AK Voices: Brian Sweeney Jr.

Brian Sweeney Jr. is an opinionated gastroenterologist in Anchorage.

Begich's Choice Insults Alaska - 3/16/2014 10:44 pm

Can I Please Have Some Cake? - 3/2/2014 1:57 pm

Quarterbacks And Catullus - 1/23/2014 9:29 pm

Truth In Vaccination - 12/28/2013 2:56 pm

The Next Rotten Chocolate - 12/14/2013 7:30 pm

Baracky Barack And The Begich Bunch - 11/14/2013 4:24 pm

Do As I Say, Not As I Do - 10/19/2013 7:13 pm

What's In Your Wallet? - 10/8/2013 10:15 pm

Begich's Choice Insults Alaska

Last month The Wall Street Journal ran a story about double standards in the Environmental Protection Agency. Administrator Gina McCarthy, failed to uncover fraud being committed by an EPA employee, John Beale. McCarty continued to allow Beale to be on the EPA payroll despite warnings and evidence he was instead committing fraud. Beale managed to take the taxpayers for $900K.

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Can I Please Have Some Cake?

I had a technician when I was in the USAF who was getting ready to pursue a seminary degree. He respected most of my views but made it clear I was never going to heaven if I did not accept Jesus Christ as my savior. I did not lose sleep over his concern.

We never had many conversations about homosexuals serving in the military or participating in the institution of marriage. My guess is my support of both would have been another reason I was doomed to eternal damnation.

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Quarterbacks And Catullus

As a graduate of an Ivy League institution I am a firm believer in the well rounded individual. It was an affront to me when James O. Freedman became the president of my alma mater and suggested the student body be diverse as opposed to the individual being diverse. Freedman wanted to attract the individual who would be happy translating Catullus late on a Saturday night. It did not matter if that student did nothing else.

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Truth In Vaccination

There were 15,000-20,000 cases of paralytic polio a year in the United States before a vaccine existed. In 1988 the World Health Organization began an effort to eradicate the disease with vaccination. Since that time worldwide cases have dropped from 350,000 (1988) to 187 (2012).

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The Next Rotten Chocolate

During the debate before Obamacare passed a lot of "progressives" around the country became irritated when projections were called untrue. They would pontificate about the power of predictions of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The cost of Obamacare was estimated at about $900B over the first ten years. Obama made the claim in the 2009 State of the Union address after being elected.

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Baracky Barack And The Begich Bunch

A few years back I went to a town hall meeting at Bartlett High School during the health care debate. Mark Begich assured the crowd that he would read any bill in full. He assured the crowd he would not vote for anything that hurt Alaskans.

This has been a common claim for Begich over the years. He loves to give the impression that he reads everything and acts in a balanced way.

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What's In Your Wallet?

I used to get a nice summary from the government about my "true compensation" as a member of the active duty military. It included my salary, my health care benefits, retirement benefits, tax benefits, and of course the ever important commissary privileges among other things. It was supposed to convince me how great my military pay was compared to the outside.

As with most military members the I found the analysis to be a joke. The military and medicine are two fields the government will never compensate at levels comparable to private work.

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It Has Nothing To Do With Democracy

Polls show just over 50% of the population does not approve of Obamacare. That is a 13 point spread over people who support the law.

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Who Really Has The Pedestal?

A lot of angry words are being thrown around by physicians in town. The target? Bruce Lamoureux, the CEO of Providence Alaska Medical Center (PAMC).

Back on August 12th Mr. Lamoureux made a speech in front of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. He made a lot of claims about health care and the role of physicians.

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Detroit Debt City

Detroit was once the symbol of American industrial might. It powered the country through World War II. It still is the first city people think of when it comes to the auto industry. The city is also the birthplace of Motown. And it is the home of franchises in all 4 major US team sports.

Times have changed in the Motor City. The population has dropped 20% since 2000. There are an estimated 78,000 abandoned structures inside the city limit. And unemployment runs around 26% rivaling Greece and Spain.

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Again, Failure To Lead

Trayvon Martin is dead. It is a tragedy.

Trayvon would be alive today if he had not attacked George Zimmerman. There is evidence he did exactly that. The end result was two people acting like fools with one now dead and the other marked for life.

Zimmerman is an idiot. He should have never approached Martin. He should have listened to the 911 operator. An argument could be made that his behavior was irresponsible and led to the death of Martin. A manslaughter conviction would have been within reason but so is his acquittal.

Being an idiot does not make someone a racist.

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Who Does Medicare Pay?

In the interest of full disclosure I am a partial owner of an ambulatory surgery center.

Most people know when they turn 50 they should consider going in for a screening colonoscopy. In 2013 there is a high probability that procedure will take place in an ambulatory surgery center (ASC) and not at a hospital. It can be the source of many patient questions when it comes to the finances.

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America's First Attempt At Socialized Medicine

Kidney failure used to be fatal. Hemodialysis has changed that. The story of hemodialysis is a lesson in how the health care system can succeed and fail at the same time.

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Don't Believe The Hype

The National Security Agency (NSA) is under fire for listening in on billions of communications. Big Brother has indeed been watching and it makes people upset. Senator Mark Begich is even using the issue in his radio commercials to try and pretend he is not an Obama rubber stamp.

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Affordable for Whom?

Obamacare has begun its path to implementation but the significant changes hit the system next year. The run up to this has already produced some concerning trends.

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Three Strikes And You're Obama

One of the lynchpins of Obamacare is the health insurance mandate. It survived the lawsuits and remained in place.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been tasked with tracking the mandate. It has also been tasked with following and implementing all of the new taxes inside Obamacare. It is fitting that a taxing organization has so much control. It is also ironic since Obama claimed the mandate was not a tax to save it.

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How Much Is That Test In The Window?

This is part of an ongoing series to try and address cost issues inside medicine.

Patients often are surprised when I tell them I will see them in 10 years after a normal colonoscopy. They often ask whether they will be safe if they wait that long.

It usually takes years for colon polyps to turn into cancers. If a patient is at average risk the data has been used to show a model of a colonoscopy every 10 years leaves risk in an acceptable range.

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Waste Not

Today the National Pressure Cooker Association released an angry statement. They are concerned legislation may be introduced that will require people to undergo background checks before they can purchase pressure cookers. Their main point was, "Pressure cookers don't kill people, people kill people."

Gun advocates have also been active. Some are complaining that people would have been safer at the Boston Marathon if everybody had been "packing heat." The reasoning is no terrorists with pressure cookers would have ever gone near the Boston Marathon if everybody was armed.

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Cost And Complication

The American Society For Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) has guidelines for sedation and anesthesia during endoscopy. The guidelines are designed to help physicians make decisions. In the United States most endoscopic procedures are done under moderate or conscious sedation.

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