Rail is extremely energy efficient and could become a vital tool to address climate change, yet rail companies refuse to go after business that doesn't promise high profit margins. The consequence is vast amounts of fossil fuels being burned on low mileage trucks, more highway congestion, and more air pollution. Better passenger rail could provide an alternative to air travel, an industry which is also showing signs of strain. Investments like the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill are a good start, but we need to do more.
The state of Oregon wants to spend our money on highway boondoggles like the I-5 Rose Quarter and Interstate Bridge expansion projects. These projects may seem like common sense, but will only allow low efficiency transportation by truck and single occupancy cars to continue.
Rail corridors electrified with clean energy from wind and solar power could decarbonize transportation. A national grid using rail corridors could make vast reserves of wind and solar power available to the entire country. We could create many new jobs and revitalize trackside communities with better rail service.
The Class 1 railroad companies and automotive-first thinking are an obstacle to solutions. It is time they recalibrate their business model for the benefit of workers, communities and a livable future.
A Better World is Possible,
Obesity is a health emergency
Obesity is an epidemic that we cannot ignore. That epidemic, according to many sources, has worsened during COVID so our society would be very wise to ensure that proven and effective obesity treatments are widely available to those that need them. Sadly, that is not currently the case. Some of the latest and most promising obesity treatments are not covered by Medicare. Congress and the Biden administration should act quickly to get that changed.
Recently released research from Oregon Health & Science University found that counseling women may be effective for maintaining or limiting weight gain. This tracks with success seen from Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT), an effective course of intensive behavioral counseling that promotes sustained weight loss through high intensity diet and exercise interventions. Despite its effectiveness, Medicare only covers IBT services when they are provided by a primary care provider in the primary care setting. Because of that narrow coverage decision, nutrition professionals, endocrinologists, bariatric surgeons, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and other specialists are prevented from effectively providing IBT services.
Medicare also fails to cover proven medication designed to combat obesity. Throughout the last 10 years, significant medical advances have been made in the development of obesity medications. FDA has approved a number of new obesity medications and several other promising therapies are quickly progressing through the agency's approval process. However, if Medicare does not cover these anti-obesity medications, they will remain out of reach for the many Oregonians and Americans
There are not many working weeks left in this Congress but this is a health emergency that is demanding action from our leaders. I do hope that Congress and the Biden administration will make the necessary updated to Medicare coverage policy to insure that effective obesity treatments are accessible for those patients who will benefit from their use.