The Inconvenient Truth About Red Meat

 

One of the tenants of liberal orthodoxy is that red meat is bad. The pressure to stop eating red meat has gotten so pervasive that even Burger King and McDonald’s are now selling “hamburgers” that have no meat at all. Vegans of the world are celebrating.

But now an inconvenient research study has declared the long-held belief that red meat is bad questionable. The Annals of Internal Medicine just published a study by a team of international researchers who reviewed more than 130 articles and a dozen randomized trials and concluded that the evidence linking red meat to cancer, heart disease and mortality is flimsy.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board says most studies discerned weak associations between red meat and poor health, but other variables could have tainted the results. For instance, people who eat more hamburgers may also consume less nutritious diets. Maybe the artery clogger isn’t the meat but the combination of cheese, salt, secret sauce, soda and French fries. Could it be possible that those who eat more red meat also exercise less?

Few public health trials have actually been done on red meat and the researchers found that the most credible one still produced “low certainty” evidence “that diets lower in red meat may have little or no effect on all-cause mortality.”In other words, the evidence linking red meat to disease is very weak and should be viewed with skepticism.

This change of scientific conclusions regarding diet is not unusual. Thirty years ago the American Heart Association advocated low-fat diets believing they would reduce heart disease. But scientists now have concluded this was bad advice and may have contributed to the diabetes epidemic by causing people to eat more carbohydrates.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t comport with the liberal narrative about red meat. Therefore, rather than change their narrative they are challenging the scientific research even calling for the research to be shut down. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (an oxymoronic name at best), which promotes plant-based diets, has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against the journal that published the research. (Seriously!) Not to be outdone, Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health warned that the conclusions could “erode public trust in scientific research.”

The WSJ says Harvard health gurus also complained that the researchers should have studied the environmental impact of red meat in their review because “climate change and environmental degradation have serious effects on human health” and thus are “important to consider when making recommendations.”

In other words, when the scientific research doesn’t support your political narrative, shut it down!

(I suggest you stop feeling guilty when you occasionally enjoy red meat.)

Medicaid Fraudulent Enrollment

 

ObamaCare expanded eligibility for Medicaid – but not for everybody!

We have already discussed the unintended expansion of Medicaid to people who already had private health insurance (Medicaid Expansion Woes). This unintended consequence of ObamaCare is costing states billions of taxpayer dollars. In Louisiana alone it is estimated this practice will cost taxpayers between $900 million and $1.3 billion over five years.

But now we learn there is rampant fraudulent enrollment in Medicaid. A study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that in several Medicaid-expansion states most people who gained coverage have enrolled in Medicaid regardless of their income. ObamaCare has become a new entitlement for the middle class that was never intended.

Brian Blase and Aaron Yelowitz, writing in The Wall Street Journal, say the authors of that study used data from U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to assess coverage changes from 2012- 2017 in nine states that expanded Medicaid vs. 12 states that did not. Their results identified a huge problem.

In 2017 alone, in those nine states, “around 800,000 individuals . . . appeared to gain Medicaid coverage for which they were seemingly income-ineligible.”

For review, Medicaid eligibility was expanded by ObamaCare to households with incomes below 138% of the federal poverty line (FPL), or nearly $36,000 for a family of four in those states that accepted the expansion. In the nine states studied, Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia, the authors found that among households with incomes 138% to 250% of FPL (about $65,000 for a family of four), some 78% that gained coverage were improperly enrolled in Medicaid. That was also true of 65% of the population above 250% of FPL that gained coverage.

What’s more, the problem is getting worse with time. It was found to be two to three times more prevalent in 2017 than in 2014, the first year the plan was implemented. When you recognize that people tend to minimize rather than maximize income information, the amount of fraud identified here is staggering. Furthermore, the nine states in the study represent only about 20% of the total population living in Medicaid expansion states.

Blase and Yelowitz say, “ObamaCare has turned out to be a giant welfare program, with millions of working and middle-class Americans improperly receiving Medicaid – a reflection of the unpopularity of the exchange policies and incompetence of government oversight.”

Those states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion program under ObamaCare have fared much better in preserving their private insurance coverage. Employer-sponsored coverage has steadily grown in these states with virtually no growth in expansion states.

It is no surprise that millions are gaming the system for their own benefit. What is surprising, and unacceptable, is the level of incompetence, perhaps even malfeasance, in government workers responsible for proper enrollment of new Medicaid patients. Medicaid needs to be protected and taxpayer dollars preserved for the disabled and low-income children, pregnant women and seniors, for which it was originally intended.

My Ten Favorite Books of 2019

 

It’s that time of the year again! You know, when you make New Year’s Resolutions you plan to keep but rarely do. How about making a resolution to read more this year?

In 1998 I made a New Year’s Resolution to read at least two books a month. That’s twenty-four a year. At the time I thought it would be nearly impossible. Twenty-two years later I have kept that resolution every year and this year I read 58 books. That’s a little more than one per week. In the last 22 years I’ve read 932 books.

This new habit has had a huge impact on my life. It has made me much more knowledgeable of history, literature, politics and many other subjects and has provided more entertainment value than anything I could watch on television or the internet. I have more resources for the classes I teach and more to add to social conversations. Last, but not least, it has added to my knowledge of healthcare which has enriched this blog.

So, to review the last year and whet your appetite for some good reading, I submit my ten most favorite books read in the last year. Some are new publications and some are old but all have blessed me this year with many hours of enjoyable reading.

My Ten Favorite Books of 2019

(in no particular order)

  1. The Point of It All– Charles Krauthammer

This last publication by the late, great Washington Post columnist was put together by his son, Daniel, after his death. It is filled with timeless stories and wisdom.

  1. A Land Remembered – Patrick Smith

If you live in Florida, as I do, it is a must for understanding and appreciating the arduous life of the early settlers of our great state and the progress the state has made in the last two hundred years from swamp land to one of the fastest growing states in the country.

  1. The Spy and the Traitor – Ben MacIntyre

The little-known story of Oleg Gordievsky, a Russian working as a spy for Great Britain in the last half of the 20th century. It is a riveting read and a testimony to the character of Gordievsky who only wanted to do the right thing.

  1. Sea Stories– William McRaven

A great read about the career of Admiral McRaven, the head of the Navy Seals and the man responsible for the taking down of Osama Bin Laden by Seal Team Six.

  1. Rocket Men – Craig Nelson

The story of the development of our space program and NASA from its infancy to the trip to the moon.

  1. The Case for Trump – Victor Davis Hanson

Stanford University professor Hanson gives a defense of Trump from a most unlikely source. He comes from a family of Democrats and works in an overwhelmingly liberal academic environment. His insights and thoughtful understanding of the current political situation are well worth reading regardless of your political persuasion.

  1. Hope Heals – Katharine & Jay Wolf

An incredible story of a young mother overcoming a devastating brain injury and the impact she and her husband have on the lives of those who care for her.

  1. In the Garden of Beasts – Erik Larson

The story of the U.S. ambassador to Germany in the 1930s during the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis and the impact of living under those circumstances on him and his family.

  1. Have a Little Faith – Mitch Albom

Detroit sportswriter Albom tells the story of his rabbi asking him to do his eulogy while still in good health and how getting to know him better changed Albom’s views on life and death.

   10.Saying It Well – Charles R. Swindoll

One of the greatest Bible teachers of all time tells how to be a better speaker, preacher, and teacher using his own life to pass along invaluable lessons learned. A great read for anyone who does public speaking.