Alvin Lee, one of the greatest guitarists of our generation

In a week that has tested human sanity into the widest stretches of the universe, I was intensely pulled to a song from one of the most underrated greatest guitar players of my generation, who passed away earlier this year from complications during a routine surgery.

His name was Alvin Lee, and his life’s defining moment was when he played the only original 1969 Woodstock Festival with his band Ten Years After. Everyone there and millions since remember his sensational ‘I’m Going Home‘, which pretty much defined the band’s popularity until they split. In my personal opinion however his finest composition was “I’d love to change the world” (1971).

I know there are many of you out there that will inspect, dissect and reject many of the words in this great song, and it’s your right to do so, but one day when the years have come upon you in a constant, ever speeding onslaught, you’ll remember that once you would have loved to change the world, but didn’t know where to start or how to go about it. In minuscule ways we try and adjust in the process. But when something life altering is introduced, many of us become parrots of un-researched opinion and spins.

The Government shut-down overshadowed the first major implementation of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act introduction, because lawmakers once again have made it a political issue. I refuse to call it Obamacare and for several years I’ve been on the fence on this increasingly hot and often willfully mis-interpreted piece of legislation, because like most of you, and definitely your representatives in Congress, I hardly have the time to read anywhere from 2,400 to 2,700 pages (depending on which source you trust) of topic specific material that is not my field of expertise.

What I usually do in a situation like that is, I study people in the topical field, how they conduct their lives, personally and professionally, how they deal with emotions like empathy and sympathy, how they feel about humanity and rights, what they consider fair and responsible. And in this case I directed myself to a number of medical practitioners and their opinions.

First our family physician, then some highly regarded specialized physicians from Baptist and St.Vincent in Jacksonville and then I happened to catch an interview with Dr. Delos (Toby) Cosgrove, Chief Executive Officer and President of the Cleveland Clinic, a cardiac surgeon with 22,000 procedures in his back pack, who now runs an organization with 43,000 employees of which 3,200 doctors and specialists, who eloquently states that “the train of healthcare reform had already left the station”, long before the introduction of the Affordable HealthCare Act.

Influence of Politics

In the big political show that is acted around the Health Bill’s introduction, Texas Republican Ted Cruz’s marathon speech, included a reference  to an announced budget cut at the Cleveland Clinic, which this political animal manipulated into a direct result of the introduction of “Obamacare”. In the viedo-taped question and answer Dr. Cosgrove resents this claim in a very professional manner, because the Clinic’s budget cuts have no causal relation to the Affordable Care Act and are the result of a long term consolidation plan. He admits that a lot of political maneuvering has added to the general assumption that diminishing Federal pay structures will affect health organization’s incomes, but the budget cuts are entirely the result of consolidations of longterm organizational inefficiencies. What’s more, he never imagined that the clinic’s normal management decisions and philosophies to be hi-jacked for political purposes, something he considers quite irresponsible and unethical. Cosgrove is furthermore a strong proponent for physicians being salary employed by the hospitals they work for, which completely takes away the incentive to overburden the financial reimbursement system, which has added to the fact that the US Healthcare system is the most expensive one in the world.

A personal run in with the system this year has convinced me deep into my wallet that the cost of medical care in this country is disturbingly confusing, dangerously gridlocked and ultimately electively cost prohibitive for people to use other than in an instance of absolute emergency, better known as life or death. Which is why caring medical professionals see the need to change the system. Cosgrove and many leading medical authorities warn that the US system is based on end term treatment, rather than prevention, which is the leading mantra in most countries with a general healthcare system in place. This is also the reason why Emergency rooms here in the US are on constant overload.

To explain this with an example: Take a chronically obese person who hasn’t seen a family physician in years, wakes up one night bathing in sweat, numb in limbs, pressure on the chest and dizzy in the head. What does this person do? This person ONE -Calls 911 and an ambulance arrives with emergency care technicians (Cost approx. $700). TWO – This person gets delivered to the emergency room /ICU, where in a flurry of activities vitals are taken and with the help of a number of physician recommended (and liability insurance driven) equipment decisions (X-rays, Ultrasound, EKGs, Scans, MRIs, emergency meds etc.)(Approx $11,400) and THREE –  The immediate results are gathered into a preliminary diagnosis and a care plan is discussed with the Emergency Room Physician ($685)

Now the patient becomes part of the medical system ……IF there is an insurance carrier (government or private) willing to take the person on.

Approximate Cost
Besides the ambulance and the emergency physician, which is reasonably fair pricing, everything charged is  FULL RETAIL, racking up a bill of “force and fraud” totaling almost $13,000 in a 6 hour time interval.
Who in this country says there is nothing wrong with the cost of healthcare?

Now, I do have friends, good friends even, who’d like to take the healthcare fight into the arena of political power fights, by saying that the affordable care act just means more government involvement in our lives. And if they would leave it at that, I would say okay, and now shut up… and let’s introduce this country to the 21st century where national health care is a given for any civilized and developed society. In other words, get it activated and then start improving on it, rather then waiting any longer to work out everyone’s little pet peeve. If our family physician says that the Affordable Health Care Act is perfect for people like my wife and myself, than I’m sure it’s going to help a lot of small business owners who fearfully face the hospital admittance question: Are you insured or self pay?

So to make a real long (lifetime) story short, if you want to change the world, start with the outlines and once they’re implemented, start filling in the details and correct as you go. Considering that we’re all living under borrowed circumstances, financially and otherwise, it’s better to start than wait on blueprint paper perfection of plans that may never see the light of day.

Until then be prepared to be confronted with stories of atrocities committed by people who turn out to be mentally unstable, but apparently found no relief in a health system that was too expensive to care.

I am ashamed to see media using a couple of bullet points to sum up a life and make us believe that the Capitol Hill lock down yesterday was an isolated incident caused by a woman with a history of mental illness. In this case it was the poor woman who died in trigger happy police gunfire, but a couple of weeks ago another man, declared mentally unstable after the fact, purchased a Remington 870 Express Tactical 12-gauge shotgun and two boxes of shells, after passing a state and federal background check and walked into Washington DC’s Navy Yard and killed 12 people.

These incidents will keep on happening in growing numbers if healthcare stays largely inaccessible in a country with 320 million people and an outdated health prevention system.

So yes I started out my day with listening to Alvin Lee’s “I’d love to change the world” at 6:30 this morning and now at 5pm I have to come to the conclusion, that “knowing how to change the world” is more a matter of just starting the journey, than arguably aiming for perfection.
Like my wise mother always said to her five sons. Perfection is God’s territory. 6 to 9 is human… anything under 6 is a waste of time and energy
Here  are the Lyrics and a Video to
I’d love to change the World
Everywhere is freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity
Tax the rich, feed the poor
‘Til there are no rich no more
I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you
Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy
Life is funny, skies are sunny
Bees make honey, who needs money, No none for me
I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you
Oh yeah!
World pollution, there’s no solution
Institution, electrocution
Just black and white, rich or poor
Senators stop the war
I’d love to change the world
But I don’t know what to do
So I’ll leave it up to you