Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Doctor Shortage Hurts Families

Seniors have Medicare, so they have health insurance. But it's getting harder and harder for them to find primary care physicians. The same thing is going to happen to the rest of us as more and more of the general population gets health care coverage. There just aren't enough doctors because the pay isn't good enough. The New York Times ran a terrific article on the problem yesterday. I'm pasting a synopsis and link below.

I know this is a problem because my own doctor is struggling with the low payments from insurers. My daughter, who lives in Massachusetts, has told me stories of the doctor shortages brought about by the universal coverage that state has instituted. In Massachusetts, you're fined if you don't have health insurance. People who can't afford insurance must apply for it from the state. (It's like Medicaid.) But my daughter's friends who wound up with Mass Health coverage can't find doctors who will take it. They are going without.

This same problem is likely to hit the whole country if we have universal coverage. Medical school is expensive, so there are fewer doctors who want to become primary physicians where the pay is lower than it is for specialists.

So what should we do? I believe our country should subsidize doctors who will become primary care physicians, particularly ones who go out to serve the under-served. We need something like the Teach for America plan, only for doctors. I'm also hoping that lower salaries and bonuses and fewer jobs in finance will draw the best and brightest into medicine and science. I was so sad to watch my kids' classmates who were brainiacs in math and science all flock to Wall Street instead of the sciences. (Although one went to Google in marketing after majoring in chemistry at an Ivy League School.) The financial incentives simply have to change, or we will be paying more and more for medical care and getting less and less.

This will really affect the growing population of seniors and all families adversely.

From the New York Times -- Health / Health Care Policy
Shortage of Doctors an Obstacle to Obama Goals
Published: April 27, 2009
One proposal -- to increase Medicare payments to general practitioners, at the expense of high-paid specialists -- has touched off a lobbying fight.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Robins Build McMansion

Robins are just like people. They want the best possible home in which to raise their children.

Our robins decided to finish their home under the eaves of our solarium and on top of the flood lights. They left nothing to chance, creating a robin's version of a McMansion. We have one set of robins with a nest in a bush by the front door. They built a typical robin's nest, smallish and made mostly of woven twigs and feathers. But the robins that built over our flood lights have blue ribbons, strands of lily fronds, grasses, twigs and lots and lots of mud. The mud sides of the nest must be three inches high. I'm not sure when I've seen a larger or more sturdy nest. Mrs. Robin is sitting very proudly on top. She's got a great roof over her head and a perfect view out over our pond.

It will be very interesting to see if her eggs or the ones near the front door will hatch first. The poor robin by the front door flies away in fright every time I open the door. But the backyard robin with the mega nest sits quietly even when I walk underneath.

Don't we mothers all want the same thing for our families? A good roof over our heads and a clear view of real danger?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Moms and Mother Ducks

Mother ducks are smart mothers. They let their babies roam all over the pond, but they do it under watchful eyes. The mother duck who brings her ducklings to our pond lets those little ones explore, but she never lets them out of her sight. And if she spies a hawk in the air, she calls her babies back. Boy, do they swim fast! There are usually two who really set out alone to far reaches. Others stay close to mom. Some set out in a small group, but not too far away.

The ducklings remind me of kids. Why are siblings different? I think it's mother nature's way of ensuring survival of the DNA. Maybe the ones that stay close to mom will survive and prosper, or maybe it's the ones who take off and take risks. Maybe they'll wind up changing life for the ducks, just as our human risk takers change things for people.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Red Wing Blackbirds

I saw our red wing blackbird yesterday. I wonder if he will be a pest this summer. In the past he has been amazingly aggressive against our big birds, turtles and us human beings.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Our Kingfisher is back. I love watching him dive into the pond and come up with small fish. He is an amazing fisher. I really enjoy hearing his unique twittering.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


The robins have shifted their nest to the other side of our yard. I saw two robins this morning who were fighting. I think we humans always forget that conflict and competition are all part of the natural world, which is why it's part of our natures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Snowy Egret

The snowy white egret has come back. I love watching it land, deliberately stalk fish in the pond and soar back into the air. Yesterday it slowly walked the edge of the dam intently eying the water. This morning I watched it swoop in and take off again. So majestic.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Greed and the Great Blue Heron

Our great blue heron stalked the fish in our pond and caught the biggest one possible -- 12" long and 4" wide. That heron was a bit too greedy. He tried arranging it in his beak so that he could swallow it, all to no avail. Then, he finally got tired of holding the fish and set it down. It was flopping all over, so he stabbed it with his beak and took a drink of water. Then, he picked it up again and worked on trying to swallow it.

Later, I found the dead fish on the ground. I'm going to bury it in my garden to help my vegetables grow. That's an old Indian-Native American trick.

The lesson from this is -- don't be greedy.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Blue Heron

Our great blue heron returned again. I saw him plunge into a school of sunning fish. But he walked out of the pond empty.

Our robins seem to have given up on the next over the lights.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Our Robins

Our robins have returned and are building a nest in the same place as last year -- right over a pair of flood lights, weaving the straw, string and grass over and between the lights. They use a lot of mud to hold it all together. It's a messy job. They also decorate the nest with blue ribbons and strings. They did the same thing last year. I think these birds like blue decorations.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Backyard Bird Happenings

It's spring, and the birds in my Connecticut backyard are very busy. We have a pond, which attracts all sorts of great birds. I just saw an osprey dive in and fly away with a fish.

Please post your bird sightings.