By Brian Bell | Friday, October 8, 2010
By Bob Seay | Friday, June 29, 2012
June 29, 2012
BOSTON — During his two terms as Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis had health care reform on his agenda. In fact, in 1988 Dukakis signed into law a health care act that would have forced businesses that didn’t offer their employees health insurance to contribute to a fund to provide such insurance — but Dukakis said his successor William Weld did what he could to stymie the effort.
I sat down with the former governor and presidential candidate at Northeastern University, where he is now distinguished professor of political science. I spoke with him soon after the Supreme Court decision was released — a decision that somewhat vexed Dukakis
Excerpts from the interview
"Well, I'm pleased that the basic core piece of it was upheld. On the other hand, I must say I'm confused about the decision on Medicaid. Congress has regularly required the states to expand Medicaid coverage as a condition for receiving that money ... So what you're going to end up with, I guess, is a kind of pitched battle in conservative legislatures over whether or not they're going to agree to make it possible for working people and their families — up to 133 percent of poverty, which isn't a lot of money — to get decent, affordable health care. And in point of fact that's the whole issue anyway, which I'm sorry to say my party hasn't done a very good job of explaining. This is all about working folks and their families because the overwhelming majority of uninsured people in this country, and it's about 60 million, are working or members of working families ...
"We're finally going to, I hope, move ahead with decent, affordable health care, especially for working families in this country — unless of course Mitt Romney, who's done his 125th 180, in this case on health care — gets elected! If he does, then forget it."
By Tonia Magras | Friday, May 4, 2012
May 4, 2012
BOSTON — The day after the suicide of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau at 43 stunned the football world, an emotional Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots shared his thoughts.
"He sent me something in the few weeks after Myra’s passing and he wrote, 'I’m so sorry about the passing of Mrs. Kraft' — " Kraft began to cry as he continued — "'She was an inspiration to me. I have so much respect for all she did and to help people lead better lives. I’ll always be there for you and your family.'"
Among sad football deaths, this "is one of the most dramatic because of how great Seau was … he was a first-ballot Hall of Famer," said Damon Amendolara, host of 98.5 The Sports Hub.
"Inside of that locker room, he was a hero," said sports reporter Chris Collins of NECN, who covered Seau at the end of his career, with the New England Patriots. "He was a teacher, he was a mentor and he was a friend."
Seau’s state of mind and the details surrounding a car accident in 2010 have led some to question whether years of head bumping contributed to his death.
His family said there were no signs of stress or depression — and his sister Annette said the media would "overblow this."
Amendolara said Seau had no notable on-field accidents but pointed out that over much of his career, people weren't focusing on head injuries — and that the linebacker had spent "over 20 years in the most violent position in the football field."
While no one knows what drove Seau to take his own life, former NFL player Tiki Barber said that depression is common among former NFL players: "There is a façade that sits around athletes that we are these strong, emotionally strong, powerful beings, when in fact, we’re just human beings."
Collins agreed that turbulent currents could lie under the façade. "I know a lot of retired NFL players and a lot of them are going through the same type of deal: When you see them out, when you see them on the golf course everything is fine but they're in a dark place when they get home."
Said Amendolara, "It should shine the light right now on former players and what they deal with, whether it's because of the violence of the game and head injuries or just removing themselves from the adrenaline rush — because this is happening far too much."
By Danielle Dreilinger | Friday, April 20, 2012
By Ibby Caputo | Wednesday, March 28, 2012
March 29, 2012
I’m not as brave as I once was in telling my story. The more I learn about the nuances of paying for health care, and I listen to the rationale for not providing care for all citizens, the more the knot in my stomach tightens.
The nation is tethered by red tape and people don’t realize how much they’re tripping over it. Somehow I didn’t get caught up in it.
When I was sick, I remember being obsessed with the doctors’ ages. Many of them were my age — 26 — sharply dressed, with their white coats, fresh faces and brains filled with medical knowledge. Each patient, a novelty to be explored.
And then there was me. 2007. In the bed. Tethered to an IV attached to a catheter hanging out of my chest. Told that those ugly bruises running up and down my legs were a telltale symptom of leukemia.
I’d look at the Dougies — one of my pet names for the young docs — and think, you could be me. I yearned for them to realize. I wasn’t so different from them. Just yesterday I was on the top of my game, too.
The idea that I could be you, and you could be me and only by a chance of birth and circumstances is that not the case has stuck with me, especially as health care is in the forefront of the nation’s consciousness.
My care was risky and expensive. After several rounds of chemotherapy failed to put me in remission, I had a bone marrow transplant with stem cells provided by an anonymous donor. $1 million-plus later, my heart pumps the blood of a stranger, and I’m alive trying my best to contribute to the society that saved me.
I’m not sure anymore where my story fits into the whole health care thing. I just know I’m so lucky. I became deathly ill at a young age, but received some of the best care in the country and I didn’t pay for it.
Was it worth it? Maybe for me and my loved ones, but what happens when you reduce me — or any of us — down to a number? I talked with MIT economist John Gruber about this. What is the value of a human life?
He told me that economists study that very question. They put a dollar value on life. It's ugly, he said, and makes for bad cocktail-party conversation, but it's what they do and why some call economics the "dismal science."
And the dismal science says 26-year-olds are worth saving, even at a cost of $1 million.
I was living off student loans when I was diagnosed, interning at a radio station and working at a coffee shop part-time. In Massachusetts, the generous state. I qualified for Medicaid because health reform in Massachusetts made it possible for women who weren’t single mothers to qualify.
In a different state would I still have been worth saving? Probably not. Because at the time of diagnosis, I was uninsured.
I guess on this issue, I’m not a journalist. That’s what happens when you get sick. Your identity gets stripped down and you are no longer a journalist, or an economist, or a waitress or farmer, you’re just a human body with a heart you want to keep beating. At that point it’s the people you love that matter, and they go through it worse than you do, because they’re the ones who have to deal with how to care for you — including how to make sure you get quality medical treatment, and how you pay for it.
We want it all. As a nation, we want to rectify injustice but not necessarily at our own expense. Injustice? Yes, there are 49 million people in America who are scared to see a doctor because they don’t know how they’re going to pay for it.
As I tell my story, my feelings are raw. I don’t like going there. Fortunately, I am a journalist. I can step back, be curious and ask questions.
As a journalist, I will cover health care. My personal story helps me be better informed, to know what questions to ask, who to challenge and to consider opposing viewpoints.
It is a beautiful thing to have a beating heart.
Have you had your own experiences with illness and the health insurance system? How much are lives worth? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.
By Danielle Dreilinger | Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Dec. 7, 2012
According to the Associated Press, Super Bowl XLVI was the most-watched television show in U.S. history, with an estimated 111.3 million viewers. But for geeks, the big excitement was outside the TV. For the first time, NBC live-streamed the entire game online. Along with the sports, NBC promised social media and the chance to watch the famous commercials.
So, how did it go? The response on Twitter lined up with what this reporter experienced at a Super Bowl party in Somerville, Mass. that had all the traditional fixings: chili, six-packs, giant flat-screen and squabbling cats ... just no television.
In short, the streaming video quality was remarkably high; however, the juiced-up online peripherals didn't live up to the hype. Sure, you could watch all the commercials — but only after they aired. Between drives, web watchers were subjected instead to a short roll call of ads that played over and over again. (Hey, did you know the Navy SEALs show features real Navy SEALs?)
The Twitter connection was restricted to two pre-selected NBC stars' accounts. Dear Jimmy Fallon: If you know NBC will be displaying your Twitter feed to its web viewers for the entire game, you might want to tweet more than once an hour.
And most painfully — as we followed along on the non-restricted Twitter — we knew exactly how great a show we were missing when Madonna took the stage on the television ... but not online.
At least there was one consolation left: At the depressing end of the game, we had the fun of watching the halftime show. On YouTube.
Note: We asked NBC for traffic stats and an explanation for the different commercials and the lack of the Madonna performance. No response yet.