would measurably lower Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries burden of disease, improve their care outcomes and safety, advance health equity, improve the industry’s financial sustainability and help heal the planet.  Reforming insurance payments is also the interest of the Dutch healthcare policy researcher, Dr. Jeroen Struijs, who is presently in the US working with Harvard faculty to identify insurance value based purchasing methods that can incent the health care industry to reduce its GHG pollution.   

During this 33-minute interview, Dr. Struijs begins by providing an overview of his research work.  The discussion moves on to Dr. Struijs explaining what's driving aligning payments with industry greening and the lack of effort to to date by insurance carriers to align payments or reimbursement despite inherent efficiency motives.  He identifies possible reasons why insurance carriers have not to date aligned payments, discusses the role or importance of development and use of sustainability quality metrics and  patient incentives.  Regarding financial incentives, he identifies opportunities via the Part B Medicare Shared Savings (ACOs) Program and in the private/commercial markets where payers can more readily or immediately address greening providers.  The discussion concludes with Dr. Struijs commenting on provider accreditation, provider curriculum reform and lessons learned via related overseas efforts.                    

Dr. Jeroen Struijs, Ph.D., D., M.Sc., a 2013-14 Dutch Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice, is a Senior Researcher at the Centre of Prevention Jeroen_Struijs and Health Services Research, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, where he has been conducting research since 2000.  He is also Associate Professor at Leiden University's Medical Center.  Prior to his work in health policy, Dr. Struijs was a practicing physiotherapist.  Dr. Struijs’ research covers a broad range of topics surrounding payment reform and innovations in the organization of health care systems, particularly in primary care.  Dr. Struijs has published peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Health Affairs, Health Policy, and New England Journal of Medicine.  He is member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Integrated Care, and board member of the International Foundation for Integrated Care.  Dr. Struijs holds a Ph.D. degree in health services research from University of Amsterdam, and two master’s degrees: one in health sciences from Maastricht University; and, one in health services research from Erasmus University Rotterdam. 

10/06/2022

Patricia Goldsmith Discusses CancerCare (October 5th)

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After heart disease cancer is the leading cause of mortality in the US at over 600,000 deaths annually.  Not surprisingly cancer care costs are considerable at approximately $210 billion of which approximately 10% is paid out of pocket.  This explains why in part up to 30% of Medicare beneficiaries without subsidies do not fill their anticancer prescriptions.  To make matters worse, the COVID pandemic has significantly compromised cancer diagnosis and treatment that are expected to produce negative ripple effects.  While  President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot,” aims to cut cancer death rates by 50% over the next 25 years, last year the CDC projected that because of the growth and aging of the population the annual number of cancer cases will increase nearly 50% between 2015 and 2050.  

During this 33 minute interview Ms. Goldsmith discusses the CancerCare's work, in sum, the organization provides free professional support services and information for cancer patients.  We move on to discuss the relationship between CancerCare's work and the Medicare hospice benefit, problems with employer based coverage for cancer diagnoses, complications associated with timely cancer screenings, work CancerCare does to help their patients/clients afford their medications.  Ms. Goldsmith comments on President Biden's Cancer Moonshot initiative, drug pricing policies recently passed under the IRA, challenges her organization faces in raising financial assistance funding and the increasing demands on the organization's workforce.            

Patricia J. Goldsmith joined CancerCare in 2014 as Chief Executive Officer.  Ms. Goldsmith previously served as Executive Vice President and Chief Download
Operating Officer at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).  Previously still,  Ms. formerly served as Vice President for Institutional Development, Public Affairs and Marketing at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida – an NCCN Member Institution.  Before joining Moffitt, she developed and directed all managed care activities for the University of South Florida College of Medicine.  A frequent national meetings and symposia, Ms. Goldsmith has also served on Congressional panels.  Ms. Goldsmith has studied at the Pennsylvania State University, the University of Missouri Bloch School of Business and the Harvard School of Public Health.  She was a winner of the 1999 Distinguished Women in Business Award sponsored by the Business Journal of Tampa Bay and also was named the 1999 Leukemia Society Woman of the Year.  Most recently, Ms. Goldsmith was named to Forbes 50 Over 50 Vision List which was established in partnership with Mika Brzezinski’s “Know Your Value,” and highlights women over the age of 50 who have achieved significant success.

Information on CancerCare is at: https://www.cancercare.org/.

10/05/2022

Dr. Jeni Miller Discusses a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty (October 4th)

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This summer the planet once again experienced record temperatures, droughts, wildfires and extreme weather events.  Nevertheless, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency and OECD, global public subsidies of fossil fuel subsidies nearly doubled from 2020 to $700b in 2021.  The US economy still remains significantly dependent on coal use; it generates approx. 20% of the country’s power or almost twice as much as the electricity generated by wind and solar.  (To compare in the UK, 1.5% of power production is coal-fired.)  Though the planet is currently projected to warm to well over 2.5C this century, per a recent report by United in Science global warming has already reached the lower end of five end game negative climate tipping points.  (Think, for example, a collapsing Greenland ice sheet.)  This finding led the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, to state, “the report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territory of destruction,” what he termed climate carnage.    

During this 33-minute interview Dr. Miller begins by discussing the work of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.  She goes on to discuss the impetus for a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, identifies organizations that have signed on including the World Health Organization, analogizes the treaty to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, discusses what role the UN may play in forwarding a non-proliferation treaty, and what we currently know about what if any interest the White House and HHS are receptive to a non-proliferation treat.  We conclude with Dr. Miller's interpretation of why only a trivial fraction, as low as 1%, of Americans believe the climate crisis is the most important problem facing the country.     

Dr. Jeni Miller is Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance, where she coordinates the joint efforts of national, regional and 1644372190448 international health organizations addressing climate change.  The Alliance works to minimize the health impacts of climate change and to maximize the health benefits of climate solutions, through leadership, advocacy, policy, research, and engagement.  On behalf of the Alliance, Dr. Miller co-chairs the WHO-Civil Society Working Group on Climate and Health.  In addition to her work at GCHA, Dr. Miller currently serves as Immediate-Past-Chair of the Environment Section of the American Public Health Association.  She has two decades’ experience working on policy- and systems-change strategies to improve community environments for health, in leading initiatives addressing childhood asthma, childhood obesity, climate change, health equity, and healthy community redevelopment.  Dr. Miller received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Global Climate and Health Alliance's related article is at: https://climateandhealthalliance.org/press-releases/international-health-organizations-call-for-fossil-fuel-non-proliferation-treaty-to-protect-lives-of-current-and-future-generations/

The fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty website is at: https://fossilfueltreaty.org/.