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THE SEARCHLIGHT MESSENGER

Colorado's Bold New Healthcare Initiative


Frustrated with the suppressing effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the continued sky rocketing costs of health care, this Fall, Colorado will vote on Amendment 69, a petition induced amendment to the Constitution of the State of Colorado.

If passed, this single payer health insurance program will go into effect over an 18 month period. It's goal? To eliminate insurance premiums (about $8,000 to $12,000 per family annually), "un-affordable deductibles" (as much as $7,000 per family), and any out of pocket expenses like co-pays.

Understand, the only way to move away from the Affordable Care Act is for states to make a better and more affordable but fiscally solvent plan on their own. So again, Colorado spearheads a change in the law of the land, thumbing their noses at the Federal Government's inadequacies, and taking on the task themselves to protect Colorado's citizens.

It will start with a thirty-eight billion dollar budget through a state income tax increase of ten percent, and provide universal health coverage, choking off the profit seeking behaviors of national private insurers, and will save Colorado six billion dollars a year.

If passed, the first year of the plan will be directed by a 15 member interim Board of Trustees chosen by state legislative leadership and the Governor. This will be followed by an election of professionals and community members to the Board of Trustees to over-see and manage all "ColoradoCare" operations, with elections held annually thereafter. Amendment 69 outlines the length of the terms of the elected trustees, term limits, and procedures for filling vacancies. ColoradoCare Trustees are not subject to recall elections, but may be removed by a majority vote of the board.

Essentially, the State of Colorado will be carved into seven districts, with each district electing three board members each (total of 21). in the last year, It has been well known in professional medical and academic circles that VENTURE XVII supports this amendment. The B.E.A.M. Foundation will be funding the campaigns of two of it's members to run for ColoradoCare Board of Trustees positions. Yes, VENTURE XVII is actively involved, as three of the B.E.A.M. Foundation's positions are to alleviate poverty, create economic empowerment, and promote accessible healthcare to all. In addition, the B.E.A.M. Foundation supports Senator Bernie Sander's initiatives to make healthcare "a right of our citizens".

Unfortunately, the United States is the only first world economy where you can still be bankrupted by a medical condition. This is considered unconscionable by many, and Colorado feels compelled to act instead of talk (which has been going on now for over thirty years). Did you know that over sixty percent of bankruptcies are induced by medical expenses? Did you know that over forty percent of foreclosures are induced by medical problems?

The insurance companies keep getting richer, and our premiums and out of pocket costs keep going up and are crushing our citizens. When I see a patient for 15 minutes, I spend an hour on paperwork and coding or the insurance company will not compensate me for the visit, even if it's only for a Medicaid copay. Enough is enough! Colorado is fed up. Colorado not only has the resources, but the means to carry this through, and maintain it indefinitely.

Isn't it interesting that all of the media advertising opposing the amendment is backed by Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Health Care, Kaiser Permanente, The Travelers, other small cap insurance entities and those invested in the insurance industry. Why, you ask? Because if this passes, they will no longer write insurance in Colorado, and will lose market share of almost nine million insured lives. Do the math. 

Gaining health insurance is an important step in ensuring access to healthcare. Without insurance coverage, many patients would not be able to pay for the medical services they receive. But so far, no policy attempted in the United States, not even the Affordable Care Act, has been able to bring coverage to everyone or reign in costs. ColoradoCare attempts to solve that situation.

ColoradoCare would automatically cover everyone whose primary residence is in Colorado. The system would include people who currently can’t afford insurance, don’t want it, or don’t qualify for existing programs because they are immigrants who lack documentation.

Supporters say universal, publicly financed coverage would save money and time that is currently spent on insurance bureaucracy and paperwork, and allow patients to see any provider who agrees to contract with ColoradoCare.

Opponents (the insurance companies) argue the opposite, saying the proposed system would limit Coloradans’ choices about their health plans, restrain market competition and leave too many important details to be decided in the future. Typical corporate rhetoric.

The issue here is typical of all politics. There will be a tax increase. Everybody gets itchy when we talk about tax increases. But this initiative has a silver lining of beneficence: State of the Art Healthcare, but at no cost to the citizens of Colorado.

Here's an example of its impact on a family of four paying $1000 in state income tax per year. Now their income tax is $1100, but they didn't have to pay $12,000 in premiums in addition to if a family member was hospitalized, the $7,000 deductible they would most likely have to borrow.

Keep your eyes on Colorado. If this works well over the next three years, you will see other states take notice and use our system as a template for their own.

I understand when you read this, you can see that it is slanted to the "Yes Vote". But it's also about doing the right thing. We have the resources (remember all that money we're making from Weed?), We have some of the best medical and business minds in the nation right here. We can make a difference.

For an independent analysis, please go to: http://colorado69.org/



Keep reading, and Stay healthy.


Dr. Counce

















Venetoclax Shows Promise in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

Venetoclax monotherapy appears to improve outcomes in some patients with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), according to a phase 2, single-arm study.

"This study included patients that were in categories that are difficult to treat - relapsed, refractory, and/or elderly and deemed medically unfit to receive induction therapy," Dr. Anthony Letai from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston told Reuters Health by email.

"The fact that some of these patients had leukemias that were relapsed or refractory to very tough regimens, including regimens that require multi-week inpatient hospital stays, but nonetheless responded to an oral outpatient therapy taken once a day was a very interesting result," he said.

Venetoclax, a highly selective, oral small-molecule B-cell leukemia/lymphoma-2 (BCL2) inhibitor, received FDA approval for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) earlier this year.

Dr. Letai and colleagues investigated the efficacy and biological correlates of response in the first clinical study of venetoclax monotherapy in 32 patients with relapsed/refractory AML or untreated AML unfit for intensive therapy.

The objective response rate was 19% (six of 32), with two patients achieving a complete response and four achieving a complete response with incomplete blood count recovery. All objective responses were achieved by the week-4 assessment.

An additional 19% had antileukemic activity demonstrated by partial bone marrow response and incomplete hematologic recovery.



The six-month leukemia-free survival rate was 10% (median leukemia-free survival, 2.3 months), and the six-month overall survival estimate was 36% (median overall survival, 4.7 months), the researchers report in Cancer Discovery, online August 12.
At the time of this report, all patients had discontinued venetoclax: 29 due to progressive disease, one due to adverse event, one withdrew consent, and one proceeded to allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant after achieving stable disease.

"Our data provide evidence that AML with IDH1/2 mutations exhibits BCL2 dependence and validates preclinical data that suggest suppression of cytochrome c oxidase activity in IDH1/2 mutant AML lowers the mitochondrial threshold to trigger apoptosis upon BCL2 inhibition," the researchers note. "However, activity observed in patients with wild-type IDH1/2 suggests targeting BCL2 with venetoclax should not be restricted to patients with mutations in IDH1/2."

Venetoclax monotherapy was generally well tolerated, although treatment-emergent adverse events were reported for all patients. Nausea, diarrhea, hypokalemia, vomiting, and headache were the most commonly reported adverse events.
"This study was the first report of venetoclax in AML, and as such was a single-agent study," Dr. Letai said. "However, I do not think single-agent use will be common in AML for this drug. I think that venetoclax will be incorporated into combinations with many other agents active in AML."


"Right now, in the elderly setting, it is being combined with either hypomethylating agents (vidaza or decitabine) or low-dose cytarabine, both commonly used in the elderly in AML," he said. "The response rates have been fantastic, around 70%, as reported in abstracts at ASH and ASCO. There will likely be clinical testing of combinations including venetoclax at all stages of AML therapy, including induction, consolidation, salvage. Indeed, some of these trials are already starting. Who knows, perhaps even maintenance? It is well tolerated, so lends itself to combination."

"Genomics and genetics are often equated with personalized medicine, the job of which is to match the right patient with the right drugs," Dr. Letai added. "Venetoclax has so far demonstrated activity in CLL, mantle cell lymphoma, AML. There are no genetic abnormalities related to BCL-2 that would indicate activity in these cancers. If we relied on genetics alone, these would have missed."

"Instead, we and others took a functional approach to identifying BCL-2 dependence in cancers, and thus identifying good targets for venetoclax," he said. "I think that these functional precision-medicine approaches are going to be vital to taking advantage of all the new drugs that are appearing in cancer. If we rely on genomics alone, we will probably miss most of our therapeutic opportunities."

Dr. Fernando Ramos from the University of Leon in Spain, who recently reviewed AML in older adults, told Reuters Health by email, "Venetoclax may be an interesting option for rescue therapy in this patient subset."

"Precision medicine has come a long way," added Dr. Ramos, who was not involved in the study. "Venetoclax may be an interesting partner to azanucleosides in unfit AML patients."

Currently, venetoclax is in phase 2 testing for AML, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and in phase 3 testing for multiple myeloma.

AbbVie and Genentech funded the study, employed 13 of the 22 authors, and had various relationships with four other authors, including Dr. Letai.


Alberta, Canada, Home of Venture 17, is on Fire


Send your thoughts this way please, while we fight this monster.

The staff of VENTURE XVII, based in Calgary, is currently volunteering with evacuation of Northern Alberta, Canada. This is getting out of control. In 2012 We were fighting the Waldo Canyon and Lake George Fires in Colorado. A year later, We were fighting the Black Forest Fire North of Colorado Springs.

The infamous Hayman Fire, rolled on us fourteen years ago, virtually killing some of the most beautiful and pristine wilderness on the backside of The Rampart Range of Colorado. Yeah, 140,000 acres of it. Then the Montana Fires of 2007. Half a million acres wiped out in two months!

But this thing. He's a killer! in just 3 days, he's already consumed over 350 square miles. Been really hard to reign him in. Fires are always our worst fear up here in the Rockies. Whether in the Yukon up North or the San Juans in the South, it's all Alpine Forest with interlacing meadows and tributaries of grasslands.

When I worked with my friends, The Chippewa Cree in Montana, they would tell me that the elders would always point out that the fires were "A Cleansing", and to respect them. They consider fires a natural part of the wilderness and as natural as the Sun rising every morning. I can't help but agree with this, but times have changed, and as Man moves deeper into our forests, more of us depend on our forests and grasslands for our survival.

The teachings of our Native American Fathers should be respected at every turn, but we are no longer nomadic people, and can't just pick up and move when a cleansing comes calling. Whole cities, transportation infrastructure, farmland, livestock, and our sources of water and food can go up in smoke overnight, turning our world upside down.

This one's going to rock our world for a while. The best professional fire fighters in the world are on it! "Film at eleven"!




My Advice to Medical Students

It’s been many long years since I graduated from my medical residency. I made Chief Resident so spent an extra year learning how to teach and manage doctors who are full of themselves.

I've seen it all. From the totally clueless senior medical student, to Hospital Chief of Staff. A long time to glean some perspective, and time for introspection. My generation of doctors, was the last to go to college, medical school, and train without computers or smartphones. We didn't even have the internet.

We didn't carry pocket ultrasounds, smartphones, or ophthalmoscopes. All we brought to the bedside was our own brains, a stethoscope, and a compassionate bedside manner. Times have changed. And although we are armed with all kinds of technology, doctors are still doctors, and there aren't very many of us. Moreover, it is predicted that by 2020, the United States will lose half of its physician workforce as doctors make there exodus from an industry that has forgotten about how important we are. Not just anyone can do this. If they could, we would just toss you a human "cookbook" and say "here you go! Fix it yourself!"

I get calls from colleagues everyday, asking how I was able to move into the Education Industry, they want out so badly. The three decades of training in a profession obligated to bring the tip of the sword in science, is a tough enough burden, let alone Corporate America and Ad Hoc Committees telling us how to practice (and they don't even have a License to practice). Throw in "CLIA, OSHA, Semiannual Blood-borne pathogens training, The internet, HIPAA, Managed Care, The doctor crushing Affordable Care Act, and "the straw", ICD-10 ( All of which were thrust upon us in a twenty year span), and you have an already hugely stressful occupation filled with PTSD ready to throw in the towel and say, "Try doing it without us!"

It is still a bold, proud, and academic profession, however, and continues to call to those men and women who can bring not only scientific knowledge, but an understanding ear that listens, holistic care, intelligence, integrity, and a steadfast compassion for mankind.

I continue to train young doctors. These students, interns, and residents are smart, they already know what hard work is, they are all "A" students, hugely ambitious and talented. Many of my conversations with them turn into advice. So this is what they hear.

1. People die; it’s not a personal failure on your part. Our weapons against disease cannot outlast the inevitable. Our interventions and therapies can make disease more manageable and prolong life, but death will always be the ultimate and natural conclusion of our efforts.

2. Your choice of specialty will not determine your ultimate life happiness. You are not doomed to misery should you chose not to sub-specialize nor are you guaranteed happiness if you do. Choose something you enjoy, Choose a specialty that provides a lifestyle congruent with your values. But don’t confuse intellectual intrigue with life happiness; there is so much more to the latter that has nothing to do with medicine.

3. Remember what it means to be a normal person. To retain a sense of awe in what you now get to do on a regular basis. To be able to explain things in non-medical terms the way you learned them before being indoctrinated. To feel sadness, joy, grief, loss, elation. To remember the viewpoint of suffering.

4. Keep friends outside of medicine. You’ll be more human. And more interesting.

5. Guidelines are helpful, but they are not strict rules. Don’t try to meet every guideline while losing site of the big picture. You wouldn’t want your 95-year-old grandma on a high dose statin to prevent a heart attack, metformin for the elevated fasting glucose only apparent within the past year and three blood pressure pills that make her feel dizzy all the time to achieve some magic number that no one agrees on anyway. Don’t subject someone else’s grandma to that either.

6. Retain your humility. When family members say, “Something’s not right with Grandpa,” listen to them. They are usually right. Ask questions when you don’t know the answer. It can be especially humbling to do so in front of your colleagues, but your pride is no longer your priority. Your priority is your patient, without exception.

7. Be kind in your comments about the “outside community doctor.” There is a high likelihood you will be that person at some point in your career. They usually aren’t as dense as you might think; they are just struggling to provide the same perfect care you are in a very imperfect system.

8. Burnout is inevitable. Plan for it. Write down what drew you to medicine in the first place. Use it to keep yourself motivated. Learn to unplug. Turn that thing you call "a phone" off. Don't overlook your own health. Mental or physical.

9. Other services are not your enemy. Be kind when someone calls you with a “dumb consult”; you have likely called one yourself.

10. Avoid perpetuating the cycle of abuse. The profession of Medicine has been built on a "train by intimidation" approach since Osler. We are well known to "pimp" each other in an effort to show academic prowess. Just because you were demeaned and humiliated as a student or resident does not mean you are entitled to do the same to your younger colleagues. They are no more “unmotivated,” “lazy,” or “arrogant” then you were. We are all a bunch of prima donnas. Turn it down a notch!

11. Think about how your orders affect your patients Holistically. How the orders may actually contribute to their suffering and discomfort. Nurses have been asking for us to do this for years.

12. Be mindful of the habits you cultivate. How you speak to patients, families, nurses. How you treat your family when you are stressed. Your eating habits, your spending habits, your sleep habits. These will follow you past residency, for better or for worse. Make sure they have been chosen with intention.

13. Medical training is expensive. Most of us have debt. Just because you have a big salary out of residency, doesn’t mean that you are wealthy. Do the math and avoid the temptation to increase your debt further immediately on graduation with a huge new house, car or other toys. A few years of frugal living will pay dividends later on.

14. It doesn’t automatically get better after residency. Hate to break it to you, but it’s the truth. But it can be great if you prioritize what’s really important. Just pick those priorities carefully.

15. Don't forget that the word "Doctor" means "Teacher", doctor.

Lastly, the advice I give to every young doctor I mentor: You must remember that the medical profession is like a jealous lover. It requires all of your time, and all of your energy. It will tolerate nothing less. The people who seek us, need us, and need to trust us. This trust can never be betrayed.

Always stand with a smile, never be impatient, and always give your patient hope. Be as passionate in your craft as you are gentle in friendship, and make everyone who crosses your path, glad they met with you today."
 
 
Dr. Counce









World Champions



                                       World Champions!


Yeah, those orange guys from the Rocky Mountains.

The Denver Broncos are, you guessed it.... Cam Newton's Kryptonite!


During Denver's roller coaster ride of a football season (and a fun one it was) four things remained consistent with the Super-champion Broncos: John, The Duke, Elway’s leadership, Kube’s Steadfast posture as an executive coach, Wade’s artistry as a defensive coordinator ( Yeah! He’s an Artist!) And finally, the deep talent and speed of Denver’s Defense.

Remember, this season Denver shut down an up-until-then, undefeated and playoff seasoned and very mobile Aaron Rodgers (his worst game ever), and then, shut down Tom Brady...... Twice!

Why would anyone think Cam Newton could fare any better? I'm scratching my head on that so-called expert prediction.

Cam Newton has no serious playoff experience. And when faced with Superdefense, Superman, turned into, well, mush. They scared the crap out of him, then ate him for supper!

From the coaches to the players, John Elway put together the best defense the Denver Broncos have ever paraded onto a football field. Yeah, even better than the Gradishar and Louie Wright Crush Boys! Next season, they're adding an offense. Just to make things interesting.

I've been watching this team with a microscope since I was a little kid in 1965. Seen everything from Tripuka, Tensi, and the M&M Connection, to Elway, Jake the Snake, and The Sheriff.

I can remember when Hank Stram would bring the Chiefs (Lenny Dawson, Ed Podolak, Willy Lanier, and Jim Lynch) into Denver, and just beat the crap out of the Broncos, they were so bad sometimes. It seemed like they came to Denver just to rack up their stats.

I was there at the Birth of the Raider rivalry in 1965 under Tom Flores heaved bombs, then got to watch the eventual reckoning the Raiders would suffer in 1977.

Oh, and who could forget the always inebriated “No Respect, Howard Cosell’s” stupid foot in the mouth comments, that whole season! What a dick! Oh, yeah, “That’s Right, Jackson”!

Yes! You hear me say that all the time! But the quote is actually from Don Meredith. He couldn’t stand him either. If you weren’t watching Monday Night Football in the Seventies, You have no idea what I’m talkin about. Too bad for you.

I have had the pleasure of watching all 10 Denver AFC Championship games. Yeah, ten! Here’s one!

One of my friends, Tim, had a neighbor and friend lose it, then run across the street to his house so he could sit in his “Lucky Chair”. There were only 5 minutes left in the AFC Championship game (played in the Cleveland “Dog Pound”) with Cleveland leading by a touchdown. Tim and all of us just waved at him, said “ Okay, buddy”, then turned around to continue watching the game and biting what was left of our fingernails. Then.... Boom!

We were witness to one of the greatest playoff comeback games in NFL history. “The Drive” and it’s legendary clutch third downs, exploded all over us! It was Epic, in your Face, Hostile Crowd throwing Dog Biscuits and Batteries, Mud with Blood streaked and splashed all over everybody, Duel To The Death Football! And it was The Browns fans who named it “The Drive”!

Every time I watch that 98 yard drive, I just smile. Quietly remembering..... “Lucky Chair! Lucky Chair!”

Then there’s “This One's For John”, which may have been the best Super Bowl ever! And I’ve seen damn near all of them. Another game won in the fourth quarter. Favre vs Elway! Davis vs that Green Bay Wall! They broke the NFC hold on the Championship. Yeah, the NFC had won every Super Bowl for thirteen straight years. Then the Broncos road into town. Dominated the Packers, who were picked to win by 12 points. Won the Championship! Are you kidding me?

And now this! The Coolest, most Dramatic, and even Historic Broncos season I've ever seen unfurl! And boy did it unfurl! Not only that, but SUPER BOWL 50!.... I’ve seen it all, man! You just Know there’s going to be a movie!

Since that November day at Bears Stadium in Denver when the Broncos and Raiders became arch-enemies in front of this little kid, I’ve been a card carrying Broncos Fan, even though I had to endure Lou Saban “in my formidable years”. Ha ha! .... You laugh!
Just ask Floyd “The Franchise” Little!

I met Little at a Howells Department Store quite by accident when I was in Junior High. I was there shopping for jeans, and I bumped into him. He was looking at suits. All I could do was talk about how great He was, and although Saban had drafted him (The only good thing that came from him), I thought Saban was a poor field tactician, and didn’t use Floyd right. Little was cool! He was reassuring. But little did he know... I knew better. So did every other fan out there.

Throughout my junior high and high school years, Floyd was all we had.
Thank God for John Ralston! Everything changed after him. He was the architect who designed, drafted, then built The Orange Crush defensive unit. By the way, why isn’t he on the Ring of Fame?

My how the Broncs have changed. From those really bad teams in the sixties to the “State of the Art” in professional football. The Broncos have won more games than any other team in the NFL since 1977, when they first made the playoffs with the Orange Crush. Bet you didn’t know that.


The year of the Super Defense and Giant Killers, Ladies and Gentlemen I give you, The Denver Broncos.

That’s Right, Jackson! I’m a fan!

Now that was fun!

Broncos Rule!