The department’s funding would be cut by 13 percent, to $16.2 billion, according to the proposal released early Thursday.
“The Budget request reflects a streamlined DOT that is focused on performing vital Federal safety oversight functions and investing in nationally and regionally significant transportation infrastructure projects,” the budget document says.
“The Budget reduces or eliminates programs that are either inefficient, duplicative of other Federal efforts, or that involve activities that are better delivered by States, localities, or the private sector.”
The budget limits funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment program, eliminates funding for the Essential Air Service program and ends federal support for long-distance Amtrak trains.
The blueprint also eliminates funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which was set up by the Obama administration’s 2009 economic stimulus package to provide an extra injection of cash for surface transportation projects.
The grants are appropriated by Congress every year but were never authorized. The proposal estimates that scrapping the program would save $499 million annually.
TIGER grants are a popular funding tool among cities and states. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao expressed support for TIGER grants and the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program during her confirmation hearing.
But the program has drawn the ire of Republicans, who have sought to eliminate or reduce the grants in previous spending bills.
“If [TIGER grants] were to be cut, then it’s big time trouble,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, told The Hill last week.
“Department of Transportation TIGER grants are something that are considered essential to rehabbing our infrastructure.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who chairs the Senate Appropriations transportation subcommittee, has promised to protect the grants in any spending bill.
Trump vowed as a candidate and after winning the White House to improve the nation’s infrastructure, calling for repairing U.S. roads, bridges and airports.
“Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land,” Trump said during a joint address to Congress last month.
“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs.”
Haley was a frequent critic of Trump’s rhetoric during the campaign
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will accept the nomination to the post of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from President-elect Donald Trump, according to two sources familiar with Trump’s presidential transition.
Haley, the popular governor whose national stock rose after leading the response to the Charleston church shooting last year, is the first woman and the first Indian-American tapped by Trump for an administration post, and his first departure outside his inner circle of advisors. An official announcement is expected later Wednesday.
Haley, 44, is midway through her second term as governor, where her state has seen widespread economic growth under her tenure. But her lack of traditional foreign policy experience is likely to draw scrutiny during Senate confirmation hearings. Haley is close with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, one of the leading contenders to be Trump’s Secretary of State.
Haley endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and then Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during the contentious Republican primaries, and was a frequent critic of Trump’s rhetoric. She reluctantly announced her intent to vote for Trump just two weeks before Election Day, telling reporters, “This is no longer a choice for me on personalities because I’m not a fan of either one, what it is about is policy.”
According to a transition source, Haley’s post will be of Cabinet-rank, a departure from the past two Republican administrations in which it was a sub-Cabinet-level post. Haley’s nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
Study: States with medical marijuana have lower prescription drug use—This Causes Fewer Drug Overdoses And Fewer Drug Related Deaths As It Is Impossible To Overdose (Die) From Marijuana Usage!
PUBLISHED: JUL 7, 2016, 8:32 AM • UPDATED: 4 MONTHS AGO COMMENTS (6)
By Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News
Prescription drug prices are up, making policy experts increasingly anxious. But relief could come from a surprising source. Just ask Cheech and Chong.
New research found that states that legalized medical marijuana — which is sometimes recommended for symptoms like chronic pain, anxiety or depression — saw declines in the number of Medicare prescriptions for drugs used to treat those conditions and a dip in spending by Medicare Part D, which covers the cost on prescription medications.
The study, which appears in Health Affairs, examined data from Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013. It is the first study to examine whether legalization changes doctors’ clinical practice and whether it could curb public health costs.
The findings add context to the debate as more lawmakers express interest in medical marijuana. Ohio and Pennsylvania have this year passed laws allowing the drug for therapeutic purposes, making the practice legal in 25 states, plus Washington D.C. The question could also come to a vote in Florida and Missouri this November. A federal agency is considering reclassifying it under national drug policy to make medical marijuana more readily available.
Medical marijuana saved Medicare about $165 million in 2013, the researchers concluded. They estimated that, if the policy were nationalized, Medicare Part D spending would have declined in the same year by about $470 million. That’s about half a percent of the program’s total expenditures.
That is an admittedly small proportion of the multi-billion dollar program. But the figure is nothing to sneeze at, said W. David Bradford, a professor of public policy at the University of Georgia and one of the study’s authors.
“We wouldn’t say that saving money is the reason to adopt this. But it should be part of the discussion,” he added. “We think it’s pretty good indirect evidence that people are using this as medication.”
The researchers found that in states with medical marijuana laws on the books, the number of drug prescriptions dropped for treating anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, psychosis, seizures, sleep disorders and spasticity. Those are all conditions for which marijuana is sometimes recommended. Prescriptions for other drugs treating other conditions, meanwhile, did not decline.
The study’s authors are separately investigating the impact medical marijuana could have on prescriptions covered by Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for low-income people. Though this research is still being finalized, they found a greater drop in prescription drug payments there, Bradford said.
If the trend bears out, it could have meaningful public health ramifications. As doctors and public health experts grapple with the consequences of excessive prescription painkiller use, medical marijuana could provide an alternate path. Experts say abuse of prescription painkillers — known as opioids — is in part driven by high prescribing. In states that legalized medical uses of marijuana, painkiller prescriptions dropped — on average, the study found, by about 1,800 daily doses filled each year per doctor. That tracks with other research on the subject.
Questions exist, though, about the possible health harms or issues that could result from regular use.
Peruse our Cannabist-themed merchandise (T’s, hats, hoodies) at Cannabist Shop.
It’s unlike other drugs, such as opioids, in which overdoses are fatal, said Deepak D’Souza, a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine, who has researched the drug.
“That doesn’t happen with marijuana,” he added. “But there are whole other side effects and safety issues we need to be aware of.”
“A lot of people also worry that marijuana is a drug that can be abused,” agreed Bradford. “Just because it’s not as dangerous as some other dangerous things, it doesn’t mean you want to necessarily promote it. There’s a lot of unanswered questions.”
Meanwhile, it is difficult to predict how many people will opt for this choice instead of meds like antidepressants or opioids.
Because the federal government labels marijuana as a Schedule I drug, doctors can’t technically prescribe it. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, they can only write patients a note sending them to a dispensary. Insurance plans don’t cover it, so patients using marijuana pay out-of-pocket. Prices vary based on geography, but a patient’s recommended regimen can be as much as $400 per month. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency is considering changing that classification — a decision is expected sometime this summer. If the DEA made marijuana a Schedule II drug, that would put it in the company of drugs such as morphine and oxycodone, making it easier for doctors to prescribe and more likely that insurance would cover it.
To some, the idea that medical marijuana triggers costs savings is hollow. Instead, they say it is cost shifting. “Even if Medicare may be saving money, medical marijuana doesn’t come for free,” D’Souza said. “I have some trouble with the idea that this is a source of savings.”
Still, Bradford maintains that if the industry expanded and medical marijuana became a regular part of patient care nationally, the cost curve would bend because marijuana is cheaper than other drugs.
Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who has written two books on the subject, echoed that possibility. Unlike with many drugs, he argued, “There’s a limit to how high a price cannabis can be sold at as a medicine.” He is not associated with the study.
And, in the midst of the debate about its economics, medical marijuana still sometimes triggers questions within the practice of medicine.
“As physicians, we are used to prescribing a dose. We don’t have good information about what is a good dose for the treatment for, say pain,” D’Souza said. “Do you say, ‘Take two hits and call me in the morning?’ I have no idea.”
Authorities are thanking a passerby who shot and killed a motorist fighting a deputy along a Florida interstate on Nov. 14. (Reuters)
When the man saw a patrol car parked on the exit ramp of a Florida interstate, he witnessed a scene too troubling to ignore: a sheriff deputy being slammed to the ground and beaten by a man in plain clothes.
The passerby, whom the Lee County Sheriff’s Office is now calling a “Good Samaritan,” rushed to the two men, telling the attacker he would shoot him if he refused to stop beating the deputy.
The attacker, later identified as 53-year-old Edward Strother, continued to pin down the deputy and attack him, and the deputy struggled to keep his weapon away from him. When the attacker failed to comply to his warning, the passerby shot him three times, killing him, the News-Press reported.
The deputy, a 12-year veteran named Dean Bardes, was treated for his injuries and later released from the hospital.
Mike Scott, the Lee County sheriff, commended and thanked the man “who engaged the crazed assailant and stopped the imminent threat of great bodily harm or death to our deputy,” NBC-2 reported. He did not identify the man, however.
But the attacker’s brother later criticized the sheriff’s positive response to his brother’s death and questioned the details of the fight.
“They are calling him a Good Samaritan?” Strother’s brother, Louis Strother, said to the News-Press. “Was my brother armed?”
The scene had begun to unravel at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, when a driver began to recklessly swerve and drive along the left shoulder at what seemed to be at least 100 miles per hour, a witness told the News-Press. Bardes was responding to an unrelated crash involving the Florida Highway Patrol when Strother almost struck him with his car.
Sensing the near-crash was intentional, Bardes chased the vehicle southbound, until the driver stopped and exited his car at an off-ramp, approaching Bardes’s patrol car. The fight that ensued was one in a string of “egregious acts of aggression toward law enforcement officers across this country,” Scott, the sheriff, said.
Kimberly Jenkinson, a Florida woman driving by at the time, told WINK News she saw the man violently throw the officer to the ground.
“He just started punching him and hitting and hitting and hitting,” she said. “I was afraid for the police officer. I thought he was going to kill him.”
Later, she posted a status on Facebook that read, “I just watched a police officer get taken down. What is this world coming to?”
An emergency crew performed CPR on Strother at the scene in an attempt to revive him. Strother has a previous, active misdemeanor arrest warrant for failure to appear on a battery charge in Florida, according to NBC-2.
The “Good Samaritan” had a concealed-weapons permit that allowed him to carry his gun, NBC-2 reported.
Bardes, 47, of New Jersey, served in the U.S. Air Force for three months, before being discharged for knee pain, the News-Press reported. He worked as a corrections officer for two years before becoming a patrol officer.
The deputy’s file included notes from supervisors who wrote early on in his career that he acted cautiously and was always respectful of the public, the News-Press reported.
Bardes, “is able to deescalate situations and resolve these incidents in a fair and partial manner,” the personnel file states.
Hispanic voters were largely credited with President Obama’s victory in 2012, but they weren’t as crucial as many believed. Mr. Obama didn’t even need to win the Hispanic vote to put him over the top, thanks to high black turnout and support among white voters in the North. The turnout among Hispanic voters didn’t surge, even though exit polls implied that it had.
This year, Hispanic voters, perhaps motivated by Donald J. Trump’s policy proposals (including deportation) and harsh language aimed at undocumented Hispanic immigrants, really might decide this election.
Early voting data unequivocally indicates that Hillary Clinton will benefit from a long awaited surge in Hispanic turnout, vastly exceeding the Hispanic turnout from four years ago.
It’s too soon to say whether it will be decisive for her. The geographic distribution of Hispanic voters means that many of her gains will help her in uncompetitive states like Texas and California, not Michigan and Pennsylvania.
But the surge is real, and it’s big. It could be enough to overcome Mr. Trump’s strength among white-working class voters in the swing states of Florida and Nevada. If it does, it will almost certainly win her the election.
In Florida, voters who indicated they were Hispanic on their voter registration form represent more than 15 percent of the early vote. In 2012, Hispanic voters were just 12 percent of the final electorate.
The numbers are striking in part because of the sheer magnitude of the early vote so far. Already, more than 6.4 million total voters have cast their ballots in the state — equal to 75 percent of the final turnout in 2012. In total, as many Hispanic voters have already cast ballots in Florida’s early voting period as cast ballots in all of 2012.
The Hispanic surge in Florida isn’t simply because Mrs. Clinton has drawn typically reliable Election Day voters to vote early instead: According to Daniel Smith of the University of Florida, fully 36 percent of the Hispanics who have voted so far did not vote in 2012.
It’s also striking because Hispanic voters are typically among the least likely to participate in early and absentee voting. If that pattern continues this year — suggesting a robust Hispanic turnout on Election Day — Mr. Trump is probably in serious trouble.
The pre-election polls in Florida appear to have assumed a lower level of Hispanic turnout. The final Upshot/Siena poll in Florida suggested that the state’s electorate would be 67 percent white, by registration, and 14 percent Hispanic — just two percentage points higher than the 12 percent of 2012.
A new Quinnipiac poll today had Mrs. Clinton ahead by one point in the state, and put Hispanic voters at 16 percent of the electorate. But this was based on the race that registered voters self-reported to pollsters, not the race that they indicated on their voter registration form.
In our two Florida polls, registered Hispanic voters represented 13.6 percent of the electorate, but 16 percent of likely voters were self-identified Hispanic voters.
If registered Hispanic voters represent 15 percent of the electorate, self-identified Hispanic voters could be 18 or 19 percent of voters.
The data on Hispanic turnout is not as illustrative elsewhere in the country, because most other states do not ask about race and Hispanic origin on voter registration forms. But this is a national trend.
The Hispanic vote in Nevada has propelled Democrats to a considerable lead in the early vote. Many analysts believe that it has already been enough to secure the state for Mrs. Clinton. The turnout has surpassed 2012 levels in several of Las Vegas’s heavily Hispanic precincts.
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The huge surge in Hispanic turnout is possible — and sustainable — in part because there was no surge four years ago. Even now, the turnout among white registered voters is at a higher percentage in the Florida early vote than among Hispanic voters because Hispanic turnout, historically so low, has a long way to go to catch up.
There’s another possible error in the polls: Mrs. Clinton’s share of the Hispanic vote. In general, the highest-quality polls of Hispanic voters give her a larger lead than the one Mr. Obama held with that group in 2012. But there are plenty of surveys where this doesn’t seem to show up. There are very few surveys that show Mrs. Clinton faring much, much better than Mr. Obama, suggesting an underlying bias in many public polls.
Why would the polls tend to underestimate Democratic strength among Hispanic voters? There’s considerable evidence that pollsters tend to contact too many well-assimilated, English-speaking, high-turnout Hispanic voters who live in less Hispanic areas. These voters tend to be more Republican. If true, Mrs. Clinton’s strength among less assimilated, Spanish-speaking and low-turnout Hispanic voters in heavily Hispanic and urban areas might be missed in the polls.
Mrs. Clinton had a lead of 60 to 26 percent among Hispanic voters in Upshot/Siena Florida polls, which used English and Spanish interviews and had the right number of low-turnout voters and voters in heavily Democratic areas.
Whether Hispanic turnout will be enough for Mrs. Clinton to win the presidency is hard to say.
In the most contested states, Hispanic voters represent a larger than average share of the electorate only in Florida and Nevada.
They’re just a fraction of the electorate in many of the states that could prove decisive — North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire or Michigan.
Hispanic voters can give Mrs. Clinton a knockout blow with a win in Florida. It would be especially symbolic if it came early in the night.
But if Hispanic voters don’t put Mrs. Clinton over the top in Florida, she’ll need to cobble together enough strength among black voters and white Northerners in states like Pennsylvania and Michigan.
In that event, Hispanic voters would still be an important part of Mrs. Clinton’s path — say, in helping win Nevada and Colorado — but not clearly decisive.
Either way, it’s likely that the Hispanic vote will pad Mrs. Clinton’s margin in the national popular vote and sustain her chances in the Electoral College.
One could write an entire book just ABOUT Michelle Alexander’s devastating treatise THE NEW JIM CROW. Pulling just a small moment of brilliance, though, I marked a passage that set off in my mind a moment of “the wings of the butterfly” adage, that saying that the smallest transactional movement in one part of the world can set off a storm on the other side of the planet.
So, on page 160, Alexander writes about a man named Drake who was convicted of a marijuana-related felony: “Drake’s vote, along with the votes of millions of other people labeled felons, might have made a real difference in 2004. There is no doubt their votes would have changed things in 2000. Following the election, it was widely reported that, had the 600,000 former felons who had completed their sentence in Florida been allowed to vote, Al Gore would have been elected president of the United States rather than George W. Bush.”
So, by criminalizing marijuana and disenfranchising more than half a million voters, we get a different President. Imagine if marijuana convicts had NOT lost the right to vote in Florida: we get Gore as Pres, and maybe no war in Iraq, maybe no ISIS, no Syrian Civil War, no refugee crisis, no destabilized EU, no Brexit, etc etc etc, and,well, let your imagination run wild with the way things might have been different 16 years ago if those voters had been allowed their constitutional right.
If you haven’t, please read THE NEW JIM CROW so we’re all on the same page about protecting our constitutional rights as citizens. At least we’re partly headed in the right direction with the decriminalization of marijuana and reversing the racially driven policies of the past fifty years (or longer).
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REAGAN REPORTS WEB SITE)
Late Night Jokes of the Week
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
A former “Apprentice” contestant says that Donald Trump didn’t know the names of all the women on the show, and would describe them by their bodies and looks. When asked about it, Trump said, “Which woman said that? Brown Hair/Lazy Eye or Blond Hair/Nose Job?”
Donald Trump just released a new TV ad attacking Hillary Clinton’s health, with clips of her coughing. Which was effective till the end, when he says, “I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message. (LONG SNIFF)”
Yesterday, Al Gore campaigned for Hillary Clinton at a Florida rally attended by 1,600 people. Unfortunately for Gore, a recount showed that it was only 1,300 people.
A new study finds that having acne could be a good thing because it protects your skin from aging. And then teenagers were like, “Right now it just feels like it’s protecting me from girls.”
Samsung is sending out thermally insulated “flameproof” boxes for people returning its exploding Galaxy Note 7 phones. Samsung says they’re being “extra cautious,” while UPS is saying, “Please use FedEx.”
Paris Hilton just bought an $8,000 Chihuahua. How does Paris Hilton still have $8,000?
The dog weighs 12 ounces. I’ve eaten hot dogs that weigh more than 12 ounces. That’s not even officially a dog, that’s a hamster; she spent eight grand on a hamster.
President Obama is winding down his time in office. He’s got less than 100 days left. But he’s keeping busy, still pushing his agenda, he’s working to fight climate change, he’s shortening sentences for drug offenders, every night he goes down to the basement to visit Merrick Garland, his nominee for the Supreme Court.
The reason President Obama is working so hard up to the end is to avoid helping his wife pack the house; it’s a pain in the [butt], and he wants no part of it.
I hope Obama grows a huge retirement beard like David Letterman.
Some very prominent Republican donors are reported to be asking for their money back. Because if there’s one thing Donald Trump is known for, it’s giving money back.
Asking Donald Trump for your money back is like asking Chris Christie for a bite of his cheeseburger, it isn’t going to happen. You’ll have to pry it out of his cold, tiny hands.
Donald Trump told supporters last night to go out and vote on November 28th, when Election Day is actually November 8th. Unless November 8th is just a lie being spread by the liberal media.
Donald Trump, last night, criticized Republicans who are dropping support for his campaign, saying, “I wouldn’t want to be in a foxhole with a lot of these people.” Trump made the comment while talking to everyone’s favorite foxhole, Bill O’Reilly.
Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said this morning that Republicans should decide whether or not they support Donald Trump and “stop pussyfooting around.” That’s the worst choice of words since Abraham Lincoln said, “I need slavery like I need a hole in the head.”
Today was Yom Kippur, or as Gary Johnson calls it, “The capital of Thailand?”
Former House Speaker John Boehner says he still plans on voting for Trump even though he said, “Donald wasn’t my first choice, wasn’t my second choice, for that matter he wasn’t my third choice.” “Who was your fourth choice?” whispered Jeb.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MICHAEL REAGAN REPORT)
Businesses Flee California
By Michael Reagan
It never occurred to me that one could do exchange rate calculations between U.S. states. I always thought exchange rates only applied to foreign countries.
For example: Does the 20-to-1 exchange rate for pesos and dollars make up for the risk of decapitation on a visit to Mexico? Or should I settle for the much lower 1.32-to-1 exchange rate for Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars and have a better chance of surviving my vacation?
The Tax Foundation has estimated the difference in purchasing power for a $100 bill in various states. The winner of the competition was Alabama where you get $115.34 in value for your Benjamin.
Right next door to my home state of California, my former home state (went to high school there) of Arizona nets you $103.73 for your hundred smackers.
While in California your $100 is worth $88.97. Only in New York, New Jersey and of course Washington, D.C. could you get less for your money.
Is it any wonder Spectrum Location Solutions found 9,000 businesses left California between 2008 and 2015 in search of pastures where their greenbacks had more impact.
Joseph Vranich, president of SLS, told the Dallas Business Journal “companies are leaving California to escape escalating costs and regulations can move to Texas or Nevada that have no income tax and high relative purchasing power. I even wonder if some kind of ‘business migration history’ has been made.”
In the same interview Varnish estimated that California escapees have enjoyed “astonishing” operating cost savings from 20 to 35 percent.
That’s what happens when nanny state government decides to put the golden goose on an Ex-Lax diet to pay for its “compassionate” big government.
Some states claim to be “open for business” while California has “opened up on business.”
The top ten states that have enjoyed to California’s government-induced business exodus are Texas at the top followed by Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Virginia.
The California counties that have suffered the largest loss of businesses are just the ones you would expect: Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara, San Francisco, San Diego, Alameda, San Mateo, Ventura, Sacramento and Riverside.
Proving that after a while business realizes California may have good weather, but you can’t take a climate to the bank.
Breitbart observed, “The Tax Foundation established a direct inverse correlation between purchasing power and the percentage level of state tax rate. California, with a 13.3 percent top state tax bracket, leads the nation.”
A dubious distinction that costs the remaining residents in lost employment opportunities.
Michael Reagan is the son of former President Ronald Reagan and chairman of the League of American Voters. His blog appears on reaganreports.com
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Toward the end of part one I was speaking of the Ratings Board for the VA and how crooked they are and have been. In the guidelines for how the VA Ratings Board is supposed to conduct themselves it is stated that if their own Doctors agree with the Vet like their Neurosurgeon did in October of 2012 concerning the MRI I was finally able to get, that the Board would have to side on the side of the Veteran. Those guidelines also say that if the Veteran goes to civilian Doctors and those Doctors in writing agree with the Veteran that it is “reasonable to believe” that an active duty injury “could have caused” the veterans issues that they are trying to get a disability increase on then the Board has to side with the Veteran. As most any and all Veterans who have received negative answers at these Boards of Inquiry know, the VA personnel who are being paid by the VA, they pay no attention to those guidelines. As I said yesterday in part one, poop flows downhill, you know that these actions have to be being dictated to them from higher up in the VA chain of command. Otherwise why would these underlings be going against the very guidelines that they are told to uphold?
From about August of 1984 up until the heart attack I had while living in Ocala Fl in March of 1999 I suffered with not only my legs, hips and low pack being in constant pain, I suffered horribly with chest, neck, left shoulder and hand pain from the un-diagnosed heart pains. In 1999 I was working on a dedicated account for J B Hunt and I had another heart attack while at a company safety meeting. I was 42 at the time and my boss didn’t figure it was something serious so he pointed me in the direction of the hospital and I drove myself there. It was a Saturday morning and it was flu season and the ER was full of Mom’s and kids. When I was able to finally get up the ramp and into the building I went to the check in window, told them what was going wrong with me, they thought that I was lying just trying to get in front of the line. They did check my blood pressure though and as normal it was about 110/70.They had me sit in the waiting room for 5 1/2 hours before they finally called my name. When they finally did an EKG they freaked out because of them seeing the heart attacks. 3 days later they did a 4 way by-pass as all my arteries were 100% closed. At that time it seems that even the heart Doctors were unaware that the body in attempts to save itself will grow small veins around the blockages and into the heart. Trouble is that by blood would close these just about as fast as the new ones could grow. Literally your body is in a race against itself as it tries to keep some blood going to the heart. This was the first time that I ever got a hospital to do an EKG, ever. Over a span of 14 1/2 yrs I was never able to get a VA Doctor to do that simple 30 second test. How many yrs of my life did their ignorance, arrogance, and laziness shave off of my life span? This also doesn’t include the fact that during this time I had no quality of life at all. I couldn’t play any kind of games with my kids and my whole life revolved around working (being a long haul truck driver) and when I wasn’t working about the only thing I ever did was to sleep.
After my insurance ran out three months after the heart operation I had to rely on the VA system for my meds because I had no other way to afford them. The company I was working for would not let me come back to work so I did the only thing I could do, I had to lie my way into jobs with small companies or starve and go homeless. In January of 2002 I was able to get on with a company in Knoxville Tn that I stayed with until January of 2004 when my health made it impossible to do my job, so I had to quit. As was very normal with the VA system they change who they get their medications with quite often so even if you are getting the same medication from one supplier for a few months the VA would then change and you would get the same medication (supposedly) but the pill would look totally different. It also was and sometimes still is common to get a medication bottle that just says the name of it and to take it once or twice a day or to take at bed time or before breakfast, but that would be all that was on the bottle. About the first of January 2004 I got one such bottle that simply said take it twice a day but not what it was supposed to be for, this was not uncommon. I tended to follow what the bottles said so I started taking it two times a day, about twelve hours apart. Within a few weeks I was feeling so wore out I could hardly function at all. I had to quit my job because I thought I must be having trouble with my heart again. In mid February 04 I was able to get a heart-cath done through the VA in Johnson City (Mountain Home) Tn. When these are done a Cardiologist always has to be present, this day I had a young Doctor named Israel Garcia as the supervisor. I remember the name because of what he did. Before the test he was looking over the medications that I was on and he came across one that he said I did not need to be taking because it is only used if the patient had a history of strokes and I had not had one. Thirteen days after he took me off the med I had a stroke, the very next day they put me back on it, I’m still on it. I have never been mad at the man because all people make mistakes, I don’t believe he meant to hurt me on purpose, I forgive him.
The stroke hit my left side which is my dominate side and I still feel some of the effects to this day, but not major, I’m used to it. Reality was that the medication I had been taking was a muscle relaxer so my taking it every twelve hours just about stopped my heart, as you know, the heart is a muscle. Now I was in a situation where I could not work at all and my family lost our home and we had to move into a ‘state apartment’. I was unemployed until I decided to lie my way into another driving job in April of 2009. I had to lie to get employment because the only job that I could do that I knew how to do was to drive a truck and no company would have hired me if they knew that I was ill. I felt as a husband and a dad I had to try to get our family out of the base living conditions we were living in, just barely surviving. My health for many years had mandated that the only work I could do was if I was sitting down and not lifting anything, that is very limiting in the employment spectrum. The left side of my face is still numb and I still have a little bit of trouble with objects coming quickly from my left to my right. Also I could only be on my feet for about ten minutes at the most before the pain in my low back and legs would force me to sit down, now day’s I am lucky if I can get two minutes before the pain puts me down and I am forced to use the power wheelchair the VA gave me back in 2007 all of the time.
I was able to work from April of 2009 until June of 2013 when I simply had used up every ounce of pain fighting ability that I could muster. In 2007 I had another heart-cath done in Johnson City at the VA and it showed that all of my grafts from the 1999 operation were 100% closed. Yet they refused to even try to do a balloon surgery to see if any of those grafts could be opened because in their words “that operation would probably kill me”. Folks, I know I am not the wisest person in the world but I have a question for you. When all of a persons arteries and grafts are totally closed and the only blood getting to the heart keeping you alive are those little veins I told you about earlier that grow around the blockages in a race for time, what does a person have to lose? You are going to die from this condition guaranteed! Yet the VA refused to do anything except give me more medications.
As I told you earlier I went back to work in April of 2009 for a small local company. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would simply work as long as I could expect that one day I would simply go to sleep in a truck-stop somewhere and not wake up. I felt that the least I could do before I died was to give my family as much help financially as possible. Because I had been out of work for so long I didn’t even have the credits with social security to be able to leave them with even that check so I had to try to work as long as I could hope I could work long enough to get those credits. Social Security and VA disability pensions are a poor mans life insurance for their families they leave behind. Because of the VA’s methods of operation I was going to not be able to leave anything for my family, this is why I had to try going back to work even though I knew I shouldn’t do it.
In September of 2011 I was in Atlanta having a trailer washed out for a customer and was leaning up against the outside wall of the business, it was a hot day and they had the big outside door propped open beside me. When they finished the trailer washout I stepped away from the wall and blacked out. I fell face first into the big metal hinges of that door busting my forehead open about three or four inches. The workers revived me and to make a long story shorter, I was taken unconscious in an ambulance to the nearest hospital which turned out to be less that a half mile away. The first three days I was there I was unconscious and remember nothing of it. Once I was awake the heart Doctors told me that when I got to the ER my numbers were 50/20 and dropping fast, they told me that I would have been dead in another five to ten minutes if I hadn’t gotten there when I did. I was also told that the VA had me on four times too much blood pressure medicine and that it was what had made me black out. Once again I was minutes away from the VA killing me. While I was out on that third day they did a heart-cath on me, it was after that when I woke up. There were two heart Doctors talking with me about the condition of my blood flow. I told them what the VA Doctors had told me about why they couldn’t/wouldn’t try to balloon them open, I remember they just looked at each other and wagged their heads in disgust. Within the hour they had me in surgery where they were able to balloon open two of the grafts from the 1999 surgery and they put stints in them at that time. This is why I am still alive today was because of the quality of the Doctors at the Gwinnett Medical Center just outside of Atlanta.
These Georgia Doctors gave me a new med list to give to the VA Doctors and to no surprise they got upset about the new list. One of the meds is a very expensive one for the heart that is actually required by law for them to give to me because of my particular condition. The condition being when a person has no arteries open and all the person has for blood flow are stints in old grafts they must give you this medication. It took them twelve months before they agreed to do it and then it was only after a new VA Doctor I had been assigned went up the chain of command to insist they do it. I am not saying that all people or all Doctors at the VA’s around the country are worthless or evil, but many are and it seems that the chain of command above the Doctors are in many cases just plain evil. I know that the VA system goes through a huge amount of Doctors, it seems like every time you go to one of their clinics you have been assigned yet another new Doctor. Could it be that in many cases when a good Doctor gets a job with them that they see how crooked that system is and they decide to find somewhere else to work?
I am going to finish with one last kick in the privates that they are very guilty of, and that is they refuse to pay their own bills so you the patient ends up with all their medical bills laid against your credit. By their own rules they must pay those medical bills I have in Georgia, it has been almost five years now and they have paid nothing. By their own rules in a life or death emergency and you could not get to the nearest VA Hospital then the VA will pay that bill. I have been told several times that they believe that I could have made it to the VA in Atlanta so they have steadfastly refused to pay the $70,000 dollars in medical bills I have there. Folks, what part of arrived unconscious in an ambulance from a half mile away, five minutes from death do these people not understand? You have to believe that they can’t be that stupid so the other alternative seems to be that they are that crooked, at least it seems that way to me. Last August my wife and I bought a house in Kentucky just outside of Lexington. We chose here because it is one of only two VA Hospitals I have ever heard good things about and in this twelve months we have been here I have been an inpatient twice already and they do actually seem to give a damn here unlike the other hospitals of theirs I have had experience with. But now about that $70,000 dollars on my credit that I can’t get off. When we bought the house I was forced to use the VA Loan program because I couldn’t get anyone else to finance us, not even the Credit Union that we have banked at for many years. Even through this loan, because my credit score was only 668 because of those medical bills our rate of interest is much higher than it should have to be, meaning that every month we have to pay more out-of-pocket of our set incomes for the house payment, leaving less for life’s other expenses. Okay, I’m done gripping about them, I know this was a long story folks, but I guarantee you this, everything I have said to you is true. As I said early on, I do not believe that anyone at the VA has a personal vendetta against me, I am just one of millions of service connected disabled Veterans who have been and are being treated like this. What is your opinion of the VA now?
I am going to use this first paragraph to try to qualify to you where I stand on a few issues facing every person in America and in deed I think in every country. Personally I am a fundamentalist Christian but by no means am I a perfect person and I do not expect anyone else to be able to be perfect either. Politically I consider myself to be a moderate conservative. In a perfect world I would probably line up behind the ‘Tea Party’ on most issues, but we do not live in a perfect world here in America nor anywhere else. I consider the Tea Party to be the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party so much so that the Conservative Republican base considers them to be extremist. Personally I believe that the Tea Party should be expelled from the Republican Party forcing them to run as a third Party. The Democratic Party has this same type of issue if you consider their Party to all be a bunch of liberals even to the point of people like Senator Bernie Sanders who is really an Independent as he is far to ‘the left’ of the Democratic platform. I believe that Senator Sanders who is a ‘Independent’ should split from the Democratic Party and that he should run as an Independent in the November Presidential election.
Here in the state of Kentucky registered Independents can not exercise our Constitutional right to vote in the ‘primary season’, this is how it was when we lived in the state of Florida also. Yet when the main elections roll around in November both Party’s vigorously court the ‘Independent’ voters. During the 2012 Presidential elections Republican Mitt Romney made the comment about ‘48%’ of the voting public whom he had no chance to woo over to his side of the divide and the American Media railed against him for that comment even though he was correct in that evaluation. There are about 48% of the Democratic electorate who would rather not vote at all than to vote for a Republican. There is a flip side to this equation though, there are about 48% of the voters who vote Republican that would never vote for a Democrat. This leaves about 4% of Independent voters that the election is all about, whoever gets the majority of us Independents wins the Presidency. The term that has been used a lot in the Media for this situation is the ‘polarization’ of America.
Here in America the people of our country gripe a lot about how the politicians in DC never seem to get anything positive accomplished and I believe this is a fair belief. The Democratic leadership forces their members to vote a ‘far left’ agenda and the Republican leadership forces their members to vote to a ‘far right’ agenda. This reality means that nothing constructive ever gets done. There is also the issue that each Party wants all the credit on a bill if it is something that is actually a positive issue, they both vehemently do not want to share any ‘credit’ with the other Party. Because of these Politicians being so pious and egotistical they are destroying America from the inside and it is obvious that they really don’t care about the American people as a whole.
I am going to use my Father-in-law as an example of non-thinkers, (sorry Dad). He is a Tea Party type of believer, he hates all Unions and believes that America would be better off if there were no Unions at all, he thinks they are destroying our Country. He hates the Democrats and he wants the Republican agenda’s to be made law. Yet he is like most folks who believe that the Congress is a do nothing Congress. He doesn’t want to compromise on the issues yet he wants the Congress to get off their butts and get our Country moving again. Where Dad and I differ is that even though I wish the Country was living in a true Christian manner I know that this is not going to happen until after the Tribulation. In the mean time we must compromise with each other by working toward the middle and get at least some things accomplished for the good of the people (the Country). By the way, to my wife and I Dad’s position on Unions is really flawed, this is because he retired from two different Union Factories. Because these two factories were Union he now survives financially from two different retirement checks he gets each month. If it wasn’t for those Unions he and his wife would be in the poor-house or having to live in our basement.
I call myself a moderate conservative because I know that the Tea Party agenda has no chance of happening. I want to make mention that I am not a fan of everything the Tea Party leaders want as not everything they want would be something that would qualify as “Christ like” policies. I believe that if the Politicians do not get off of their ‘high horses’ they are either going to destroy our Country or the people are going to rise up and destroy these pious bought and paid for frauds. Personally, I am a fan of the NRA even though I do not like some of their policies, for example I believe that ten-round clips are big enough as long as the amount of clips and bullets a person can own should have no limits. Personally I am for many things that the Democratic Party wants to pass into law just as I am for many things the Republican Party stands for. The issue is that I am also against many things that both Party’s want to pass into law. We as a people must wake up and learn to work with each other or we as a Country are going to implode.
truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.
#ActuallyAutistic - An Aspie obsessed with writing. This site is intend to inspire through sharing stories & experiences. The opinions of the writers are their own. I am just an Autistic woman - NOT a medical professional.