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Pipes: COVID surge hints at true cost of ‘Medicare for All’

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Pipes: COVID surge hints at true cost of ‘Medicare for All’

Several hospitals in New Mexico activated crisis standards of care last month in response to a surge in COVID-19 patients. Earlier this fall, Alaska and Idaho did the same. In some places, providers were forced to begin rationing treatment based on the likelihood of survival.

It was a shocking spectacle for many Americans, accustomed as we are to hospitals with enough beds, equipment and doctors to go around.

It only took 22 months of an unprecedented pandemic for the health-care system in some parts of the country to get here. But for people in other countries who are captive to government-run single-payer or universal coverage health-care systems, rationed care has always been a fact of life.

And yet Democrats in Congress want to put an even greater share of the U.S. health-care system under the thumb of the federal government as part of their “Build Back Better” social spending bill.

Even more federal intervention in our health-care system could make rationing much more common — and not just the product of a public health emergency.

Consider what’s going on in Canada, where I was born. As of 2020, some 1.2 million Canadians were on waitlists for critical medical treatment. Last year, Canada hit an unfortunate milestone. Patients faced a median wait of 22.6 weeks for care from a specialist following referral by a general practitioner — the longest wait on record.

These waits are partially the result of the fact that private health coverage is outlawed for any procedure deemed “medically necessary.”

The story is much the same in Great Britain’s National Health Service. The Guardian recently reported the total number of people waiting to start treatment in England at the end of September was at an all-time peak of 5.8 million.

One U.K. man was recently told he would have to wait three years to have a decayed tooth removed. A couple in Northern Ireland learned last year that their 12-year-old son couldn’t have urgent scoliosis surgery for more than two years.

To be sure, COVID-19 has compounded these problems in Canada and the United Kingdom. But even taking the coronavirus out of the equation, the total number of people waiting at any given time for treatment in England has climbed steadily since 2008.

Severe wait times at the National Health Service have led many Brits to turn to private providers, in some cases even going abroad for treatment.

Canadians pay dearly for the long waits they face. The Fraser Institute, a Vancouver think tank, issued a report earlier this fall that calculates how much the average Canadian family pays in taxes each year just for their publicly provided health care. The total comes to just over $15,000 Canadian for a family of four — about $12,000 U.S.

Long wait times also affect productivity. According to Fraser, the costs associated with waiting for treatment from a specialist in Canada were nearly $3 billion last year. That makes sense. People in discomfort or pain tend to be less productive.

By championing Medicare expansion, higher federal subsidies for health insurance and price controls on prescription drugs, Democratic lawmakers are creeping toward a single-payer system step by step. But their ultimate goal is Medicare for All.

It’s hard to imagine a model with higher costs. If they’re successful, crisis standards of care will become the norm all over the United States.

Sally C. Pipes is president, CEO and Thomas W. Smith fellow in health-care policy at the Pacific Research Institute. Distributed by InsideSources.

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Westminster defends actions of ex-officers sued over Taser use, releases video of Walmart incident

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Westminster defends actions of ex-officers sued over Taser use, releases video of Walmart incident

A former Westminster police officer used a Taser on a 78-year-old man in a Walmart after the man tried to walk past the officer during a confrontation, surveillance video of the incident shows.

Westminster police released the video this week in response to a civil rights lawsuit filed Jan. 14 by the man, Clayton Shriver, against the city and the two former officers involved in the incident. The department defended the former officers’ actions, noting they had been cleared by an internal investigation.

In the lawsuit, Shriver’s attorneys alleged the officers used excessive force and unfairly prosecuted Shriver, and said the Westminster Police Department failed to properly train them.

Both of the officers involved, Michael Owen and Tyler Farson, resigned from the department in 2021 for reasons not connected to the incident, Westminster police spokeswoman Cheri Spottke said in a news release.

The officers contacted Shriver on May 15, 2020, in a Westminster Walmart after McDonald’s employees reported he would not leave the restaurant, which is located inside the Walmart. The McDonald’s employees told police that Shriver refused to leave the seating area, which was closed to customers due to COVID-19, and was acting aggressively and yelling profanities, according to Owen’s report on the incident, obtained by The Denver Post through a records request.

Shriver was experiencing a health crisis at the time of the incident, according to his lawsuit. He couldn’t understand what the restaurant employees were saying and subsequently began raising his voice. Shriver has medical and emotional health issues including traumatic brain injuries, memory loss, hearing loss and a mood disorder, the lawsuit states. He was sitting in the McDonald’s while his partner shopped because he didn’t feel well, according to the lawsuit.

Surveillance video shows Owen speaking with Shriver for about a minute before Shriver stood up and walked quickly toward the officer. Both Shriver and Owen said Shriver was trying to leave the McDonald’s. Owen wrote in his report that he stopped Shriver from leaving because he wasn’t sure whether a crime had been committed and whether he needed to arrest Shriver.

Owen then grabbed the man and forced him to the ground, the video shows.

Owen wrote in his report that Shriver kicked him in the leg, so he decided to use his Taser on Shriver. Owen used the stun gun twice on Shriver while the two struggled on the ground, the officer wrote in his report. Owen and Farson, the other officer who arrived on scene, then handcuffed Shriver and called an ambulance.

The surveillance footage does not clearly show the use of the Taser or the struggle because the group of men is partially blocked from the camera’s view by a sign and a wall. Neither officer wore a body camera because the Westminster Police Department did not equip officers with cameras until this month.

Shriver was bruised by the officers and had some bleeding from the Taser prongs, photos of his injuries included in the lawsuit show.

U.S. District Court

Clayton Shriver, now 79, shows some of the injuries he sustained during his arrest by Westminster police in 2020. The images were included in his federal lawsuit against the city.

Shriver was charged in Westminster municipal court with trespassing, obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest, according to lawsuit. Shriver was given a deferred sentence, which means the charges would be dismissed if he successfully met conditions set by the court, according to the police department. The charges were dismissed, according to his lawyers.

A Westminster police sergeant completed an internal affairs investigation into the incident after the department received notice in April from Shriver’s attorneys that he intended to sue, according to the department The sergeant reviewed reports from the incident, including witness statements, and reviewed the surveillance footage. The sergeant did not interview either Owen or Shriver.

The sergeant found the officers’ use of force to be within department policy.

“The actions of the officers were found to be legal and within policy,” the sergeant wrote in his findings. “None of the officers were found to have used poor judgment. There were no training issues present.”

A civilian review board and department leadership upheld the sergeant’s findings, according to the department.

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It’s a sunny Big West season, so far, for Anosike and Cal State Fullerton

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It’s a sunny Big West season, so far, for Anosike and Cal State Fullerton

Cal State Fullerton played at Northern Arizona in December, on one of those days when it seemed like the North Pole.

E.J. Anosike shivered and looked at the sky. Snow was imminent. Anosike remembered how nice it looks until it starts invading your socks. He gave the side-eye to CSF coach Dedrique Taylor.

“I didn’t come out here for this,” Anosike told him.

He came “out here” from Tennessee because he wanted a bonus year of college basketball, wanted to wave goodbye in a meaningful way, and without gloves.

He is the leading scorer in the Big West and a main driver of Cal State Fullerton’s 4-0 league record. The Titans won, 65-63, at UC Irvine Thursday night.

Anosike played three years at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn., not terribly far from his home of East Orange, N.J. He went to Tennessee last year. Along the way he got a bachelor’s degree and an MBA.

Vincent Lee, Anosike’s partner in the post, came from Nevada. Tray Maddox Jr. came from Oakland U., near Detroit. Damari Milstead came from San Francisco. There are freshmen, too, but this is what college basketball is now. With no mandatory sit-out year, players are flying off the shelves.

A school like Cal State Fullerton and a league like the Big West wasn’t supposed to thrive this way. The case of Elijah Harkless, who went from CSUN to Oklahoma, was far more likely.

But players have their own motivations. They aren’t just names on a greaseboard.

Anosike knew the Titans because he knew Kyle Allman, the leader of the 2018 Big West championship team. And he knew that people often wear shorts on campus in January.

As Lute Olson said when he came to Long Beach State from Iowa, “I don’t have to scrape any of that ‘fair and warmer’ off my windshield.”

“I didn’t know anything about E.J. but when he became available we dug in our heels and looked at him,” Taylor said. “Location is important. We sell it. You can go an hour and a half one way and be in the snow if you want to, or you can go a half-hour the other way and be in the sand. Very few places can say that.

“The transfers bring maturity and professionalism. You see E.J. and he’s the same every day. He works. Our whole team is now emulating him.”

The Titans have the biceps and the composure of grown men. Anosike, at 6-foot-7 and 236, averages 18.7 points and 7.9 rebounds. As they got acquainted during non-conference season, they realized their wins would happen in the lane. They average about seven more foul shots than their opponents. At UCI they shot the first 16 free throws of the game.

But then Anosike had over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds at Sacred Heart, which plays in the Northeast Conference, a rough equivalent of the Big West. He also graduated in three years with a 3.57 GPA.

Tennessee was a natural next stop. Anosike’s sister Nicky was a teammate of Candace Parker’s in Knoxville and went to three Final Fours, winning two, while graduating with a triple major.

E.J., 12 years younger, was a ballboy for the Lady Vols. Nicky became a WNBA All-Star at Minnesota and was an L.A. Spark in 2012, and also played on national teams.

But E.J.’s year at Tennessee wasn’t as eventful. COVID-19 barred the fans, and Anosike averaged 8.6 minutes and 1.7 points.

“It was a great experience being around Nicky’s teams,” E.J. said. “I got to see what (coach) Pat Summitt was like. My mom saw a lot of herself in Pat, and they were close. I got to see what a woman’s empowerment can look like in a male-dominated industry.’

Nicky was a high school coach in Anderson County, Tenn. but resigned after a dangerous and difficult pregnancy.

“She’s the one who put the basketball in my hand,” E.J. said. “We’d go out to the park every Saturday. I finally sneaked a win against her when I was 14. After that, she didn’t want to play me anymore.”

But how disorienting are three different programs in different locales with different pressures and coaches?

“I’m just grateful to get to play five years,” Anosike said. “You find a family wherever you go.

“I’m not looking for the flashy, big-name stuff. You tune all of that out and you just focus on the actual playing, getting better on a daily basis. It’s really not that different. Just a different level.”

Wherever you go, there’s a trophy to win. Anosike wants sunshine to reflect off his.

 

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Two bodies found Friday morning in Douglas County residence

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Two Colorado corrections officers justified in shooting death of armed fugitive

Two people, a man and a woman, were found dead Friday inside a Douglas County home.

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