ACA Then, Now, and Tomorrow. Measuring Success or Failure.

New Web Site. New effort. Old news updated. The ACA then and now.

I was looking at my archives and found Notes & Links: October 21, 2013. I posted a piece that Dan Munro a healthcare contributor at Fobes had on Obamacare Numbers Success or Failure? Munro noted that there were 476,000 health insurance application were filled through ACA Federal and State exchanges. Since then we can say a few more Americans have applied with over 20 million people have health insurance either through public o private options. As of December 24, 2016 there were 11.5 million people who used the federal marketplace to buy health insurance. 8.9 million renewed their coverage or bought new plans to replace existing plans. 2.6 million new people enrolled. It was so cute that Munro ends that piece from 2013 noting that the ACA is the single biggest target on Obama’s back. You think.

Fast forward to Munro article in Forbes Trump Acknowledges That The ‘Replacement’ Of Obamacare Will Span Years. This was pulled from President Trumps interview with Bill O’Reilly. Besides the fact Trump is seeing that the ACA can’t be just turned off without doing great harm to millions of Americans. Ultimately in rich and ironic way the GOP is being forced think about outcomes that are not tied to punishing former President Obama. GOP oh my. Which brings me to my final thought here.

As the ACA is repealed, replaced, or repaired there will be reams of pages written about the harm these actions will have on the sick, the old, and the young. There will be competing projections of what these changes will produce. For now the little we know about what will be done or considered is not enough to get our outcomes arms around.

I would like to imagine that someone, some academic institution, some group of thinkers will set up a site to track key healthcare outcomes retrospectively from the beginning of the ACA to its ‘repair’ and then going forward. Surely there will be measures of those who have and don’t have health insurance and measures of cost of health insurance and more. I am hoping we can get into the granular data that may takes years to revel a trend.

Just to throw out some ideas: Measure standards of care treatments and their outcomes for specific conditions. Compare Repaired ACA to Pre-Repaired to Non-ACA health insurance. Will we see worse outcomes in one group vs. the other group?. Are treatments offered as first line differ between measured segments? Is the life expectancy for similar diseases and patients shorter or longer between segments?

I am not a statistician nor an epidemiologist (obviously). So I’m not sure any of this can be done. Should it be done? Yes, because this is the type of evidence (not alternative facts) that the fix and repair GOP made into law. We need to know if it’s keeping Americans alive and healthy. This GOP driven destruction of Americas health is similar to the Death Panels feared in 2012 by the GOP. Now they get to enact their dream, thinning the herd of poor, sick, and non-GOP voters.

Bonus link, One World In Data. Really great charts and graphs on healthcare.

Our World in Data
Life expectancy vs. health expenditure over time 1970-2014

Grief is the Space Between Memories Known and Unknown

“Now would be a good time to have end-of-life discussions with Donna,” the Hospice Rabbi said. “What does she want for her funeral? What are her regrets? Did she find joy in her life?”

Joy? I failed her. All I could do was think of that.

I hesitated for a day. Then next afternoon, alone in the room with Donna, I looked at her in the bed and said, “Donna, perhaps you want to talk about your funeral.”

She looked over at me and said, “Don’t be a maudlin pussy.” Then she rolled onto her side and fell asleep.

I smiled. That was the woman I married 28 years ago, life and death on her terms, her way, take no prisoners, with no doubt about what was needed. She was not dead yet.

This occurred about a week to ten days prior to Donna’s death. Yet my grief was an orchard in full bloom and thriving finding nourishment from the memories of our life together. It took seed when she was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer two plus years earlier. After she died it sunk it roots deep and remains part of me. Many may see my grief as a failure to launch away from the pain. You know that entire finding closure meme which is denial said pretty. I will not deny my grief nor Donna.

There is more to grief. Let me defend grief, specifically defend my grief and hopefully your grief. Grief is life’s artesian aquifer. It flows from within, bored out of the loss of a loved one.It is part love and light. It holds promise to satisfyingly quench our loss. To sustain us.

Grief should not be seen as a proper place or an improper place. It is the space between memories of the past and hope for the future. Those are distant points on a compass that intersects within us. At times where it overlaps may be a soft and subtle or hard and painful. No matter it creates a newness within us offering a fresh look that what was, what is, and what may be. If choose not shy from it or ignore it can open up new memories and new understanding.

I have written about grief and will continue to. Grief has its own narrative arc and begins as thumping numbing recognizing that what once is is now was. It moves with us and becomes dullness. We need to take grief and partner with it, in a sense embrace its strength and aching to create new.

Maine Public has a piece by Patty Wight. ‘If It’s All About You, There’s No Reward:’ Coping with Grief by Helping Others

She relates the story of Floyd Hastings and the death of his wife. How Hastings like many of us who face the loss of a loved one sought to give back to those who helped us care for our loved one. I remembered the chemo lab nurses and hospice staff for years following Donna’s death. I have posted about Donna and podcast on grief and how I’ve managed it well and not so well. I am volunteering. All of this as a way to pay forward what I’ve learned.

That is what we do but more to my premiss, our grief is a light within us to guide us to a better understanding of what was, is, and will be. Below are some links to my podcasts on the topic and posts. But stay tuned more to come.

Podcast 39: The Organic Nature of Grief. An Observer Effect

Podcast 37: The Insipid Nature of Grief, The Horse Latitudes

Post: Domesticating the Feral Nature of Grief

Post: Inside Out a Compendium of Loss and Grief


Pretzels: Life’s Twists & Turns A Bronx Tail

Time moves forward and we as humans move with time. Time and our lives get twisted as we move though life. Whether it’s paddling forward with the current to find a shoreline where we stop to explore. Or being carried downstream passing the point where familiar become unfamiliar. That is the polynomial equation of life: time, age, and reflection.

These past few years being carried by events surrounding me. Not powerless to changes as much as listless and supine. Donna became ill, passed away, my business and work became nonexistent. Meaning and purpose that were once part of life became abstract thoughts and longings for a time that was. This is aging. Many have written about aging especially the site Time Goes By. His thoughts and reflections on this and other aging topics are well considered and highly reflective. Yet there are moments or small events that buoy one to feel, all is not lost as we approach out expiration date.

Bronx Baking Company is one of these moments for me. I want to 1. Reflect on this company and its owner who I personally know and relate it to me then and now. 2. Give a shoutout to a fabulous company and product.

Alexis is the founder and owner of Bronx Baking. I met her through the space I was renting a desk at during Donna’s illness and death. When we first met she was mulling over the idea of a Bakery. I was struck by her drive and brains. And her Bronx attitude. She takes no shit. Kind of fits into my reference point for women.

Alexis was born and raised in the Bronx on Arthur Ave. She has an enthusiasm verging on aggressive for the Bronx. So the location was set for her. Next came the product, real German style pretzels. Alexis set out to find recipes, talk to German Bakers, test, sample, and do it all over until they were perfect. And then she started baking. At first small. Then in a shared space. And now her own space. When she opened her own space she bought equipment, cleaned the space, set it up, and tested production. To her getting here feels like forever and feels like failure delayed. For me watching it is so fast and just another step to proving your meaning and purpose. All the while she was selling product to new customers. Improving the recipe. Solving delivery problems. Snaking a grease trap. Managing account receivable. Tweeting, Instagraming, Facebooking, and more. Metaphorically those pretzels are made with sweat and tears. Metaphorically, ok. A delicious pretzel.

I could go on. There is really nothing unique here for anyone that started and ran a small business. Big deal. Or not. Consider the fact that in the US about 3% to 4% of Americans start a business. Failure is part and parcel of owning a small business as is working your ass off, having debt, and loosing sleep every night. As I said, an average day nothing special for a business owner.

I watched Alexis. I helped her with some marketing. I tried to be a cheerleader. All the while in my mind I kept thinking I was there once. My friends were there once. This is so inspiring to see and know that what we did in old timey days still feels the same. The damn the torpedo and full fucking steam ahead let’s do this lives in the Bronx, in her pretzels, and in Alexis. It lives in those that create an app or drive for Lyft. It lives in those who want to find a way to thrive and not submit. And there my friends is the importance of this. My life’s meaning and purpose may be on the wane either from external issues or from my own being stuck in this emotional amber of life. Watching Alexis and Bronx Baking and in a small way being part of it and it is thrilling. I relieve what once was. I get motivated to do this and that. I am learning new things. Being in the presence of my past is keeping me centered on the present. Helping Alexis and Bronx Baking helps me. And she gives me a pretzel once in a while.

Why Bronx Baking?

Bronx Baking sells some serious real German style pretzels and pretzel bread. They are sold locally in NYC at bars and restaurants. Where great beer is made. Alexis offers them retail (here). Do yourself a favor, you like beer? A pretzel is a must have side dish. Get some for yourself and see. You can thank me later.
This month the food court Eataly is featuring Bronx Baking products. You can find Bronx Baking on Instagram Bxbakingco, Twitter @BxBakingCo Facebook and Pinterest.

Welcome Back

It has been nearly a year since my last blog entry. I’d love to say I’ve been busy. Not so sure, at some point (age related) life becomes glacial in serving up burnt offerings. It becomes less of what is placed in front of you and more about, what you harvest, gather, uncover, and find. God helps those who help themselves and you got to help yourself prior to your expiration date. It’s been a year of sorting this out. Rest assured I am not all that self actualized. More on that later.

Here is the new site with all the old blog posts, podcasts, photos, etc. When Donna was going through chemotherapy and I was a part time gig worker and a full time caregiver. I moth balled my business. The web site I had was now in my responsibility to maintain and keep alive. Donna may be dying but I was not. At least not outwardly.

I went to Square Space and built (cobbled) a new site. That new site is now previous site. It was fine. It was mine. It was where I leaned to do new shit. Since it was on Square and my ISP is I had to have someone create a DNS and MX set up so my email and etc. would work. I also needed a bunch of network work arounds. I was clueless how it worked. But it worked. It kept busy posting and podcasting. All the while I cared for Donna and then gave into grief.

Sometime mid 2016 my hero and all around amazing social media/SEO Baby Mozart (aka Shaun) kept telling me Square is okay but for SEO and all that a web site can do it is not readily available nor robust enough on Square. Baby Mozart said in no uncertain terms go WordPress. Host it on your ISP. So mid 2016 to 1st Q 2017 that is what Shaun did and I breathlessly watched as if I was a spectator at a BMX competition.

Shaun ported my old site to the new WP build. Got the DB built, added plugins, and so on. All magic to me. He found my podcast plugin blubrry, I ported over my podcasts. Just to note blubrry was so helpful and professional. Big recommend here.

Now it’s October. Ready to go. Not so fast. I was technologically bound up like an opioid users’ bowel. I feared if I did this switch from Square to WP at Pair I was going to break the Internet. Not a joke. I made about eight calls to Pair tech support, cried to Shaun, and lit a shit load of candles and sage sticks.

Well I did it. The Internet didn’t break. Shaun held my hand. Videos are teaching me about WP. Still learning.

Is there a lesson here? I am sure, but it verges on whinny and maudlin. There is a take away or two: 1. Look closely before jumping in. 2. Break shit you can always fix it. 3. Those in tech support have the patience of saints.

The Organic Nature of Grief, An Observer Effect: Podcast 039

This process of grief feels like a hamster on a wheel. Sometimes it feels seems the clouds have parted and there is the brightness of understanding in the light braking through. Taken in the whole the path is ongoing and changing. It is slow, it is fast, it and above all else it gives me a chance find a balance in today while adjusting the past. The distance in the rear view mirror is longer than the view through the windshield.



This Too Shall Pass: When I Say So

Richard A. Friedman, MD

Podcast #36 My Idiosyncratic Fingerprint of Grief: Grief to Knowledge

Hold Still by Sally Mann

Untangling The Memories of Grief and Loss: Podcast 038

My last podcast addressed the changing avatar of my grief and loss. How for years it was a daily presence yet recently I noted it became a part-time visitor. I remain hyper vigilant to applying what I read or learn into the context of this visitor. I hear a phrase or read a passage and I think about it in terms of my grief avatar and I wonder as I reflect, what have I learned? Am I missing today and tomorrow because my vision is in my rear view mirror? Can I untangle myself from looking back to construct a new environment for my emotions to reside?


The Insipid Nature of Grief, The Horse Latitudes: Podcast 037

It’s a strange and curious time in my journey from caregiver, to widower, and grief ambassador. It feels as if I have navigated my way into the the horse latitudes of life. I’ve entered that legendary becalmed moment where I find myself searching for horses to throw overboard in a ritual to speed my journey and create movement. It is an emotional desert that I am not sure what to do with or if I will find a way forward. Speaking into a microphone, creating a podcast seems to help.


My Idiosyncratic Fingerprint of Grief: Grief to Knowledge: Podcast 036

Teri Gross on her podcast Fresh Air interviewed Fenton Johnson who had the cover story in Harper’s Mag “Going it Alone”. The essay addresses the importance of solitude and what it means to ourselves our well being and sense of self. What we can learn from that.What can we can with do with it?

I wondered if my being drawn to this idea/way of life was driven by a rationalize of my current state of mind and life. Or am I seeking to find more in order to take this journey from dx to tx to loss mourning and grief and apply what it meant to a better life? To shake were I’m at and morph into a new me? To leverage a death and loss to make me whole again? What does this tell me? And how to do I apply it? And what outcomes am I seeking?

Inspired By Monks, A Writer Embraces His Life Of Solitude

Going it Alone” Fenton Johnson

My Grief Through Their Eyes: Podcast 035

I’ve been writing and podcasting about EOL, HPM, grief, mourning and dying. It’s my personal journal and journey based on reflections, memories, and experiences surrounding Donna’s diagnosis, treatment, and passing. That is the nature of a narrative it’s a reflection based on personal or learned experiences.


It struck me that my musing were personal and emotional. What if I missed a point, a nuance, a message, that some may find valuable. Or more importantly I find valuable. I thought why don’t I interview those who knew Donna, knew me, and were part of this journey. I wanted to learn how they saw the arc of Donna from diagnosis to EOL my arc from diagnosis to EOL to grief and mourning. Did I miss anything? Was I short sighted in my self analysis and reflection? Was my narrative accurate and clear? What did I miss because we all know how clear hindsight is.

NYT Memento Mori by David Malham

Sweet Life Communications

Guarantee Your End-of-Life Wishes: Podcast 034

Palliative care, end-of-life, death with dignity are trending topic. They are of great interest to the aging population in America and to those who are or may become their caregivers. Over the past couple of years following my experience as a caregiver for my wife who was dx with stage IV cancer and following her passing I realized that there is a need that is largely unmet–EOL planning.


The majority of the 1.8 million Americans who die each year do not have their end-of-life (EOL) wishes or goals met. This failure extends the pain and suffering of the patient, their loved ones, and incurs a high financial cost that does not achieve quality or meaningful extension of life. The gap between what Americans want at end-of-life and what is delivered can be accomplished simply and efficiently.