Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

Managing Costs Through Doctors.

In a question-and-answer session with The New York Times , bioethicist Dr. Howard Brody follows up on his New England Journal of Medicine editorial making the case that doctors have a professional obligation to keep medical costs down. In the health-care debate, physicians have supported health insurance reforms but don't want those reforms to affect their incomes, he says: Unlike previous health care reform discussions where doctors were put on a pedestal, people are now turning the searchlight, appropriately I think, on the medical profession and asking if we are the problem. But rather than rising to that challenge and exercising moral leadership in health care reform, we are acting like one more special interest group. Instead of saying we care about patients enough to put our own interests on the back burner, it has been as if we were more concerned about maximizing our income. He notes that, of course, that's not true of all doctors. But it counters the idea that, since patients...

Anti-Abortion and Health Care.

In the final push for a health-care bill, Democratic leaders in the House are working behind the scenes with anti-abortion members to try to get them to drop their opposition to the Senate bill's language on abortion, the Washington Post reports . The Senate bill adopted language from Sen. Ben Nelson that would only allow clients in the exchanges to get abortion coverage through a special rider paid for separately, in order to prevent federal dollars from paying for abortion. Many fear this provision would prevent the plans in the exchanges from offering abortion coverage at all. Despite the fact that this is about the only medical procedure Americans can prevent their federal tax dollars from funding, preserving the status quo seems the only real way forward. Bart Stupak and his ilk, of course, don't think it goes far enough. The National Right to Life Committee already thinks a direct appropriation of $7 million to Community Health Centers will go to fund abortion. It's his crew...

Using Religion to Promote Birth Control.

The Associated Press reported that mullahs in Afghanistan, which has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, are promoting the use of birth control: Quotes were used from the Quran to promote breast-feeding for two years, while local religious leaders, or mullahs, joined community and health leaders to explain the importance of spacing out births to give moms and babies the best chance at good health. In total, 37 mullahs endorsed using contraceptives as a way to increase the time between births, some delivering the message during Friday prayers. The mullahs' major concerns centered on safety and infertility, the report said. While Islam doesn't object to birth control the way that Catholicism does, it's nice to see a religious argument for the idea that spacing out children is better for the health of the children. And in the past, when women breast fed children longer and exclusively, they're pregnancies were spaced apart. The outreach program in Afghanistan was...

Going After Food Packaging.

Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration called out food companies for misleading nutrition labeling. Seventeen companies received a letter on their health claims, including baby-food makers Gerber and Beech-Nut and fruit juice purveyor POM Wonderful. The FDA also targeted companies that claimed their foodstuffs had no trans fat even though these products were high in saturated fat. From the New York Times : “The F.D.A. is not merely firing a shot across the bow; it is declaring war on misleading food labeling,” said Bruce A. Silverglade , director of legal affairs of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group that had pushed for stricter rules. Front-of-package health claims made on packaged foods have been the target of healthy-food advocates for some time. And the FDA's director, Dr. Margaret Hamburg , said preventing misleading labeling was especially important now with the rising incidence of obesity. The labeling problem also underscores a flaw in the...

Balancing Oklahoma's Budget.

In Oklahoma, where the budget gap equals 15 percent of the state budget, Democratic lawmakers are blocking a budget agreement because it doesn't pay for a nutrition program for senior citizens. Republicans warn that the stalemate will result in state trooper and prison guard furloughs, but Democrats say Republicans can find another way to free up the cash. Child welfare programs to prevent child abuse and neglect are also on the chopping blog in Oklahoma, and some say those programs have reduced abuse cases. But at least one lawmaker wants to cut tax exemptions, including those on corporations, instead. The effort could raise about $260 million, which isn't quite enough to cover the entire gap. Still, you probably won't see lawmakers increase taxes during a recession, despite evidence that it might hurt less than spending cuts. And the choice between worker furloughs and feeding senior citizens is a tough one. But at some point, the costs become more than monetary. Some goals are...

Pages