Christie: Maybe it’s time to try Grandma’s home remedy to fight those flu symptoms

Chicken soup, the classic get-well-soon meal. (Leslie Brenner/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

The flu outbreak has folks scrambling.

Many who had decided to forego getting a flu shot earlier, are now lining up at doctor’s offices, hospitals, walk-in clinics and drugstores. Others who are already “feeling a little achy” are looking for relief that can ward off even worse symptoms.

RELATED: Boy’s flu death spurs concern in Palm Beach County

It home for me this past weekend when my daughter, Elisabeth, called Saturday night to say that she had been sent home from work because she was exhibiting flu-like symptoms and looking a bit peaked to her supervisors. (Elisabeth is musical theater major at the University of Central Florida; and has a part-time job at a local restaurant.)

We told her to head to a walk-in clinic the next morning to get checked out for the flu; and if tested positive, to get a prescription for Tamiflu to help knock it out early. Tamiflu is most effective if you take it within 48 hours of contracting the flu virus.

She did go, and tested positive for the flu — of course. She got a prescription for Tamiflu, and Benzonatate (for cough). The Tamiflu prescription cost more than $107 to fill at her local Walgreens.

Yep, you heard right … more than $107.

We’re insured. And of course, she got the prescription. But it did occur to me that there are a lot of folks out there who are uninsured — and under-insured — who cannot afford to pull $150 out of their pockets to pay for Tamiflu.

Apparently, some doctors are realizing that too. Between a spotty shortage due to a run on the anti-viral medicine and the cost, doctors are giving folks a cheaper route by simply treating the symptoms.

To that end, they’re recommending folks take over-the-counter medicines like TheraFlu, DayQuil and NyQuil to hopefully get them through it.

But what would your grandma or nana say if she found out you were sick? Well, other than, “Here, take this, sweetie.”

That’s right; she’d say, “Don’t worry, grandma will fix you right up.” And she would too.

Everyone’s got some kind of “Old World,” home remedy for this kind of thing. Once, when I was down with flu-like symptoms from working non-stop, my wife’s mother gave me a concoction that had me out of bed and headed to the office and hour after I drank it.

To this day, I still have no idea what was in it. But I’m still alive 28 year later.

Then again, scientists really don’t know what it is about chicken soup that works either. But folks swear by it.

At a time like this, when the slightest sniffle, cough or headache has folks worried their coming down with the flu, it might be time to look up those old remedies.

A former colleague posted a tea remedy made from “star anise,” which is what TheraFlu is derived from, complete with instructions.

You never know what might work for some people.

To be sure, if you can get in to see a doctor, do it. And if you can afford Tamiflu, buy it. But if you can’t, it may be a good time to dig up grandma’s remedy.

Do you want to share that remedy? Of course you do… so please, leave it in the Comments section on this post. And feel better soon.

Flu season continues to get worse, as this has become the most intense the country has seen since a pandemic strain hit nine years ago, U.S. health officials said on Friday. (AP Photo / Gregory Bull)

Goodman: CHIP falls, jeopardizing health for 342,000 kids in Florida

Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy last week, after the collapse of their Graham-Cassidy health care bill, the GOP’s latest attempt to replace the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

So intent were the Republicans in Congress on their latest gasping effort to gut Obamacare that they have threatened the health care of some 9 million children across the U.S., including almost 342,000 kids in Florida.

While all eyes were on the farcical Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the ever-dysfunctional Congress allowed funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, to expire. This happened on Saturday (Sept. 30). Unless Congress quickly plays catch-up, states are projected to run out of program funding over the next 12 months. Florida’s funding is foreseen to expire by sometime in January.

CHIP is a noncontroversial program that is routinely renewed. A bipartisan initiative, it was originally co-sponsored, in 1997, by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. The goal: Allow children from low-income families who live above the Medicaid threshold to obtain low-cost health insurance.

Children have no control over their financial circumstances, of course, so they’re especially vulnerable to the high price of health care — as well as to the need for checkups, immunizations, prescriptions and dental and vision care. All these have been covered under CHIP, as well as hospital care, lab work, x-rays and emergency services.

It’s funded primarily through federal funds that states match, $9.7 billion federal and $4 billion state funds in 2015. Florida is one of the states where parents are required to pay monthly premiums of $15 or $20 based on family income.

Just about everybody has been happy with this program for 20 years. But when you have a Congress that’s far more interested in grandstanding than governing, you get a fiasco like this.

All through September, almost every bit of energy on Capitol Hill was spent on the zombie-like moves by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La., to bring repeal-and-replace back from the crypt where Sen. John McCain’s no vote had seemed to consign it in July. But this latest bill was even worse than the GOP’s previous versions and even Graham admitted that Republicans didn’t know what they were doing.

Democrats were so focused on defeating Graham-Cassidy that they weren’t paying much attention to the looming expiration of CHIP funding, either.

Hatch and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., did announce in September a plan for extending CHIP money for another five years and boosting funding over time. But that quickly got drowned out by all the drama over Graham-Cassidy.

A Senate and a House committee were scheduled to discuss bills today to continue CHIP funding. They’d better work fast. Arizona, Minnesota and North Carolina are projected to run out of funding by December. Funds for Florida’s 342,000 low-income children, infants and pregnant women would dry up soon after that.

Who is being affected? Dorothy R. .Novick, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, recently wrote this in the Washington Post:

Every day I see patients in my practice who stand to lose their health care if Congress does not act to extend CHIP funding. Consider my patient who grew up in foster care, put herself through college and now earns a living as a freelance clothing designer. She is now a mother herself, and I treat her children. Her 1-year-old son has asthma and her 3-year-old daughter has a peanut allergy. They are able to follow up with me every three months and keep a ready supply of lifesaving medications because they qualify for CHIP.

Or consider the dad with a hearing impairment whose wife passed away two years ago. He supports his teenage daughters by working as a line cook during the day and a parking attendant at night. He sends the girls to a parochial school. He lost their Medicaid when he was given extra hours at his restaurant last year. But I still see them because they qualify for CHIP.

Congress, get to work.

 

Goodman: 1.5M Floridians could lose coverage, but Obamacare foes forge on

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks to reporters as he walks toward the Senate floor on Capitol Hill, July 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The healthcare replacement bill that Senate Republicans are intent on pushing toward a vote this week, despite being declared dead a few days ago for lack of support within their own party, would mean the loss of health coverage for almost 1.5 million Floridians.

And if the GOP succeeds in repealing Obamacare without enacting a replacement, that number of newly uninsured Floridians would rise to about 2.3 million. So say estimates from the Urban Institute.

Those figures match up with Congressional Budget Office analyses showing that, nationwide, the Senate bill would strip coverage for 22 million Americans by 2026; 32 million, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed with no replacement.

No wonder the Republicans’ bumbling efforts to fulfill their most fervid promise of the Obama years are going so badly. The Senate replacement bill is so unpopular that only 12 percent of voters in key Trump counties think it’s a good idea, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

Yet Gov. Rick Scott still sees political gold in attacking Obamacare tooth and claw. The Senate 2018 hopeful said in  Boca Raton this week, “I think you’ve got to understand Obamacare’s been a disaster. It’s caused health care prices to skyrocket.”

As if the problem of soaring healthcare costs didn’t exist before the ACA went into effect five years ago.

And Florida’s Republican U.S. senator, Marco Rubio, was ready last week to vote to repeal Obamacare without replacement, saying the health care law “has been bad for our country” — until that notion collapsed for lack of votes within a single day.

Rubio has hardly bathed himself in courage in this debate. Claiming to be undecided for weeks, he has refused to hold face-to-face town halls because, he said, activists will “heckle and scream at me.” And it appears he won’t meet with constituents who want to see the present law improved instead of voted or sabotaged into extinction.

Florida Voices for Health, a coalition of about 25 advocacy groups for expanded access to healthcare, has repeatedly sought to meet with Rubio, spokeswoman Louisa McQueeney told the Palm Beach Post Editorial Board. They’ve visited all his offices around the state. “The staff is very, very nice,” McQueeney said. “They take our materials. And then it just goes into a black hole.”

So Voices for Health proposed a “tele press conference call” and offered to give him written questions in advance. No response.

They sent Rubio a letter on July 10, asking that he commit to making sure that no Floridians lose coverage, that there are no cuts or caps to Medicaid and that no one is denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition. They say he hasn’t answered.

The foes of the Affordable Care Act have done all they could over the past five years to badmouth the law. Scott, like other hardline Republican governors, refused to take advantage of the chance to expand Medicaid. Nevertheless, almost 1.5 million Floridians bought policies on Obamacare’s healthcare.gov marketplace — many of whom were going without insurance before.

Even if the Senate bills fail again this week, President Trump could fulfill his predictions of Obamacare’s death spiral by withholding the money to subsidize insurance companies to help sign up low-income customers. Just the uncertainty of future funding has caused some carriers to drop out of marketplaces.

And depending on what the Senate comes up with, Medicaid could be in for diminishment, either through cuts or caps or a restructuring to block grants. That’s a cloud over 4 million Floridians, including one half of the state’s children and 60 percent of seniors in nursing homes.

It’s bizarre that America is in this position. According to a Fox News poll last week — yes, Fox News — 60 percent of Americans want to keep Obama and for lawmakers to fix it. Seventy-four percent want Republicans to reach out to Democrats and find a compromise. That includes 59 percent of Republicans.

Yes, you read that right.

The public wants common-sense solutions, but the political system — wrapped up in tribal wars, ties to campaign contributors, the burning desire to score political wins … you name it — looks incapable of providing them. The very real danger is that millions of people will get hurt in the wreckage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodman: Delray Beach: All American City and ‘relapse capital’ all at the same time

Suzanne Spencer, former executive director of the Delray Beach Drug Taskforce, and Delray Beach Police Chief Jeffrey Goldman speak at a 2015 press conference about heroin overdoses and deaths in the city. (Photo by Hannah Winston)

Delray Beach this week became the first city in the state to win the All America City Award for a third time.

This same week, the city also gained national attention for being “the biggest relapse capital.”

In a lengthy front-page article on Wednesday, the New York Times documented the town’s unwanted status as one of the worst-hit centers of the opioid epidemic.

“Here, heroin overdoses long ago elbowed out car crashes and routine health issues as the most common medical emergencies,” writes reporter Lizette Alvarez. “Last year, Delray paramedics responded to 748 overdose calls; 65 ended in fatalities. In all, Palm Beach County dealt with 5,000 overdose calls.”

The story rightly emphasizes that, unlike other places reeling from rampant opioid addiction, “most of the young people who overdose in Delray Beach are not from here.” They come from the Northeast and Midwest in search of drug treatment “in a town that has long been hailed as a lifeline for substance abusers.”

But as the Palm Beach Post has exhaustively reported, that treatment industry has been corrupted by bad actors who use insurance fraud to reap huge illicit profits and cynically thrust recovering addicts deeper into addiction.

“We have these people sending us their children to get healthy,” Dave Aronberg, the county’s state attorney, says in the Times, “and they are leaving in ambulances and body bags.”

Delray won the All American City Award for its efforts to advance early literacy. The honor is bestowed by the National Civic League, founded in 1894 by urban reformers including Theodore Roosevelt, Frederick Law Olmstead and Louis Brandeis.

The city founded a board that worked with schools, parents and city leaders combat the summer slide, boost school attendance and prepare beginning students for school. The result, officials said: a 25 percent bump in grade-level reading from kindergarten through third grade in Delray schools.

Delray previously was named an All American City in 1993 and 2001.

No doubt, Delray leaders would rather their city be best known for its literacy-boosting virtues. But the Times story on the seaside town’s dangerous drug reality deserves a wide audience, especially up North. Maybe it will be read as a warning to people struggling with substance abuse: Think twice before coming down here for the help you might never receive.

Goodman: Up in smoke: Florida Legislature chokes on medical pot

With staggering ineptitude, the Florida Legislature managed to let down millions of Floridians — yet again — by failing to pass a bill to reasonably regulate medical marijuana.

After hammering out almost all the disagreements between them, the House and Senate failed on Friday to bridge their differences over the number of dispensaries the state should have as time ran out on the 2017 legislative session.

This leaves implementation of Amendment 2, passed by an overwhelming 71 percent of Florida voters last November, in the hands of state Department of Health. This is the same bureaucracy that took more than two years to make a low-THC version of medical marijuana, called Charlotte’s Web, available to the small, qualifying number of people with seizures after the Florida Legislature OK’d that very limited use in 2014.

Or as the News Service of Florida put it, they’re the same bunch “who have been harshly criticized by legislators, patients, vendors — and judges — for their handling of the state’s current medical marijuana regulations.”

“The Florida Legislature chose political gamesmanship over the will of 71 percent of voters,” said Ben Pollara, executive director of the group Florida for Care, who also served as campaign manager for the political committee that backed the amendment. “The will of the people was thwarted again today by Tallahassee politicians, but they can’t deny us forever. Florida for Care will continue fighting to implement the Constitution and bring a compassionate medical marijuana law to this state’s patients.”

The House and Senate had started the legislative session with quite different approaches toward regulating medical marijuana for the much wider number of patients for whom November’s vote’s vote is supposed to benefit.

The House took a much more restrictive approach, but in recent conferences with the Senate, the two chambers came much closer — except on the subject of dispensaries.

The Senate on Thursday modified its proposal to limit each marijuana operator a maximum of 10 retail locations. The number would have increased as the number of eligible patients registered in a statewide database grew.

But, while the House originally wanted fewer licensed marijuana operators in the state, the House’s bill would have allowed the purveyors to have an unlimited number of storefronts.

Critics maintained that an unlimited number of dispensaries would give an unfair advantage to the seven operators currently licensed by the state. (News Service of Florida)

In other words, the politicians squabbled about the potential for a few operators to claim monopolies on the prospective marijuana market, rather than act with the urgency that the amendment requires.

Under the language of the amendment, which went into effect Jan. 3, key regulations are supposed to be in place by early June. That includes the rules for issuing patient I.D. cards; establishing laws and standards for caregivers and growers/distributors/dispensaries (now known as “medical marijuana treatment centers” or MMTCs); and defining the amounts of the drug that can be allotted to patients.

And by early September, the Health Department “shall begin issuing qualifying patient and caregiver identification cards, and registering MMTCs.”

If the deadlines aren’t met, “any Florida citizen shall have standing to seek judicial relief” to force the department to meet its now-constitutional duty.

Is it too early to start drafting the lawsuits?

UPDATE 9;45 a.m.

In the wake of the defeat, the man who bankrolled the medical marijuana campaign, trial lawyer John Morgan, has turned on Pollara, the political consultant who shepherded the bill, blaming him for the legislation’s failure. Politico reports:

Morgan called Pollara a “sellout” for his involvement in lobbying over capping the number of medical marijuana retail distribution centers in Florida. The issue of caps ultimately led to the death of the bill.

“It had nothing to do with patients, but had to do with profits,” Morgan said, accusing Pollara’s Florida for Care group of representing potential medical marijuana distributors who wanted a foothold in the Sunshine State.

But Pollara said he pushed for the caps because he didn’t want the limited number of current medical-marijuana providers to monopolize the market and jack up prices for patients.

“This is painful for me. I love John. I looked up to him as a mentor, but he’s just wrong on this,” Pollara said. “At the end of the day, I didn’t kill this bill. I didn’t want it to die. I told our lobbying team to do whatever they could to get a deal cut. But ultimately we weren’t the ones with the ability to cut a deal.”

Morgan isn’t hearing it. He said his split with Pollara is final, a once-unthinkable schism that’s akin to Batman and Robin going separate ways.

But Politico writers Daniel Ducassi and Marc Caputo go on to put the matter in perspective:

In refusing to cut Pollara any slack, Morgan pays relatively short shrift to the idea that, in the waning days of the legislative session — which had to go into overtime because House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President John Negron disagreed on so much — any small dispute over a bill in the final days would be its death knell. Since the caps issue killed the bill, those who fought for them are to blame for the bill’s failure.

The fate of medical marijuana in the Florida Legislature was always iffy. The GOP-controlled Legislature, where rank-and-file conservatives don’t want to appear soft on drugs, only began approving medical marijuana laws when it looked as if voters would do it without legislative input.

UPDATE 1 p.m.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham is asking for the Legislature to convene a special session to enact the medical marijuana amendment.

The former congresswoman and daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham issued a press release, stating:

“I watched my husband battle cancer and the sickening effects of chemotherapy. So many patients with cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating diseases could use medical marijuana as a way to treat their pain,” Graham said. “Floridians spent years begging the legislature to take action before taking their case to the voters, but once again, the legislature is ignoring them. If the people of Florida give me the honor of serving as governor, their voices will be heard.”

Failure to enact Amendment Two to legalize medical marijuana, which passed with 71.32 percent approval in 2016, is just the latest example of the legislature ignoring Florida voters.

“Go back to the lottery, or even more recently, Forever Florida, and all you see is the legislature playing shell games with voters. Sadly, no one should be shocked they’ve turned a blind eye to Floridians facing chronic diseases,” Graham said.

For the third year in a row, the legislature is misappropriating funds for Florida Forever, a land and water conservation program supported by 74.96 percent of Florida voters in 2014.

“If my kids acted like the legislature when I told them to clean their rooms, they’d still be grounded,” Graham said. “As governor, I will force the legislature to fulfill their responsibilities, including calling them into special session if needed, to enact medical marijuana legalization.”

 

 

Goodman: Florida House loosens up on medical marijuana, but not to smoking it

The Florida House has overwhelmingly passed a bill setting out rules for medical marijuana that’s much less restrictive than before, but the legislators are being picky about how patients take the substance.

A vaporizer or a brownie? No problem. A pipe or cigarette? No way.

The House bill, passed by a 105-9 vote on Tuesday, settles most of the differences with the more relaxed Senate bill, but it still doesn’t go far enough to please the backers of the constitutional amendment that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.

“This is still a fatally flawed piece of legislation,” Ben Pollara, policy director for United for Care, the group that pushed the amendment, told Miami New Times.

The details are important because, although Floridians approved Amendment 2 in November by more than 71 percent, it’s up to the Republican-led Legislature to hammer out rules for how medical pot will be grown, distributed, prescribed and used. It’s all supposed to be ready for patients in September — and will be in effect for years.

Related stories from the Palm Beach Post:

Advocates want medical marijuana in Florida, but not like California

How did weed win in a landslide? Credit the white rural voters who gave Florida to Trump

Florida doctors have mixed opinions about medical marijuana

Amendment 2 passes in landslide: What’s next for legal pot?

Under the House’s proposal (HB 1397), patients with one of about a dozen “qualifying conditions” — including cancer, HIV/AIDS and epilepsy — could be certified to obtain medical marijuana by a doctor. But not all chronic pains will be equal under this law.

“The bill also says that patients with chronic pain can access the drug, but only if that pain is directly linked to a debilitating condition that would have qualified them regardless,” the Herald/Times reports.

The House made a number of notable improvements after negotiating with the Senate. As the Sun Sentinel reports:

  • Noneuphoric forms of marijuana can now be used in public. Public use of full-strength medical marijuana remains a misdemeanor.
  • Pregnant patients can now get noneuphoric, low-THC marijuana. Previously, they were banned from using marijuana at all.
  • The number of medical marijuana growing licenses will increase by 10 before July of next year. (There are currently seven licensed growers.) Then, four new licenses will be available for every 100,000 patients.

The Senate is expected to take up its bill (SB 406) on the floor for the first time today.

By allowing patients to use vaporizers or edibles but not to smoke marijuana products, the House is violating the spirit of Amendment 2, critics say.

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, pointed out that marijuana is safer than prescription drugs that have caused a statewide crisis in addictions and overdoses:

“Would we rather have them use dangerous prescription drugs … or would we prefer that they smoke a bowl and go to sleep and actually wake up the next morning?” Smith asked. “Who are we to tell legitimate patients that they can’t smoke their cannabis? That is not our business, members. It’s not our business to infringe upon their personal freedoms; it’s not our business to infringe on the sacred patient-doctor relationship.”

Critics also worry that by capping the number of growers and distributors too strictly, the state will create cartels that will jack up prices and limit choices. “Patients will be driven to the black market,” Pollara said.

But House Majority Ray Rodigues, the sponsor of his chamber’s bill, noted that marijuana is still an illegal Schedule 1 drug in the eyes of the federal government. He said it’s a balancing act to fulfill the wishes of Florida voters while not violating federal law. There’s also a strong desire among legislators to prevent medical pot from becoming a back-door way of condoning recreational marijuana.

 

 

 

Goodman: Now’s the time to be heard on medical marijuana in Florida

If you want to see medical marijuana made readily available in Florida to people in need of chronic pain relief — and an overwhelming 71 percent of Floridians said they did in balloting last November — you need to pay attention to what’s happening now in the Florida Legislature.

A House bill establishing regulations for medical pot is getting more restrictive, as the lower chamber pays heed to anti-drug groups.

The Sunshine State News writes:

Not only would smokeable cannabis be banned, but patients would also be barred from buying more than a 90-day supply of marijuana, edibles would be off-limits and “vaping” would only be allowed for terminal patients.

So if you can’t smoke medical marijuana, how do you ingest it?

The delivery methods, activists say, would be far and few between for suffering patients, requiring them to use different routes of ingestion, like marijuana oil or capsules, in order to find relief.

Cannabis oil can cost patients a pretty penny — up to $250 per gram. In Colorado, the same amount costs $30.

The Senate, on the other hand, is moving on a more reasonable bill that’s supported by backers of the constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 2.

“The Senate keeps making their bill better, while the House keeps making theirs worse, and I’ve got to hope they can meet in the middle with these negotiations,” Ben Pollara, campaign manager for the Amendment 2 committee, told reporters Tuesday.

Both bills would prohibit smoking of the plant, however — something that voters approved, according to backers of the amendment.

“Patient advocates, however, still prefer the Senate plan because it is less restrictive than a House proposal,” writes the Tallahassee Democrat, the capital city’s daily newspaper. “They applaud Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, efforts to do away with a 90-day wait period for patients whose doctor recommends cannabis as part of a treatment plan. The Senate also breaks with the House to allow edibles and vaping.”

The Senate bill (SB 406), sponsored by Bradley, sailed through the Senate Appropriations Committee Tuesday, 6-1, and is on its way to the Senate floor for a vote.

Bradley’s measure would allow for more dispensaries, now to be called “medical marijuana treatment centers,” than would the House plan (HB 1397).

The House bill flew through the House Committee on Health and Human Services on Monday by a vote of 14-4. It’s headed to the House floor. One proposed amendment would add even more restrictions, including “banning patients from consuming medical marijuana from devices not purchased at medical marijuana treatment centers and prohibiting the use of medical marijuana by pregnant women, even if it was recommended by their doctor,” Sunshine State News writes.

Questions on patient care should be left to doctors, not politicians.

Floridians who want medical marijuana — who want what they voted for —  need to let members of the Legislature know that. Right away.

Goodman: Appeals court hits bull’s-eye with ‘Docs v Glocks’ takedown

Score one for good thinking. A federal appeals court Thursday struck down the inane Florida law that prohibited physicians from asking their patients whether there’s a gun in the house that’s stored safely.

The law, the only one like it in the United States, has helped mold our risible reputation as the “Gunshine State.” It was signed in 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott with strong backing from the National Rifle Association and the GOP-led Legislature, who said doctors were overstepping their bounds and pushing an anti-Second Amendment agenda.

Medical groups and others quickly challenged the law, and it’s been winding through state and federal courts ever since.

Now the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta has ruled, in a 10-to-1 decision, that the law infringes upon doctors’ freedom of speech. Any patient who doesn’t like a doctor’s questions about gun ownership can find another doctor, the court said.

“The Second Amendment right to own and possess firearms does not preclude questions about, commentary on, or criticism for the exercise of that right,” wrote Circuit Judge Adalberto Jordan in one of two majority opinions. “There is no actual conflict between the First Amendment rights of doctors and medical professionals and the Second Amendment rights of patients.”

The American Civil Liberties Union had fought hard against the law. “We are thrilled that the court has finally put to bed the nonsensical and dangerous idea that a doctor speaking with a patient about gun safety somehow threatens the right to own a gun,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

The Associated Press reports:

The 11th Circuit noted that Florida lawmakers appeared to base the law on “six anecdotes” about physicians’ discussions of guns in their examination rooms and little other concrete evidence that there is an actual problem. And doctors who violated the law could face professional discipline, a fine or possibly loss of their medical licenses.

“There was no evidence whatsoever before the Florida Legislature that any doctors or medical professionals have taken away patients’ firearms or otherwise infringed on patients’ Second Amendment rights,” Jordan wrote for the court.

The Washington Post explains why doctors might want to ask patients about guns:

Several large professional medical groups have said it is within the bounds of ethical medical care for doctors to ask about gun safety at home, in the way a physician might ask parents of small children if they have a backyard pool. A May 2016 review, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, noted that the majority of physicians believe that “they have the right to counsel patients about firearms.”

“Firearm violence is an important health problem, and most physicians agree that they should help prevent that violence,” Garen J. Wintemute, a co-author of the paper and a public health expert at the University of California Davis, told The Washington Post in May…

Doctors are not wholly united on this front. Some groups, such as Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, have voiced their dissent, believing that doctors should not discuss guns with their patients. (Medical groups had “declared a culture war on gun ownership,” the DRGO said on its website. It also warned that “your doctor may have a personal prejudice against gun ownership, shaped by her training in medical school or residency.”)

The appeals court, to its great credit, upheld the primacy of the First Amendment as a bedrock of American liberties. That reminder came from Circuit Judge William Pryor, who was a finalist in President Donald J. Trump’s search for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

In a separate concurring opinion, Pryor said that the First Amendment must protect all points of view.

“The promise of free speech is that even when one holds an unpopular point of view, the state cannot stifle it,” he wrote.

Pryor added:

The First Amendment is a counter-majoritarian bulwark against tyranny. “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” [as the Constitution states,] cannot mean “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech a majority likes.”…

If we upheld the Act, we could set a precedent for many other restrictions of potentially unpopular speech …

The First Amendment requires the protection of ideas that some people might find distasteful
because tomorrow the tables might be turned.

Well said.

Take our poll, and let us know whether you agree.

Christie: Does task force Grand Jury report give whole picture of county’s sober home problem?

Palm Beach County chief assistant state attorney Al Johnson, left, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, and State Attorney Dave Aronberg, right, announce that a grand jury has issued 15 recommendations to combat the opioid crisis in Palm Beach County earlier this month. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Palm Beach County chief assistant state attorney Al Johnson, left, Congresswoman Lois Frankel, and State Attorney Dave Aronberg, right, announce that a grand jury has issued 15 recommendations to combat the opioid crisis in Palm Beach County earlier this month. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

The Post Investigative Team has written exhaustively about Palm Beach County’s heroin crisis which has contributed to a record number of overdose deaths over the past two years.

It has also sparked a much-hyped and celebrated Grand Jury report on the proliferation of shady sober homes in the county.

Well, apparently not everyone is “celebrating” the release of the report, as evidenced in Monday’s Point of View op-ed from West Palm Beach attorney James K. Green. Green, who has litigated in federal court for people in recovery who were seeking fair housing and treatment providers seeking zoning approval to open treatment facilities, says the report is unbalanced and lacks any perspective from attorneys who’ve actually dealt with sober homes.

The Palm Beach Post’s Dec. 13 story, “Sober home report cites patient abuse,” accepted without question the grand jury’s “Report on the Proliferation of Fraud and Abuse in Florida’s Addiction Treatment Industry.”

I believe grand juries can and do perform important functions, but they need to be “fair and balanced”.

… Palm Beach County, and Florida as a whole need to expand substance use disorder treatment opportunities, not demonize the health providers. While some regulation is certainly necessary, the grand jury essentially recommends over-regulation, which will drive up the cost of treatment and reduce its availability to those who need it most.

Additionally, the grand jury claims to have heard testimony from “private and municipal attorneys who extensively litigated treatment and recovery housing issues over the past decade.” I don’t know a single private lawyer in Palm Beach County who has extensively litigated treatment and recovery housing issues on behalf of people in recovery over the past decade who was called to the grand jury.”

You can read the rest of the op-ed here.

Then, let us know what you think in the comments section. And take our poll …

Opinion: To fight Zika threat, ‘show me the money, Congress!’

Alex Palacios tests his mosquito spraying truck outside the Village of Wellington Public Works Department on August 10, 2016. The Village is spraying seven days a week. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Alex Palacios tests his mosquito spraying truck outside the Village of Wellington Public Works Department on August 10, 2016. The Village is spraying seven days a week. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

How about now?

Is the spread of the Zika virus enough of a public health threat yet for Congress to get the $1.9 billion the Obama administration first asked them for months ago?

Although, I’m sure by now the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials — like those in say… Florida! — would take even the $1.1 billion in funding that the Senate just couldn’t bring itself to authorize before it left for a seven-week hiatus.

Heck, let’s even drop it down to the $622 million the U.S. House wanted to give before being strong-armed by the Senate.

But it’s time to do something, right?

We’ve got well over 2,000 cases of travel-related Zika infections in the U.S. and territories. In the continental U.S., the vast majority of those are in, you guessed it, the Sunshine State.

More concerning: we’re now up to 21 cases of NON-travel-related Zika infections in South Florida — at least one of those in Palm Beach County.

That means that the virus, which can cause debilitating birth defects like microcephaly, has been transmitted via mosquito. This is the potential nightmare scenario that scientists and public health officials have been warning about for months.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, was in Palm Beach County Tuesday meeting with Scripps Research Florida scientists about their work developing a vaccine to fight Zika. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon, File)
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, was in Palm Beach County Tuesday meeting with Scripps Research Florida scientists about their work developing a vaccine to fight Zika. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon, File)

Yet, our federal lawmakers were too busy using the issue as a political football to get anything passed so that counties like ours can do proper mosquito control and scientists like those at Scripps Research Florida can work toward developing a vaccine.

We’re fortunate that Florida lawmakers like U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson are all over this. The two have been leaders in the Florida delegation at pushing for more federal funds.

They were both in Palm Beach County Wednesday meeting with local officials and Scripps honchos, and renewing a push for more funds.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks to reporters during a news conference at the Wynwood Community Service Center in Miami last Thursday. The CDC has warned expectant mothers to steer clear of the city's Wynwood neighborhood, where at least 15 people are believed to have been infected with the Zika virus through mosquito bites in the first such cases on record in the mainland U.S. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks to reporters during a news conference at the Wynwood Community Service Center in Miami last Thursday. The CDC has warned expectant mothers to steer clear of the city’s Wynwood neighborhood, where at least 15 people are believed to have been infected with the Zika virus through mosquito bites in the first such cases on record in the mainland U.S. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Even Florida Gov. Rick Scott has been blowing a little smoke with all his administration’s efforts to combat the spread of Zika. Turns out the governor cut funds to counties for mosquito control in his first term, questioning its value; and so far has distributed only about $1.2 million of the $26.1 million he promised to help fight Zika months ago.

While public health officials still say that it is not yet time for a full-fledged freakout, that doesn’t mean we should wait for an outbreak before doing what’s necessary.

I mean, school is about to start in Palm Beach County and some parents are growing concerned that the mosquito-borne virus has taken hold here. Yes, parents don’t tend to think too rationally sometimes when it comes to their kids. But who can blame them?

Especially, when the officials they trust to protect their interests are falling down on the job.