Obamacare: More Success Than Failure So Far

peter-butlerBy Peter W. Butler, MHSA

More than six years after it was signed into law, the Affordable Care Act continues to arouse strong opinions and strong objections. Consider, for instance, the viewpoint made clear by the title of a Sept.11 Chicago Tribune editorial, “Why Obamacare Failed.”

Simply dismissing the ACA as a “failure,” however, is not supported by the facts when considered in the context of what Obamacare, as the ACA is more widely known, set out to accomplish. According to the obamacarefacts.com website, the goal of the Affordable Care Act is to “give more Americans access to affordable, quality health insurance and to reduce the growth in U.S. health care spending.”

Although some of the editorial made valid points about problems with state health insurance exchanges (marketplaces), especially in Illinois, the exchanges are a small part of Obamacare. The Tribune editorial board appears to have reached its conclusions based on premium increases and the limited number of choices available on the state exchanges.

How the ACA has helped

This view ignores a wide array of peer-reviewed data that examines the full impact of the ACA. These data and evaluations present a health care system that is performing much better than it was prior to the enactment of the ACA.

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Ricky’s Journey: Fighting Cancer at Age 4

mocks-kent

Paul Kent, MD (left), with Ricky Mock and parents Sue and Dave Mock.

By Sue Mock

Our journey began when Ricky, our beautiful, amazing, fun, special boy, was just 4 years old. Right after his fourth birthday, Ricky started complaining that his leg hurt. Over the next six months, he had about four episodes in which he was inconsolable due to the pain in his leg.

After discussing these episodes with our pediatrician, he referred us to a local orthopedic physician. The orthopedic doctor took an X-ray and said it looked like Ricky had a stress fracture, which is basically impossible for a 4-year-old. So he sent us for an MRI and bone scan at another institution. But even after those tests, he wasn’t sure what was going on with Ricky.

That’s when he referred us to Rush. Our doctor told us that even though he was affiliated with another hospital, he personally would take his family to Midwest Orthopedics at Rush.

A diagnosis no parent wants to hear

Things continued to snowball at the speed of light after our first visit at Rush. Exactly two weeks after his bone biopsy, Ricky was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a bone cancer that primarily affects children.

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Orlando, Pride and the Healing Force of Love

clayton-thomason-prideRush University Medical Center celebrated LGBT Pride Month — and reflected on the recent mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida — during a reception on June 28. The Rev. Clayton Thomason, JD, MD, chairperson of the Department of Health, Religion and Human Values, began the gathering with this reflection about brokenness and healing.

The Stonewall Riots took place 47 years ago on June 28, giving rise to the modern LGBTQ movement. It’s why June is Pride Month. That movement led one year ago to the Supreme Court’s recognition of marriage equality, and on June 24, President Obama declared the site of the riots, the Stonewall Inn in the West Village of Manhattan, a National Monument.

That movement and its accomplishments, including Rush’s own LGBTQ accomplishments, are what we should be celebrating. But on June 12, pride was interrupted by tragedy, by grief.

There have been many responses in the weeks since the lives of 49 people were taken and 53 more were left injured and bleeding in the Pulse Nightclub. Some responses have been predictable, because — unfortunately — by now in our national life, they are all too familiar.

Stephen Colbert observed on the Late Show, “It’s as if there’s a national script that we have learned. And I think by accepting the script we tacitly accept that the script will end the same way every time. With nothing changing.”

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ADA Stories: Evadney Stephens

Why does Evadney Stephens call downtown Chicago home?

“Oh my goodness. I live down there because it’s so accessible now,” says Stephens, a lab technician at Rush who uses a wheelchair.

Thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act, which became law 25 years ago, public transportation has become increasingly accessible to people who are disabled.

“Now I can take a bus, even in the chair, because the buses have ramps,” she says. “I can take taxis. They have ramps and I can just roll up into them now. Things have changed so much.”

A ‘Life-Changing’ Experience After Cancer Diagnosis

By Jeffrey R. Galas 

Last July, an issue with swallowing food caused me to ask why, but I didn’t think twice until it was repeated two more times at three-week intervals. At that time, I moved my annual physical ahead from Oct. 26 to Oct. 6, at which time I insisted to my local doctor of a scope of the area in question. On Oct. 10, it was determined that there was a tumor, and biopsies confirmed a malignant tumor. I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

I immediately went online and looked toward Rush University Medical Center. The specialist in Barrett’s esophagus with minimally invasive surgery was Dr. Gary Chmielewski.

Upon meeting him, I knew he was the surgeon I wanted. He requested two more tests to confirm the diagnosis, after which a port was placed in me. On Oct. 25, I had a consultation with the team of doctors who would be handling my case, including Dr. Chmielewski, a thoracic surgeon; Dr. Sohrab Mobarhan, a gastroenterologist; and Dr. William T. Leslie of hematology/oncology.

Dr. Leslie chose the chemo treatment for my case, and surgery would take place after 12 treatments (depending on results). After eight treatments, the results were impressive, and surgery came sooner then anticipated — on Feb. 27, 2012.

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From the Archives: Christmas at St. Luke’s, 1946

Members of the St. Luke’s Hospital staff donned costumes to perform “Twas the Night Before Christmas” for other employees in December of 1946. St. Luke’s Hospital was a predecessor of Rush University Medical Center.

You can contact the Archives at rush_archives@rush.edu or at (312) 942-7214.

Telling the Story: From Air to Zeal

Tony Perry, MD, clinical transformation officer at Rush, during a recent ad shoot for the new hospital.

By Lori Allen

Teamwork at Rush being what it is, there’s no surprise in the numbers of people who helped make last week’s marathon photo shoot a success. Among those we have to thank:

  • Jessica, who walked a good mile for just a few good steps. Selected for her petite size, she paced back and forth next to a tall ladder, which served as the photographer’s perch. For sharing Jessica with us, we thank her manager, the suitably branded Rachel Rush, whose last name is the only one I’ll use today.
  • John, Tony, MaryAlice and Josh -– a highly specialized group of clinicians who together are the cast for a new TV commercial. We were amazed at your ability to talk for more than two hours about air.
  • A band of people from multiple departments who came to our rescue, not long before shoot time, and zealously readied the new hybrid OR for cameras. You could compete against any home makeover crew and win.
  • Eugene, Tiffanie, Eva, Rebecca and Marge, who elegantly illustrated the universal accessibility attribute of the new hospital. We learned a lot from you.

Next we’ll see video from helicopter, shot Oct. 21. Stay tuned.

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Lori Allen is assistant vice president, Marketing and Communications, with Rush University Medical Center.