Category: Health

Rep. Tipton votes to cut Medicaid, CHIP

House Rep. Scott Tipton has voted against financial transparency in government, against protecting citizens’ access to health insurance, against working families and to protect wealthy Americans and keep their taxes low. He’s up for re-election this year.

On February 6, 2020 House Rep. Scott Tipton voted in favor of cutting funding for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), federal programs that cover poor children, pregnant women, the elderly and disabled people with health insurance who could not otherwise afford it.

Tipton voted “no” on House Resolution 826 (HR-826), a measure brought by Democrats that condemned Trump’s cuts to the federal safety net programs that protect Americans who have fallen on hard times.

Taking away health insurance

More than one million children have lost Medicaid and CHIP health insurance coverage under President Trump, and over 750,000 adults have lost Medicaid coverage. Trump’s latest budget calls for even more cuts to Medicaid and the and Affordable Care Act, and it includes deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare, while extending tax cuts for wealthy people, despite his promise he would not touch Social Security or Medicare.

State to give free money to CO public schools to teach medically-accurate sex ed

 

Republican Colorado State Senator Don Coram, a rancher from Montrose, sponsored the legislation creating the grant program

Delta County School District 50J, are you listening?

For the first time, the State of Colorado is offering free money (pdf) and plenty of it to school districts to teach medically-accurate, comprehensive, culturally-sensitive and inclusive sexual education.

Last May, Governor Polis signed the Youth Wellness Act, (pdf) HB19-1032, that provides the funds and requirements for eligible curriculum.

Believe it or not, HB19-1032  was sponsored in part by Montrose rancher and Republican State Senator Don Coram.

Now you can get free, medically-accurate sexual health info anonymously via text

Do you have questions about sexual health but can’t afford to call a medical doctor? Are you finding it tough to find somewhere on the western slope where you can get unbiased, non-judgmental, medically-accurate sexual health info on your specific situation?

Planned Parenthood now offers a FREE chat/text program that allows young people to live-chat with trained health educators from their cell phone or computer about any topic dealing with sexual health.

This service is available nationwide and it provides completely non-judgmental, medically-accurate information on any and all sexual and reproductive health topics, including the various kids of birth control, how they work and how to use them, sexual intercourse, how and where to obtain emergency contraception, sexually-transmitted diseases/infections, pregnancy, abortion, unusual discharges, menstruation and anything else you need info on.

To access the program, just text PPNOW to 774636 to get started. It’s 100% anonymous and 100% free.

The U.S. has a measles epidemic, but is it in Grand Junction?

States where measles outbreaks have occurred in the U.S. as of May 24, 2019

The growing number of unvaccinated people in the U.S. has led to the largest outbreak of measles in the U.S. since the disease was declared eradicated in 2000. Cases of measles have been reported in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, and Washington state.

According to the Mesa County Health Department, there have been no cases of measles reported so far in Grand Junction, and only one case in Denver  in January, 2019. But don’t let that make you complacent. People travel widely to and from stricken areas, and could bring the epidemic to Colorado large scale at any time. Measles is an extremely contagious viral disease. When a person with measles leaves a room, people who enter that room afterwards can catch the disease for up to two hours after the infected person has left.

One good thing Trump has done: Banning bump stocks

Trump banned bump stocks last December by executive action, and the new law is effective NOW.

Watch out, local gun nuts. President Donald Trump is coming for your guns.

Last December, President Trump issued an executive order banning bump stocks (pdf), devices that use the recoil energy generated from each shot of a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firearms’ rate of fire. The new rule amended the definition of “machine gun” to include bump stocks.

The ban went into effect three days ago, on March 26, 2019, exactly 90 days after it was published in the Federal Register.

On March 28, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court refused an effort by gun nuts to block the ban, so Trump’s new rule is currently in full force, making anyone who owns a bump stock a felon.

Grand Junction may soon lose its only secular hospital

A previous blog discussed why Mesa County residents should be glad to have an alternative to a Catholic hospital in the valley and why it is so important to people’s health to have a secular hospital option available for medical care. But our valley’s one non-religious hospital option may disappear, and soon.

In October 2018, Community Hospital and Centura Health Network signed a letter of intent to merge. It provided each party with a 120 day-long window to evaluate the deal and decide whether or not to go ahead and finalize it.

Those 120 days are almost up, and a final decision on the merger must be made by February 10th.

CBS/Washington Post: U.S. Congress complicit in advancing the U.S. opioid epidemic

Colorado House Rep. Scott Tipton. The bill that hobbled DEA’s pursuit of out-of-control opioid pharmaceutical distribution passed the House on a voice vote, so no record of individual votes was made.

A blockbuster CBS News/60 Minutes and Washington Post investigation reveals that after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) cracked down on big pharmaceutical distributors who were knowingly pumping millions of addictive opioid drugs into the black market in cities and towns across the country, the U.S. Congress passed a law to block DEA from freezing such highly suspicious drug shipments to keep them from getting to the streets.

Rep. Scott Tipton: A One-Man Wrecking Ball for Coloradans

House Rep. Scott Tipton votes against financial transparency in government, against protecting citizens’ health and against American workers

Think House Representative Scott Tipton is on your side? Think again.

In the last couple of weeks, Rep. Tipton has voted against cleaner air, against creating more American jobs, and in favor of keeping financial information secret that would allow Congress to tell if changes President Trump proposes in the U.S. tax code would benefit his family’s income.

An Answer to City Market’s Huge Amount of Food Waste


San Francisco has successfully addressed the problem of excessive food waste from restaurants and grocery stores — of the same type  that we are still seeing here in Grand Junction, specifically with City Market’s tremendous waste of food daily from its hot delis.

A nonprofit organization called Food Runners collects extra hot food from markets and restaurants left over at closing time, and brings it to local foster homes, food pantries and homeless shelters where it feeds hungry people and is greatly appreciated. It’s simple, and there is no liability for the providers of the food.

Why can’t this happen here?

Delta County School Board Rips Off Kids

A slide from Shelly Donahue's "WAIT" program shown at Delta High School

Crucifixes in a slide from Shelly Donahue’s “WAIT” program at Delta High School

The Delta County School Board is violating state and federal laws in order to keep students from getting medically-accurate sex education information, and it seems to be by design.

Last October, the school district hired controversial abstinence-only-before-marriage pontificator Shelly Donahue as a sex education speaker for students. According to students, this was the only “sex education” the Delta County School District provided them, and the school board and district administration apparently consider this an adequate sex education.

Far from it.

For those who aren’t familiar with Shelly Donahue, she is an evangelistic Christian abstinence-only speaker who rakes in government grant funds by giving “WAIT” (“Why Am I Tempted”) training in public schools. Donahue’s website says

“She is passionately committed to Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to the teen sexual activity problem in America. As a motivational speaker and a leading sex education expert, she is making a significant impact for the Kingdom of God!”

The leading "T" in Donahue's business logo is a crucifix in flames; the logo and cross appear in every slide, regardless if presentations at public schools

The leading “T” in Donahue’s business logo is a flaming crucifix; the logo and cross appeared in every slide in her presentations at Delta schools

In her talks, Donahue dishes out vast amounts of medically inaccurate information to kids and uses broad, simplistic analogies that convey stereotypical images of what boys’ and girls’ personalities are like. She includes liberal doses of religiously-based, guilt-and-shame to frighten students out of having sex before marriage.

The Marlboro Train: The Biggest Promotion on Earth That Never Happened

Marlboro Train (2007) from Marty Otañez on Vimeo.

Philip Morris’ “Project Thunder” was public relations plan to construct and operate a wildly-luxurious, custom-built 20-car Marlboro train as a promotion for Marlboro cigarettes. The train was to consist entirely of double-decker cars and feature amenities such as a hot tub car, massage rooms and gambling. The train would stop at locations throughout the scenic southwestern U.S. and let passengers off to partake in iconically western activities like horseback riding, bicycling, river rafting, and paragliding. Philip Morris planned to give selected smokers the “trip of a lifetime” on a “deluxe train through Marlboro Country.”

The train was going to be used for only one season, from May-September 1996, at an estimated cost to Philip Morris of $44 million.

The train was built at tremendous expense to PM, but PM ultimately pulled the plug on the project very late as the train was close to completion. PM then ordered the train destroyed. The company made the rail car company workers who were manufacturing the train in Fort Collins, Colorado, sign nondisclosure agreements that forced them to stay silent about the project and its ultimate demise.

Plans for Project Thunder can be viewed at this link at University of California San Francisco’s Legacy Tobacco Documents Library: http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/tid/neg36e00

Burn Haze Has TV Weather People Recommending Grand Valley Citizens Close Windows and Doors

A smoky, smelly haze fills the Grand Valley's air as open burning season gets underway

A smoky, smelly haze fills the Grand Valley’s air as open burning (open polluting) season starts

Thinking of moving to Grand Junction?

You might want to think again. It’s spring open burning season — something people moving here rarely hear anything about from the Chamber of Commerce relocation packets, or from their realtors. Thanks to the cultural throwback of open burning, an acrid pall hung across the Grand Valley today as open burning season began. The air smelled as bad as it looked, too, reeking of burnt wood and rubber, and driving people indoors to escape the respiratory effects of the smoke.

Whitewater-Area Residents, Ignored by Mesa County Commissioners, Still Suffer from Frackwater Odors, Illnesses

The Mesa County Comissioners (Cartoon: Douglas J. Monroe)

The Mesa County Commissioners (Original cartoon by Douglas J. Monroe)

On November 23, 2015, residents of Whitewater, Colorado submitted a letter to Mesa County Planning Department and the County Commissioners asking for permanent relief from the odors and health problems they have been suffering from Alanco Energy Services’ Deer Creek frackwater disposal facility.

Residents of the Kannah Creek, Bridgeport Road and the greater Whitewater areas have formed a community advocacy group called the Whitewater Community Alliance. They have complained to the County since 2013 of loss use of their property due to the noxious odors emanating from the Deer Creek facility.

Alanco Energy Services' Deer Creek Frackwater Disposal Facility near Whitewater, Colorado

Alanco Energy Services’ Deer Creek Frackwater Disposal Facility near Whitewater, Colorado

Residents report getting headaches, sore throats, nosebleeds, nausea, asthma attacks and malaise when the odors engulf their properties. The smell and accompanying illnesses are worst at times of high humidity, in the late evening and early morning hours. People who have visited the area surrounding Alanco’s waste pits describe an unbearably strong, metallic-excrement odor and complain of sore throats lasting hours to days after the visit.

What the Grand Junction Economic Partnership Won’t Tell You About the Grand Valley

Open burning in Mesa County creates traffic hazards as well as cardiac and respiratory hazards for many residents

Open burning in Mesa County creates traffic hazards and poses a cardiac and respiratory threat to many residents for months out of the year

The Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) recently revealed an attractive new website to try to lure more educated people to relocate to Mesa County, but it avoids telling the whole story about what people face when they move here.

Hazardous Waste Capital of Colorado

One important thing people need to know when considering a move to the Grand Valley is that Mesa County is the hazardous waste dump capital of the state. Mesa County is home to the largest radioactive hazardous waste repository in the state, the Cheney Repository, a 94 acre industrial waste site completed in 1994. The Cheney site sits on the flanks of the scenic Grand Mesa, near another hazardous waste site the Mesa County Commissioners approved in 2012, Alanco Energy’s Deer Creek frackwater disposal site. That facility currently consists of 8 acres of open evaporative ponds. Trucks of full of contaminated frackwater drive from rig sites for hundreds of miles around to dump their loads there, and the noxious odors emanating from the Deer Creek facility have been making Mesa County residents for miles around sick with headaches, vomiting, sore throats, bloody noses and respiratory illnesses. Despite years of pleading for help, the county commissioners have done nothing to help the situation. Alanco owns another 160 acres at the same site, and hopes to expand its stinky frackwater and other hazardous waste dump operations. Given the hearty embrace the Mesa County Commissioners have given past hazardous waste dumps, it’s likely to happen, too.

Grudgingly Spending Money on Halloween Candy? Here are Some Candy-Free Alternatives

Few kids suffer from a shortage of candy at Halloween, but lots of Mesa County kids suffer from food insecurity year 'round.

Few kids suffer from a shortage of candy at Halloween, but lots of Mesa County kids suffer from food insecurity year ’round.

Many people think Halloween means handing out candy, candy and more candy. But desperate attempts by local dental offices to reduce the harm candy poses by buying back Halloween sweets by the pound, combined with sharp increases in childhood obesity, diabetes and dangerous nut allergies are all making many people re-think the Halloween candy-fest, and rightly so.

There ARE many items people can hand out on Halloween that are healthier, safer, more useful and even more fun for kids, and that cost about the same as candy.

It Turns Out Kids Love Alternatives

For several years at our house, we did an experiment. We offered trick-or-treaters two different bowls of goodies to choose from. One contained “good” candy, like Hershey bars and Snickers, and the other contained small, party favor-like toys like rubber spiders, Mardi Gras-style necklaces, glow sticks, toy trucks, etc. It turned out the kids took the toys over the candy by about a 3 to 1 ratio. The party items cost about as much as candy, too. You can find them in the party sections of big box stores like Wal Mart, K-Mart and Target, and there are lots of similar fun little items at dollar stores around the valley. Several kids in our family have diabetes, and one has a severe peanut allergy, so knowing the dangers candy can pose to some kids, we decided to stay on the safe side this year and just offer toys instead. The kids seem to love it.

G.J. Gun Club Protests Continued U.S. Gun Violence

Grand Junction Gun Club Protest

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt Photography http://www.leegelattphotography.com/

Grand Junction Gun Club members held signs and waved at noon today at 7th Street and Patterson Road to protest the escalating epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. and demand sensible gun regulations, like closing loopholes in the law requiring background checks for gun purchases.

The group turned out in response to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which organized similar rallies across the country including in Washington, D.C. today. Stay-at-home mom Shannon Watts founded Moms Demand Action on December 15, 2012, in response to the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in which 20 elementary school children and 6 school staff members were massacred. Moms Demand Action wants state and federal legislators enact common-sense gun reforms.

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt

Gun Violence Protest in Grand Junction

In Grand Junction, protesters stood on the busy corner in front of St. Mary’s Hospital in clear, sunny 80-degree weather holding signs saying “No More Massacres,” “End Gun Violence,” “Background Checks for Guns” and “Whatever it Takes.” The group got plenty of thumbs-ups and honks of approval from drivers passing by, as well as curious looks and even some middle fingers and angry shouts from drivers who didn’t support their efforts.

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt Photography

Photo Credit: Lee Gelatt Photography

In the U.S., nearly 8 children are shot and killed every day, and Colorado has the dubious distinction of now being home to a growing list of notorious gun massacres: The Chuck-Cheese killings in 1993, the Columbine High School mass killing in 1999 and the Aurora Theater Massacre in 2012. And the legacy continues: at the same time protesters were holding their signs in Grand Junction today, yet another juvenile male was shot in Aurora, Colorado, resulting in three schools being locked down.

Have you had enough of gun violence in our country? Want to see the U.S. start doing something to reduce these now-common tragedies? To join the anti gun violence cause locally and get word of upcoming gun sense activities in Grand Junction, go to the Grand Junction Gun Club’s Facebook page.

 

Community Rights Ballot Initiative Coming Back in 2016

Screen shot 2015-08-19 at 12.12.12 PMColoradans for Community Rights (CCR) is gearing up to once again put a Community Rights initiative on the 2016 state-wide ballot.

A Community Rights amendment doesn’t ban anything. Instead, the measure establishes that communities in Colorado have a definitive right to local self-government. That is, the new law would give people, not corporations, the dominant authority to decide how to best protect health, safety and welfare in their own communities and surrounding natural environments. Basically, the measure would allow communities to decide, free from corporate or state interference, whether to allow corporate projects that could negatively impact their safe and healthy environments.

What does this measure mean to citizens on the western slope?

The Community Rights Amendment would, for example, give Mesa County residents living around Alanco’s stinky Deer Creek frackwater ponds the right to disallow this land use in their area. It would also give Paonia residents the right to keep drilling and fracking activities away from their schools, residential areas and organic farming districts. Corporations and their trade groups could no longer sue communities over decisions to keep dangerous or noxious industrial activities out of their area. The amendment would also prevent corporations from suing communities that vote to enact living wages, or ban GMOs (genetically modified organisms), for example.

On August 17, CCR submitted the official ballot language for the 2016 Colorado Community Rights Amendment to the Colorado Legislative Council. The ballot measure is very short, only about 200 words. After the ballot language is approved, CCR will organize a state-wide campaign to gather the number of signatures necessary to qualify the measure for the November 2016 statewide ballot.

CCR tried to get a Community Rights measure on the 2014 statewide ballot, but legal challenges by corporations opposed to the measure succeeded in delaying the signature-gathering phase of the effort until it was too late. This time, CCR has started work early enough that they will have a better shot at getting the measure on the ballot and passing it.

Efforts to pass Community Rights Initiatives are also ongoing in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

If You Want to Die Peacefully at Home, You Need to Know This

First page of Colorado's 2015 MOST form

First page of Colorado’s 2015 MOST form

If you want to avoid extensive hospital treatment or heroic measures being used on you towards the end of your life, it’s much harder than you think. It’s far more difficult than you’d ever realized these days to die a peaceful, natural death in your own home, if that’s the way you want your life to end.

These days many people don’t relish the idea of having their death drawn out in a hospital, hooked up to life support machines. If you are one of those people, you can complete an advanced directive and a will, put all your assets in a trust, and even verbally tell your closest family members that you don’t want any more hospitalizations. But that’s not enough.

Chances are very high that unless you do ONE more thing, you’ll still end up in a hospital getting a host of unwanted procedures or mechanical life support at the end of your life.

If near the end of your life you do not want to go to the hospital under any circumstances, and you want to let a natural process take your life, your family members or caregivers risk charges of medical neglect or abuse if they abide by your wishes. This is the case even if you have put all the above due-diligence documents in place. It’s extremely hard for relatives who love you to watch you get weaker and sicker and not do anything to help you. Caregivers fear lawsuits for neglect not giving every last possible measure of care in what they perceive as a desperate time of need. Some paid caregivers may be a different religion that you, and believe it is impermissible for you to determine the time and place of your own death.

These and many other conflicts can abound at the end of your life.

To protect close relatives and caregivers looking after you from a legal onslaught and assure you get the kind of care you really want at the end of your life, there is one more thing you must do: fill out a M.O.S.T. form.

What is a MOST form?

M.O.S.T. stands for Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment.  Most people have never heard of this form, but it in recent years it has become the key to self-determination at the end of your life.

The MOST form is relatively new. Colorado implemented its MOST form only about five years ago, and recently revised it. Every U.S. state now has its own version of a MOST form. In some states they are called a Physicians Order for Life Sustaining Treatment or a POLST form.

The MOST form is a very specific medico-legal instrument that summarizes and documents your personal preferences for a number of common life-sustaining treatments, including things like CPR, antibiotics, artificial nutrition and hydration, and mechanical ventilation. You can choose the extent to which you want these treatments to be used to save or prolong your life, under what circumstances and for how long. The form is usually printed on bright green paper, for quick location and recognition in medical files.

MOST forms assure you the ability to exert more control over your medical care

Individuals may use the MOST form to refuse treatments selectively, request full treatment under certain circumstances, or specify certain treatments they do not want. Any section of the form that is not completed implies full treatment is desired. Filling out a MOST form assures that not only will you get the specific care you want at the end of your life, but it will protect those who are responsible for making medical decisions on your behalf from legal charges of abuse or neglect if they abide by your wishes. Such charges can be brought by relatives who don’t agree with the kind of death you want for yourself, or by law enforcement.

The MOST form is used in conjunction with other legal instruments, like advanced directives and living wills. You must complete the MOST form while you still have your mental capacity. You and your doctor both sign the completed form. Everyone who could even be tangentially involved in your care towards the end of your life should get a copy of your completed MOST form. Make sure to give a copy to whomever has your medical power of attorney, too. Give copies to all of your children, even ones who live elsewhere and visit rarely, and even the crazy ones. Give them to your close friends, too.

The MOST form must be honored in any setting, including at home.

This relatively new form is the key to being able to have the kind of death you want, especially if your choice involves refusing invasive, life-sustaining treatments.

You can view Colorado’s MOST form here (pdf).

For more information on the MOST form, to see one, download a free copy or get answers to frequently asked questions about the form, go to the Colorado Advanced Directives Consortium, or talk to your doctor or your attorney.