Amendment 69: ColoradoCare? Yes!
Despite repeated Supreme Court challenges and efforts by Congress to repeal it, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) is into its sixth year of existence. Efforts to undermine its financial sustainability continue; but in the end, which elected representatives will choose to remove guaranteed access to health care from Americans with pre-existing conditions?
We in Colorado are finding that the ACA is not as affordable as we’d like. Many people with chronic diseases still struggle to see the doctors they want; and, they can’t afford the medicines they need nor pay their insurance premiums, either. The administrative complexities and hassles are overwhelming for consumers and providers alike. While the focus has been on getting people access to health insurance, the success varies by region of the state with up to 36 percent of people uninsured in some rural areas of Colorado. Coloradans deserve better.
Fortunately, starting in 2017, states can opt out of the ACA and design their own health care coverage. The state’s coverage plan has to meet four criteria. The coverage must: 1) Be at least as comprehensive as that offered through the marketplace; 2) Be at least as affordable as that offered now; 3) Be accessible to at least a comparable number of residents; and 4) NOT increase the Federal debt. ColoradoCare or Amendment 69 meets all of these criteria.
In November of 2016, Coloradans have the opportunity to continue their leadership in health care reform by voting in a state-based health care system that guarantees access to quality, affordable health care for everyone living in the state. Learn why you should vote YES! on amendment 69, ColoradoCare.
If we can’t cure Down syndrome, why, then, is research into this complex and highly variable syndrome worth pursuing? I will argue that people with Down syndrome are an underappreciated gift to biomedical science and to society. As a group, they are prone to autoimmune diseases, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, childhood leukemia, heart malformations, and several other maladies. However, even though they all have exactly the same chromosomal triplication—an extra copy of the smallest human chromosome—most don’t suffer from most of these issues. Furthermore, they seem to be protected against the two biggest killers: cardiovascular disease and cancer.
An understanding of the molecular genetics of people with Down syndrome will teach us key aspects of the causes of all of these diseases, both those they get at higher frequency and those they get at lower frequency. We can leverage a molecular understanding of Down syndrome to a molecular understanding of the most devastating human diseases. And of course any progress we make in this effort will benefit those with Down syndrome. For example, if we can come to understand Alzheimer’s, a disease that most people with Down syndrome will eventually contract, by studying this unusually vulnerable population, everyone will benefit, especially those with Down syndrome.
I will discuss what we know now about the molecular biology of Down syndrome and what we still need to discover. I will also include some recent results about what makes people with Down syndrome unique at the level of proteins in the blood.
Tom Blumenthal is the Anna and John J. Sie Professor in Genomics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he is executive director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome. From 2006-2012, he was chair of the molecular, cellular and developmental biology department at CU-Boulder, where he still holds a faculty appointment. From 1997-2006, he was chair of biochemistry and molecular genetics at the School of Medicine, and, from 1973-1996, he was in the biology department at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Blumenthal’s lab has studied a variety of important problems in molecular biology, including regulation of gene expression, mechanisms of RNA splicing, and arrangement of genes on chromosomes. His lab is responsible for discovering that eukaryotes can have operons, for identifying the protein that is responsible for recognizing the
3’ splice site, and for a variety of other esoteric findings. He now studies how the tiny extra chromosome responsible for Down syndrome changes the levels of so many proteins, even though most of those proteins are not encoded on the extra chromosome.
Blumenthal earned a bachelor’s degree from Antioch College, a Ph.D. in genetics from Johns Hopkins University, and did postdoctoral research with James Watson at Harvard University. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.e